No Sweat, Just a Bella Sudata!

Here in Italy, you are risking life and limb if you sweat.  Not just full blown running down your face I’m too hot, sweaty, but the slightest hint of sweating and you risk the possibility of getting the notorious “influenza” and expiring.

I remember one summer’s day. It was beautifully hot. I was with my ex. Italian partner and we decided to do a spot of shopping in a local house and home type store.

We arrived and parked the car and I rushed to go in, I love shopping by the way. My partner pulled me back, very concerned. No you must wait here for a while. It was at that point I noticed about four of five other couples just hanging around. The entrance was up an escalator and they were all staring anxiously at the entrance.

I of course asked how long we had to wait. “Oh” he said, “about 15 minutes” what???

When I asked him why and if there was anything wrong. Maybe there was some strange Italian custom or law that meant that the store could only hold a certain number of people.

He replied that our bodies had to adjust as there was air conditioning inside and if we went straight in from the hot car, we would surely get the dreaded influenza.

Can you believe it? Maybe being English, I’m super human and strong but please, we have to add on 15 minutes every time we want to go in to a shop? No thanks, I’ll take the risk.

The dangers of air conditioning are taken very seriously. You have to sizzle in cars because if you are in any way, just a little bit, maybe sticky and you turn on the “aria fredda” (cold air) then you’ll not only get influenza but ” mal di collo” (achy neck) too. Good heavens, you’re taking a huge chance there!

I often see groups of people seriously discussing their health. They may have been somewhere hot, or have done sport and they exclaim in horror, “ero tutto sudato!”, I was all sweaty to which the replies come, ohh no, you need to be careful, watch it etc.

So those pictures of gorgeous Italian guys, wiping the sweat from their brow, looking oh so sexy? Forget it, that’s far too dangerous.

 

Art, Inspiration for the Soul

Living in la bella Toscana (beautiful Tuscany) I consider myself extremely lucky. There is so much culture here, it almost hurts.

In just over an hour by train I can be in Florence where the risk of being overwhelmed with beauty is very real. This place, whilst a busy city,  is filled with treasures and gorgeousness. Oh by the way, it’s also filled with tourists and a lot of traffic.

One of the first times I actually went to Florence was to celebrate a wedding anniversary (without kids and with my now ex. husband) when I was still living in England. I remember trying to find a good, small local restaurant to eat and coming across the aftermath of a scooter accident.

The “victim” who had been on the scooter was lying on the floor trying to get up whilst the predominantly Italian “audience” were shouting “stay where you are”, “don’t get up”. There was clearly nothing wrong with the person (still not sure if it was male or female) as they were doing their level best to get up but of course the ever cautious Italians were adamant that he or she should stay down, even holding them down to make sure. In the end, they succumbed to and lay flat out. The ambulance was after all on the way and those glorious Italian police women were on hand, or rather standing around looking glamorous, with their long wavy hair and two inch long nails. I wonder how they ever catch the criminals? Ah well, that will be another story.

Oops, got side tracked a bit there, anyhow,  the beauty and art here in Tuscany is just fabulous you overdose on it and still come back for more. You don’t have to look far to find exhibitions or “mostre di arte” in this wonderful part of Italy. The other famous towns and cities of Pisa, Sienna and Lucca are all here as well as Pietrasanta which is a permanent art exhibition in itself!

Back in Florence though, you can walk across the Piazza Della Signora surrounded by breathtakingly historical buildings and filled with statues, including the David. Walk along the Piazzale degli Uffizi, lined with statues of the great philosophers where you can have your portrait sketched by one of the roadside artists. You are steeped in art and beauty. Every time I visit, I find myself running for the return train home. I always run out of time, there is so much to see. So if you are not lucky enough to live nearby like me, book yourself a couple of nights and give yourself a chance to take it all in.

If you feel the urge to contribute to the art world yourself, you can enrol for classes. One great way of doing this is to book a week of intensive learning. You can combine it with a summer holiday so you can really focus and also relax and enjoy. There are quite a few companies offering painting holidays here in Tuscany. They usually offer days out too so it’s a great way of seeing the area with an artistic eye. Oh yes and you get to take your paintings home to remember your holiday by.

Painting holidays in Tuscany Florence art blog

 

White Eating

One thing I have learned in all my years living here in Italy is that the Italians have a cure for everything. Food here is so important. Discussions can be heard about where you  can eat well (si mangia bene) or not and if you don’t then that eating place is to be avoided at all costs.

You won’t be surprised to learn that at the slightest feeling of not being quite right, maybe a slight bloating, an unsettled stomach or just feeling out of sorts, then the Italians have a foodie cure. They resort to eating in white.

No, that’s not dressing up in your best white clothes for every meal. Eating in white means eating bland white coloured food. Bread or plain pasta with a touch of oil. Parmesan cheese, also white, is considered excellent for health so you can eat this with your pasta or alone for best benefits.

Italian bread recipes

 

Things to be avoided:

Tea – it makes you agitated.

Peppers in the evening – they can’t be digested.

Too much of anything, the Italians are extremely cautious about eating and do everything in moderation.

Things to be encouraged:

Everything in moderation.

Pasta.

Parmesan.

Lemon.

Olive oil.

Bread and almost anything cooked in a wood oven!

 

 

Chocolate – Italian Style

Chocolate Italian style. Health benefits of chocolate

 

I’ve just got back from the annual chocolate festival in our local town. Handmade chocolate goodies, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, with nuts, with fruit, lollipops, everything a true choc fan could ever dream of.

Best of all though, for me anyway, is the hot chocolate,Italian style. If you’ve never tasted that dense, chocolatey heaven in a cup topped with a dollop of sweet whipped cream, you haven’t lived. It’s just the thing to warm you up on a cold, frosty day. Better in moderation not every day.

That said though, a little chocolate every day has health benefits. Only dark chocolate though.

Did you know that a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with a content of 70-85% cocoa has:

67% of the RDA for Iron.

58% of the RDA for Magnesium.

89% of the RDA for Copper.

98% of the RDA for Manganese.

It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium and even 11 grams of fibre.

I’m not suggesting that you eat 100 gr every night though, it’s high in calories so best eaten in moderation for maximum benefits.

In short, dark chocolate is:

  • A powerful source of antioxidants
  • It may improve blood flow and blood pressure
  • It may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • It may lower the risk of a stroke, according to Finnish researchers
  • It contains flavonols which are good for the skin against the sun, not as a replacement for slapping on the old sun cream though.
  • It may improve your brain function.
  • It reduces “bad” cholesterol and increases “good” cholesterol.
  • It may improve insulin sensitivity and so delay or prevent the onset of diabetes, ONLY in moderate quantities.

For all these benefits, how much should you eat? Well, you should eat small amounts, 14 to 28 grammes of good quality dark chocolate with at least a 70% cocoa content, daily.

 

 

Joy and Peace and Frugal Thinking

I woke up this morning full of joy and peace.

I started thinking, you know the way you do when you have time on your own.

Anyway I’m one for saving money. I love a bargain and it excites me to think that I’m saving cash which I can then use on things I like to do.

At the moment, I am clearing my clutter and rather than just throw away, I’ve been looking to sell any belongings that are good enough. It can be tough though especially if you’re attached to them. You have to see them as things. They don’t own you.

I have memories in my head, I don’t need a thing to prove I did something or to make the memory any better or worse.

My son is great at this. He has his PS games. When he’s played them, he sells them. Why hang on?

I have clothes in my wardrobe that I was going to makeover but even then I don’t I’d wear some of them so those are the ones to put onto Ebay. If you don’t like Ebay then there are plenty of other alternatives such as, Amazon, Etsy, Rakuten, Newegg, Craigslist, Bonanza, eBid or you can even set up your own online store.

First economising tip of this blog, don’t develop sentimental attachment to things. Things come and go but they could help you get to where you want and put some money in the bank on the way!