ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hay, Straw and Vicenza


Aren't those baby shoes adorable?

You don't see little ones running around with shoes like this now-a-days

I learned to walk in these shoes

They sit on a bookshelf in my office now.

There's a lot of my childhood on my office shelves

The handsome soccer player standing all the way to the right?

With his hands on his hips?

With the attitude?

That's my Nonno circa 1936

In Italy, soccer is the be-all and end-all of life. The world revolves around soccer.
And my grandfather was a king. He played soccer- and played it well. On a World Cup team. He travelled the world . He accepted accolades wherever he went

Then he came home and became Papa and Nonno. After he retired from soccer, he became a well-respected businessman and raised a family. In Vicenza. He and my Nonna managed to make it through the most horrendous war this world has known. They lived in fear and they lived heroically. Someday I'll blog about my Nonna. All 98 pounds of her standing up to the German soldiers who took over her house. 

This is Vicenza as seen from the hill of Monte Berico, the cathedral where we went to Mass every Sunday during the summers we spent with my grandparents

Every year, from the last day of school till 2 days before it started again, we were in Italy. Before I was old enough for school, this vacation would last up to 4 months. 
Monte Berico

Monte Berico was straight up the hill from my grandparents' home. From this viewpoint in the parking lot, we could see their house and most of the downtown area
I tried to take a picture of a postcard that also resides in my office. This is the soccer stadium in Vicenza. The brown field to the left is the practice field. Right above the "V" and to the left is a tall red-roofed house. That was my grandparents'. In Italy it is quite common to buy your apartment. They had a gorgeous 2 bedroom flat with magnificent marble floors on the 3rd floor. On the evnings when a game was being played, we would sit out on the front terrace and have the best seats in the house. My Nonno always thought it was safer than taking us into the stadium-Italian fans during a soccer match make American hockey players look tame!

This is one of the palazzi in the main plaza-La Piazza dei Signori. We walked here at least 3 times a week with my grandmother carrying her net bags-one for each store or vendor she planned to visit

I LOVED the flowerboxes and Nonno would always let me buy a paper cone of seed from the old lady vendors who walked the piazza. I would throw some out for the hundreds of pigeons that would gather and then squeal in fright and delight till he scooped me up to his shoulders.

This is the Villa Valmarana. I would beg my grandfather to tell me the story each and every time we strolled past. According to legend (and my Nonno), it was built by a very rich Count who had a daughter who was born a dwarf. He loved her dearly and never wanted to see her hurt. He formed a colony of dwarves which his daughter never left-therefore she would never know she was different. The story says that she somehow saw and fell in love with a knight from the outside world and he cruelly told her the truth. Upon realizing that she would never be able to marry him, she threw herself out a window. Of course none of this is true, but Oh the romance to a young girl hearing the story! The castles of Romeo and Juliet are visible in the distance-there is no more beautiful or romantic country-my heart and soul remain there to this day.

I actually found this on The undying myth of Romeo and Juliet, considered the most romantic love story of all times, is authentically rooted in Vicenza’s territory. It was, in fact, Luigi Da Porto, born in Vicenza , commander in the Serenissima army and original poet, who wrote it in 1524. and was a commander of a military company of the Serenissima and original poet. The novel, that tells about the unfortunate love story between two young noble people, Juliet and Romeo, is set in the hills of Vicenza, with the two face-to-face castles, that are still visible in Montecchio, forming the background of the story. The great dramatist William Shakespeare was inspired by this novel and he made it famous in 1597. The legend wants in fact that the two young people belonged one to the family of the capuleti and the other to that of Montecchi, implacable enemies. In Contrà Porti in Vicenza the palace where Luigi da Porto lived, is still visible. Just a 15 minute drive from Vicenza, the town of Montecchio Maggiore has been inhabited since the late Stone Age, though it was invaded and occupied many times. Two castles built about 975 are claimed to be the inspiration for the Romeo and Juliet legend. Luigi del Porta of Vicenza set the story here in his novel of 1552.

With memories of my grandparents, my childhood and the beautiful country of my ancestors in mind I decided to share a recipe for Paglia e Fieno. The literal translation is Hay and Straw which is represented by the fettucine in two colors of green and white. 

Paglia e Fieno

12 ounces plain fresh linguine
12 ounces spinach fresh linguine
1/4 cup olive oil
about 1 pound (more or less) boneless chicken (breasts or thighs) diced
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I use a garlic press and then mince again)
1 pkg, fresh mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
sliced sundried tomatoes, julienned
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups (could be more or less) chicken broth
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan
Put up a huge pot of water to boil for the pasta-remember, it needs to be LARGE for this much pasta
Heat olive oil in a large pan and add chicken. Cook 3-4 minutes till brown. When chicken is browned, add pasta to boiling water. Add garlic to chicken, stir, then add mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook and stir 2-3 minutes. Add wine and cook till just about evaporated. Add broth and heavy cream and simmer till thickened while you drain pasta. Swirl in butter, salt and pepper and add pasta to pan. Stir to mix, top with grated parmesan and serve
** if it seems dry, add a touch more broth and/or cream to taste

This is SO good

As Always,

Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,

xoxo Pattie and Allie


  1. Thanks for sharing another delicious recipe AND some of your childhood memories.

  2. What treasures you must have! Those little booties are exquisite. Your Nonno was a good looking man. And your Nonna - what a spit fire she must have been. My grandmother was the same.... Wee Winnie is what they called her. She stood 4'10" and would knock you off your feet if she wanted to.


  3. Another super post today. I loved the baby shoes and was charmed by your family history. T love straw and hay and I think I live your recipe better than my own. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  4. Can't wait to get Husband to make that wonderful dish. Your photos are beautiful. We spent 2 of the most wonderful weeks in Italy about 10 years ago and hope to go back again soon.

  5. Pattie there is only one other country I would choose to live other than the US and that would be Italy. Sharing your memories are so special.

    Oh and the recipe looks good too

  6. I was entranced, starting with your precious baby shoes and ending with the meal. this post has heart and soul, with seasoned with a hearty welcome to all. Frances Mayes, move over!

  7. ciao!! scusami ma non so l'inglese!:(

    grazie della tua visita nel mio blog! è un piacere conoscerti!!io abito a Padova vicino a Vicenza!!

    il tuo blog è molto bello e interessante, ho letto il tuo profilo! (uso google translator)

    tornerò a trovarti!!
    un abbraccio!!

  8. Hi Pattie!

    Oh man, once again, this recipe looks so good! i am drooling!

    By the way,come over to my blog and claim your blogger award! I just gave you an award!! :)

  9. Oh that recipe looks YUMMY~! love all the photos too. My Hubby is in Pavia visiting family for a month. Love your new blog layout too..I'm sneakin over to swipe those BEAUTIFUL bowls~!!! great post in every way sweetie.
    Brightest Blessings

  10. Grazie tanto! What an enchanting story and post. The pictures make me want to visit your beautiful ancesteral country. So Beautiful! I was amazed with the story of the real Romeo and Juliet! And the recipe E 'stato fantastico!

  11. Beautiful pictures, and I love your baby shoes. The pasta looks wonderful.

  12. Thank you so much for visiting me. I am so happy to have found you and I enjoyed your wonderful story. I have been thinking of making Hay and Straw soon and will think of you when I do.

  13. Oh I devoured every word of this post -- it is wonderful ... what amazing memories you have, and how lucky to have spent summers in such a beautiful and historic spot, with such kind and loving grandparents. Then I got to the recipe -- it's fabulous. A keeper -- and I'll make it soon!

    (And those baby shoes? Love them; what do babies wear now? I am so out of the loop!)


  14. Fantastic shots. I cannot wait to try this recipe. I sooo enjoyed this post! You do realize that i am living vicariously through you, right?

  15. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. How wonderful to see a post on Italy. My daughter-n-law is Italian and she and my son and their babies live in Nashville where he went to college and then they met at church. Her parents live in Ferrara. That recipe looks wonderful and I will have to try it and maybe make it when they visit and not tell her and let it be a surprise!

  16. Oh, and I forgot to tell you we have been to Italy twice, once on a group trip before my son even met his future wife, and then we went a couple of years ago and stayed with her family and they had a big reception over there so the Italian side of the family could be part of the wedding that took place earlier in the year. This was in 2006.

    Also I read you live in Chapel Hill, N C. I am from Greensboro originally and my parents went to UNC at Chapel Hill.

  17. What a truly wonderful post, full of history, and food! What could be better? Those booties are so so cute, they just do not make them like that anymore!!~ That recipe looks wonderful and me being Italian I will be sure to make it....sounds very low fat LOL!!~

  18. Thank you for dropping by and saying hi! You are right about the wallpaper- It was in great condition - the main issue I had with it was that it was so very dark and even with lights on in the room you still had trouble seeing. I love light and you walk into the dining room from the upstairs- I need some brightness to wake up to first thing in the morning!

    How wonderful to be able to experience other countries and enjoy all the culture and beauty! I would so love to do some traveling someday!

    Everyone including me seems to love those darling shoes you showed us!


  19. Excellent post. Love the baby shoes, love all the photos - but that food, WOW! :-)

  20. Gorgeous post. I love hearing the history.

    The meal looks delicious!

  21. The Romeo and Juliet background history you gave us is really fascinating! I was an English major who studied Shakespeare, but I don't ever remember learning all of that. Interesting!

  22. That is indeed a great post and a great recipe! Thanks for sharing :)

  23. It doesn’t make sense
    That you should have a broken heart
    If I were the only one
    I’d never let you fall apart
    You’re the kind of woman
    That needs a man with lots of cash
    With a stack of major credit cards
    And with me you don’t have to ask

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  24. I give good love
    I’ll buy your clothes
    I’ll cook your dinner too
    Soon as I get home from work
    I’ll pay your rent
    Your faithful lover
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