A photo quiz of Italy, Sicily and unusual things Italian…….

Answers at the bottom of the page but NO CHEATING


a) Who’s my ultimate boss (on Earth)?



b) What am I celebrating dressed like this?


c) Who brought tomatoes to Italy?


d) I’m a Greek temple but don’t live in Greece. Where am I?


e) I’m one of the Cinque Terre villages. What does Cinque Terre mean?


f) The symbol of Rome but what are the names of the babies?


g) What will happen if you throw a coin in my water?


h) You probably know me as Mickey Mouse, what’s my name in Italy?


i) I’m beautiful and a make of Italian sports car, whats the name of my marque?


j) I was put in prison for claiming the Earth revolves around the Sun, What’s my name?


k) I’m a type of house resembling a beehive, what’s my name?

Spaghetti Puttanesca

l) Spaghetti puttanesca certainly but invented by what type of working lady?


Do try and visit this wonderful country this year if you can. Have a look at https://www.italytraveltours.biz/ for the very best choice of tours.

Answers: The Pope/the Venice carnival/ the Spanish/ Valley of the Temples, Sicily/ Five lands/ Romulus and Remus/ You’ll revisit Rome/ Topolino/ Maserati/ Galileo/ Trulli/ Prostitutes

Our latest Italian quiz to test your knowledge of all things Italian….





Who founded Italy’s capital?


Romulus and Constantine

Augustus and Caesar

Remus and Romulus

Nero and Remus


What would you do with a ‘triglia’?


Play it

Laugh at it

Eat it

Adopt it


What time of day is the ‘passeggiata’?


The morning rush hour

At lunchtime

In the early evening

After dinner on football match nights


Who could be described as ‘uomo pipistrelli’?





Topo gigio


Italy borders four countries. What are they?


France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium

Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Holland

Austria, Slovenia, Holland and Croatia

France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia


Which of the following was not a famous Italian composer?





Manuel de Falla


What ‘zuppe inglese’?


A soup made from dead Englishmen

A kind of sherry trifle dessert

A dinner in an Alpine restaurant

A love song by Zuppero Inglesias


The Borgia family, a papal dynasty, came from where?







Where would you find Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’?








What did Byron call ‘the gladiator’s bloody circus’?


The Circus Maximus

The Colosseum

The Field of Mars

The Spartacus ‘ludus’


Which of these wines is a rose?



Pinot grigio




What are antipasti?


People who don’t like pasta

Hors d’oeuvre

Antipathetic people with intense aversions

Small aniseed snacks eaten before drinking pastis


Which one of the following is Italian?


Caesar’s salad

The Spanish steps

Pizza Express



Thinking of visiting this beautiful country this year. Please do take a look at the great selection of tours and vacation packages on offer by the specialists : www.italytraveltours.biz.



Answers: Eat it/In the early evening/Batman/France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia/Manuel de Falla/Remus and Romulus/A kind of sherry trifle dessert/Valencia/Rome/The Colosseum/Chiaretto/Hors d’oeuvre/The Spanish steps


‘God’s Kitchen’.

With a population of more than five million people, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean (it’s more than 4 hours by car from Taormina to Palermo). Not much by world standards but, in Europe, pretty big indeed.

god1 God’s kitchen? With a rich and unique culture, in many ways different to mainland Italy, especially with regard to the arts, cuisine, architecture and even language, Sicily is possibly Europe’s most historically cosmopolitan region. It has a ‘potpourri’ of a kitchen with influences left on its cuisine by a history of conquest and culinary influences from Greece, Rome, Byzantium, North Africa, Spain, Normandy and Germany. For instance apricots, sugar, citrus, rice, cinnamon, saffron, raisins, nutmeg, clove, pepper and pine nuts all came from the Arabs while cocoa, maize, peppers, turkey, and tomatoes were introduced by the Spanish from the Americas.

godfoodTraditionally the grain store of Rome, Sicily is an agriculturally rich, sunny island ranging from temperate coastal areas to the sub tropical heat of of the interior in summer. It’s not surprising that Sicily offers some of the most diverse and mouth-watering food in Europe.

godgelLet’s look at a few of uniquely Sicilian dishes. However, before we continue, be warned…… If you are planning a diet, do it after your holiday in Sicily!

godcaponPossibly the most popular salad is Caponata, made with aubergines, olives, capers and celery.

godpizSfincione is a local ‘pizza’ variant but usually found in a bakery rather than a pizzeria. It’s made with tomatoes, onions and occasionally anchovies, baked on a thick bread base and great as a snack. Also don’t miss ‘gatò di patate’, a potato and cheese pie.


 Starters include ‘panelle’, a pastry of chick peas (ceci) which are deep-fried or ‘maccu’, a creamy soup, also made with a chick pea base. ‘Crocché’ are potato dumplings or croquettes made with cheese, parsley and eggs and ‘arancine’ are fried balls of rice filled with cheese or meat.

godfishSicily, as you would expect with such an extensive coast, has a great range of fish and seafood. Various types of cuttlefish, octopus and squid are often served with pasta (in the Trapani area, they use couscous). A local variant is cuttlefish and pasta cooked in its natural black ink, a similar dish is popular my part of Spain but made with rice, ‘arroz negro’. Snapper, tuna, bream, bass and swordfish are particularly good while sardines are a mainstay, one delicious Sicilian variant being ‘finnochio con sarde’, sardines cooked with fennel. My personal favourite is ‘spaghetti ai ricci’, spaghetti with sea urchin, which has become widely known in neighbouring Malta.godrici

godvitello‘Vitello al marsala’ (veal cooked in sweet marsala wine), or its chicken alternative, is probably the most popular dish for tourists. Goat and lamb, often served of flavoured with citrus fruit are generally very good but you might like to try ‘milza’ a sandwich made with calves spleen. This is actually very tasty but, for most of us, one particular dish only for the brave-hearted and adventurous…..

godpastieriSicily really gets into its own with desserts and this is why you will certainly need to either diet after your vacations or buy a larger trouser or dress size!

godfrutaSONY DSC

‘Cannoli’ are wonderful tubes of light pastry stuffed with a creamy, sweetened ewe’s milk filling, ‘cassata’ being similar but in the form of a cake. A feast for your eyes as well as your tastebuds are ‘frutta di martorana’, marzipan moulded, flavoured and coloured to resemble real fruit.

GODGRAN‘Granita’ a kind of sorbet usually flavoured with orange, lemon or strawberry is renowned worldwide but the true ‘king’ of Sicilian dessert is the ice-cream, ‘gelato’. With a truly stunning selection of flavours, gelato can probably be described as the world’s first ice-cream, dating back to when fleets of runners were despatched from the icy peaks of Mount Etna with their precious parcels of snow to produce the gelato with which liven up jaded Roman palates. Interestingly, India has a similar history with ‘kulfi’ being produced in the same way with ice from the Himalayas. In the limited space we have here it’s impossible to really do justice to the Sicilian kitchen and we haven’t even started on the wines! Do try to visit this fantastic, enchanting and bewitching island this year, it’s as different from Venice or Milan as London is from Moscow….

Choose your tour operator well as some holiday companies do not specialise. My personal recommendation is a holiday which also combines the fascination of nearby Malta: https://www.italytraveltours.biz/sicily-and-malta

Many thanks to my Sicilian friend, Davide Reale, for his corrections here (he’s a great cook too). Passati na buona iurnata.


Carnevale di Venezia, a little (light-hearted and condensed) history.

One of the greatest parties in the world, certainly the most flamboyant in terms of color, cost and style, the Venice Carnival has not had the unbroken history most tourists ven1believe.

The word “carnevale” derives from the Latin for “farewell to meat” and refers to the Christian tradition of giving up meat-eating in Lent (the time before Easter). Naturally, it’s a great opportunity to overindulge in the days preceding Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Martidi Grasso or Mardi Gras, whatever you want to call it, with plenty of merrymaking before the ‘suffering’ begins…. It’s a tradition celebration time in many parts of the world but, with the extravagant masks and costumes, Venice does it a little differently, with a great deal of style from the comic to the sinister, the bizarre to the beautiful.ven2

The wearing of masks for street parties in Italy long precedes Christian times. The Romans celebrated in the same vein, with even slaves being allowed to wear masks. A little like school uniforms, the mask was a social leveller offering little distinction between social classes (except the evident cost of the outfit! Sorry I’m a cynic). ven9

The tradition of masks in Venice can be traced back to the 1200’s but the heyday of the Carnival was in the 1700’s when, decadence really set in. This was possibly as a result of Venice´s loss of mercantile power and influence due to the rise of Dutch and British trade monopoly. What better way to forget your problems than in an orgy of vice, fornication, drunkenness, dancing, music, gluttony, gambling and general irresponsibility. Sounds good to me…..     ven3

After the dastardly French, under Napoleon Bonaparte, conquered Venice in 1797, the glory days of the Venetian Republic virtually ended, cash flow declined as did the carnival. ven4

Astonishingly fascist dictators and puritans have something in common, they’re all killjoys! The final death note of the carnival was in the 1930s when Mussolini banned it totally. ven5

Thankfully, Venetian businessmen, never ones to miss a moneymaking opportunity, revived the tradition in 1979 and the cash registers continue to ring more loudly every year. ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

Whatever the history, the Carnival is one of the events that no tourist should miss, it´s spectacular. However beware…. trying to find accommodation in Venice during Carnival is more than a nightmare, it´s impossible. ven8

If you want to visit and I do urge you to go, use an experienced specialist tour operator such as Allegro Holidays (part of the award-winning Blue Danube Holidays Group), they will even help you rent costumes. For dates and prices, have a look at: http://www.allegroholidays.com/Carnival_in_Venice-Package-Independent.htm