Give ‘Italy’ This Christmas

Florence Copyright Carla Coulson

I am off to Italy for Christmas this year!
I was secretly hoping that I might be able to jump on a plane and spend it with my family in Australia but that looks like a slim chance at the moment. Instead I am off to my other family in Puglia to spend Christmas all’italiana.
If I can’t spend it with my family in Australia there is no other family I would rather sit around a long table groaning with food  than with Francesco’s family. I have an inkling they are baking, chopping, preparing and cooking as I write.
The celebrations (and eating) start on Christmas Eve and go non-stop till we roll back onto the plane a week later.
It feels as though we pass the entire holidays at the table. Each meal blurs into the next and when we struggle up from the table a week has passed.
The baccala has blended with the panzarottis, the cime de rape and the dolce - thank-god for the grappa to wash it all down.
For all of you (like me) who love Italy with a passion I have my Chrissie list ready chock full of Italian, films, books, music and design. All the things I have listed below have got my heart thumping through the years and as Italy has been good to me, I am going to be good to her.
I am giving Italy this Christmas!!

I devoured Gods Mountain in a two hour trip home from Naples to Paris. This tender story of a thirteen year old Neapolitan boy brought tears to me eyes. So beautiful.

I love Zoe Boccabella’s taleof discovering Italy through her Italian families home in Abruzzo. I adored her boyfriend in the book who was so totally in love with everything Italian that he reminded me of myself when I first landed in Italy.

Let’s face it what Italy lover doesn’t dream about owning their own slice of Italy. I sure do. I have stalked real estate windows in every town in Italy. Wishing and hoping and praying there is a bargain for Carla!! I know the fabulous Lisa at renovating Italy has dived in.. If you do want to end up owning what the real estate agent has promised this book will help!!

I am mad for all things Mediterranean.. I have pored over every page and plant in this book dreaming of my Mediterranean garden. I love Heidi Gildemeistersapproach to a waterwise garden, imagine not ever having to water the garden and how fabulous for the planet. I just need the garden!!

The first thing that happens in our morning is the struggle to the kitchen to get the Moka on the stove and the coffee pumping. Our Moka is on its last legs so I am dreaming of this beautifully designed Alessi number to give our kitchen a lift and to make our morning even prettier.

I just have to look at this can and I think of my husband. If I ever had to pass an immigration test (aka the film Greencard) about what brand of coffee ‘his gorgeousness’ drinks I would do it with flying colours. He has Illy stamped all over him.

Francesco’s grandmother has promised more pasta making lessons this Christmas. The dear woman has persevered with me and my big mits punching holes in what should be ‘little ears’ (orecchiette). This Christmas she has promised to show me how to make lasagne and tagliatelle and she has a little machine clamped onto her kitchen bench just like the one above that squeezes out lovely flat pasta.

Tessa Kiros has made me look like a queen (or at least a cook)! After having the great fortune to spend almost two years in a Florentine kitchen with the divine Popi I longed to cook all those Tuscan classics that Popi often cooked up. And then I found Twelve. I love Twelvefor many reasons. First the recipes really work and I mean really work!! I have grown-ups scraping their plates after serving Tessa’s lemon and almond cake. About 200 people have asked me for this recipe. I also love that the book is divided into the twelve seasons. In the middle of winter when there is only a carrot and a pumpkin on my vege stall at the local market I flick to December and Tessa has a recipe for these two forlorn winter vegetables. Fabulous

Bread and Tulipshas to be one of my all time favourite Italian films. I think I have seen it about half-a-dozen times and loved every romantic inch of it. It is the story of a women who is in a love-less marriage and on holiday with her family and gets left at a truck stop. She hitches a ride with someone going to Venice and never wants to go home. Venice has never looked so good as in this film. CARLA LOVES THIS FILM!!!

Shot in beautiful Puglia this film was a huge hit in Italy. Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti) is a story of  two brothers who both want to come out and the families reaction. A beautiful second story runs through this film of the boys grandmother. Somewhere between hilarious and tragic

Guiseppe Tornatore’s masterpiece Cinema Paradiso, that many say is an auto-biographical story on Tornatore’s love affair with cinema as a young boy living in a small town in Sicily. This is a ‘two boxes of Kleenex’ film if you have a romantic heart like mine and is a wonderful nostalgic look at Sicily.

Murano! Can they do anything wrong? I have been drooling over these glasses for sometime now. What about that smoke effect created with the beautiful blue??

I guarantee an Oil and Vinegar set sits on every Italian table. But this oil and vinegar set are for the design freak in all of us. Two design masters created these, Italian design guru Ettore Sottsassand those incredible folks at Alessi..They are on my wish list

Reminds me of summer days sitting on a canvas beach chair at Da Adolfo near Positano  drinking their white wine with fresh peaches. Da Adolfo serves it from a beautiful ceramic pitcher just like this.. I just have to see one of these and I feel like heading to Positano.  Would also look great in my future Italian country home one day!!

Francesco introduced me to the effervescent Vinicio Capossela. I love all sorts of Italian music and Vinicio definately has his own sound. But for me his music will be forever linked to Francesco and us driving to the fartherest corners of Puglia with Vinicio in the background.

I am not sure whether this should be technically in my Italian list but for me this chair will be forever linked to my Italian memories. I sat in this fabulous Wassily chair (designed by legendary Bauhaus founder Marcel Breuer) most days during my two year sojuorn at Popi’s.  Cool cat Popi had her house made-over in the 70’s and she has more design pieces than most showrooms. I always loved that she was never precious about them and let us all lie around on her Le Corbusier lounge and let us do our homework swinging in her Wassily Chair.

My list goes on and on with things I love about Italy..If you dare you can check out more of my favourites here.

What are you giving for Chirstmas??

Italy Forever

ps: these are Carla’s pick of Italy

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31 Responses to Give ‘Italy’ This Christmas

  1. Ivy Clad says:

    Sounds like a most fabulous time! Do enjoy!!


  2. Luis Gomez says:

    Carla, have a wonderful Holiday Season in Italy. You have no idea how much I have enjoyed your posts.

  3. Vibri Wulandari says:

    Miss Florence! :( Beautiful picture though

  4. vicki archer says:

    Take me with you! xxv

  5. Corrina says:

    I love the idea of a theme for the giving at Christmas. Sometimes its books, or cooking/food theme, music, photography. This year I have been so flat out that I am yet to finish the gifts. So far my fav gift is a large timber puppet theatre from france, hand painted by Nathalie Lete for my 7yr old daughter it is so devine- I can't wait to see her face when it is revealed xxCorrina.

  6. rosanna says:

    Dear Carla, you lift my heart up with joy.
    Knowing that someone loves Italy in these dreary times it is a balm to my swollen heart.
    Thank you for your passionate love for my beloved counry.
    Best wishes, Rosanna

  7. Francesca Muir says:

    How inspiring – I think you will have a wonderful time – enjoy. Francesca

  8. Joan says:

    love this murano always look great! have fun there!

  9. Lost in Provence says:

    Well, I have to say your Christmas sounds like a dream!! Right down to pasta lessons with Nana. My. Enjoy every single minute of it please. :)

  10. Will @ Bright.Bazaar says:

    Christmas in Italy? FABULOUS! x

  11. Simone says:

    I am most envious of your Italian Christmas, recently visited myself but would love to see it at Christmas time, you are certainly not missing out on an Australian Christmas, we have had nothing but rain and cold weather!

  12. james nel says:

    Carla, Great Italian Christmas gift suggestions, thank you! You have included my all time favourite on your list too – Cinema Paradiso!!
    Have a great time in Italy – it will be a real South African Christmas for me this year – middle of Summer here…
    Best wishes James

  13. Jacqui says:

    As an Italian American, I easily related to the sentiments expressed in your posting. Definitely going to add Twelve to my hundreds of cookbooks!

  14. Lisa DeNunzio says:

    Greetings. I have just signed up for your blog. Lovely. The book and film suggestions are wonderful as well.

    I have written down all the wonderful book recommendations. Of particular interest is the book on Gardening the Mediterranean Way. I have recently created a blog My last post talks about having an 'orto' in Italy as well as a community garden in Coral Gables.

    Will look forward to some holiday reading and relaxation.

    Best, Lisa

  15. Pinecone Camp says:

    Have a fantastic time in Italy…I really have no doubt you will ;)
    By the way, I love Cinema Paradiso. Thanks for the reminder – I need to watch it this weekend.

  16. Roses, Lace and Brocante says:

    Oh Carla, it all sounds divine – sharing Christmas with your Italian family.

    But I know what it means to long for home at this special time – especially your family and the familiar Christmas celebrations that you were part of for years.

    My daughter has lived in France for 12 years and she longs for a New Zealand Christmas when the Pohutukawa trees are in bloom (our kiwi Christmas tree!!!)

    "Bread and Tulips" is my fave film too, remember when she ran out the door of the autostrada restaurant to see the bus disappearing around the corner……. then her life began!!! Makes me go all goosey!!

    Happy Christmas / Buon Natale
    Shane x

  17. lisa | renovating italy says:

    Well if you can't get to Oz then I guess Italy will just have to do lol! I can post you Aussie christmas photos…we were at the beach yesterday. And some corrugated iron ones for your hubby…

    That glass is stunning, Murano is perfection. Some old favorites and some new ones I'm sure here.

    I'd love to be in Melbourne this year for Christmas with my family but will be painting and sanding the new reno in Qld (our ticket to Italy next year).

    Buon Natale
    ciao lisa

  18. lisa | renovating italy says:

    and a big thank you for mentioning our "pile of rubble" which will one day soon become a home! Yours is there somewhere, imagine that moment when you find it….x

  19. DolceDreams says:

    Fabulous shares, grazie mille! I pinned them all for future reference!
    Buon Anno,

  20. James says:

    Have a great time Carla! Italy was my Christmas gift this year but it was early. I got back last week and the memories will last a lifetime.:)

  21. Lisa Wood says:

    oh wow xmas in Italy! How gorgeous that would be – have lots of fun!
    I love the Vinegar and Oil jars – they are gorgeous.
    Never realised that there was so many Italian DVD's – need to check some of those out :)


  22. Annette Piper says:

    What a wonderful post – took me right back to Italy and given me a shopping list to remind me of it all!

  23. Henrietta Hassinen says:

    I can't even imaging Italian christmas food, it must been HUGE really huge dinners:)
    Maybe I should make a finnish christmas list like you did Italian, that is good way introduce what good things we do have, thanks for the idea.
    Have food filling christmas week.

  24. leah of sang the bird says:

    carla, it sounds divine – Christmas with your Italian family. hopefully you get to spend some time with your family in australia soon xxx

  25. Anya adores says:

    LOVE love love. I am a great fan of the Cinema Paradiso – but you must have a look at 'La vita è bella' – OH amazing film – just amazing. Sounds like an adorable Italian Christmas – we are celebrating british Xmas this year – will be so much fun, and I particularly look forward to the London sales after:)
    Have a great weekend Carla,

  26. Picturit says:

    Lovely post have a wonderful Xmas and all the best for 2012 Best Wishes Kev x

  27. This is Belgium says:

    what can I say??

    could talk about "give Italy" and make Italy wish lists thins till the cows come home

    tanti auguri per Natale !

  28. Noosa Life&Style says:

    Love your Italian List! Oh how I wish I was going to be eating all that gorgeous Italian food! Sounds like your going to have a heavenly Christmas. I loved Bread & Tulips too and I think Marlena de Blasi might become a new favourite – Thanks! I am going to head back to Italy through her!

    Merry Christmas & Buon Natale!

    XX Kylie

  29. urban muser says:

    this is an awesome list! love that espresso maker, and i need a new one…:) have a great holiday.

  30. paperpeony says:

    Florence is one of my favourite places! A absolutely LOVE your photo in the snow! Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the food – nothing like real Italian ! Thanks for all the inspiration. Cathy

  31. Bree Oliver says:

    It's great to know another creative soul was raised in North Queensland. If I can't be in OZ for Christmas then I agree, Italy is definitely the next best option!

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