I’ve lived in the Piemonte region of Italy for many years now and it’s become very clear from my point of view, that it’s far easier to live a healthier lifestyle here.
One of the major advantages is the good weather of course, this means as a keen cyclist I can get out more which in turn gives me a great feel good factor.
I’ve noticed that in almost all of the villages here, you find great outdoor sport facilities, all with floodlights so you can play long into the night if you so desire. In fact during summer you see many Italians playing football way past midnight. It’s no wonder Italy is so good at the sport.
Most villages have outdoor swimming pools which serve as great entertainment for the kids during the summer break. All these pools have somewhere to eat so you can spend the whole day there and get fit at the same time.
Just when you thought Christmas was over here in Italy, we now await the arrival of the Befana.
When I was living in the UK, all of the decorations and Christmas tree would be down by now and the festivities would be truly over. Here in Italy Christmas ends after the arrival of the Befana on the eve of Epiphany ( January 5th), and in fact as you travel around you can see that many of the shops are still closed and those that are open are still playing Festive Music!
The story goes that an old lady (La Befana) was asked to go with the three kings to Bethlehem but refused, she later changed her mind and decided to try and find baby Jesus. She rode on a broomstick and delivered toys to children on route.
The story goes that she gives coal to naughty kids and presents to those that have been good.
I’ve always been confused as what sort of gifts to buy and how much to spend, especially after the outlay at Christmas. I’ve spoken to many Italians in the area who have informed me it’s best to buy some sweets in a stocking and a small gift, in fact most sweet shops sell black confectionery that looks like coal.
La Befana is depicted as a witch but not necessarily an evil one and of course most toy shops sell a version of her.
I must admit that it’s taken a little while to fully get into this extended form of Christmas but now I truly love it, especially as I prepare the gifts etc for my small son.
Happy New Year
With summer fast approaching, Italy prepares itself for the various outdoor music festivals which are such a highlight of the year.
In Alba we kick off with the Alba Jazz festival that takes place between 7/10 June. The concerts will be held in some of Alba’s most beautiful Piazze (squares). Artists include, Luca Mannutza,Lorenzo Tucci,Paolo Fresu and Hamish Stuart.
My favorite is the Monforte Jazz festival held in July in the historic centre of Monforte d’Alba near Barolo. The concerts are held over a period of a week or so in a small amphitheater. We usually start off we diner in the main Piazza and head off toward the concert. It’s such a great atmosphere that words can’t really describe.
At the moment we are still waiting for the line up of the Monforte festival, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll keep you posted.
My family and I have enjoyed yet another wonderful Christmas here in the Langhe region of Piemonte. Alba itself looked truly beautiful with all the decorations particularly Piazza Savona which as you can imagine was bubbling with local life and looked so glamorous with it’s decorations.
People often ask me how an Italian Christmas differs to that of the UK. Well I suppose in my opinion it’s not so commercialized with more aspect placed on the religious considerations. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the big push on parents to buy presents for the kids etc, it’s just a little more low key.
One major difference is that the Christmas period extends a little, with La Befana. She is a witch who travels on a magic broom and on the night of January 5th delivers sweets to children who have been good and coal to those who have not. Children leave out their stockings hoping for them to be filled with goodies.
For an Englishmen like myself I find it a little strange that all the old Xmas songs are played again during this period, however its still a fun time to enjoy.
Happy New Year to you all
This 203 km cycle race began in Piasco and finished in Novi Ligure and touched the provinces of Asti, Alessandria and Cuneo. It also actually went past my house!!
The country lane in which I lived had been closed off for a couple of hours to allow the riders to past through the area. Although not as glamorous and the Giro d’Italia, there was still a great party atmosphere with all the support vehicles and police passing through before the riders appeared.
The riders all seemed pretty relaxed and were talking to each other non stop !! I’m sure it got more serious towards the end though. Eventually it was Daniel Moreno who was the best of the group that sprinted at the end with Mark Cavendish (UK) dropping out earlier on.
It truly was a loverly experience to brighten up the working day.
Sorry about the quality of the photo, it was taken with my Iphone, but it gives you a feel for what was going on.
The riders go past my house