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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

I Piaceri d'Italia: Fragole

There are some times in life when you are waiting for the big things to sort themselves out. So in the meantime, it is important, even necessary, to focus on the little things, the small pleasures in life. Here is a series dedicated to the little joys of being in Rome.

Le Fragole: Strawberries

It is strawberry season. So that means indulging on a bounty of wonderful recipes involving fragole, or just on the strawberries themselves! Here are some ways to enjoy them:

Pizza di Fragole 
Photo top right... if you couldn't figure it out.
Obsessed with pizza? Substitute nutella for tomato sauce and strawberries for cheese and you have a new classic!

Crostata Fragolina
Photo bottom left
This is the piccolissima version of the Crostata or Torta di Fragoline. Essentially, small pies filled with cream made in part with mascarpone cheese and topped with fragoline, wild mini strawberries that taste more like berries than the large versions do.

Photo bottom right
An alcoholic aperitif made of the fragola grape. Fragoline, mentioned above, have the pleasure of being submerged in this sweet, almost syrupy, delicious liqueur. Watch out when eating the fragoline at the end though. They are potent!

Lastly, more things you can do with strawberries:
  • Count seeds instead of sheep to make you drowsy. The average strawberry has 200 seeds. 
  • Give a dozen strawberries instead of a dozen roses next Valentine's Day. Strawberries and roses are in the same family.
  • Eat and Be Merry: The ancient Romans believed that strawberries alleviated symptoms of melancholy. They also believed that strawberries could help with fainting, inflammations, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, bad breath, attacks of gout, and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen.
  • Take a step toward world peace: In medieval times, leaders served strawberries at important functions to bring peace and prosperity.
  • Most importantly, FALL IN LOVE: one folk lore claims that if you split a double strawberry in half and share it with the opposite sex, you’ll fall in love. If only it were that easy...
  • More fun facts courtesy of the London Strawberry Festival.