venerdì 27 gennaio 2017

Chiacchiere: the real taste of Italian Carnival

All over Italy, there are no Carnival celebrations without chiacchiere, a crispy fried dessert, which represents the real taste of Italian Carnival for both children and adults.
These crispy strips of dough are made throughout Italy and are called by various names: frappe, bugie, cenci. The word "chiacchere" is used in Campania region and in all the Southern Italy.

Learn how to make delicious Chiacchiere

4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup light rum or liqueur of your choice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Sift the flour into a bowl. Sift the baking powder into the flour and stir them together. Set aside.
 In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, wine, rum, sugar, vanilla, and eggs.  Whisk until well blended.
Add the flour to the egg mixture 1 cup at a time, blending with a fork. Once you have incorporated all the flour, knead the dough briefly in the bowl with one hand until it is soft and smooth. It will be moist and a little sticky but refrain from adding flour if you can. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.
 Flatten the dough with a pasta machine or a rolling pin into a 1/8-inch-thick sheet, as for a pie crust, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. With a fluted pastry cutter, cut the dough into strips about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long. Cut a 2-inch lengthwise slit in the center of each strip. Pick up a strip, insert one end through the slit and pull it through.
Put 4 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy 6-quart pot and place over moderately high heat.
When the oil reaches 375ºF, you can begin frying the chiacchiere. Work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot. Using a large, shallow stainless-steel skimmer or a slotted spoon, transfer few pieces of dough to the hot oil. They will puff immediately. Fry the chiacchiere keeping them constantly in motion, until they are golden all over, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes.
Transfer them to a tray lined with paper towels to drain briefly, then put them on a serving platter. Dust heavily with confectioner’s sugar while still warm.

Copyright, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved

venerdì 20 gennaio 2017

Sfogliatella: the delicious taste of Campania region

When you stay in Salerno, you can’t miss the Sfogliatella, the delicious shell-shaped filled Italian pastry native to Campania.

The word sfogliatella means "small, thin leaf/layer", as the pastry's texture resembles stacked leaves.

The Sfogliatella was created in the monastery of Santa Rosa in Conca dei Marini in the province of Salerno, Italy, in the 17th century. Pasquale Pintauro, a pastry chef from Naples, acquired the original recipe and began selling the pastries in his shop in 1818.
      Sfogliatella Santa Rosa

Main dough ingredients are salt, shortening and flour, while fillings include orange-flavored ricotta, almond paste and candied peel of citron.
In Neapolitan cuisine there are two kinds of the pastry: "sfogliatella riccia" ("curly"), the traditional version, and "sfogliatella frolla," a less labor-intensive pastry that uses a shortcrust dough and does not form the sfogliatella's characteristic layers.

Riccia or frolla? Which one would you prefer?

We are waiting for you at Accademia Italiana in Salerno to find it out!

lunedì 16 gennaio 2017

“Discover Salerno: the Lombard prince Arechi II and its castle ”

The Arechi Castle is one of the main monuments of Salerno. It is a medieval castle, which takes its name from the Lombard Prince Arechi II, who fortified it at the end of VIII century. Situated at 300 meters above-sea level, the Castle lies on Bonadies hill, giving a wonderful view of the city and the Gulf of Salerno. The oldest building phase, according to some archaeological investigations, dates back to the third century, in the late Roman period.

In 774 the prince Arechi II moved the capital of the Duchy of Benevento to Salerno, considering the strategic position of the city for trading with other regions of the Mediterranean Sea. The castle became the vertex of a triangular defense system, whose walls came down along the slopes of the hill Bonadies.

Under the Norman, Angevin and Aragonese dominions the castle underwent many transformations. In particular, to the Norman-Angevin period belongs the tower called the Bastille, built to ensure the control of the castle from the north and so called because during the XIX century it was wrongly considered a prison.

After a long period of neglect following the unification of Italy, in 1960 the castle was acquired by the Province of Salerno which began the restoration work. Nowadays the castle houses a Multimedia Museum and an Archaeological Museum hosting several finds, such as ancient coins, ceramic wares, glass objects and so on.

Visit Salerno and learn more about its fascinating history with Accademia Italiana!

venerdì 13 gennaio 2017


By Haley
Some of our American Students, who joined our Faculty Led Program at Accademia Italiana in the summer 2015, would like to share with us their impressions and feelings about their Study Abroad experience in Italy and in Salerno.

Why did you choose Accademia Italiana for your Study Abroad?
I chose Accademia Italiana because it was a program that was affiliated with Ole Miss and there were great reviews from students in the past who have done this program.

What was your favorite part about Salerno?
My favorite part about Salerno was the daily interaction with my host family. They were so warm and welcoming and the language barrier really encourages the utilization the Italian curriculum. I was excited to show them what I had learned and communicate on a more advanced level.

What made your experience studying abroad in Salerno unique?
My experience was unique because I had never traveled to Italy before and I was excited to experience all that it had to offer and further my language skills. The location of the program, being in Salerno, is unique because it surrounds you with non-english speaking Italians, rather than in Rome where almost everyone spoke English due to the tourism.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff were incredible and made the program fun and enjoyable. They are so patient and understanding of the difficulties of language immersion and took the time to work through and explain any issues that we had.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
My typical day in the Salerno program started by waking up and making a piece of toast with Nutella followed by some fresh fruit and espresso. Then I would gather my school binder and journal and head out with my roommate for Accademia Italiana. It was less than a ten minute walk from my host family's apartment and I enjoyed the small town scenery on my way. Once at the building we would buzz-in and walk up to the floor of the school. Class sizes were small and it helped everyone have more one-on-one time with the teacher. Classes were intense and used little to no English, which really encouraged our comprehension of Italian. We would have an early afternoon break from class to go and grab a coffee or light snack before heading back into class. This was a nice relief and we usually went across the street to the small café and grabbed a cappuccino and pastry. After classes were over all the students would gather in the computer room for a presentation given by different members of the staff. The presentation topics varied from "Italian Gestures" to "The Evolution of Italian Cuisine" and they were a time for group discussion. After school my roommates and I would walk back to our host family's home to wash up and finish our journals for the day. Dinner was served at 8 o'clock each night during the weekdays and it went through the night ending around 11 o'clock. There were multiple courses served and all were fresh and homemade, basically the best food I have ever tasted in my entire life. We would toast with red wine throughout the meal and then near the end we would drink a dessert liquor and head to bed to do it all over again in the morning.

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time I liked to walk around the town of Salerno with my friends and explore the many shops and restaurants. We would meet new people from all over Italy and the world. It was quite a bit of walking and I was so glad that I packed good shoes!

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
My accommodation made my Salerno experience that much better. My host family was so incredibly patient and welcoming to my roommates and me. They had a two story apartment and owned the entire floor of their building so there were multiple bedrooms and a lot of space for all of us to inhabit. It was a beautiful apartment with a large terrace that overlooked the entire city of Salerno. We were so thankful to our host family and still keep in touch through social media.

Now that you're home, how has your time in Italy impacted your life?
My time in Italy will forever impact my life for the better. It was such an enriching experience that you can only get from full immersion into a foreign country. I've wanted to go back as soon as I left! My language skills were rapidly increased due to the communication attempts at home as well as at the school. I was surrounded by fellow classmates who were just as eager to increase their Italian language level and that was so encouraging for the language development. Overall, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Accademia Italiana family and I highly encourage anyone interested in learning the Italian language to do the Salerno program.

venerdì 6 gennaio 2017

Epiphany in Italy: the character of Befana and the Italian folklore

L’Epifania tutte le feste si porta via” is an Italian saying which means “Epiphany carries away all festivities”. Actually the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated on 6 January with a national holiday in Italy, is a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. Befana, a hag riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl, plays a starring role in this feast and is loved as much as Santa Claus. In popular folklore Befana visits all the Italian children on the night of 5 to 6 January to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good or a lump of coal if they are bad.

The Legend
Probably the name Befana is derived from the Italians' mispronunciation of the Greek word Epifania or Epiphaneia (in English “Epiphany”), a term which commemorates the visit of the Magi (also known as the Three Wise Men) to the Baby Jesus on 6th January.

According to the legend, a few days before the birth of the Infant Jesus, the Magi asked Befana for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The Magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, Befana is searching for the little baby, leaving all the good children toys and candy, while the bad children get coal.

The origins
The origins of Befana may actually go back farther, to the Roman’s pagan festival of Saturnalia, starting just before the winter solstice. At the end of this feast, the Romans used to go to the Temple of Juno to have their augers read by an old crone who call to mind the character of Befana.

Celebrations in Salerno
Many towns and villages celebrate the Feast of Epiphany with festivals, processions and living nativities. Every year on 5 January in the town of Pontecagnano Faiano (Salerno), an handcrafted sock record, about 70 meters long, and a procession of women dressed as Befana, greet the arrival of the hag.

Discover the folklore of Epiphany in Salerno with Accademia Italiana, we are waiting for you!