Friday, July 20, 2012

Italian Culture & "Sofia's Peas And Pasta"

A few days ago I was watching a video called “Discovery Atlas: Italy Revealed.” It depicts the passionate culture of Italy as it follows six stories of Italians, including a jockey participating in a traditional “palio,” to a former fisherman trying to set a diving record off Sicily’s coast, to the Missoni family of the fashion world, and a Venetian gondoliers attempt to keep his family in his native city. I was amazed while I was watching this very scenic and heart warming video. It brought to mind that the Italian people are on a journey, that features many cultural customs such as fashion, cinema, food, music, and architecture just to name a few.

When the Italian’s came to the United States, they developed many customs that were not part of their lives before they came here; creating a culture that is independent of any other. As I continued to think about this, I thought that it would be an interesting subject to share with you my readers about Italy‘s cultural icons.
Giovanni & Sofia
(my great grandparents)

Since, my great grandparents came from Italy to the United States I can understand the culture behind my family's heritage. It must have been extremely challenging for them to come to another country, with another language and now have to learn how to fit in with other customs that they did not understand. I feel very blessed and honored to have come from a background of exceptionally strong and dedicated men and women to seek a better life for their families. Here are some of the famous Italian Cultural Icons that may give you a better understanding of why Italy is the birthplace of Western Culture and is often nicknamed ll Bel Paese (The Beautiful Country).

Architecture: Italy has a very broad and diverse architectural style. Some famous structures are the Coliseum, Tower of Pisa, Grand Canal (Venice), Sistine Chapel, and St Peter’s Square (Vatican).

Visual Art: Over the centuries, Italian Art has gone through many changes. Italian painting is traditionally illustrated by warmth of colors and light. Some famous paintings and figures are Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo’s David, others by Raphael, Donatello, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. Many of these artifacts are religious in nature.
Literature: The basis of the modern Italian language was established by the poet Dante Alighieri (The Divine Comedy), Boccaccio, Leopardi, Petrarch (invented the sonnet), Giordano Bruno, and Niccolo Machiavelli.

Music: From folk to classical, music has always played an important role in Italian culture. The Italian Opera, O sole mio, Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Verdi, Toscanini, Rossini, Puccini, Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, and Enrico Caruso.

Cinema: The Italian film industry was born between 1903 and 1908. Some famous icons are, Dario Argento, Rossano Brazzi, Federico Fellini, Isabella Rossellini, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Anna Magnani, Roberto Benigni and Dino De Laurentiis.

Fashion and Design: Italian fashion is regarded as one of the most important in the world. Milan, Florence, and Rome are Italy’s main fashion capitals. Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo, Gucci, Prada, Pucci, Valentino, and Versace.

Italian Cuisine: Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Cheese and wine are major parts of the cuisine, playing different roles both regionally and nationally. Some famous dishes include pasta, pizza, lasagna, focaccia, gelato, bread, olive oil, salami, Parma ham, coffee, and cappuccino.

Famous Places: Adriatic Sea, Bologna, Calabria, Catania, Emilia-Romagna, Mt. Etna, Florence, Genoa, Lake Como, Milan, Modena, Naples, Pisa, Rome, Perugia, Parma, Sardinia, Sicily, Turin, Tuscany, Tyrrhenian Sea, Venice, Verona, and Mt. Vesuvius.

Italy is filled with beauty, culture and history. There is so much more to this boot shaped country and its people. My recipe this week is one that my great-grandmother Sofia passed down and eventually it was taught to me. It is a simple but yet very tasty dish that is from Calabria, where my mother’s family originated from in Italy.

"Sofia’s Peas & Pasta"

Ditali, Shells or any small pasta -1 lb
1 pound of fresh or frozen peas
2 large onions sliced
Garlic 1 clove sliced
Oil olive, coat pan
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Pecorino Romano to taste or to top dish

In large pot bring salted water to a rapid boil. Cook pasta according to directions until the pasta is al dente. Meanwhile heat olive oil in pot and add sliced garlic. Now add onions when garlic is softened and color is light. Sauté onions till soft and translucent. Next add peas, plus a small amount of pasta water to coat peas. Add salt and pepper, cook until tender. By this time pasta should be cooked, drain and add to peas with onions. Mix well and add grated cheese to top your dish. Serve immediately. Yields: 4-6

Till Next Time……….. 
Copyright © 2012 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well. Thanks for sharing this information. And I’ll love to read your next post too.


  2. Hi Zonia, welcome! Thanks for your lovely comment. This blog post was very detailed and was fun to write. Also the recipe is delicious! I am so happy that you enjoyed reading this post, as I know you will love many others. Please do come back and feel free to comment at any time. Dottie :)