L'anno del Cibo Italiano / The Year of Italian Food

An excerpt from Dianne Hales - the author of 'La Bella Lingua'

The Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Agricultural Policies has named 2018 “The Year of Italian Food.”  While I personally feel we should celebrate Italian food every year, I’m delighted to add my voice to the chorus of praise for everyone’s favorite cucina (a triple-tasking word that can translate as cuisine, cooking and kitchen).

Italy’s food and language meld together as smoothly as cacio sui maccheroni (cheese on macaroni). Both boast a rich and rollicking history dating back to ancient times. Both vary greatly from region to region, even from village to village.  Both reflect centuries of invasion, assimilation and conquest. And both can transform daily necessities into vibrant celebrations.

Italians have long realized that we are, quite literally, what we eat.  Sapia, Latin for taste, gave rise to Italian’s sapienza (wisdom). In pursuit of divine wisdom and saintly virtues, Italians developed the tradition of “eating the gods.”   Through the yearly cycle of church holidays, they devour dita degli apostoli (fingers of the apostles, crêpes filled with sweetened ricotta); minni di Sant’Agata (breasts of Saint Agatha, stuffed with marzipan); occhi  di Santa Lucia (eyes of Santa Lucia, circles of durum bread);  and  at Christmas cartellate (the cloths that cradled the baby Jesus, made of flour, oil and dry white wine) and calzoncicchi  di Gesu Bambino  (pillows of pasta filled with a mix of pureed garbanzos, chocolate, and homemade rosolio (a liqueur derived from rose petals), fried and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon

I have adopted a similar strategy of “eating Italian” to make the language part of me.  l read aloud the lilting words for simple culinary techniques, such as rosolare for make golden, sbricciolare for crumble and sciaquare for rinse.  I  revel in the linguistic pantry of pasta shapes:  little ears, half sleeves, stars, thimbles—and the tartly named lingue di suocera, “twisted mother-in-law tongues,” and strozzapreti, “priest-stranglers” (rich enough  to sate ravenous clerics before the expensive meat course).

Desserts like zuccotto (sponge bombe filled with ice cream), ciambellone (ring cake), suspiru di Monaca (a nun’s sigh) and tiramisu (pick-me-up) glide so deliciously over the tongue that I agree with cooks who claim they can fare respirare i morti (make the dead breathe).   I’m especially fond of Rome’s lacrime d’amore  (tears of love), candy sugar pearls filled with the same sweet syrup parents serve children for a toast on special occasions.

Italian’s gastronomic words—like the dishes they describe—do more than tease or appease the appetite. They spice up daily conversations—as you’ll find in the following examples:

Words and Expressions

Prezzemolo (parsley) -- a  busybody  who noses into everything   

Salame (salami) –- a silly fool, blockhead

Mozzarella –- someone bland or boring

Polpettone (large meatball) -- a worthless or banal movie

Tutto fumo e niente arrosto  (all smoke and no roast) -- all sizzle and no steak

Dianne Hales is the author of  MONA LISA: A Life Discovered and LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.


Also an early thank you to all of our food suppliers and caterers for the Cinema Italiano Festival Opening Nights

Casamassima in Christchurch

Vetro Tauranga

Alessandros Pizzeria Havelock North

Poderi Crisci Waiheke Island

Non Solo PIzza Auckland

La Bella Italia Wellington

Matakana Deli Matakana



The Italian Film Festival screens in Matakana Cinemas - 14 to 22 March

We are so excited to be screening the 2017 Italian Film Festival Programme at the beautiful Matakana Cinemas.  The Opening Night film is 'Roman Holiday' starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, and this is the restored version of the 1953 classic!

Watch this video on what her children and grandchildren had to say about her style, personality and legacy.

","resolveObject":"","resolvedBy":"manual","resolved":true}" data-block-type="22" id="block-yui_3_17_2_1_1520197718756_34340">



Saying 'I Love You' in the Italian Language

Valentine's Day is coming, and you may be eager to discover new Italian love phrases (nuove frasi d'amore in Italiano) to impress your partner. Let's start with a basic concept that can be a bit tricky:  the difference between "ti amo" and "ti voglio bene".  These two expressions of endearment (queste due espressioni di affetto) are sometimes confused, and this can lead to many understandings (molti equivoci). That's why it's important to know how to use them.

Ti amo

Ti amo can be translated as "I love you,"  and it is generally used in a romantic context between loving couples. Remember that if someone says "ti amo" to you and the feeling is mutual (il sentimento è reciproco), the correct answer is "Anch'io" (me too). On the other hand, if you don't feel the same, you may say "Io non ti amo, mi dispiace" (I don't love you, I'm sorry) or "Non ti amo più" (I don't love you anymore).

There are some other romantic phrases (altre frasi romantiche) that you can use with your partner to emphasize your love, as for example:

    *Ti amo da morire -- I love you to death.

    *Ti amo con tutto il mio cuore -- I love you with all of my heart.

    *Ti amo più della mia vita -- I love you more than life itself.

Ti voglio bene

Ti voglio bene can also be translated as "I love you" but with a different meaning.  Ti voglio bene is not used in a romantic context, but just between friends (amici), parents and children (genitori e figli), siblings (fratelli/sorelle), etc. Other Italian phrases that you can use to show affection are:

     *Ti voglio tanto bene or ti voglio un mondo di bene -- I  love you so much.

     *TVB or TVTB --  Friends and teenagers usually shorten "ti voglio bene" or "ti voglio tanto bene" by writing the acronyms TVB or TVTB.

Effetto Brama - An Italian / NZ Concept Store

We opened our Concept Store in Havelock North yesterday - it's an extended 'Pop Up Store' so we are only in our physical space until 1 June 2018. But, we are online so please take a look at all the gorgeous things we have in store.

It's raining cats and dogs here in Havelock North so here are our favourite things for today


Missoni Umbrella $220  Handbag made in Florence $175

Missoni is a high-end Italian fashion house based in Varese, and known for its colorful knitwear designs. The company was founded by Ottavio ("Tai") and Rosita Missoni in 1953.



We're Opening a Store!

An Italian/NZ Concept Store to be specific, and we are very excited - possibly full of nerves.  This will mean that our website will also now have the addition of a Shopping Cart so you can purchase all the Italian and New Zealand goodies your wallet can sustain. 

Brands represented so far include: Vespa, Italjet, Florafox, Martino Gamper, Marvis, Proraso, Acca Kappa, L'erbolario, San Pellegrino, WearYoga, Native Agent, Klay, Mahsa, La Marzocco, Alessi, Palace Distribution, and lots of very yummy food products, our favourite Italian cookbooks, and language learning resources. 

Online Shopping coming soon!



Paolo & Renee 

Week of Italian Cuisine 20th - 26th November

Week of Italian Cuisine in the World: from 20th to 26th November 2017, various dates and locations (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch)

The Week of Italian Cuisine in the World, an event coordinated by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with the purpose of promoting Italy’s most renowned exports: “the extraordinary Italian taste” and the pleasure of eating together the Italian way, reaches its second edition. Last year this initiative took place in over 100 countries across the world. This year, New Zealand is in the list of participating countries, with a wide array of events showcasing authentic Italian traditions, high-quality products and regional specificities.

There will be 32 events across New Zealand, coordinated by the Italian Embassy, in Auckland (Giapo, JK14 wines & The Corner, Non Solo Pizza, Palazzo Italia, Pasta & Cuore, Segafredo, Settebello, Dante Alighieri Society), Wellington (La Bella Italia, Bel Mondo, Mediterranean Foods, Cicio Cacio, Franziska, Bastardo, Pizza Pomodoro) and Christchurch (Dante Alighieri Society, La Dolce Vita, Casamassima): workshops, meetings with the chefs, food-and-wine tasting and dinners, cooking classes. The Italian cuisine will also be narrated through cultural events, such as the screening of food related films and documentaries.

Two initiatives, strongly supported by this year’s Week of Italian Cuisine and incorporated in some of the events, are particularly meaningful: the candidacy of the Art of Neapolitan pizzaiuoli as UNESCO Intangible Heritage, and that of Le colline del Prosecco in Valdobbiadene’s site as UNESCO World Heritage “cultural landscape”.

The Embassy is hosting two events in Wellington: a mozzarella workshop with Massimiliano De Caro (Il Casaro), and a cooking class “Italy by Ingredient: Parmigiano” with Viola Buitoni, a San Francisco based native Italian leading food expert.

We invite you to make the most of what this week has to offer, immerse yourself into Italian culinary culture and, of course, buon appetito! #italiantaste

Flyer with all events can be downloaded HERE



L'italiano al cinema, l'italiano nel cinema

Italian at the Cinema, Italian in the Cinema

When cinema muto—silent films—first appeared in the early twentieth century, most Italians spoke in dialect; many were illiterate. After the lights went down in a theater, people would ask, “Who can read Italian?” and someone would shout out the titles. When talking pictures (film parlati) emerged in the 1930s, millions of Italians learned how to speak italiano standard, long used mainly by priests, scholars and aristocrats.

Diction schools, originally established to train radio announcers, churned out professional doppiatori (dubbers) for both foreign and homegrown films, a practice that continued through most of the twentieth century. In Italian theaters, international film stars like Greta Garbo, Laurel and Hardy, Gary Cooper and Mickey Mouse talked with “a Tuscan tongue in a Roman mouth”—classic Florentine pronounced with Rome’s more melodious accent.

After the grandiose promises of fascism imploded,  filmmakers lost funding, equipment and studios but found their voice. Directors and scriptwriters, ammucchiati (heaped together) as they put it, collaborated like artisans in a Renaissance bottega (workshop).  With unflinching, often-excruciating honesty, they recounted the stories Italians were telling each other about their bitter struggles through dictatorship, occupation, war and devastation.

The neorealistic movies did more than help Italy come to terms with a terrible time in its history; they gave dialects back to Italians. Rossellini’s 1946 film Paisà followed the Allies’ advance up the Italian peninsula in six episodes, each reflecting a different local dialect. Visconti’s La terra trema (The Earth Trembles), shot in 1948 with Sicilian fishermen speaking and singing in their dialect, required an Italian voice-over on the mainland.

The most famous of Italian directors, Federico Fellini, invented new words that remain in use today. Vitelloni, the title of one of his first films, referred to big overgrown calves but took on new meaning as a derogatory description of aimless young men. Paparazzi, the plural of the name with which he baptized an aggressive photographer in La Dolce Vita, became the universal word for celebrity-chasing news hounds.

American classics took on Italian names, such as Mezzogiorno di fuoco (Midday of fire) for High Noon, Via col vento for Gone with the Wind and Viale del Tramonto for Sunset Boulevard. They also added some unforgettable expressions to the Italian lexicon:

“Domani è un altro giorno” -- Rosella’s (Scarlett’s) famous line, “Tomorrow is another day”

“Francamente me ne infischio” -- Rhett’s response, “Frankly, I could care less” (Censors wouldn’t allow the phrase “I don’t give a damn.”)

“Suonala ancora, Sam” -- “Play it again, Sam,” from Casablanca

“Ma, dici a me?” -- “Are you talking to me?” from Taxi Driver  

“Che la forza sia con te”-- “May the Force be with you,” from Star Wars

“Amare significa non dover mai dire mi spiace” -- "Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” from Love Story


RadioNZ - Dan Slevin Preview

RadioNZ - Dan Slevin Preview

Preview: Cinema Italiano Festival
10:07 am on 31 August 2017
Dan Slevin dan.slevin@radionz.co.nz

If you still have any room left on your credit card after the New Zealand international Film Festival, Dan Slevin recommends you splurge on the latest festival celebrating Italian cinema which is on in Auckland now.

The Italian Film Festival used to be the biggest of the regional film celebrations. Piggy-backing on the massively successful Australian event, it ran out of steam post-GFC as sponsorship became harder to find, eventually giving up the ghost in 2015. The resurgence of the French Film Festival under the auspices of the Alliance Française means that they now hold the Champions League trophy for regional film festivals in New Zealand.

Italian cinema is too interesting – and too powerful – to be kept off our screens for long but it took a brave man to pick up the challenge and that man is actor, writer and director Paolo Rotondo – once a beneficiary of the previous Italian Film Festival’s boldest move during the good times, a scholarship to work alongside professional filmmakers at the fabled Cinecittá in Rome.

The Cinema Italiano festival has been quietly – and successfully – touring around the regions this year, finding understandable favour with audiences in Christchurch, Nelson, Tauranga, and Havelock North before landing in Auckland this week (and Wellington in November). If your credit card can still sustain some big screen entertainment after the gluttony of the New Zealand International Film Festival, Auckland audiences should head over to the Bridgeway in Northcote and indulge in some – it’s not antipasto if it’s after the main course, is it? – in some dolce.

Among the 20 features in the programme (including two unmissable vintage pictures – Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday which is Italian in spirit and setting at least, and Visconti’s restored classic Rocco and His Brothers), Signor Rotondo offered me an advance look at a couple.


Laura Morante is better known as an actor than a director but her Assolo (Solo) helps nudge me toward my distant goal of #52filmsbywomen in 2017 as well as being one of the more entertaining films I’ve seen this year. Morante directs herself as Flavia, a divorcee in her 40s whose fate it seems is to be disappointed by men. I’m not sure what sort of revelation this is supposed to be, but maybe in Italy it still needs saying.

From awkward family dinners to wallflower tango classes, life conspires to frustrate Flavia, and even attempts at self-pleasure are destined go awry. It’s a broad comedy – a ‘gag’ comedy – but it has a big heart and Morante plays things perfectly, even when she’s upstaged by the best dog acting I’ve seen this year.

The second film I saw was also dominated by a central performance but to slightly less success. In Veloce Come Il Vento (Italian Race), Stefano Accorsi plays Loris, a former rally driver now a heroin addict, forced to reconnect with his family after the death of his father. His teenage sister Giulia (Matilda De Angelis) is a talented driver with a shot at the Italian GT championship but now she has no coach – and if she doesn’t win the trophy the family loses the house!

Accorsi is an acquired taste – playing the junkie as physically wobbly and emotionally unreliable but as a single unrelenting note – but the supporting players conjure up shades of grey and the driving scenes are when the film really comes to life. Young director Matteo Rovere shows veteran Ron Howard (whose F1 feature Rush needed too much digital enhancement to provide anything near the excitement motorsport fans are used to every day of the week on TV) how it should be done.

(Evidently, I am out of step with Italian cinema orthodoxy here as Accorsi swept all the acting awards for Italian cinema in 2016 and 2017.)

Italian Race MV5BMjViNWUwNmItM2M3My00MzRkLThhMDMtZmE3NmYwMGRiZWI0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjI2NjMwNDU@__V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_.jpg

Opening Night & the Beginning of Italian Month in Auckland

Grazie mille to everyone that came along last night and a massive thank you to all of our sponsors!

We kicked off Italian Month in Auckland with a fabulous party and classic film, which will be followed by the Opening of the Corsini Exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery. Rialto Channel are playing all of the best films from previous Venice Film Festivals during Italian month and at the end of the month the Italiano Street Festival in Newmarket brings it to a close.


Auckland Art Gallery - The Corsini Exhibition

Auckland Art Gallery - The Corsini Exhibition

This is pretty exciting everyone! In the lead up until opening of “The Corsini Collection: A Window on Renaissance Florence” in just over a week's time, you can sign up for a Continuing Education course and gain a deeper understanding of the exhibition. Senior Curator Mary Kisler will take participants on a journey into Renaissance art and ideas drawing on the Corsini’s collection which includes remarkable artworks by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Pontormo, Rigaud and more.

Course outline

Session 1: Setting the Scene – The city of Florence, its history and its people

Through the eyes of the Corsini family, this lecture will provide an overview of the city of Florence, the leading families of the time, and in particular the Medici, encapsulated within the world view of the time.

Session 2: The Corsini family across time

The history of the Corsini family; their rise to fame, spiritually, politically and socially, on both the local and broader European stage. Although they began their relationship with Florence in discreet dwellings in Oltrano in the 14th century, they went on to build the only Baroque palace in the city, serving as a magnificent backdrop to an art collection that still remains today.

Session 3: The Collection

This final lecture will focus on the history of the collection, providing insights into some of the major works coming to Auckland, including original paintings by Botticelli and Caravaggio, as well as introducing a number of Italian artists less familiar to New Zealand audiences. This lecture will also consider the role of the Corsini family today, and the lengths the family were prepared to go to protect and retain what is now the only private collection of art in Florence.

Wed 6 Sep 2017 — Wed 20 Sep 2017
Weds 6, 13 and 20 Sep

Auditorium, lower ground level
$150 Members, $190 non-Members

And it is only $50 to become a Member of the Gallery! It makes for a perfect gift for somebody especially if you add on the +1 for $15.  You can go to any of the exhibitions as many times as you like.

Book Here

Fire At Sea - Fuocoammare and shooting on an AMIRA

The Italian director, cinematographer, producer and screenwriter Gianfranco Rosi was awarded the 2016 Golden Bear -- the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale. Rosi was recognised for his documentary feature film FIRE AT SEA, which was captured with AMIRA and examines the current European migrant crisis by focusing on the inhabitants of the Italian island of Lampedusa, where hundreds of desperate, dead or dying migrants arrive by boat every week.

Rosi spent many months on Lampedusa, getting to know the locals to a degree that allowed him to capture their everyday lives in a natural and unobtrusive way. Working entirely by himself as a one-man crew, Rosi had to take care of both sound and image recording, a feat made much easier by the AMIRA's ergonomic design and its extensive audio options.


"The AMIRA was absolutely great...when I had to film during the night the images were amazing, with the blacks really black and the light standing out with unbelievable depth. As a matter of fact, the best scenes are those I filmed in the evening or during the night; they are so beautiful that everyone is surprised and asks me "what camera did you use?" This was fundamental, because I was alone, and having a camera that in no-lighting conditions allowed me to keep shooting even when my eye was not able to see things anymore, while the AMIRA could still see and record beautiful images, was amazing."

A lightweight configuration that combined the AMIRA with small prime lenses gave Rosi the freedom to accompany locals as they went about their day-to-day lives -- all of which are affected by the constant stream of migrants -- and to be on the front line of the crisis. After 40 days accompanying the Italian navy on its sorties to assist foundering migrant boats, Rosi was confronted with the heart-wrenching reality of the lives being lost when he found himself on-board a ship with numerous dead bodies in the hold.

As he told Variety..."death appeared in front of me and I could not avoid looking at it. It was a direct confrontation. That day, I had to decide: "Shall I look or not? Shall I turn the other way?" The captain said to me: "Gianfranco, you have to go in the stowage and capture the tragedy." I said: "I've always tried to avoid shooting scenes like that." He said: "It's like saying the gas chambers are too harsh. It's your duty. You have to show these images to the world." So I went below and there were these asphyxiated dead bodies hugging each other. And I became totally enraged. Narratively the challenge was to build up to that scene and have the audience internalize them without it being considered something somewhat voyeuristic."

Ever Been to the Moon? - review by Benita Gaddum

‘Ever Been to the Moon?’ Film Review by Benita Gaddum.

Once upon a time a supercool, super-sexy, superwoman of the Italian fashion world called Guia inherits a farmhouse - quite out of the blue. In the farmhouse lives a cousin Pino, also a handsome and lonely farm manager and his 9-year-old son. Guia soon discovers that she has pretty much inherited them too. The farm is near a small village called Nardo and its summertime.

Guia is the embodiment of nonchalant cool. She is bright, busy, multi-lingual, independent, strong and platinum blonde like a pearl.  She calls the shots and drives a Maserati. She is fashion royalty in Milan about to turn Heidi in the country as, ‘the only heir of sound mind’ to a family estate. But she wants to sell up and get back to work in Milan.


I’ve always dreamed of high fashion in the country, don’t we all? (so instagrammable right). Who the hell wants sensible footwear anyway?  It takes Guia a while to see that homelife in the country is where the heart is. She manages to be both utterly glamourous and down to earth. Love is what she needs. 


Guia wasn’t looking for love, although it does seem that is the only thing in her life she doesn’t seem to have. She doesn’t care a great deal about her dodgy tax evading or bad dealings boyfriend. A few day’s reprieve from the flamboyant, fast paced life in the city turns into an unwanted few more in the country to sell her family estate.  All the while some hilarious family issues, a few new flowerpots, a few more gorgeous outfits and cocktails prepared by the duelling bartenders in the delightful and colourful village square, a fling with a widower and fanciful friends made, farming in high heels, cows with neck scarves and internet dating stories makes the cracks and rough edges of the farmhouse seem to disappear.


Truth is the farmhouse in all its rugged country splendour is charming. The characters all have their own intertwining quirky tales and are completely loveable; the whole film is like melted butter and marmalade jam on hot toast. It is laugh out loud funny and ignites one’s heart with warmth and appreciation of life with all its eccentrities. It is a rare thing to see a good rom-com. A sparkly feel good film, romantic and funny. ‘Have You Ever Been to the Moon?’ is like the sun, the moon and the stars coming together to create a well-built and vibrant film. This jewel of a film doesn’t look like it was just luck or tidal, it’s made in Italy of course. It looks as though it happened so naturally.  Love like an Italian and all that.


Someone imagines me filling up on rom-com when he is out of town. Why on earth?! We both know he is secretly hoping the best rom-com, like this one, will be saved up for a dark and stormy night spent together.  It’s true I am not into horror or thriller movies while I’m alone. But like I said good, honest, stylish and perfectly corny humour is not that common.  Chick fl… you know what. No! Don’t ever call it that. This is not that. Romantic comedy, artful grown up fairy tales, especially set in Italy, yes. We all need a happy ending.


Dear Friends, boys and girls alike ‘Ever Been to the Moon?’ is too good to keep to myself.  It would be like eating a whole punnet of bluff oysters or a pavlova alone. The kids thought it was glorious, they giggled away and I had died and gone to Italy. Mummy me was on cruise-control all day (being nonchalant cool like Guia) and I did notice that all living things in our house were in an undeniably good mood for a decent time after the film had finished.  

The country/village girl in me loved ‘Ever Been to the Moon?’ like a seagull must love the sun. It will absolutely brighten your week. If the little village called Nardo is anything like the moon, warm up my space ship baby. First I’ll just be swinging into Milan for some new heels. xx