Italy has a variety of climate systems. We may think of Italy as having a warm, sunny Mediterranean climate, but in the winter it is a different story.  Between the north and south there can be a considerable difference in temperature, especially during the winter.  The coldest month is January, with temperatures as low as 15°F in the outskirts of Milan and 35.6 °F to the south in Palermo. Yes, it does get cold in Italy!

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Snow in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy


At Podere Erica, the work never stops, no matter how cold it may be. We have even gotten snow in some years.  Below is a photo of the podere in January of 2012.

Even when it is cold, Marco is busy.  There is always maintenance to be done so that the podere is beautiful and perfect when our first guests arrive in May.  In this cold month of January, he has to prune the grape visnowy poderenes and is continually controling the winemaking.  Besides being concerned about the wine, he also prunes the fruit trees which have now begun making lots of fruit under his care.  Our guests are welcome to pick the fresh fruit right off the tree!  He also clears the forest so that we can easily hike there and enjoy its beauty.  Wood cutting is also on the calendar so that we have plenty of wood for those cozy fires in the living room or great pizzas from the wood-burning oven.

Here in San Francisco (where we are finally getting the rain we desperately need) it has been in the 50’s, but I am still yearning for a bowl of steaming hot, comforting soup. This month I have been experimenting with some recipes for hearty Italian soups and would like to share the recipes with you.

While the family was vacationing in the mountains after Christmas, I made Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Soup and Tuscan Minestrone. Both were filled with yummy and healthy vegetables.  Everyone loved them, even the grandkids!  Give them a try.

When I returned home to San Francisco, my mom and I made Italian Wedding Soup for the first time. The name of this soup is actually a misnomer.  It originated here in the States within the Italian-American community.  The old folks called it “minestra maritata” in Italian, which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meats go well together, as in a marriage.  Hence, the source for the “mistranslation” of “soup married” to Italian Wedding Soup.  So, it has nothing to do with what might be served at a wedding, however, it is still a delicious, and light yet hearty soup.  We think ours turned out pretty great.  Click here if you want to try it.

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                           A snow-covered street in downtown Florence – a rare occurrence.

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