In these Holidays here in Italy we go 
around the Christmas markets.
There are many, all distinctive and spectacular; 
but this time we have chosen Brunico, 
a small town in Val Pusteria;
in the region of Trentino Alto Adige, Sud Tirol.

There is snow and it’s cold, but it’s nice walking through the many stalls and people lost in wandering among handicrafts of all kinds.


There are two things that we liked more of all: the Zelten and the mulled wine.
And we want to find out more .....


To begin with, you should know that its origin is not Nordic, but Mediterranean. In fact, it can be considered the heir of conditum paradoxum, the recipe for which is contained in the "De re coquinaria",  the ooking book made by the famous gourmet Apicius; Roman aristocrat contemporary of Tiberius, probably born around 25 a. C.. He was a refined gourmet and culinary arts teacher, who dedicated himself to the pleasures of life and good food.

Here's how Apicius describes the preparation of conditum paradoxum:
"They put sixteen pounds of honey in the bronze vessel, which previously were paid two sextaries of wine so that the wine is reduced during the cooking of honey. 

You warm on a slow fire of very dry wood; during cooking mix it with a stick. 
If it starts to boil break the boil with a splash of wine, but the liquid ceases to boil even when removed from the heat.

When it has cooled it goes back to the fire, it goes like this for two or three times. At the end you remove it from the heat and foam it the next day. 

Then add four ounces of ground pepper, three scruples of “mastice”, a dragma leaves of nard and saffron, five kernels roasted dates and dates soaked in wine, wet with first quality wine and in sufficient quantity so that the mixture is sweet. Having accomplished this, you verses on all eighteen sextaries of sweet wine, then the mixture will get hot coals. "


The mulled wine is used to warm up, 
but is also a great energy drink.
It is often considered an excellent remedy for colds.
So what are you waiting for to prepare a good mulled wine?

1 liter and a half of red wine
3 cinnamon sticks
250 grams of sugar
10 or 12 cloves
2 oranges
1 lemon
1 apple
1 pinch of nutmeg

Wash the oranges and lemons, then cut their zest, being careful not to cut into the white (too bitter for mulled wine).
Then wash the apples, remove the core and cut into thin slices.
Put the wine in a saucepan with the cinnamon sticks, sugar, cloves, apple cut into slices and peel of citrus fruits. Add a pinch of nutmeg.
Stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes before turning on the heat, then simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the dissolution of the sugar.
Now it comes time difficult: approaching a flame to the surface of the wine, in order to evaporate the alcohol.
Be careful because the wine will immediately raise the fire in blue flames, but after a while they’ll be gone and extinguished.
Wait a few minutes, then pour the mulled wine into mugs and serve.
You can filter mulled wine or leave it, depending on your preference


Zelten is a typical Christmas sweet of Trentino Alto Adige.
Each family jealously guards its recipe for this special bread which is prepared during the days of Advent, and then eat during Christmas.

A legend says that instead Zelten was prepared on December 21, the eve of St. Thomas.
The whole family participate in the preparation of this cake, especially young women, who work very hard, because the cake must be donated to their future boyfriend and husband. According to the story, the girls prepare a great dessert to share for the whole family and several smaller ones to donate.

Once prepared the zelten, the mother marks with a cross the center of the cake and bless him before baking.
St. Thomas is the one to which are dedicated these cakes, because he will bring love to young women.
During the preparation, the women invoke the saint 
to sow love in their lives.

In addition to the preparation of the cake there are other rituals connected to the saint. For example, the girls write letters of the alphabet on small slips of paper that are then folded and placed under the pillow before going to sleep, when they pray and invoke the saint. 

Awake in the morning girls just take one of the cards at random and the letter drawn will be the initial of the future boyfriend.
The rituals were many and varied from valley to valley, what they had in common was the search for love.

Once ready, Zelten was blessed last time and put in the cupboard waiting for the Epiphany, the day when it was divided among all the members of the family.

This is the recipe of zelten, according to a manuscript of 700 preserved at the library of Rovereto:
"Take grape Candia, currant, pine nuts, cutted blanched almonds , minutely chopped lemon peel, anise seeds, candied citrus peel, cinnamon, a little 'sugar and a little' flour and stir together everything. Take a bit of yeast, the size of a walnut... "

             Here is the traditional recipe of Trentino.

Flour (preferably rye flour) 400 g
 Sugar, 250 g
3 Eggs
Butter, 150 g
 Walnuts, 100 g
 Dried figs, 100 g
Pine nuts, 100 g
Almonds, 100 g
Cedar, 100 g
 raisins, 100 g
2 sachets of dried yeast

The evening before the preparation of the cake, prepare the chopped nuts, then put to soak in rum raisins and dried figs.

Beat the yolks with the sugar helping with melted butter and diluted with half a glass of warm water.
Let the mixture stand for about half an hour, add the flour and beating all the other ingredients, chopped and mixed together, and left to rest the night before in four or five tablespoons of rum.
Finally add the wipped egg whites.
Divide the dough into two parts and in each part add a teaspoon of baking powder.
Roll out the dough into two greased and floured cake tins, and bake them for 30 minutes at 220°C.

Now I can wish you all  


May the new year give you the chance 
to make your finest desires be true!



Narni, in Umbria, is a beautiful and ancient town perched on a spur of limestone that dominates the river Nera, a few kilometers away from Terni. It is considered the geographic focus of Italy and its subsoil tells of more than 3000 years of History, passing by the Etruscans to the Middle Ages, through the empire of the Romans, which in 299 A. C., called this city Narnia. 

Many centuries later, the designation of Narnia attracted the attention of the Anglo-Saxon writer Clive Staples Lewis, author of seven fantasy books: "The Chronicles of Narnia", written between 1950 and '60.

Since when he was a young man, Lewis, passionate about Roman history and classical Latin, had studied the consular paths that led from Rome to the north. He also found ​​a map inside Murray's Small Classical Atlas  that he used when he was a child.
During his collaboration with Walter Hooper he declared that the name of the magic land of Narnia ​​came out from that map.


Today, going around Narni, its hills and forests, we can find the places of the ancient  Roman city along the Via Flaminia; but also those described by Lewis in his books.
The Enchanted Narnia is shown at the top of a hill, overlooking a valley where’s a river.

So, coming to Narni, you'd say, "Is there really!" 
Right like little Lucy exclaims in the film, 
based on the Fantasy first book of the series  
"The Chronicles of Narnia.The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. "

But the events related to the true Narni, still obscure and fascinating, are different from those wrote by Lewis.

Until a few centuries ago mysterious events, 
almost completely incomprehensible, happened here: 
stories of magic, alchemists and inquisitors 
came to light a few decades ago.

In 1979, in the gardens of St. Bernard, was found a hole. To make the strike a bunch of kids in the neighborhood which, 
fascinated by the prospect of a treasure, 
felt themselves like explorers.


Firstly they discovered the remains of a pre-Romanesque church with walls partly excavated in the rock 
and covered with frescoed plaster, 
then  they found an hidden underground communication
 with the forgotten ancient Dominican convent.

This way some young boys discovered the tribunal of Inquisition, which local vicarage was located right at the Dominican cloister.

In this underground, we see the torture chamber and the cells, witness to years of pain and suffering.

The indecipherable graffiti found in the narrow prison needed a patient and difficult work, through researches and documentary evidence to reconstruct the identity of two prisoners.
 Both of them suffered pain and torture: Domenico Ciabocchi, jailed in 1726 for bigamy and heresy and then to murder and Giuseppe Andrea Lombardini, here imprisoned from  December., 4, 1759 to January, 30, 1760.

Ciabocchi was a poor man, an illiterate arrived to Narni in search of work. Away from home and his wife, he found a new girlfriend and remarried. This cost him the charge of bigamy, a crime  considered serious because it violated the sacred bond of marriage, then the man was also accused of heresy. Detention for Ciabocchi was so unbearable that, in a moment of crazyness, he strangled the sutler and fled in Abruzzo.


Unluckily his escape was very short: the fugitive, a good Christian, he confessed his crime to a priest, who, violating the sacrament of confession, revealed the sin and the sinner. The poor man returned to prison and was sentenced to life, to be served at the service of Pope Clement XII, 
on a ship docked in Civitavecchia.

It’s been following the trail of a bigamist-murderer that researchers has come into possession of documentary evidence of the presence of Inquisition in the town of Narni.

Following the thread of a story that was slowly taking shape, it could shed light on the life of Giuseppe Andrea Lombardini, the author of the mysterious message  inside a cell, consisting in graffiti, rich in symbolism between esotericism and the Catholic faith (in part they’re still to be deciphered) engraved and designed (also with strokes of colour) on the walls of the cell.

On reading theese signs we face the testament of a man who wrote every day of his life spent in prison, fearing that any moment could be the last.
On entering this cell we perceive the suffering lived inside here, we feels imbued with a strange energy.

In his graffiti Lombardini defines himself as "corporal", he was in fact an employee of the Inquisition, jailed on charges of having favoured the release from prison a fellow in Spoleto, punished for insulting a superior. According to other sources Lombardini would be accused of "having turned away from religion and have enriched by unlawful means.
 Messages left by him have a metaphorical and esoteric value, incomprehensible to many. 

Among the many signs, we see the enhanced crosses on small triangles or pyramids; in Umbria these figures were placed on the paths to ward off the evil eye. They also recall the graphical representation of the Green Man of Celtic tradition, which gave health to men.

We also find a rooster with the tail of a dragon (representing the androgynous creature) and a clock that doesn’t marks the regular hours, but remembers the right hours to join the cosmic energies. However the main feature of these signs is precisely that of opposites: in addition to the figure of the androgynous, here hare suns and moons, placed at the top of the walls, and a symbol composed of two half moons joined by a lozenge. This advises people not to imagine conception of the divinity as only male or only female, but  as containing itself on both sides.

Through these drawings Lombardini set out the most important alchemy principles.These are difficult issues that he could not pass otherwise, not having disciples to follow him. He studied the laws of nature less known and, most likely, he also had therapeutic abilities: he made ​​in his cell a kind of laboratory of spiritual alchemy.

Mrs. Annamaria, who's a member of the Association Narni Underground, said she had a strange dream. 
In the night between the 22 and 23 January 2000  a young man, with short dark hair, and dark eyes, and a very penetrating gaze came to her with the name Giuseppe Andrea Bombardini. After talking to the woman, she asked her to bring down in his cell three red roses. Annamaria, a bit 'confused, decided to do what the man asked her.
After twenty days, on going down into the cell, the woman saw that the roses were not dried, but they were even sprouted.

Some tourists said they had seen a man with dark hair, during a visit to the cells, describing him exactly like the man dreamed by Annamaria. Others have seen a faceless munk. Even some other member of the association seems to have caught strange appearances down in the basement, 
but they prefer not to talk about it.

However, traces of Lombardini disappear in his cell: we can not know what happened. In the documents until now taken into account by the researchers we did not find anything.
Although the most likely scenario is even the most trivial of all (the starvation or at the hands of the Inquisition).

The mysterious graffiti continue to make us think that there is something yet to be discovered. Perhaps some of us, one day, visiting the cell Giuseppe Andrea Lombardini, 
will be able to decipher the riddle.


There are days of year when Narni falls back in time, 
until the fourteenth century.

The Race of the Ring of St. Michael dates back to 1371 and takes place during the festivities in honour of 
the patron saint of the city, 
between the last week of April and the second Sunday in May.

The Festival presents the moments when, in the Middle Ages, 
each young man from Narni, owner of a horse, was called 
to be able to a "military" test preparation, 
in case of need, 
for a possible defense of the city.

Today, the event offers numerous events, in a series of lively and colourful parades, fighting games and medieval banquets. 

Already in the first day of celebration historic taverns are opened, and visitors can taste cakes, wine and traditional dishes of Umbria.

What better chance for a trip to the Enchanted land of Narnia?


serves 4:
400 g of flour
200 g of sugar
100 g raisins
1 lemon peel (yellow part only)
50 g of yeast
1/2 liter of must fresh white wine must
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch of salt

Let warm in a pan two or three tablespoons of wine must, then put inside a half cube of yeast, cover and leave there until when on the surface  appears as cracked. It takes about 2 hours.
Dissolve the remained yeast in warm water.
Mix flour, sugar, raisin, grated lemon rind, wine must and yeast, then knead.
You must obtain a fairly soft bread dough. If the mixture is too liquid add more flour, otherwise if it's too hard, add the wine must.
 Knead well and form round loaves. The diameter should be 5 or 6 cm.
Arrange the loaves on a greased baking tin, cover them with a clean sheet then with another slightly waterproof length of cloth.
Let rise at least 3 hours, then put it into the oven at 180 ° C.
Let it cook for about 20 minutes.
Maritozzi can be served  alone or filled with whipped cream.