Home / Author Archives: Gina Fava

Author Archives: Gina Fava

Gina Fava is the author of two suspense novels set in Italy, The Race and The Sculptor. She freelances too, sharing stories she's gathered roaming Italy in search of her characters' favorite wines. Visit her website at GinaFava.com and connect via Facebook and Twitter.

Foraging for pranzo

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One of my favorite memories as a girl was foraging through the woods on Mt. Amiata with my dad’s family. Whether for mushrooms in fall, or herbs in spring, my nana and her sisters would later cook them as the filling for ravioli or a frittata. Who knew foraging for something wild to eat could reap such fulfilling rewards? It’s the primal adventure of traipsing through the woods, a lush field, or the bases of olive trees and getting your hands and knees dirty in search of sustenance. It’s the pleasure of transforming those overlooked gems of nature into delectable ...

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Auto racing comes to Boston

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One of my favorite sports that I love to watch is championship open-wheel auto racing, because I have so many fond memories of Sunday afternoons as a child spent with my dad enjoying the IndyCar or Formula One races on TV while mom cooked us pot roast. We’d watch the lights go from red to green signaling the suspenseful start. We’d wonder who would overtake whom in the opening laps while the drivers vied for position. We’d count out loud the seconds that elapsed during pit stops. Sometimes I’d close my eyes just to listen to the engines buzz around ...

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Hungry for opera

Gina Fava at the opera!

Hungry for Italian opera? Me too. Conversely, Italian opera makes me hungry. As in ravenous for a full-course meal every time. I don’t know whether it’s something about the brilliant orchestra or talented performers or the musical compositions themselves that evokes my hunger. What I do know is, the little snack bar stocked with peanuts is never enough to satisfy my appetite. When I studied Italian opera at the University of Rome, part of my midterm included attending an evening showing of “Don Giovanni” at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, an iconic 19th-century theater. By the time my classmate and future ...

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Browsing Italian Bookstores: Good for the Heart and Mind

I AM Books (photo courtesy Renee Kristine Ricciardi)

What could be better than strolling the aisles of a bookstore, where one may choose a selection from among hundreds, balance the weight of a hard or soft cover volume in one’s hand, sniff the paper as one turns the pages, listen to the sheets softly ruffle with ample promise beneath his or her fingertips, knowing that the gem in your hand represents something akin to the mystery of turning wine into blood, or rather the transformation of ink into imagination? If you’re like me and enjoy perusing bookstores, a pastime that’s both comforting and stimulating at the same time, ...

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Love blooms on the slopes

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Why not make the most of this cold, snowy time of year like I do, by strapping on a pair of skis or a snowboard and hurtling down the nearest mountain? As a native Buffalonian who’s grown up on the slopes of Kissing Bridge and Holiday Valley ski resorts, as well as a decades-long resident of New England who’s braved sub-zero temperatures in winter, I figure: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Many Italians also hit the slopes, here and in Italy, because it’s a great way to transform the winter doldrums into winter fun. Though, whenever I ski ...

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas… and Nana’s Cooking Seven Fishes!

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Imagine stepping out of the blustery, snowy, icy, dark December cold and into a warm, brightly lit, steam-windowed, pots-bubbling-over kitchen where the white-haired, aproned chefs cease their chopping, broiling, and stirring just for a moment to enfold you into their tender, welcoming arms, and then order you and your entire family to sit down and eat while they proudly serve up course after course of the most aromatic, succulent, and mouth-watering dishes ever to come out of an 8×8 room. Aah, the delectable wonder of Christmas Eve. When I was growing up, my family embraced the Christmas Eve tradition of ...

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Can’t keep those hands down!

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My friends can see me talking from a mile away, even with my back turned. I’m the one with my hands gesticulating in the air, sometimes with elegant precision as I speak on my cell phone, sometimes with wild abandon as I’m ordering a sandwich. That’s because I was raised in an Italian household. Italians are typically expressive, passionate, and animated when communicating with others. It’s a demonstration of engagement and interest. Have you ever seen an Italian converse with his or her hands in their pockets? Never happens. Italians, young and old, male or female, gesture naturally. Whether they’re ...

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For the Love of Figs

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“How many figs do you have on your tree?” This is all I hear during harvest season in my family. Over the past few years, my husband, Jamie, and my father, and my brother, Tony, each acquired fig trees for their yards. Since the first year of cultivating them, these men relentlessly compete over quantity. Among their four trees, the quality of the fruit never wavers – plump, ripe, hearty delicious figs make it to the table every year. Grazie a Dio! Figs are among the oldest cultivated crops, grown by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. In Italy, it’s ...

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Wicked Good Italian Dialects

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A recent visit to my father’s hometown of Abbadia San Salvatore in Siena gave me interesting insight into the concept of dialect. Family had taken me to a local restaurant, and the cousins who’d moved out of town ordered “una latina di Coca Cola” or a can of Coke. Those relatives who still resided in town similarly ordered Cokes, but pronounced it much differently, dropping the hard C sound entirely, instead asking for “O’a-Ola.” As any native Bostonian knows, dropping a letter (like an R) gives the English language a certain flair all its own, and certainly gives the listener ...

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A magical moment at St. Anthony’s Feast

St. Anthony of Padua feast and procession in the North End of Boston.

A few years ago, I’d experienced Saint Anthony’s Feast in Boston’s North End for the very first time. Growing up Italian in Buffalo, I’d enjoyed summer Italian festivals before, as they’re a regular annual fixture in most American cities. But nothing could prepare me for the sights and sounds of this, the largest Italian Religious Festival in New England. That day, my husband, Jamie, and I headed into Boston on the last weekend of August, when it’s customarily held, with his grandmother, Josefina or “Josie”, an eighty-five-year-old Italian immigrant whose wish it was to see the feast “one last time.” ...

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Bridging the long-distance gaps with grandparents

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While it’s not uncommon these days for Bostoniani to find many miles on a road map, or even a world map, separating their kids from their grandparents, it’s also easier than ever before to minimize that distance by incorporating some easy techniques for bringing the generations closer in heart and mind. Travel Together Planning and partaking in a family vacation, reunion, or outing can sometimes rejuvenate familial bonds, or just provide another excuse for getting together. Whether it’s a day-long family reunion, a fun meeting spot between states, or a leisurely travel destination, an occasional trip provides a welcome retreat. ...

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Going to the Movies in Italy

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Ah, going to the movies…the big screen, the packed seats, the laughter and the tears from a great film, the whispers of “whodunit?,” the couples holding hands, and the wafting aroma of…marinara sauce? One of the pleasures of Italy is going to the movies. It’s an experience all its own. I love movies, and while studying in Rome in the 90’s, most weekends I’d frequent a movie house in the Trastevere neighborhood. “Il Pasquino” showed American movies, typically ones I’d already seen, but it was a great taste of home. My first time at Il Pasquino was the most memorable, ...

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