Christmas in Italy
How are you? We think that all of you have learnt a lot about Altamura.
Do you remember your staying here?
It‟s Christmas time so these are some news about our traditions and a
typical Christmas recipe of Altamura.
Our Christmas holidays start on the 23rd of December and end on the 7th of
On Christmas‟ Eve we go to the Church to wait for Jesus Christ‟s birth at
Here we sing Christmas Carols.
Little children believe in Santa Claus and they wait for him because he
brings them the presents they ask for.
We are 14, we are old, but we wait for Santa Claus at the same to receive
What about you?
We usually spend Christmas Day at our grand parents‟ house. We have a
special lunch. We eat “Lasagne al forno o cannelloni”.
Then there is roast lamb with patatoes and vegetables. We like all that but
we prefer cakes. The most typical cakes are the “cartellate” with cooked
wine or sugar and cinnamon. We are sending you the recipe.
Other traditional cakes are: Panettone, Pandoro, mustacciuoli and nougat.
After lunch, all together with relatives and friends, we play a lot of card
and board games till late.
Same people prefer going to the cinema in the afternoon.
On the 31st of December we wait for the New Year.
We spend that night all together with relatives and friends as well.
In each family they eat stuffed pig‟s trotter with lentils and “Cotechino” a
type of Italian pork sausage.
Lentils are of good auspicious for a wealthy new year.
And now some recipes:
White flour - 1 Kg
White wine - 200 grams
Sugar / Salt
Olive oil – 100 grams
Honey or cooked wine
Put the flour on a work surface and combine with olive oil and white wine.
Make a dough out of it. Roll out the pastry into long rolls and cut them into
Their shapes can vary from flowers, butterflies to rosettes.
Fry them in plenty olive oil. Place them on kitchen paper to drain off the
In a large pan heat the honey or the vin cotto (cooked or mulled wine) and
places the cookies in it.
Let them simmer a few minutes so they absorb the honey or the wine.
Pile them up on a serving plate and sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon
Great served both hot or cold.
Lasagne al forno
1 pound dried lasagna noodles
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, , sliced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh „origan‟, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground Italian sausage
6 ounces tomato paste, (1 can)
30 ounces ricotta cheese, (2 containers)
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups tomato sauce, prepared
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
Grated Parmesan and mozzarella, for topping
Cook the lasagna noodles in plenty of boiling salted water until pliable and
barely tender, about 10 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent
sticking. Drain the noodles thoroughly, coat with olive oil keep them moist
and easy to work with.
Coat a large skillet with olive oil. Sauté over medium heat, onion, garlic and
herbs. Cook 5 minutes. Brown beef and sausage until no longer pink, about
15 minutes. Drain fat into a small container and discard. Stir in the tomato
paste completely. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parsley and oregano. Stir in beaten eggs.
Add Parmesan, season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the lasagna: Coat the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch pan with a ladle
full of tomato sauce. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping
layer on the sauce. Then, line each end of the pan with a lasagna noodle.
This forms a collar that holds in the corners. Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture
over the pasta. Dollop 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the meat, spread to
the edges with a spatula. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella on top of the
ricotta. Top with a ladle full of tomato sauce, spread evenly. Repeat with
the next layer of noodles, meat, cheeses and sauce. Top last layer with
noodles, sauce and shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. Tap the pan to force
out air bubbles. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove
from oven. Let lasagna rest for 30 minutes so the noodles will settle and cut
easily. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve
We are sending you some questions too, write the answers back to us and
we will say to you if we can consider you „Altamura citizens‟:
1) According to the legend, who founded Altamura?
2) What is the name of the ancient town?
3) Why do you think Altamura was called the „other Troy‟?
4) What does „Jaltamùre mean?
5) What can you find in the Centopozzi country?
But stop writing now.
We wish you and to your families a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Love and kisses from Altamura,
Angela, Pietro, Maria Pia, Federica, Orsola, Mariagiovanna, Mariateresa,
Alessandro, Dora, Luigi.
Altamura, December 2010