The Euro

The Italian lira (L), unique as it was for its tiny value and romantic appeal, is now a thing of the past. The currency used in Italy is now the euro, the same currency used throughout almost all of Europe.

The euro comes in denominations of: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 & 500 euro notes, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 & 50 cent and 1 & 2 euro coins.

Each country prints its own euro notes and mints its own euro coins. In fact, each country has it’s own design on one side of each note or coin. (All countries’ coins and notes share a common side.) But no matter what country’s euros you have in your pocket, they are the same size, they are worth exactly the same in value, and they can be used in all euro-based countries. Including Italia!

The euro is now about equal to 1.17 US dollar (last updated October 2017). If it’s 100 euros, it’s about $117.

When to convert your money? Good news, you won’t have to convert much: It is best to pay for big things in Italy using your credit card or your debit card because the exchange is calculated for you and the exchange rate is always among the best available. Before leaving the USA have at least enough euro cash with you for a cab ride or phone call. (Just in case?) You can convert any more cash you may want either in the US or in Europe, but it’s best to do it at a bank where exchange rates and fees are the most reasonable. Only convert a minimum of cash at your US airport or at your Italian hotel. The rates there are not particularly good. And on you return trip, remember to convert back to dollars at a bank too. (And plan to have enough dollars when you return to bail your car out of the airport lot or pay the cabbie!)

Traveler’s checks can be useful if you don’t have a credit card. For convenience, buy them already denominated in euros before you leave.

In Italy, banks are usually open Monday through Friday (and Saturday mornings), and are closed on public holidays. ATMs are available in many places, but check with your US bank to make sure they are part of a European ATM network. Credit cards are accepted throughout Italy and, in many cases, offer a very good exchange rate. Have some euros in cash on hand for making small purchases, such as snacks and souvenirs from street vendors.

William Dellorusso
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy

Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.

The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy

Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.

The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)

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