Mother Martha investigates restaurants, recipes and foodie culture in Rome and beyond

Food For Thought: The Lenten Cookbook

By Mother Martha During the past five years, among its numerous titles, all available from its website, The Sophia Institute Press has published three cookbooks, The Vatican Cookbook (2016, $34.95), Cooking with the Saints (April 2019, $34.95), and The Vatican Christmas Cookbook (September, 2020, $34.95). Mother Martha has reviewed all three in “Food For Thought” (August/September [...]

The Vatican Christmas Cookbook

Stefano Navarrini illustration By Mother Martha In early November I received a press release from Sarah Lemieux, the Publicity Coordinator of Sophia Institute Press about its recent publication, The Vatican Christmas Cookbook. It’s the sequel to its best-seller The Vatican Cookbook, which I reviewed in ITV’s August/September 2018 issue. Both volumes are sponsored by [...]

Food For Thought: At last Rome’s “Il Tuo Vissani”

Eccentric and bombastic Italian chef Gianfranco Vissani was “to the kitchen born.” His father, Mario Vissani, was the owner and chief chef of a country-style restaurant in his tiny medieval hometown of Civitella del Lago near Orvieto in Umbria, in the very heart of Italy. Mario’s customers were local fishermen and Sunday tippers. Gianfranco started [...]

Food for Thought

By Mother Martha My last month’s “Religious Stays in Italy” cited many convents offering hospitality to tourists. Instead, the premises of the VOI (standing for Vera Ospitalità Italiana) Camilla Savelli Hotel, reviewed here, still belong to the religious order of nuns, the Agostiniane dei Sette Dolori, but are administered by the tour operator Alpitour. It’s a [...]

Food For Thought

Religious Stays in Italy By Mother Martha The non-profit Association Ospitalità Religiosa Italiana (Italian Religious Hospitality) (, headquartered at Via Molina 10 in Varese, a city in Lombardy northwest of Milan, tel. 327-3842841, counts some 4,000 “religious places to stay” in Italy, with a total of some 287,000 beds. These include guesthouses, holiday houses, B&Bs, campsites, [...]

Food For Thought

By Mother Martha While gelato, panettone, cannoli, torrone, and tiramisù are beloved worldwide, other Italian sweets are less well-known and even regional. Some examples are bônet in Piemonte, sbrisolona in Lombardy, torta Barozzi in Emilia-Romagna, tozzetti in Tuscany and Umbria, sfogliatelle, babà, struffoli and la pastiera in Naples, seadas in Sardinia, and cassata and granite of [...]

PROSECCO: Pliny the Elder’s Favorite Drink

By Mother Martha The year 2019 was memorable for a favorite Italian aperitivo: the sparkling white wine called prosecco. Its terroir, the region it comes from, is the Veneto province between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, north of the city of Treviso, and into parts of the region Friuli-Venezia Giulia. On July 8, the [...]

Food For Thought

The entrance to the famous restaurant With a double article about the history of books in this issue’s “Of Books, Art, and People,” what more appropriate time to suggest a visit to Rome’s Caffè Greco! Here for more than 200 years the great minds of art, literature, and music have been meeting around [...]

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