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

Nutella: An Italian-Born Worldwide Success

By Mother Martha Every year Forbes Magazine and Bloomberg Billionaires Index publish lists of the 50 richest people in the world. This year Elon Musk was leading the lists with $195 billion, followed by the French chairman and CEO of luxury-items LVMH, Bernard Arnault, with $153.8 billion; Indian coal and transport tycoon Gautam Adani with $129 [...]

Rome’s Newest Museum: Kitchenware and Cookbooks

By Lucy Gordan De honesta Voluptate ac Valetudine libri decem (On honest indulgence and good health, Ten Books, often shortened to De honesta voluptate) was the first cookbook ever printed. Compiled ca. 1465 by Bartolomeo Platina, it appeared between 1470 and 1475 in Rome. Rossano Boscolo, creator of Garum Its inauguration postponed several times [...]

Limoncello: Italy’s Most Popular Digestivo

By Mother Martha In almost all family-run trattorias in Rome and in southern Italy, when the restaurateur presents the bill at the end of the meal, he or she offers the guests a choice of digestivi. These are after-dinner drinks meant to help digestion. Many, like grappa from the Veneto and Friuli, Abruzzese centoerbe or Sardinian [...]

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, [...]

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