Shopping in Italy: 4 Brand Names You Probably Already Know

So, your ticket is all booked and you are getting ready to take a trip to Italy or perhaps you are planning to live in Italy for an extended period of time. It’s only natural to want to bring any and all your daily hygiene products with you.  Oh no, you forget your toothpaste while rushing out the door to get to the airport! Now what’ll you do? Supermarkets in other countries can be intimidating with all their foreign product labels staring at you but, rest assured, in many countries, like Italy, you can find your trusted and favorite products in most stores.

And if you look closely, you’ll find some brand names in disguise.  Here are 4 brand names you probably already know that have been slightly altered for the Italian marketplace.

The least obvious of the bunch, the toothpaste brand AZ is actually Crest.


There’s no mistaking this famous bald-headed man.  In Italy, Mr Clean goes by the name Mastro Lindo, which literally means Master Clean – close enough!


The beauty products of Olay are known as Olaz here, probably due to the fact that the letter “y” isn’t part of the Italian alphabet.


Is your throat feeling a little sore?  Head to the pharmacy and pick up a box of Benagol or as you may know it – Strepsils. I was recommended Benagol my first winter in Italy and didn’t think anything of it.  It wasn’t until I was back in Canada that I realized it was a brand I already knew and had used in the past (only the packaging had changed in Canada).


There are other common brand names that haven’t changed names or packaging but be careful how you pronounce some of them or you’ll get confused looks:

Pantene: Pan-ten (instead of teen)
Colgate: coal-gah-teh
Nestle:  Nest-leh (instead of lee) This one makes me think about the episode of Friends when Monica is trying to discover Phoebe’s grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe.

These are just a few I’ve noticed personally while living in Italy.  Did I miss any?  Can you think of any other products that are “the same, not the same”?  I’d love to know, so leave a comment below! :)





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Invasioni Digitali ~ Cosenza: Tra Monumentalismo e Razionalismo

The Invasioni Digitali this year were a blast!  Last year, the digital invasion of Cosenza focused on the historic center but this year it was centered on the more modern elements of the city.  And, seeing as it was April 25th, Liberation Day, we also looked at some of the remnants of the Fascist Era present throughout city.

As I approached the meeting point, I could see a large group of people had already begun to form in front of the City Hall where our guide, Alessandra Scanga of GuideOnCosenza was waiting. It wasn’t long before we were off to invade Cosenza equipped with our mobiles, cameras, and tablets.

Here is a look at some of the places we visited during the invasion!

Piazza Bruzi:  City Hall of Cosenza
The Elmo Arcaico (Bretio) has been sitting in front of Cosenza’s city hall since it was installed in 1996. Created by painter/sculpture Mimmo Paladino in 1948, this bronze helmet sitting on a black marble fountain appears to be floating on a bed of water.

Piazza E.Cenisio:  Chiesa di San Nicola
The Chiesa di San Nicola is located in the city center of Cosenza at Piazza E. Cenisio.  This church is more modern than its neighbour, Il Duomo, located across the river in the old center of Cosenza.  The original Chiesa di San Nicola was built in the 1600s in another part of the city .  Like many buildings in this city, it suffered incredible damage during the earthquake of 1783 and again in 1943 during WWII. In 1961, the church was demolished and the “new” church was relocated and rebuilt in a more contemporary style.

Piazza Francesco Crispi:  La Fontana del Balilla & Le Poste Vecchie

This piazza is home to La Fontana del Balilla, a white marble fountain built in the first decade of the Fascist period. The figure of Balilla, the Genoese boy who provoked an uprising against the Austrians in 1746 by throwing a rock at an Austrian official, stands dominantly atop the fountain as a symbol of the Italian people’s struggle for independence and unification. Behind the fountain, the historic post office known as Le Poste Vecchie stands tall.

INCIS, Steps of Via Isonzo
In and around the area of Piazza Cappello and The Chiesa di Santa Teresa are homes that were built by INCIS, an institute created during the Fascist Era to build “case poplari” (houses for the poor). Some of the buildings still have the insignia on them.

Piazza Cappello:  Ex-Palazzo & Piazza del Littorio
On March 30th, 1939, Mussolini came to Cosenza to this very square, now known as Piazza Cappello. There are many old photos showing Mussolini standing on the balcony of the building, known as “Casa Littora” at the time, overlooking the square. Also in the square, is this interesting iron and glass sculpture entitled “A Tre Mani” (Three Hands) created by Silvio Vigliaturo.

Chiesa di Santa Teresa

Built in the 20th century, this church overlooks a large square. The church, originally designed in the Gothic style, began construction in 1929 before it was halted in the early part of the 1930s. In 1954, work resumed but with a new design in mind, that of a Romanesque building which was eventually finished in 1978.

The Paracarri & Fontane musicali, Via Arabia

Atop the stairs of Via Arabia lie the “Paracarri” by Pietro Consagra, the perfect topper to the enchanting musical fountain located in the centre of Cosenza’s pedestrian street, Corso Mazzini. It’s hard not to be drawn into the music and playfulness of the dancing water works.

If you want to see more of my pics from the day, head on over to the Calabrisella Mia Facebook Page. For pics from other invaders, type these hashtags  (#ScoprilaCalabria #GuideOnCosenza #InvasioniCosenza #InvadiCosenza) into Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook.

A very special thank you has to go out to the wonderful organizers of this year’s event:

Associazione Culturale Scopri la Calabria
GuideOnCosenza Alessandra Scanga (Tour Guide)

Looking forward to next year! :)

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is La Festa della Mamma or Mother’s Day!


My mother has always been been there for me, telling me to do whatever it is that makes me happy.  Whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision,  she always knows what to say to dig deep and bring out what it is that may be worrying or hindering my judgement and then helping to overcome or resolve it.  I’ve always jokingly said she’s my devil’s advocate because she knows exactly what to say or ask to help me make sense out of my sometimes cluttered or worrisome thoughts.

There are so many moments when my mother has been a true inspiration to me.  I think back to almost five years ago; I was in my father’s childhood home with a million and one “what ifs” in my head trying to decide if I should accept a job offer in Italy or head back to the comfort of my own home.  I felt so scared and so worried I would make the wrong choice and my mom knew I was struggling.  She said something that stuck with me.  She said, “you can always come home“.  Those five words essentially changed the course of my adult life.  She may not be aware of exactly how much of an impact those simple words had on me.  My life is far from perfect and I still make choices that may or may not be the best but I’ve grown so much and I’m a stronger person because of it, because of her.

Mommy, Happy Mother’s Day, I love you so very much! I’m so appreciated and grateful for everything you have done and continue to do for me. I may not always tell you or show you just how much of an inspiration you are to me but you are my superwoman!

A very special Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!


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Happy 7th Blogiversary, Calabrisella Mia!!


Calabrisella Mia is 7 years old today! (actually it was yesterday, but better late than never)

Blogging means different things to different people. For me, it is my little nook in the internet where I can run off to and scribble down my thoughts and share a bit of myself and the things that I love with whoever decides to stop in. It’s become my constant companion, molding and transforming with me as I grow. It is an open door, its threshold leading me to an infinite world of opportunities waiting to be explored and developed.

It’s not always easy; the daily demands of work and home life can make it challenging to sit down and give it the attention it needs and deserves. Sure it would be easy to just close the blog down and focus on the never-ending list of tasks that spill off the pages of my planner but that would mean giving up a piece of myself in the process and I refuse to let that happen.

In the past I’ve always used my blogiversary to take a look back, but this year I want to do something different, I want to look ahead.

This blog is and always has been a creative outlet for me that I would like to see continue to grow and develop.

Here are a few ways I hope to start doing just that:

♦ Schedule regular content (finding the magic number of posts that is right for me)
♦ Move to a self-hosting website in order to have more control over design layout, widgets, and other useful tools.
♦ Do more guest blog posts – If you have a blog and would like me to share some thoughts, let me know!

I’d also love hearing from all of you. If you have any burning questions about living in Italy or if there are aspects of Calabria (or Southern Italy for that matter) that you’d like to learn more about, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to share my opinions and thoughts on the subject in upcoming posts.

A sincere heartfelt thanks, or as we say in Italy “grazie di cuore”, to all my readers for taking your precious time to read my blog. It really means a lot to me!

Image credit:  Melanie Hughes


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Invasioni Digitali ~ Invaders in Calabria


Invasioni Digitali or Digital Invasions is a project that was created to promote culture through the eyes of those participating in the events.  The “invaders” photograph, share and document their thoughts and experiences using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc.

When I heard about the project last year, I was intrigued and wanted to take part. So, on a cloudy Sunday afternoon last year, I headed to the historic centre to become an “invader” myself. It was an incredible experience.

This year Invasioni Digitali takes place between April 24th – May 3rd and it’s shaping up to be even bigger and better its previous edition.

Here is a look at the events and hashtags of the Invasioni Digitali happening in Calabria.

April 24, 2015


Tropea: Alla Scoperta della “Perla del Tirreno” / Discovering Tropea

Organizer: Cosi Mali
Hashtag: #InvadiTropea

Rende: Centro Storico
Hashtag: #InvadiRendeCentroStorico

April 25, 2015

Vibo Valentia: Castello Normanno-Svevo
Organizer: and Pro Loco of Vibo Valentia
Hashtag: #InvadiVibo

Cleto:  Historic Centre
Hashtag: #invasionidigitali


Cosenza: Tra Monumentalismo e Razionalismo
Organizer: ScopriLaCalabria & GuideOnCosenza
Hashtag: #InvadiCosenza

Crotone: Mesoraca tra Mille Portici e il Tardo Barocco della Chiesa del Ritiro
Organizer: ScopriLaCalabria
Hashtag: #InvadiMesoraca

April 26, 2015

Crotone: Scopriamo La Grancia del Vurdoj, Un Luogo Ricco di Storia
Hashtag: #GranciadelVurdoj

Bagnara Calabra, Reggio Calabria
Organizer: Associazione TourismProject
Hashtag: #invasionidigitalibagnara


Rogliano: Un Paese, Due Centri Storici
Organizer: Scopri la Calabria & LiberalAmente
Hashtag: #InvadiRogliano

Pizzo, Vibo Valentia
Hashtag: Digital Invasion

April 27, 2015

Villapiana, Cosenza

Hashtag: #InvadiVillapiana

April 30, 2015


Hashtag: #InvadiAmendolara

May 1, 2015

Catanzaro: Santa Maria di Corazzo Abbey
Hashtag: #invadicorazzo

Rocca Imperiale (CS)
Hashtag: #invadiRoccaImperiale


Rossano, Cosenza: Amarelli iqurizia Museum

Hashtag: #‎Viagando


Civita (CS): Le Case Kroda

Hashtag: #invadiCivita

May 2, 2015

Corigliano Calabro: Alla Scoperta del Centro Storic di Corigliano Calabria
Hashtag: #invadiCoriglianoCal

Cetraro, Cosenza: Museo dei Brettii e del Mare
Hashtag: #viagando

For more information on any of these events or others happening across Italy, visit the official Invasioni Digitali site.

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Celebrate St. Joseph’s Day with Le Zeppole

Today, Italy is celebrating San Giuseppe or St. Joseph, a day dedicated to fathers. It is also the onomastic or saint day for all those named Giuseppe or Giuseppina. Yeah, it’s a pretty busy day, and in Cosenza it means it’s time for La Fiera di San Giuseppe or the Saint Joseph’s Fair. This outdoor market is one of the oldest and most important traditions in Cosenza and dates back to 1234 when it was first established by Frederick II of Swabia.

Every year, residents and visitors from all over come to shop the stands, take in live music and entertainment and just enjoy the energy that the fair gives off. Here you will find artisan products, flowers, plants, and you will most certainly find “Le Zeppole di San Giuseppe”; a delicious sweet which has become the symbol of this day as well as the fiera.


Where the zeppole originate from is uncertain – some say it originated during the Roman period, while others say Naples is its birthplace. Regardless, it is a typical Italian dessert that is prepared and enjoyed throughout the country.

Here in Cosenza, Zeppole consist of dough that is fried or baked in the shape of a ring which is then filled with a pastry cream and then topped with icing sugar, more pastry cream and an amarena cherry. You will find this yummy treat everywhere whether it’s in your local bakery or your neighbour’s house. If you find yourself in Italy or pass by an Italian bakery in your hometown during this period, definitely pop in and give this dessert a try!

Have you ever tried zeppole? Do you make them at home? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

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5 Questions with… Alissa DeGrazia

I’m totally psyched for this edition of my “5 Questions With….” series. This person has continuously been an incredibly important person in my life. She has been with me through thick and thin and I can’t imagine what my life would be without her. She is an inspiration to me and I’m so proud of her accomplishments so far and I just know that there is much more in store for her.

Alissa DeGrazia is a talented actress, writer and filmmaker who prides herself on her Italian heritage, in particular her Calabrian roots. Alissa has always been very active in the Italian-Canadian community in Toronto and was also a regular cast member in the well-known comedy troupe, The Rosina Parmiggiano Show.   Alissa’s grandparents immigrated to Toronto from the small town of Carpanzano in Calabria. Growing up, she was surrounded by the Calabrese dialect and customs. It inspired her to create a documentary called Sempre Avanti: An Italian-Canadian Immigrant Experience, sharing first hand experiences of Italian immigrants who came to Canada in the 1950s.

I’m so thrilled to be able to introduce you to the wonderful and fabulous Alissa DeGrazia.


Let’s start with the most obvious question, what inspired you to get into acting, writing and film-making?

I think that I am a born performer but, if I had to choose one specific thing that inspired me it was my grandfather Arturo.  He and I were inseparable throughout my childhood.  When I look back on it as an adult, I think he saw something in me as a very young child and was able to hone in on that.  He taught me to speak the Calabrese dialect from our town when I was about a year old.  That’s not an exaggeration.  I have filmed footage of us performing little stories for people and I was about 14 months old.  That’s really how it all started.  He used to teach me stories and then we would perform them together.  As I got older and started to study Ballet, he would put on music so I could dance around the house and when the Italian variety shows were on TV he used to make me dance along with the “velline” because “some day that would be me”.  He also gave me a passion for both listening to and telling stories.  If I had to sum up what I do, whether acting, modelling or film making, it’s just me telling a story.

Alissa and her nonno

How much of a role have your Italian roots played in your development as an artist and in your life in general?

My Italian roots, I believe are the reason that I am a artist; mind, body and soul.  The Italian culture is a culture of passion.  Whether it be food or clothing, cars or politics; we are a passionate people.  Even the smallest conversation can have so many variations of colour in a room full of Italians.  We also have an appreciation or an understanding of art and beauty which I think is innate.  If you have ever been to Italy, it doesn’t matter where, you are inundated with beautiful art, architect and landscape.  In a more specific way, my Italian roots have given me an ability to explore diverse career options.  At about 16 I started as a coop student at the Telelatino Television Network.  This was my first real experience in the industry and it wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t understand and speak the language.  Later on, in my comedy career I toured for several years with the Rosina Parmiggiano comedy troupe.  This was another one of those serendipitous moments where my “dialect” got me noticed.  It’s incredibly rare for a young woman to speak such a fluent dialect without being born in Calabria, and this, along with my sense of comedic timing is what drew the producer/ writer/director to me.  Eventually she created the character of, Stellina Parmiggiano, which I was able to originate on stage which was a great deal of fun.

Alissa as Stellina Parmiggiano with Rosina Parmiggiano

As you already know, my father immigrated to Canada when he was only 17 years old. In fact, much of my family and yours were immigrants from Italy and each had their own unique experience. You decided to film a documentary documenting the different experiences of some of your family and relatives. How important was it for you to tell this story?

The decision to discuss the Italian immigrant narrative in my documentary Sempre Avanti!  An Italian Canadian Immigrant Experience was a no brainer.  The immigrant narrative is something that is always very close to my heart.  Again, probably from all the stories Nonno Arturo told me growing up!  It is such an important part of who we are as an Italian people.  I know that if my family had not immigrated, I would never have the opportunity to follow any of my artistic callings.  They gave up so much for future generations that they deserve to be paid back in whatever way we can.  Their stories deserve to be told!

To read more about the documentary, visit Transformations: The Italian-Canadian Experience

Alissa at the 2014 Canada International Film Festival

Alissa at the 2014 Canada International Film Festival

What are some of your favourite Italian traditions?

OMG this is a tough one.  I love cooking in general.  I love to make all the traditional foods and keep up the things that my grandparents taught me.  I love tomato sauce day because it means another year of amazing spaghetti!  I love to dance a long and fast tarantella and I love to sit around with people and chat in dialect.

Have you ever been to Italy? What was your most memorable experience there?

I have been blessed to visit Italy several times.  I have a great number of family and friends there and I really cherish each and every visit.  There are probably two Italy trips that stick out in my mind.  One was in 2003 when we went on our family vacation.  It was the first time in 14 years that we had been to Italy and being an adult, it gave me a chance to connect with people and places that I had only ever imagined.  Seeing our home town and meeting my great uncles Carmelo, Totono and Gerardo was an incredible gift which I was fortunate enough in subsequent years to continue developing.  Another great memory was sitting at the bar in my home town with you having a drink shortly after your move.  It was a fantasy that we had shared for so many years and it was so great to get a chance to fulfill it!


Thank you so much Alissa! I wish you continued success in your many creative ventures!

You can find out more about Alissa by visiting:
Facebook – /
Official Website –
Transformations – The Italian Canadian Experience –

Check out my other “5 Questions With…”:
5 Questions With… RomePhotoBlog
5 Questions With… Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino
5 Questions With… Cherrye of My Bella Vita
5 Questions With… Diana Spechler
5 Questions With… Megan of TorreBarolo
5 Questions With… Anna of La Dolce Vita di Pizzo Visitor Guide in Calabria
5 Questions With… In Italy Tours
5 Questions With… Johnny Ward of Aspiring Backpacker and One Step 4ward
5 Questions With… Jonny Blair of Don’t Stop Living – A Lifestyle of Travel

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Filed under Calabria, Carpanzano, Family, film, Italia