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Food Culture and the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is a compendium of the eating habits traditionally followed by those that live in this part of the world. So, let’s see what it consists of and its beneficial effects on its practitioners.

The eating habits of the 16 nations along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea vary depending on culture, ethnic traditions and religion. There are, however, some characteristics that are common to all:

High consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, bread and cereals

Use of olive oil to cook and as a condiment

Moderate quantities of fish, little meat

Small/moderate quantities of rich cheese and whole yogurt

Moderate wine consumption, usually with meals

Use of local, seasonal and fresh products 

An active lifestyle

The Ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet

Olive Oil is especially important as an alternative to butter, margarine and other fats. It is a valuable source of mono-unsaturated fats that protect against heart disease, as well as a source of antioxidants such as Vitamin E. It is used to prepare vegetables, tomato sauce, salads and to fried fish.

History the Phoenicians planted the first olive trees around the XVI century BC, first on the island of Cyprus then in Asia Minor. Its greatest success was achieved in Greece where the myth was that the goddess Athena, in competition with the other gods, was declared the winner of a contest by Zeus by creating the olive tree. Historians have determined that the first olive tree “Plato’s Olive Tree” was planted near Athens some 2500 years ago.

The species was prevalent in Italy since the days of the Roman Republic, especially in the southern part of the country. Today, it is cultivated everywhere in the country with many DOP and IGP denominations. As one of the pillars of the Mediterranean Diet, extra-virgin olive oil is present in virtually all food recipes. Among its benefits is the lack of physical and chemical manipulations as it is simply extracted by pressing the olives.

the only oil produced by a fruit as opposed to a seed

Olive oil should be the only fat in cooking as it is the only one that is not subject to degrading when exposed to heat. Culturally speaking, olive oil represents the Southern crudeness as opposed to butter cooked foods prevalent in Northern foods.

Therapeutic Aspects the “liquid gold” referred to by Homer has over time had a therapeutic function as well; it reduces the impact of heat while at the same time acting as a blood “cleanser”. It is both a nutrient and a medicine. Dishes containing olive oil are easier to digest, with an excellent gastric and intestinal tolerance as well as a protecting effect on the arteries, stomach and liver.

Fruits and Vegetables a high consumption of fruits and vegetables leads to protective action to prevent cancer and heart disease, probably because of the antioxidants present in these food items. This is especially true of tomatoes, an important source of antioxidants particularly when heated to make a tomato sauce.

Fish such as sardines with its omega 3 polyunsaturated fats have a healthy fat content. Fish consumption is also important for its anti-inflammatory properties in preventing heart disease and regulating blood circulation.

Wine first a clarification: there is no such thing as biological wine, only biological grapes. By its very nature, wine is the opposite of an industrial product that never varies; grapes vary from area to area depending on climactic conditions. They also evolve, mature and decline over time. In all Mediterranean countries wine is consumed in moderation, usually with meals. For men this implies two glasses a day and one for women.Red wine in particular contains a number of vegetable composts with beneficial properties. Also, powerful antioxidants such as poly phenols protect against oxidation.

Legumes during the middle ages, all of Europe risked high mortality rates due to a series of epidemics. Unable to procure high protein foods such as meat, the poorer classes were especially malnourished.Legumes were introduced only from the 10th Century, thereby making a gradual contribution to the welfare of the population, increasing resistance to disease and aiding in the re population of the continent. Later, with the discovery of the Americas and the importation of agricultural products, beans emerged as a basic staple without which the population could not have doubled insize in just a few centuries. They may be consumed fresh or dry, with the former having a higher water content (60-90% versus 10-13%) hence, given the same weight, a lower caloric, protein and glycine content. 


legumes are richest in protein, and protein quality, among all vegetables

In Italy, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and fava beans are the most common staples. Some are canned and are therefore available off season and in areas where they are not cultivated. Both fresh and dry, they are a key component of Italian cuisine in general and the “cucina povera” in particular. Studies confirm a high energy content, a high vitamin B content, as well as iron and calcium. The protein value is 6-7% in fresh and 20-25% in dry legumes.

Especially in dry form, legume seeds contain a respectable quantity of phosphorus, calcium and iron. They should be cooked at length as they contain anti-digestive elements in its crude form. The heat from cooking eliminates these negative characteristics. Dry legumes should be left over night in water before cooking. Lentils do not require this treatment.

Beans have been known since antiquity. Originally from the Americas, they have been found in pre-Inca Peru and were also a favorite with the Romans; known as the “poor man’s meat”, there are over 300 varieties of beans; of these, 60 are edible. There are red, black, multicolor, small, large, round and flat ones. They range from the Mexican bean (small, black and round) to the Spanish one (large, white and flat). Given the large qualities available, beans are cooked in a variety of ways (soups, minestrone, salads and condiments). They are digested slowly and are rather filling.

Lentils were among the first foods to be cultivated and consumed by man; traces have been found in Turkey in ruins dating back to 5500 BC as well as in Egyptian tombs from 2500 BC There are large seeds (6-9 mm), yellow or green, cultivated mostly in the Americas, and a smaller variety (2-6 mm), orange, red or brown in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and India. They are cooked as soup and as a side dish to meat and other dishes. It is a well-wisher during the New Year’s celebrations all over the world.

Peas along with lentils, peas are the legumes of which we have the most information from antiquity. Probably originating in Asia, they may date back to the stone-age. Modern techniques allow for availability year-round, canned or frozen, fresh or dry.

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Chick-Peas originally from the Orient, the name derives from the Latin word “aries” which refers to the shape of the seed. A major staple in the Middle East and in India, they are cooked with pasta, as soup and as a side dish.

Fava Beans this ancient plant, originating from Persia and Northern Africa, may have been known in the bronze and iron ages. Possibly the first legume to be consumed by humans as they do not require cooking. In some parts of Southern Italy, they are eaten as a fruit or in dry form with pasta or greens. Heavy consumption of fresh fava beans may cause anemia in genetically predisposed populations in the Mediterranean basin.

Truffles the black truffle has found a perfect habitat in the beech woods in harmony with oak, birch and hazel trees as well as black pine. It can be found in different areas of central and southern Italy. It has had its place for nearly two thousand years in the more culturally sophisticated cuisine, and is appreciated for its unique aroma. Found in sizes approaching that of a grapefruit, it acts as an environmental guard as it refuses to grow in polluted terrain.Composed of water, fibers and minerals its function is uniquely “aromatic” in this type of cuisine; the small quantities utilized contain limited nutritional value. Nevertheless, it has its place in a variety of preparations associated with appetizers, first and second dishes especially if accompanied by olive oil.

Pasta the Romans where among the first to mention lagane (from which lasagne derive). Previously, Horatio and Cicero consumed this light pasta made with flour and water. However, there is no further historical data on pasta from 200 AD. It is believed that maccheroni originated in Sicily. The term is from the Greek “macar” which means happy or food of the blessed ones. Pasta was seasoned with sugar and honey besides cheese and butter. The first recipe with tomatoes dates from the year 1839. And the first apparition of the word spaghetti appears in a Neapolitan cook book from 1824.

Bread the history of bread begins with that of man with barley and millet the preferred ingredients as they were ideal from a nutritional standpoint; they were eventually replaced by cereal. The invention of bread can be attributed to the Egyptians nearly 3000 years ago. They also developed the first ovens and, it is believed that the workers of the pyramids were paid in bread. Thereafter the Greeks developed at least 72 varieties of bread whereas the Romans improved on certain technical features such as windmills. There were at least 400 ovens in Imperial Rome with the first public oven dating back to 168 BC. Only with the start of the 20th Century bread production reaches an industrial scale.

Mozzarella the domestic water buffalo originates from India and was also found in Persia, brought over by migrant workers or armies. Later, Islamic soldiers brought it to Syria and Egypt. It arrived in Italy in the year 596 during the reign of the Longobard king Aginulfo. It thrives in warm, swampy areas rich in water such as the Nile Delta. In Europe it has found fertile ground in Puglia, Campania and the low lands along the Danube River.Mozzarella was offered and received with great pleasure by the nobility passing through while on the Grand Tour to Pompeii and Paestum. The word mozzarella comes from “mozzata” or cutting. The denomination “Mozzarella di Bufala” was nationally recognized in 1993 with a D.O.C. label and a D.O.P. label at the Europe level in 1996.

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Spaccanapoli and the Naples Historic Center

The Arts Traditions History Culture Churches and Palazzi of Naples

Spaccanapoli is a narrow one-kilometer long street in the heart of the Naples Historic Center, the oldest continuously inhabited community in Western Europe. 

An Open-Air Museum and a 2500 Year Journey of Western Civilization

The Decumano Superiore and Spaccanapoli comprise the urban layout of Greek era Neapolis. In the 19th century, the city’s aristocratic families’ palazzi and religious convents led to renewed interest in the old quarter from Piazza San Domenico Maggiore to Piazza del Gesù Nuovo where remains of the Roman baths where found under the Cloister of Santa Chiara.

The Renaissance period led to changes in the original Gothic buildings as well as a linkage with the city’s Spanish quarter with construction of via Toledo. Palazzo Carafa di Maddaloni is a classic example of Neapolitan Baroque whereas Palazzo Coriglianoand its namesake church maintained their gothic polygonal apse but were refurbished in a gold and stucco baroque style. 

We have developed anchor locations from which you can best base your travel movements, mindful that you are likely to visit three to four places in a compressed period of time, typically 7 to 10 days, and experience multiple interests that range from cultural to culinary, wellness and the environment. 

San Gregorio Armeno is an alley full of storefronts and stalls presenting porcelain pulcinellas peppers, lemons and blood red tomatoes as well as artisan shops, antique dealers, pizzerie and the famed Neapolitan crib. Nearby are the entrance to Undeground Naples and the city’s Cathedral where you can view the Treasure of San Gennaro.

Photos and Original Italian Text courtesy of Ciro La Rosa and Vesuvio Live

Travel Logistics Move in one direction. Anchor your stays in strategic locations conveniently located near points of interest. Take in sites, meals and other planned events in a hub and spoke fashion and enjoy the places and the people you are visiting

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Development Projects Impact Assessment

Traffic Safety and Congestion getting through the nearest signalized intersections in one green cycle during rush hour conditions. Standing at each proposed new intersection location, verify visibility of approaching vehicles at the minimum, safe sight-distance formula: posted speed limit + 10 mph x 11 feet/mph. Example: 30 mph + 10 = 40 x 11 = 440 feet sight – distance. Trips generated by the project on neighborhood streets are below 2,000 vehicles per day.

Safe Streets and School Overcrowding for residential areas, can the additional students resulting from the project be accommodated without exceeding the capacity of affected schools. Sidewalks are adequate to allow students to safely walk or bike to school along the streets receiving traffic from the project.

Trees and Forests complying with tree canopy or forest conservation laws.

clustered homes maximize forest preservation

Buffering and Screening of commercial and industrial projects from the view of adjacent residential homes. If the project obstructs natural views from existing homes, then the proposed landscaping must be sufficient to preserve views.

Property Values commercial or industrial structures to be at least 300 feet from residential homes. If the project is commercial-industrial, can trucks reach the site without travelling on residential streets.

Air Quality if the project is a gas station, it must be at least 500 feet from homes, hospitals, schools, senior centers and day care facilities. The homes must be 500 feet from a highway with traffic volumes of 50,000 or more vehicles per day.

Fire and Emergency Medical Services the project must be within a four to eight-minute response time for fire and emergency medical services. In suburban-urban areas with water pressure sufficient to meet fire suppression needs.

Recreation Areas for residential projects, a minimum of 10 acres of park or other recreation areas for every 1,000 residents is recommended. For suburban-urban residential projects, there should be a neighborhood park within a ¼ mile walking distance of the site.

Water Supply for projects served by wells, verify the likelihood that area wells fail or become contaminated. If the site is served by piped-public water, the project must not exceed the safe or sustainable yield.

Flooding all proposed structures must be outside the 100-year flood plain, with runoff managed to prevent an increase in floodwater elevations downstream of the site.

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Historical-Archaeological Resources if a designated historic-archaeological resource is present on or near the site, the local historic society must ascertain that it is adequately protected. For buildings 50 years or older slated for demolition, the local historic society should be consulted about the need for protection.

Water a buffer of native vegetation undisturbed within 100 feet of streams, wetlands or other aquatic resources. Rooftops, streets, parking lots and other impervious surfaces drain to bio-retention, infiltration or other highly effective storm water system. Project sewage is sent to a treatment plant and the pipes carrying the sewage do not overflow. The treatment plant has met pollution discharge limits for the last 3 years; If the project will be served by onsite sewage disposal, site soils should be rated for Septic Tank Absorption Fields in accordance with USDA Web Soil Survey.

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Collaborations and Partnerships in the Pay-per-Use Economy

Consumers, Manufacturers and Businesses in the Servitization Economy

Consumers increasingly prefer usership to ownership by utilizing pay-per-use and other on-demand services, as scalable and resilient value-driven outcomes such as pay-per-mile become available.

The Traditional make, use and dispose economy is supplanted by a circular one in which resources have a longer useful life, with product and materials recovery at the end of service life. End to end providers will be replaced by multiple product and service offerors with unique expertise in the provision of customer-centric rather than asset-centric services.

Small Businesses, especially those with clients located in rural and smaller urban communities, can increase their capabilities with environmentally viable offerings by entering into collaborations and partnerships in a multi-sector ecosystem as new companies enter the marketplace to target these opportunities via data democratization and new organizational models.

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Communities that rely on connections and collaborations within and among regions will have access to technologies to transition from a sale to a service culture that features pay-per-use and pay-by-outcome models such as pay-per-mile and power-by-the-hour, creating locally owned enterprises and achieving economies of scale pricing in areas ranging from travel service and destination management, to local and intercity mobility programs connecting large cities with micropolitan areas, and innovative energy savings, water conservation and building automation systems solutions for buildings typically found on main street and in historic districts. Technology tasks include data sources integration, micro payments, flexible billing and cost-effective self-service customer and partner interfaces.

Linking Manufacturing and Services

Circular and Shared Economies create new value as pay per use models and outcome payments change the points of reference of projects and transactions as manufacturers repair and upgrade their products with modular designs; asset management and optimum maintenance become major capabilities. Equipment re-use, remanufacturing and redeployment as well as asset harvesting allow manufacturers to offer life cycle management services.

a collaborative system that delivers seamless customer experiences

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The Hudson River Valley and Dutchess County

The Hudson Valley extends 150 miles above the tip of Manhattan. Designated as a National Heritage Area, the valley is steeped in history, natural beauty, culture, food and farmers’ markets.

Colonial Era the first Dutch settlement was established at Fort Nassau, a trading post south of modern- day Albany, in the early 17th century, with the purpose of exchanging European goods for beaver pelts.

During the French and Indian War in the 1750s, the northern end of the valley became the bulwark of the British defense against French invasion from Canada via Lake Champlain.The valley also became one of the major regions of conflict during the American Revolution.

19th Century following the building of the Erie Canal, the area became an important industrial center as the canal opened the Hudson Valley and New York to commerce with the Midwest and the Great Lakes.

The region is associated with the Hudson River School, a group of American Romantic painters who worked from about 1830 to 1870. The natural beauty of the Hudson Valley has earned the Hudson River the nickname “America’s Rhineland” a comparison to the famous 40-mile (65 km) stretch of Germany’s Rhine River valley between the cities of Bingen and Koblenz.

Tourism became a major industry as early as 1810, as elite visitors frequented the mineral waters at Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs with convenient steamboat connections from New York City, and numerous attractive hotels in romantic settings.

The Hudson River is navigable for a great distance above mile 0 off Battery Park. The original Erie Canal connected the Hudson with Lake Erie enabling shipping between cities on the Great Lakes and Europe via the Atlantic Ocean. The Hudson Valley also proved attractive for railroads, once technology progressed to the point where it was feasible to construct the required bridges over tributaries. When the Poughkeepsie Bridge opened in 1889, it became the longest single-span bridge in the world. On October 3, 2009, it re-opened as a pedestrian walkway over the Hudson, connecting over 25 miles of existing pedestrian trails.

Winemaking the Hudson Valley is the oldest wine making and grape-growing region in the United States, with roots established as early as 1677. The Hudson Valley is home to many wineries offering wine-tasting and other tours.

Dutchess County is 800 square miles of natural scenic beauty, historic and cultural landmarks, and outdoor recreation. Stroll the Walkway Over the Hudson. Tour and taste along the Dutchess Wine Trail. Explore the homes of FDR and Vanderbilt. Taste new creations at The Culinary Institute of America. Fill the pantry at farm markets. Cruise the Hudson River.

Historic Estates Museums Presidential Libraries and Hiking Trails

Explore FDR’s Home, Presidential Library and Museum, with two floors of new interactive exhibits. Tour Dia: Beacon and a city-wide celebration of the arts. Vassar’s Loeb Art Center invites you to stroll its galleries free of charge. Shop for treasures in village antique shops or specialty shops. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum. Observe native birds and wildlife while hiking, including 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Ramble or cycle three Rail Trails, including the Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park, the world’s longest pedestrian bridge!

Hudson River Valley Scenic and Historic Walking Tours

Biking, Walking Driving Itineraries and outdoor adventures in Dutchess County and the Hudson River Valley. Outdoor recreation includes biking, hiking, horseback riding, golf, kayaking, parasailing, archery and skeet shooting.

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The Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa

family vacations museums historic neighborhoods and riverfront festivals

The Quad Cities area consists of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Moline, East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois. The region has the excitement of a big city and the hospitality of a small town with award-winning museums and cultural centers, internationally-recognized festivals, beautiful riverfronts and a vibrant nightlife.

Davenport has beautiful riverfront vistas and an active downtown area with the Figge Art and Putnam History Museums and great shopping at the North Park Mall.
Bettendorf the Library and adjacent Family Museum provide exciting programs and storytelling. The numerous outdoor activities include the Splash Landing water park, Wallace’s Garden Center and Duck Creek Recreational Trail.

Rock Island downtown is known for its festivals and nightlife with Cajun food and zydeco music; Jamaican food and reggae music; and a fall Irish folk festival. Family activities include the country’s largest go-kart street race. Experience a downtown architectural tour and the Broadway Historic District.
Moline is one of the agricultural capitals of the world, home of John Deere and steeped in history. The modern downtown area features great riverfront views and evening entertainment with musicals performed by local actors.
East Moline is home to many great events and festivities. Empire Park is right on the Mississippi River, walk along the riverfront trails of The Quarter or visit to the John Deere Harvester Works, one of the world’s largest combine factories.

                                                   Quad Cities Museums
The Figge Art Museum in downtown Davenport is community-centered facility and a gathering place for residents and visitors alike to experience and enjoy the visual arts. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, this 100,000 square foot museum was designed by British architect David Chipperfield, and includes nine permanent collection galleries, traveling exhibition galleries, art studios for children and adults, a Family Gallery and Activity Center. The Figge has a collection of approximately 3,000 works that reflect artistic styles and developments from the Renaissance to contemporary art, with particular strengths in American Regionalist, Mexican Colonial and Haitian Art.

The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum was a dream of Iowa 80 Truckstop founder, Bill Moon who had a passion for collecting antique trucks and other trucking memorabilia. Every truck has a story to tell and can provide a unique glimpse back in time. Many rare and one-of-a-kind trucks are on display.

Brewpubs Wineries and Distilleries

Mississippi River Distilling vodka, gin and bourbon whiskey handmade from local corn and wheat grown within 25 miles in small handmade batches.

Wide River Winery atop the Mississippi bluff north of Clinton with some of the finest wines in the Midwest; 11 types of wine, all with catchy names including Felony Red and Ms. D’Meanor White.

Riverboats the Quad Cities’ location on the Mississippi River has inspired many riverboat captains and writers. Enjoy this mighty river aboard a riverboat cruise or an open-air water taxi.

River Action strives to foster the environmental, economic, and cultural vitality of the Mississippi River and its riverfront in the Quad City region and 12 communities in two states and two counties. Some of the many accomplishments have been the lighting of the Centennial Bridge, The Quad City Water Taxi, QC Riverfront Design Principles, and Waterfront Master Plan. River Way projects include development of a wayfinding system to guide people along riverfront trails, art projects, historic markers, riverfront parks, enhancement and restoration of wetland habitats.

The Rock Island Arsenal was established by Act of Congress in 1862 and has been an active manufacturer of military equipment and ordnance since the 1880s: leather horse equipment, meat cans and canteens, paper targets, artillery recoil mechanisms and carriages, and the Model 1903 rifle.  The Museum on the Island is the second oldest US Army Museum in the United States. 

Biking and Hiking the Quad Cities is at the crossroads of the national Mississippi River Trail and American Discovery Trails; 100 miles of beautiful trails that meander along the mighty Mississippi River, through parks, over bridges and through history-filled sections of these riverfront cities.

Historic Neighborhoods

The Broadway Historic District is a collection of historic homes in Rock Island. Founded as a neighborhood association in 1988, it gained National Register of Historic Places status in 1998.

The Village of East Davenport a historic logging and Civil War military community with unique shops, restaurants and pubs. Lindsay Park, home to the Union Army’s parade grounds during the Civil War.

The John Deere Historic Site the original Grand Detour homestead where he created his first self-scouring plow. The site also features a replica of his blacksmith shop with a working blacksmith and an exhibit from an archeological dig. Tour guides tell what life on the prairie was all about.

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The Italian Borgo Historic District Concept

economic development virtual hotel towns and albergo diffuso travel accommodations

An Economic Development model designed to offer quality stays that do not impinge on the local lifestyle while promoting year-round resilient growth that favors restructuring, preservation and local resources.

Virtual Hotel Towns address the demand for sustainable, quality tourism in urban and rural areas by focusing on the interaction between visitors and locals as well as developing and promoting a community’s historic preservation efforts, traditions, values and architecture.

US Main Streets and Historic Districts Itineraries

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Albergo Diffuso is an innovative concept designed to revive small historic Italian communities by converting historic buildings into a virtual hotel village. Points of reference include:

Main Street Properties are managed by owners who also provide hospitality services

Travel Accommodations are derived from converted buildings in historic districts

A Central Reception provides Travel Related Services, including food and communications services.

Communities with Guest and Host Interactions that highlight Local Lifestyles

Local Businesses capable of managing incoming travel services benefit from a centralized marketing and sales program. Resources generated from inbound travel transactions are made available to Museums, Theaters and others on Main Street and in Historic Districts.

Local Projects integrate architecture with digital media and engage visitors through interaction with local citizens. Water resources and energy efficiency projects are also community attractors as domestic and international business and government visitors will come to study, learn and acquire knowledge and expertise in these fields.