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  • Prepare for Summer Italian Style
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    MAY 29, 2005 - Americans celebrated the unofficial start to summer last weekend. But nobody does summer like the Italians, who are known for taking off work for the entire month of August. Now, that's what I call the lazy, hazy days! Just because summer is practically underway doesn't necessarily mean that you're ready for it. Maybe you can take your cues from Italy - and get prepped for fun in the sun. Here are some things Italians are doing to get into gear for the hot season:

    Get beach ready. The 17th Annual Rimini Fitness Festival in the Italian seaside resort of the same name kicked off yesterday. An estimated 500,000 people are expected to turn out for the latest and greatest in exercise equipment and programs from May 28 to June 5. For starters, Italy's Technogym will present Cardio Wave, a treadmill that aims at getting your butt in shape. Masala bhangra, an aerobic dance workout from India that burns 500 calories per hour, is being billed as another highlight. Past festivals have included wall climbing, massive aerobics classes, and rowing demonstrations. But the main feature is the International Kiss Event, an underwater kissing contest that will be held in a transparent, heart-shaped pool. Of course, that gets Italians warmed up for their favorite exercise of all. Wink, wink!

    Rediscover puppy love. CNN reports that Italians abandon 150,000 dogs and 200,000 cats annually. To thwart pet owners from sending their four-legged loved ones onto the street during summer vacations, Touring Club Italiano is putting out a guide, which will be available in Italian bookstores on June 9, to recommend pet-friendly hotels and restaurants. The book will feature which places offer homemade dog food or make vet services readily available. Parliament has also recently passed a law to slap those who abandon their pets with a 10,000 euro fine. The solution to the problem: Italians need to treat their dogs and cats like one of the family. And take good care of them.

    Plan your trip. Italians head to the beach or the mountains - and live life to the fullest during the summer. If you don't want to be left out, you can pack your bags and hop aboard a flight to the motherland. In fact, EuroFly, an Italian based discount airline, is offering non-stop flights from New York's JFK Airport to Napoli, Palermo and Bologna starting on June 14. Ticket prices start at a very affordable 349 euro. The offer ends when the summer does. But wouldn't it be great if Eurofly provided direct flights year round?

    Eat up. Even when Italians do nothing but relax, they manage to find time to cook and eat. The summer is the perfect time to try out those Italian recipes - from a caprese salad with juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil to homemade pizza on the grill. For great barbecue tips, pick up a copy of The Italian Grill by award-winning chef Micol Negrin. Of course, you can always check with Nonna for authentic recipes, too!

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