Growing up Italian by guest blogger, Jannine Corti Petska

Growing up Italian by guest blogger, Jannine Corti Petska 

Ciao tutti! I’m Jannine Corti Petska. Today I’d like to tell you a bit about growing up Italian and how it influenced the stories I write.

My newest release is from Eternal Press. CARINA AND THE NOBLEMAN is the first book in my psychic sisters trilogy. It’s set in Northern Italy, 1425, and has an absolutely luscious Italian count. I love setting my stories in medieval Italy because it’s a location I’m comfortable with and I know the culture so well.

My father was born on the Italian island of Ponza and is actually half Florentine. (The fleur-de-lys is prevalent in Florence. You’ll notice it all over my website.) My mother was Sicilian. Neither spoke English at first. My mom learned when she started school. My dad learned by reading newspapers when he came over from Italy in his twenties. I was born in New York (but live in Southern California) and was always surrounded by Italians. I grew up in an Old World environment.

   Growing up Italian by guest blogger, Jannine Corti Petska         


Our culture is extremely family oriented–and no, I don’t mean the mafia! Back then the children came first, the women stayed home and cooked, and the men brought home the dough so their wives could keep on cooking. There was an abundance of pride, even if there was a shortage of jobs and money was scarce. We survived, taking in family members if necessary. We ate homemade Italian food, drank homemade wine, and thoroughly enjoyed conversation after dinner. In fact, after the table was cleared and the espresso, fruits and cannoli came out, we have been known to sit 3-4 hours talking and laughing.

I really miss those days. My mother, who never learned how to drive, was the epitome of the little ol’ Sicilian woman. She was in the kitchen drinking coffee and cooking before I woke up. And she was in the kitchen cleaning up or making lasagna for the next day. My father was a baker, so he worked nights and came home about 6 in the morning. My mother cooked him fish; steak; stuffed peppers; or fried peppers, potatoes and onions; or eggs and potatoes; a meal that was his dinner. I probably had the best breakfast of my classmates at school. I’d sit with him and eat. He’d lay out his moppine (dishtowel) on the table in front of him. His espresso to the left, his wine to the right, and his plate of steaming hot food set in the middle.

I could go on and on about life growing up Italian. There is so much to draw from for my stories. That I could write at all is amazing to me because I had a disadvantage. My parents spoke Italian in the house. My father never learned how to write English, but he could read, although not well. My mom read and wrote, but her English vocabulary was rather limited. At school, I was really shy, and I think it had to do with having very simplistic language skills. Surprisingly, I excelled in English. In fact, it was the only class I received straight As in (P.E. too!).

As you can imagine, it was natural for me to use Italian settings for my romances. And what better country? Italy is one of the most romantic destinations in the world. At first I chose cities where my family was born. Then I spread my geographic boundaries to other Italian cities and regions. Just because I’m Italian doesn’t mean I don’t do research. I research until my eyes pop. I want my books as historically accurate as possible. Unfortunately, scholars make that difficult at times. There are many aspects of Italian history that historians can’t seem to agree upon.

I have promised many that I’d put up my recipe for tiramisu. This is one dessert my family and friends expect me to make at the holidays. In fact, I make it quite often throughout the year.


6 egg yolks

2 cups white granulated sugar

1 1/2 pounds Mascarpone

2 cups cold espresso

42 lady fingers

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa.

I often double the first three ingredients to have thicker filling.

1.Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale yellow, using the whisk attachment of a mixer. (I do this by hand.)

2.Beat the Mascarpone into the egg yoke mixture until thoroughly blended, smooth and fluffy.

3. Pour the espresso in a shallow container. Dip half of the ladyfingers quickly in the espresso, one at a time, and place them very close together in a 9×13 pan.

4. Spread half the mixture over the ladyfingers.

5. Repeat #s 3 and 4.

6. Dust with the cocoa powder.

Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6-24 hours.

From experience, you don’t want to soak the ladyfingers in the espresso. Your tiramisu will end up soupy.

Below is the cover of my current release, along with a blurb and a very short excerpt. CARINA AND THE NOBLEMAN can be ordered as an ebook through Eternal Press at Print book tba.

Take a cruise to my website, if you’d like, at


Growing up Italian by guest blogger, Jannine Corti PetskaA new historical romance from

Jannine Corti Petska


Book One from the Sisters of Destiny Trilogy

Forced to the streets after her mother dies, Carina Gallo is desperate to survive and find her long lost sisters.

Consumed with locating his missing brother, Count Luciano Ruggero has forsaken his needs.

When Luciano catches beautiful and vulnerable Carina stealing from him, he takes pity and cares for her until she’s strong enough to work off her crime. Carina is forever grateful to Luciano, yet fears he will learn of her wicked secret and condemn her to burn.

Will Luciano and Carina find a way to feed the mutual passions they share, or will heresy and obsession with lost family destroy them both?


Carina sighed inwardly, truly amazed by the beautiful sight of her first lover. Count Ruggero’s long, well-proportioned legs reminded her of sturdy pillars. Her gaze drifted over the healing wound on his forearm then shifted to the blaze of desire turning his eyes dark gold. A thrill shivered through her body…until their monumental differences returned to afflict her conscience.            “You know not what you are doing, my lord.”            “No, angel. I know exactly what I am about to do.”            “But you and I cannot. You are a count. I am merely a peasant.”            He propped his hands on his hips. “Think you it matters to me?”            “It should, my lord. I am not worthy of your attention, amorous or otherwise.”            He showered her with a promising smile and stepped forward to help her remove her chemise. “When you and I are wearing naught, tell me of our differences, save for the obvious.”

            All she could do was tremble under his heated gaze.

19 Responses to Growing up Italian by guest blogger, Jannine Corti Petska

  1. Jenyfer Matthews

    I just visiting southern Italy for the first time this past fall and loved it so much! Thanks for the recipe – I’m going to try it soon!

  2. MaitheMaitheMaitheMaitheMaithe

    Hi Jannine,

    I loved this blog! I am not Italian, but my father’s very good friend was…and boy did I learn a lot about Italian families. *L* Yup, we always ate and had dinners that lasted several hours…we all had so much fun!

    Thank you for the recipe…sounds delicious. I am addicted to espressos so it is right up my alley. *L*

    I am really looking forward to reading your book…I just love medievals!

  3. KimW

    My best friend who I grew up with is Italian and comes from a large family, so I can relate to a lot of what you say in your post. Adding your book to my wish list. It sounds really good!

  4. Caffey

    Jannine, so nice to meet you! I love historicals and love reading new to me authors. Too I love how unique this one sounds! I really even can’t recall the if I read one set in Italy before! Neat!! Thanks too for the recipe!

  5. Sue A.

    Since I’m not planning a trip to italy your books sound like the next best thing! Thanks for the Tiramisu recipe!

  6. Pam P

    A medieval in Italy and I like the blurb I read, have to get this Jannine. My father is Italian, I am so relating to your post about gorwing up with Italian families, all the experiences. Cooking and eating, Italians always congregrate in the kitchen and you have to eat something, hungry or not, lol. Love Tiramisu, though depends who makes it, will have to try out your recipe. Though I don’t eat Italian out in many places (nothing like homemade at home), we do have a local Northern Italian restaurant with excellent food like made at home, and his mother makes the best Tiramisu I’ve ever had.

  7. Valerie

    This is a really interesting article. As I am European too (a Brit) I found this really nice and the recipe….gotta try that…and that book too. Love the cover.


  8. catslady

    Oh this is a book for me. My parents are both Sicilian. All my grandparents were born in Sicily. My mother went to school knowing very little english (her older brother knew none). What I wouldn’t give for some of my grandmothers food!

  9. Pamk

    recipe sounds yummy. And love the background info on you and your faimily sounds like a lovely childhold.

  10. Tehya

    This sounds delightful. Thank You for the recipe.

  11. Raonaid

    I’ll have to save the recipe and see if my hubs’ step father would enjoy it. He’s pure Italian. I “believe” they told me his family is based in Rome. Not sure… but you can really tell in his accent.

  12. Ashley H

    I think it would be awesome to go to Italy, and try some real Italian food lol!

  13. Carol M

    I really enjoyed reading your post. All of my grandparents were Sicilian. They married and came here to live. My mom couldn’t even speak English when she started school. I loved my grandmother’s cooking. She made the best bread and pizza! Your book looks good. Thank you for the excerpt.

  14. Lexee

    Cool recipe. The book looks really good and will definately be checking it out. I loved the picture too.

  15. Debby

    This book sounds great! I am adding it to myu list

  16. Sherry H

    I love Tiramisu!

  17. Joy

    Thanks for the recipe! This is great and your book looks really good too.

  18. Tina b

    Ohhhh loved this blog post the pictures and recipes!! awesome

  19. angie

    i loved reading this book

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