Italian Villas Now Selling for $1

News sites all over the world published articles about Italian villas with panoramic views of the Mediterranean on a fertile patch of land dubbed the “Earthly Paradise” for One. American. Dollar. Is this the international real estate deal of 2019? Upon closer look, you see that, yes, there is a catch.

Due to depopulation as people pick up their things and opt for more metropolitan areas, realtors are floundering and left to figure out creative ways to draw potential buyers back to the area for a major revitalization.  The homes are dilapidated and the catch is that buyers must invest $17,000 towards reconstruction efforts within the first 3 years of purchase.

“As opposed to other towns that have merely done this for propaganda, this city hall owns all €1 houses on sale,” says Giuseppe Cacioppo, Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councilor. “We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners. You want that house, you’ll get it no time.”

Despite the $17k catch, within 48 hours of the story going live, the town has been inundated with tens of thousands of inquiries from people hoping to grab their piece of the rural Italian dream.  “The whole world has got in touch,” Cacioppo adds. “Callers are from Europe, mainly Spain, Russia, and as far as South Africa, Australia, USA, the Arab Emirates.” And it’s not just individuals and tourists lured by a dream house in sunny Sicily.  “A team of US lawyers, working for an American company interested in doing real estate business in Sambuca, wants to meet up with us,” says Cacioppo. “A businessman from New York just called me, saying he’s flying to Sicily tonight.

The city has a total area of 37 square miles in the South-West of Sicily, 42.25 miles far from Palermo, about 21 miles far from the archaeological park of Selinunte, and about 13 miles far from Menfi, that has beaches still pristine and the Blue Flag beach for its sea. Perched on a hill, the town of Sambuca di Sicilia is surrounded in the North-East from hills and woods, including the towering peak of Mount Genuardo in the South-West by the valleys of the river Carboj that form the reservoir of Lake Arancio. The beautiful woods surrounding the town are full of local legends and myths.  The architecture is something right out of an Italian romance novel. Originally, Sambuca was coined “Zabut,” thought to be from the Arabic term meaning “the beautiful.” Other hypotheses about the origin of the name go back to the Greek instrument, the Sambuca, similar to a small harp, that reminds of the urban map of the old town, or to the sambuco plants, spread around downstream. Sambuca is a timeless environment untouched by the modernization of more metropolitan areas and inhabited by only a few thousand people. It would be ideal for an international getaway and/or real estate investment.  

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Nicholls Partners with Rouses For Community Cooking Courses

Nicholls recently announced that it would be partnering with Rouse’s Supermarkets to offer a series of cooking classes to the local community called Cooking With the Colonels.  Each class will be Saturdays throughout the year from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include an orientation, cooking lessons, a family meal, and a tour of the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building which is the facility that houses the Nicholl’s State on-campus Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.  

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is named after famous Louisiana chef John Folse.  Chef John Folse, born in St. James Parish in 1946, learned early that the secrets of Cajun cooking lay in the unique ingredients of Louisiana’s swamp floor pantry. Folse seasoned these raw ingredients with his passion for Louisiana culture and cuisine, and from his cast iron pots emerged Chef John Folse & Company.

When Folse opened Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant in 1978 in Donaldsonville, he set out to market his restaurant by taking “a taste of Louisiana” worldwide. He introduced Louisiana’s indigenous cuisine to Japan, Beijing, Hong Kong and Paris. In 1988, Folse made international headlines with the opening of “Lafitte’s Landing East” in Moscow and again when Folse became the first non-Italian chef to create the Vatican State Dinner in Rome. Later, the Louisiana Legislature gave him the title of “Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World.”

Folse’s Culinary Institute invites aspiring chefs with an adventurous palate and an insatiable desire to work in the food and service industries to pursue a Bachelor of Science or Associate of Science degree in culinary arts at Nicholls, currently the only post-secondary institution in Louisiana offering a four-year culinary degree.  They pride themselves on teaching their students about cuisine from around the world. However, their students are a step above others because of their knowledge of cajun and creole cuisine.

Each class will be taught by award winning chefs and teachers from the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and will concentrate on complex Louisiana fare.  Currently, only the first three classes have been scheduled, the first for Saturday, Jan. 26. That class’s theme will be Louisiana’s natural resources and rich history.  Students will learn prepare dishes incorporating rabbit, oyster, and andouille gumbo; duck and pistachio terrine; wild boar osso bucco with polenta and glazed root vegetables; and riz au lait.  The next class, titled New Orleans Creole Table, will be held on  Saturday, Feb. 23 and participants will cook T’Frere’s turtle soup; oysters Marie Laveau; spit roasted creole leg of lamb; and strawberry creole cream cheese ice cream over pecan pound cake.  The third class is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, and students will veer towards Italian cuisine as they experiment with recipes from Tuscany and Florence like ribollita soup; bruschetta; pollo alla cacciatore; bistecca alla fiorentina; and biscotti.

Class size is limited to 16 students and you must be at least 16 years old to register. Requirements are long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and flat, non-slip, closed-toe shoes. Long hair should be pulled back and students should be prepared for a 2-3 hours of physical activity. Students will work on the recipes in groups of two to three.  Tools will be provided but students are encouraged to bring their own.

Registration for one costs $125, for a couple $200, and for a Rouses’ employee $100. Payment is due two weeks before the class. For more information or to register, visit or call the Office of Continuing Education at 448-4444.

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Roasted Duck with Pecan Sauce

With duck hunting season in full gear in Louisiana, there are more opportunities to see this delicious item on your plate at restaurants. Duck poppers are delicious, and a Louisiana duck season staple, with its creamy, warm cream cheese taking the edge off of the gamey flavor of a spicy seasoned bite-sized piece of duck meat. Wrap it in thick, crispy bacon pop a tangy, crunchy slice of pickled jalapeno in the middle and throw it on the grill….HEAVEN!  But, it gets old after awhile and what to do with the remaining duck meat? recently published a recipe created by Houma’s House Restauraunt Latil’s Landing’s Executive Chef Jeremy Langlois and it is a gem of a down south dinner.  Latil’s was named by Esquire Magazine as one of the top twenty best new restaurants in America.  There he masterfully creates wonderful dishes in a style that he calls “Nouvelle Louisiane” which focuses on fresh Louisiana ingredients.  Using the freshest local meats, vegetables, herbs and spices that Louisiana has to offer, Chef Langlois whips up magic in the kitchen and thrives on delivering his guests an unforgettable experience. In this case, migratory duck species like Mallards, Wood ducks, Pintails, Gadwalls, and Blue and Green Wing Teals are what is typically hunted in Louisiana and incorporated into southern dishes from mid-November to late January.  Locals have strong opinions on which species is the best table fare. These wild raised birds are (obviously) free of hormones, antibiotics and chemicals. The meat is very dark and looks almost blue or purple. This is because duck meat is very bloody. If you’ve never had wild duck, it can be a little tough in consistency and have a slightly gamey taste if not prepared correctly. One can soak the meat in salted water, milk, buttermilk or vinegar to remove blood from the flesh and/or age the meat under refrigeration for 3 to 7 days to enhance tenderness.  When done correctly, duck can be a real delicacy.

Chef Jeremy Langlois’s pan roasted duck recipe is something new and the pecan sauce is a nod to Louisiana tradition.  It’s easy and quick (our favorite kind of recipe!) and serves 6. Pair it with bacon wrapped balsamic green bean bundles and a bananas foster bread pudding for dessert for an authentic, yet new, Louisiana dining experience.  It will wow your dinner company!


6 duck breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil
Pecan Sauce               

1/2 cup white corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1 cup pecans (pieces or halves)
Salt and pepper to taste


Duck Breast
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Season the duck breast with salt, pepper and your favorite Louisiana seasoning.  We love Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add olive oil. Add the duck breast, skin side down. Sear for 6 minutes. Flip the duck breast over and place the pan in the oven. Roast the breasts for 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the duck breasts to rest 2 to 3 minutes before slicing. Slice each duck breast into 1/2-inch pieces and fan around plate.

Pecan Sauce
Combine corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil gently about 5 minutes, stir in pecans and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over pan roasted duck breast.

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Famous Louisiana Authors

The vibrant, rich culture and history of the Bayou State has inspired countless numbers of famous Louisiana authors and even more stories.  Some of America’s, even the world’s best work came from the South. Tennessee Williams. Mark Twain. Walt Whitman.  Ernest Gaines. Kate Chopin. Anne Rice. Literary lovers from all over can appreciate the folklore and storytelling that the bayous, foodways, and the motley crew of ethnicities, cultures, and belief systems inspire. recently published a compilation of all the most famous Louisiana literary legends and we took our favorites from that list to dive deeper into their works, inspiration, and backgrounds.  

1.    Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams is considered among the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.  Some of his most famous works include The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), and Sweet Bird of Youth (1959).  His works were greatly influenced by his struggle with depression and tumultuous personal life. Well into his 60s, Williams still struggled but as he slid deeper in depression, his work began to suffer as well.  Much of Williams’ most acclaimed work was written early in his career and has been adapted for the cinema. His mother once said of Williams’ writing: “Tom would go to his room with black coffee and cigarettes and I would hear the typewriter clicking away at night in the silent house. Some mornings when I walked in to wake him for work, I would find him sprawled fully dressed across the bed, too tired to remove his clothes.”  Williams also wrote short stories, poetry, essays and a volume of memoirs. In 1979, four years before his death, Williams was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Every year the French Quarter hosts the annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. Williams lived for a time in New Orleans and used it as the setting for “A Streetcar Named Desire” and other short stories. Fans can also check out Williams’ first Vieux Carre apartment at 722 Toulouse Street, now home of the Historic New Orleans Collection. Next hop a streetcar, you can temporarily name “Desire,” down Saint Charles and view the cemeteries and sights of fading Southern grandeur that inspired Williams’ work.

2.    Ann Rice

Anne Rice is one of the most well known contemporary Louisiana authors.  She was born and raised in New Orleans and holds a Master of Arts Degree in English and Creative Writing. Even though Anne has spent more of her life in California than in New Orleans, she has said numerous times that New Orleans is her true home and inspiration for her famous novels. Interview with the Vampire, her 1st novel, was set in The French Quarter. Interview with the Vampire was made into a motion picture in 1994, directed by Neil Jordan, and starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas. Her antebellum house in the Garden District was the fictional home of her imaginary Mayfair Witches. Ann is the author of over 30 novels, including The Witching Hour, Servant of the Bones, Merrick, Blackwood Farm, Blood Canticle, Violin, and Cry to Heaven.

3.    Ernest Gaines

Ernest James Gaines (born January 15, 1933) is an African-American author whose works have been taught in college classrooms and translated into many languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese. Gaines was among the fifth generation of his sharecropper family to be born on a plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. This became the setting and premise for many of his later works. He was the eldest of 12 children, raised by his aunt, who was crippled and had to crawl to get around the house. Although born generations after the end of slavery, Gaines grew up impoverished, living in old slave quarters on a plantation.  When the children were not picking cotton in the fields, a visiting teacher came for five to six months of the year to provide basic education. Schooling for African-American children did not continue beyond the eighth grade during this time in Pointe Coupee Parish. His first novel was written at age 17, while babysitting his youngest brother, Michael. According to one account, he wrapped it in brown paper, tied it with string, and sent it to a New York publisher, who rejected it. Gaines burned the manuscript, but later rewrote it to become his first published novel, Catherine Carmier.  Four of his works have been made into television movies. His 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying (1993) was nominated for Pulitzer Prize, was rewarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction (1993), and was inducted into Oprah’s Book Club (1997). Gaines currently resides on the land where he grew up with his wife.

At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette resides The Ernest J. Gaines Center which is an international center for scholarship on Ernest Gaines and his work. The center honors the work of Gaines and provides a space for scholars to work with the his papers and manuscripts. Gaines’s generous donation of his early papers and manuscripts (through 1983) and some artifacts to Edith Garland Dupré Library provided the foundation for the center’s collection. The center also anticipates acquiring the remainder of Gaines’s papers.

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The Grand Canyon of the South recently published an article about “The Grand Canyon of the South” which, before that, we had never heard about.  Upon further research, we realized that the word needs to get out about this breathtaking beauty of a US attraction!    The Palo Duro Canyon (“palo duro” is spanish for “hard wood”) is one of America’s most beautiful natural attractions out there, though it is little known.  This may because it’s older, bigger brother The Grand Canyon gets all the attention.  The Palo Duro Canyon should not be overlooked.  It’s the 2nd largest canyon in the US, about 120 miles long, up to 20 miles wide in areas, and boasts over 40 miles of scenic views and hikes.  Its elevation at the rim is 3500 feet above sea level and it’s only about a 30 minute drive from Amarillo, nestled in the heart of the Texas panhandle. In comparison, The Grand Canyon, is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 6,000 ft. deep.

Palo Duro Canyon was formed by water erosion from the Red River. The water deepens the canyon by moving sediment downstream and wind and water erosion gradually widen the canyon. Humans have resided in the canyon for approximately 12,000 years. Early settlers were nomadic tribes that hunted mammoth and other large game animals. Later, various Indian tribes lived in the canyon until 1874. The State Park surrounding the canyon opened on in 1934 and contains over 29k acres of gorgeous scenery. Palo Duro Canyon State park is an excellent outdoor classroom. School groups from across Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico visit the park each year. Park staff offers guided educational programs (by reservation only) for school and special interest groups. There is also a Junior Ranger program available for children ages 4-12. There are activities they must complete and have signed by a ranger before they can receive a sleeve patch at the Visitor Center or Park Headquarters. The activity brochure can be requested at the Visitor Center or Park Headquarters.

The park offers a variety of activities such as hiking, road biking, mountain biking, a scenic drive, camping, picnicking, wildlife and wildflower viewing, backpacking, and horseback riding.  Many flock to the area for unique bird watching experiences. There is a Wildlife Viewing Blind located behind the Palo Duro Trading Post that provides a quiet place to watch birds. A water feature is in place along with feeders. Photos are posted on the walls for those who need help with identification though, any of the trails throughout the park have the potential to be excellent bird watching spots.

Summertime temperatures can be brutal in the canyon. Temperatures often range from the 90s to 115 degrees. It is always advisable to engage in activities in the morning or late evening due to the high heat. Make sure you and everyone in your party stays hydrated and does not overextend themselves physically. Do not attempt the very long trails in the high heat of the day.  For those unable or unwilling to view the canyon by foot or horseback, there is a scenic drive of about 16 miles that takes you to the floor of the canyon and that features beautiful views of the scenery.

The park also allows special events though they must be reserved, scheduled, and approved by the park ranger.  The park has been a breathtaking venue for many “I Dos” as it offers awe-inspiring views and scenic spots to exchange vows.

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TedX Comes to LSU

LSU recently announced the lineup for the 7th annual TedX event being held March 23, 2019 at the LSU Union theater.  Never heard of TedX? A TEDx event is a local gathering where live TED-like talks and videos previously recorded at TED conferences are shared with a community. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.  Launched in 2013, TEDxLSU is an intellectual and creative experience that brings local, regional, and statewide communities together in a way that enables them to imagine the possibilities, spur discussion and dialogue, and generate big ideas that will move the state of Louisiana forward. TEDxLSU participants, speakers, volunteers, and organizers come from all walks of life–business, non-profits, art, education, technology, and more.  TEDxLSU—like all TEDx events—is not organized for political reasons, monetary reward, or personal gain. Everyone associated with TEDxLSU does so because they believe in the power of ideas to ignite progress. TEDxLSU is financially supported by ticket sales and in-kind community partnerships. All funds generated through TEDxLSU go directly into sustaining the program. Check out Ted for more info and interesting talks on any and everything from politics to religion to self help and inspirational stories.  Ted materials are frequently used in educational settings such as K-12 and graduate level schools all over the world. Check out the TED free app on your phone or tablet!

Shortly after TEDxLSU 2018, the organizers gathered to start the process of planning for the 2019 event. They spent months reflecting on every detail of the 2018 event and planning for the 2019 event. During the collaborative planning process, the organizers all agreed on just one thing:  the ideas featured on the TEDxLSU stage and experiences the attendees shared needed to shed light on topics that would spur conversation and action in our community. That led to the 2019 theme: ILLUMINATE.

Illumination is a reciprocal process; what to you is fully illuminated can be only a spark of an idea to another person. To spread that idea, we take care to illuminate our own knowledge for others, and to receive and spread the spark of knowledge that those around us offer.

But it’s bigger than that- the organizers attempt to take stock of where we are as a growing community and as local members of a global experience and we try to find a singular element that anchors us.  From there we begin to discuss all the different ways this word manifests, and it becomes bigger than its definition. The theme becomes a lens through which we can challenge ourselves to make life better.

The speakers and performers for the 2019 TEDxLSU event are:

Brandon Ballengée
Andrea Eastin
Reagan Errera
Hayley Johnson & Sarah Simms
Lori Latrice Martin
Juan Martinez
Sara Reardon
Emma Schachner
Clay Tucker
Rolanda Wilkerson
Nalo Zidan

These people are clothing designers, ecologists, educators, paleontologists, fire-breathers, and everything in between.  Reserve your seat in order to expand your horizons, open your mind to another bubble of life, to be… ILLUMINATED.

Tickets range in price from $25.00-$65.00.  There are discounts available for students, educators and early birds.  

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