Buona Festa di San Giuseppe! Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

19 Mar

Today is the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the family, and it is a feast day celebrated by Italians everywhere.  It is also Father’s Day in Italy.

Most of the rest of this post comes from a previous one, but the thoughts and sentiments are the same.

Growing up in a neighborhood filled with many Irish and Italian families, I was always happy that the Italians also had their day in March to celebrate.

Joseph the Carpenter, 1642, Louvre, by Georges de La Tour

Joseph the Carpenter, 1642, Louvre, by Georges de La Tour

Of course, not quite as loud or rowdy as St. Patrick’s Day, we nonetheless celebrated the feast of St. Joseph with a food fest. And while the Irish had their green beer and accessories, the Italians, often sporting something red, had their zeppole, a cream filled fried pastry that originated in Napoli.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

According to my fellow blogger, MariaGiovanna, (Sharing My Italy) the “Zeppole di SanGiuseppe” originated in Naples, Italy, “where the first recipe was put on paper, in 1837, by the famous Neapolitan gastronome Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to be in Italy to enjoy a zeppole. In Chicago, they can be found in authentic Italian bakeries such as Ferrara Bakery on Taylor Street. Light, airy and filled with cream, it is fun to see the smiles they generate on those wiping the cream from their lips.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

At this time of year, Ferrara’s and Italian bakeries everywhere are busy filling and selling hundreds of dozens of the cream filled gems.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

So, to those looking to get beyond the grey days of winter, here’s an idea – participate in a St. Joseph’s Day custom by sharing some food with the needy and with some friends, and, of course, be sure to bring some zeppole!

And a very Happy Father’s Day to our Italian friends.

Ciao,
Judy

Show Me Some Green

14 Mar

March 14 is still winter in Chicago, but Mother Nature has spoiled us. We haven’t had any significant snowfall since mid December. Not that we haven’t had some very cold days, but coupled with sunny and warm days, our boots have dried and been pushed to the back of the closet. Many spring flowers have poked through the winter ground and spring buds have begun to grace the trees.

Until now. Here’s how the morning greeted us.

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Why are some of us a bit disappointed?

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective

Exactly. So here’s some green to enjoy while awaiting the actual arrival of spring.

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And if that doesn’t quite do it, try this.

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As the proverb says…No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

Ciao,
Judy

Basking in the Glow

5 Feb

When the calendar says February, the temperature reads 38°, and the sky is blue, Chicagoans are quick to take advantage.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Being that it is Super Bowl weekend, I thought I’d join the sunshine strollers, interview some residents, and see how they feel about the big game. Needless to say, our team wasn’t even in the running, so I was curious if there was great interest out there.

I headed to Lincoln Park Zoo, a free 35-acre zoo founded in 1868, one of the oldest zoos in North America. First I spotted some lions.

Who are you pulling for today? No comment.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Do you even plan to watch the game? 

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©Blogginginitaly.com

So I headed to the macaque, thinking he may be a bit more cooperative, but he really only wanted to sun bathe. (And not to worry, that’s his natural face color, not actually a sunburn!)

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©Blogginginitaly.com

How about the rhino? Maybe he had an opinion…

but he only wanted to pose. Such great posture, by the way.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Perhaps the flamingos? Surely they must be chatting about the game, but no such luck.

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And the ducks? They were having too much fun sliding on the frozen pond to think about the game.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

I walked over to the Farm in the Zoo, but the cows couldn’t be bothered either… too busy enjoying the blue sky and sunny day.

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Even Grant has no plans to get off his horse and sit in front of a TV.

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As we continued walking, a happy thought came to me…

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Who needs football when we are still basking in the glow of last summer? Chicago CUBS, 2016 World Champs. Endless blue sky and sunshine, 108 years in the making. Still basking in the glow…

for a long time to come.

Ciao,
Judy

ps…Len is making pizza and I do plan to watch the game, even if mostly for the commercials!

In My Words

31 Dec

I’ve often wondered, with this age of technology, where will my online stories and photos end up? Oh, not next year, or even 10 years from now, but off in the future when a grandchild might be interested. I was lucky that my grandfather, Alex, took time to write letters, and even more fortunate that his wife and daughter took care to keep them.

Over many years since childhood, I failed to complete many of the journals and scrapbooks that I had purchased. I, like so many, still have a large bin of photos in storage, and many, many stories that rely on memory.

But that changed with my blog. Without actually understanding what I was launching in 2011, I embarked on a “journaling journey” that would forever capture my thoughts, adventures and photos, and really change my life. It began as a personal journal, for family members and a few friends, to follow Len’s and my first “three-week alone” trip to Cortona.

I never could have imagined all that I would gain from my writing –  unknown family history, unknown relatives, reacquaintance with long-lost friends, incredible new friendships, unexpected invitations, and so on, as well as the joy of being able to “revisit” each and every event or place that touched our lives in the last six years. In addition, I never could have imagined how many others would come along for the adventure. Since 2011, 0ver 25,000 people from more than 100 countries have visited blogginginitaly!

For Christmas, I surprised Len with hard copy books of our adventures, one per year. Each has a custom front and back cover, a dedication page, and the blogs from that entire year. We need only  flip open a page at random to relive a wonderful experience, photos included!

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©Blogginginitaly.com Front covers 2011-2015

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©Blogginginitaly.com Back covers 2011 -2015

And now I know that as long as there’s a bookshelf, my stories will have a home, regardless of how technology might change in the future.

Thanks to all who have joined us on our journey. I’ve loved your comments and the opportunity to share our adventures with you. And yes, there’s more in store for 2017, including planting the next garden. Can we grow an even larger tomato in 2017????

Happy New Year, may it be filled with good health, and may we each, in some way, contribute to a kinder, gentler, more tolerant and more peaceful world.

Happy New Year! Tanti Auguri di Buon Anno!
Ciao,
Judy

 

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

Wishing family and friends, far and near, a very

Merry Christmas,

Buon Natale,

and Happy Hanukkah!

May you be surrounded by those you love.

 

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

In Memory of…

4 Dec

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Yesterday was Aunt Marion’s 90th birthday and she was throwing a party. How lucky to approach 90, still active and in full command. She had shopped the day after Thanksgiving and found just what she wanted to wear – a red wool jacket and black pants.

What birthday gift would I give Aunt Marion? The answer came easily. In October, 2013, I began writing a series of posts that traced a European trip my grandfather, Alex, her father, took in 1938. I titled the series Through His Words: Reflections From and About My Grandfather. From Alex’s letters, postcards, etc., that Aunt Marion had saved, I was able to document every step of his incredible journey. 76 years, 10 months and 10 days after Alex returned to his birthplace, so too did Len and I, being the first and only, we think, descendants to step foot in the town of Pietrabbondante, Italy.

With each post, Aunt Marion would call me or I her. How I loved those conversations. Along with several members of my extended family, I learned much about a man I hardly knew, and even Aunt Marion learned a great deal more about her father. Who could have guessed that a blog could bring so much joy?

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com Sharing info with Aunt Marion, my sibs & some cousins.

“I just wish I could print these all out,” she had said to me on more than one occasion.

As her 90th birthday approached , I found blog2print.com, a company that could make a book of my blogs. With guidance from a very helpful customer service, I created the front and back covers, wrote the dedication, and selected the contents. It was the perfect gift.

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©Blogginginitaly.com Dedication Page

©Blogginginitaly.com Dedication Page

Of particular note is the dedication to Aunt Marion: …my guiding light, collaborator and friend, who guarded “the bag” that made this all possible. The bag, of course, contained my grandfather’s letters and so much more that she had kept all these years.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

On Saturday, instead of celebrating her 90th birthday, we celebrated her wonderful life. Sadly and very unexpectedly, she left us just 5 days short of her 90th birthday.

I will miss her and our talks. But like the other strong Italian women in our family who proceeded her – my grandmothers, my mother and my aunts, I will remember her always and the traditions she passed on.

If only I could have given her the book.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Sleep well, Aunt Marion. Love you.
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

CUBS and Family

8 Nov

By now, of course, you have seen all photos and videos – after 108 years, the CHICAGO CUBS won the World Series. Pinch me – it’s not a dream.

We watched games 6 and 7 last Tuesday and Wednesday,  from front row (ok, TV) seats. On Friday, we actually joined the 5 million celebration on Michigan Avenue.

But there was one more thing we needed to do.

Besides this incredible come from behind story, there have been so many stories of loved ones who never saw the CUBS win the big one. Social media and the news are filled with feel good stories – how loving the CUBS is a family tradition handed down from one generation to the next. I get it because it’s true for me too.  But how best to bring loved ones into this jubilation?

After the win, Wrigley Field provided the answer… people began writing the names of loved ones on the storied walls.

On Sunday, Len, Benita and I walked to Wrigley Field. Even the sky was CUBBIE blue.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

So many people were out taking in the sunshine and feeling the afterglow of this victory, including us.

As we neared the ballpark, we were greeted with this wonderful sight. Chills.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

A bit of history: The ballpark first opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park for Charles Weeghman’s Chicago Whales of the Federal League, which folded after the 1915 baseball season. The Cubs played their first home game at the park in on April 20, 1916, defeating the Cincinnati Reds with a score of 7–6 in 11 innings.

Seemed like a good photo op.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Then we worked our way to the wall – we were on a mission. In my pocket was a favorite photo of my parents…a bit faded, but so like them, out enjoying life and having fun.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

We searched for the right spot, and thanks to Benita’s long arm and a nearby chair, my parents became part of the celebration – Benita and Bill, Nana and Papa, part of Wrigley forever. Perfect!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

And talk about location! If you look carefully, you can see their names between two hearts right below the bottom red tiles.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

We grew up watching the CUBS. Win or lose, they were part of our lives and our conversations. And in my Mom’s later years, when she couldn’t be as active as she’d like, she relished watching each and every game. Tears of happiness came easily for her when they won, and “not to worry – someday” if they didn’t. Of course, we had lots of somedays, until now.

Go, Cubs, Go!” is a song written by Steve Goodman in 1984 and sung by fans after each win. I’d often call my Mom after a win to sing it with her on the phone. I can see her smiling now.

Congratulations to our CHICAGO CUBS. Mission accomplished – in so many wonderful ways!

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

Medieval Jousters on Horses in Cortona

22 Oct

For days, we had heard that the horses were coming, yet no one I spoke with knew why. Today, as with many days in Cortona, we were surprised and delighted with a colorful Medieval spectacle.

As overheard in the piazza, the nearby city of Arezzo has been highly victorious in jousting competitions this year. They came to Cortona today, dressed in their finest and with their victors high on horseback, to give thanks to their patron saint, Margherita. One of the participants told me this was a festival of adoration to their patron saint in appreciation for their success this year.

From our house, I heard the drummers and arrived just in time to see them enter the piazza from Via Roma.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

A few minutes later, the horses and jousters appeared in full matching Medieval regalia.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Once the horses took their places,

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the flag wavers entered and all watched as they performed.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

In Italy, flag waving and throwing is a skill learned by the young and perfected over many years. It is an important part of many of the Medieval festivals and ceremonies, and one that requires years of practice.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

When the performance was finished, they joined the dignitaries on the grand steps of the Municipio for the speeches of gratitude.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Following the ceremony in the piazza, the parade moved down Via Nazionale, the main and only flat street of Cortona.

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Their ultimate destination was the beautiful Santa Margherita Church at the top of Cortona –

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©Blogginginitaly.com

where the saint lies in glass at the foot of the altar.

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In towns and cities all over Italy, ancient customs live on in the hearts, minds and practices of the people who received them from their ancestors and pass them on to future generations. It’s easy to get caught up in the pageantry and imagine days gone by. No matter how often I see one of these, it’s always quite a spectacle to behold.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

Note: Click on any picture to enlarge.

 

 

Autumn Colors of Cortona

17 Oct

As the days shorten and the sun’s heat weakens, autumn colors and vistas are wrapping their arms around the ancient city of Cortona.

Zucchini flowers are at their end,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

As are the tomatoes that have delighted all spring, summer and early fall.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Local olives are nearly ready to be picked, and after a trip to the local mill, become 100% Italian olive oil. Worth repeating – 100%!

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

In all directions, there is beauty in nature; vibrant colors are everywhere. Mid October showers us with 11 hours of daylight and a temperature usually in the 60s, just what one hopes for in the fall.

If you’ve been to Cortona, the views will beckon you to return. If not, join me for a stroll through the Parterre.

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If you can’t join us in Cortona, I hope you make time to take in the beauty of fall –  wherever your walks may take you.

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You might just be surprised at what you find.

Ciao,
Judy

2016 Chicago Open House – Case Bonita

14 Oct

Three years ago, I began an amazing adventure to learn more about my paternal grandfather, Alexander Capraro. As mentioned in my first post dated 10/2/13:

Through His Words: Reflections From and About My Grandfather

My grandfather was small in stature but large in accomplishment. He was the first Italian-American architect licensed in the state of Illinois and fortunately, a few of his buildings still stand for us to admire.

This weekend, the Chicago Architecture Foundation hosts its Open House Chicago.

200 COOL PLACES.
48 HOURS. GO.
IT’S FREE.
OCTOBER 15-16, 2016

I am so proud that for the 6th time, Casa Bonita, designed in 1928 by my grandfather Alex and his partner Morris, is included in the festival. Quite an accomplishment for a man who, at the age of four, emigrated to America in 1899 with his parents.

Casa Bonita is considered a Spanish-Renaissance Revival apartment building.

Casa Bonita ©Photo by Charlene Ferguson

Casa Bonita ©Photo by Charlene Ferguson

There are 66 units in the U-shaped white terra-cotta building that surround a beautiful garden. The attention to detail can be seen everywhere.

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MTMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MMattucci

Besides its incredible structure, Casa Bonita has amenities including a library, a billiards room, and a large indoor pool.

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MTMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MMattucci

 

When it was built, I have been told, there was even a driving range on the roof.

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MTMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MTMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MMattucci

If you are in or near Chicago this weekend, this is a unique opportunity to visit incredible historic landmarks, including Casa Bonita – all for free. Residents will be available to answer questions, give tours, and share their passion about this very special Chicago treasure.

http://openhousechicago.org/sites/site/casa-bonita/

My thanks to Mary, Linda and Charlene for rapid assistance with photos.

For more on Alex’s story, see below. And one last thought – When I began writing about my grandfather, I used the phrase: Through his Words... Now I can say,  Through his Words and Works…

Ciao,
Judy – a very proud granddaughter

 

Opening of Original Post 10/2/13

Through His Words: Reflections From and About My Grandfather (10/2/13)

I am about to begin an incredible adventure with my paternal grandfather. We will venture to Europe, via ship, and spend a month together touring Italy. During our stay, we will visit his birthplace, Pietrabbondante, a town he left with his parents when he was four years old to emigrate to the United States.

To continue reading, please click below:

 

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