Archive | Italian Festival RSS feed for this section

Cortona Medieval Marriage and Joust

24 Jun

Our last weekend in Cortona was filled with traditional Medieval customs, celebrated annually by the locals.

Saturday evening, the town reenacted the 1397 marriage of Francesco Casali, Lord of Cortona, to Antonia Salimbeni, a noble woman of Siena, complete with flag-throwers, musicians, and a drawing for the shooting order for Sunday’s crossbow competition.

But let’s step back for a moment. Our great friend, Ivan, (Il Pozzo Galleria) has acted in the role of Francesco for as long as anyone can remember, along with his daughter, Marta, who annually serves as the lovely Antonia. We stopped in to see Ivan midday and were fortunate enough to experience not only the intricate detail of their costumes but also the weight.

©blogginginitaly.com

And then this… gym shoes and all!

©blogginginitaly.com

It’s hard to describe the beautiful detail, complexity and weight of these costumes, and true to form, the evening would be the hottest of the year! I was sweating just thinking about it. But on to the evening…

Drum roll, please!

©blogginginitaly.com

This year, the bride-to-be arrived in a chianina drawn carriage, much to the delight of the patrons.

©blogginginitaly.com

After being helped out of her coach by her lord in waiting,

©blogginginitaly.com

she was introduced to the appreciative crowds.

©blogginginitaly.com

As is customary for all important Cortona events, traditional flag throwers accompanied the ceremony.

©blogginginitaly.com

Before the final entertainment began, the lights unexpectedly went out, ©blogginginitaly.com

but as if on cue, in came the flame throwers, so it was a perfect ending to a wonderfully entertaining evening.

©blogginginitaly.com

As the people dispersed, we bumped into a very hot, tired, but always happy to greet people with a smile, Ivan. 

©blogginginitaly.com

Sunday was another hot day, both weather and competition wise for the Archidado. Peccioverardi won after 4 playoffs, 24-23 over S. Andrea.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Afterward, they paraded around town for their well-fought victory march, carrying the near bulls-eye arrow.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

One final thought about the weekend…

Each year, Ivan tells us it’s his last, yet for those of us who know him, it’s hard to imagine that anyone else could fill his shoes!

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medieval Market Cortona

4 Jun

June arrived in Cortona and brought along not only warm sunny weather but also the first of several annual summer festivals. Last weekend was the Medieval Market filled with games, costumes, food, shops and entertainment. Here’a a sampling…

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

And of course, great sunsets,

©blogginginitaly.com

and great friends!

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

Easter Weekend In Cortona

22 Apr

Throughout Italy, Easter week is filled with religious and cultural traditions. Each town has its long-held ceremonies, and Cortona is no exception. Children who held their grandparents’ hands as they were first introduced to the Good Friday procession now carry those same heavy and beautifully crafted statues through the streets of town as their own children watch in awe.

©blogginginitaly.com

The solemnity of Friday evening fades Saturday morning as people gather along the streets and in the markets to shop for their Easter meal. Friends are greeted with Buona Pasqua and the double cheek kiss as they exchange pleasantries and best wishes while shopping.

One dessert staple is the Colomba di Pasqua, a traditional Italian Easter cake, which comes in various sizes and a few flavors, but is always shaped like a dove.

©blogginginitaly.com

On Easter Sunday, although most cook and eat at home with family, there are also many restaurants offering multi-course traditional meals.

And then comes La Pasquetta, Easter Monday, or Little Easter. This is a national holiday when families pack up Easter leftovers, head to parks or beaches for picnics, or stroll around towns like Cortona. And stroll they do. I always need to remind myself to slow down on these days.

©blogginginitaly.com

La Pasquetta is a time for relaxation, and a midday Aperol Spritz seems to be the colorful  beverage of choice for many.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Amid the crowds and festivities, we always manage to find time for quiet walks, alone or with friends, taking in some views that newly trimmed trees now offer,

©blogginginitaly.com

as well as the magnificent signs of spring.

©blogginginitaly.com

And then, of course, there are the sunsets, with or without aperitivo, no description needed.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Happy Easter, Passover, and Spring!

Ciao
Judy

 

 

Mille Miglia Cortona 2018

17 May

Cortona was ready…the Mille Miglia was passing through the town for the first time ever and the spectators eagerly awaited their arrival. Although the main viewing area was Piazza Repubblica, where each car was announced as it arrived,

©blogginginitaly.com

each car first had to pass through the adjacent Piazza Signorelli, my first vantage point. I was in place as the first car arrived in this three-day Italy event from Brescia – Roma – Brescia.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Other cars soon followed. Given that I took nearly 200 photos today, I leaned on Len to help choose a good sampling.

©blogginginitaly.com

As the cars passed from one piazza to the next, the delighted crowds cheered and waved flags. I love that some drivers seemed as taken with Cortona as the spectators were with them (see driver in the red sweater!).

©blogginginitaly.com

And then the parade continued, sometimes in single file 

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

and sometimes in clusters.

©blogginginitaly.com

Stopping isn’t as easy as one might think – these cars have mechanical, not power brakes.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

An exception, of course, is this Ferrari pace car which Len said was too beautiful to leave out. Ok, ok.

©blogginginitaly.com

I decided to head toward the area where the cars were entering Cortona. On the way, I passed this vintage car on Via Dardano.

©blogginginitaly.com

Entering Porta Colonia is a rather tight turn, and I was interested in seeing how the drivers were maneuvering. This driver made it look pretty easy as these cars also have no power steering. 

©blogginginitaly.com

However, when I passed through Porta Colonia to Piazza Mazzini, I discovered the answer. The usual parking lot had been turned into a wide turning radius, greatly minimizing not only the tight turn but also the chance for scratches and scrapes.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

And then the cars kept coming and coming and coming. Whatever the final count, the original estimate was around 600 – with such an impressive array of makes, styles, colors, and sizes. 

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Not quite sure I could spend three days/1000 miles in this!

©blogginginitaly.com

Kudos to Cortona for making its debut in the 2018 Mille Miglia circuit and for a job well done! 

Arrivederci, Mille Miglia, hopefully we meet again.

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

Mille Miglia – 1000 Miles

16 May

For the first time ever, the famous Mille Miglia open-road endurance race is coming through Cortona. If you are a car lover, or just a fortunate spectator, this will be a spectacular treat.

The race took place in Italy 24 times from 1927 to 1957 (13 before the war, 11 after 1947). From 1953-57, the race was also a round of the World Sports Car Championship. Today’s local paper proclaimed that this is the first time the event will come through Cortona,

IMG_2007

©LaNazione

and posters are all over town.

©blogginginitaly.com

The race was banned after two fatal crashes in 1957, killing both drivers and many spectators. From 1958 to 1961, the event resumed as a rally-like roundtrip at legal speeds with a few special stages driven at full speed, but this was discontinued also.

In 1977, the Mille Miglia was reborn as a “race” for classic vintage cars produced pre-1957. The round trip route is Brescia-Roma-Brescia, similar to that of the original race, and takes several days to complete. 

Here is the route, published by the Mille Miglia official site:

Below are some excerpts taken (and translated) from an email I received this morning detailing some of the logistics. I imagine the times are estimates based on weather conditions and traffic. What is significant, however, is the sheer number of cars, upward of 600, expected to move through the streets of Cortona tomorrow.

Cortona for the first time in its history will be a stop in this race. Everything is ready in the city to welcome this historic passage. About 600 cars will participate in the Mille Miglia 2018. 30 Super Car Mercedes, 100 Super Ferrari Cars and 450 historic cars. Among these, 70% are made up of foreign crews and many famous people. The passage will last for four hours.

In Cortona the reception will be special: the cars will start arriving in the city between 12.30 and 13. The approach path will … enter the city from Via Dardano, Piazza Signorelli, stop for stamping in Piazza della Repubblica and exit from Via Nazionale.

Among the well-known characters at the start, Coldplay bass player Guy Berryman, Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Dutch prince Van Oranje, Piero Pelù, Spanish singer Alvaro Soler and former Formula One driver Giancarlo Fisichella, actress and model Francesca Chillemi, the patron of Prada Patrizio Bertelli.

Per Mayor Francesca Basanieri, … The Mille Miglia is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most famous and celebrated car races in the world, and having brought it to Cortona, even if only as an intermediate stage, is a very important result.

If you would like more info, from the years of history to this year’s event, this site is well worth visiting: http://www.1000miglia.it/MilleMiglia/ 

As for me, tomorrow will be a photo-op dream.

Just hope the weather cooperates! Stay tuned.

Ciao,
Judy

S. Margherita Festival Cortona

21 May

This weekend, the people of Cortona celebrated the feast of S. Margherita, Cortona’s patron saint, and kicked off the two weeks of the Medieval Giostra dell’Archidado.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Events began Friday night with the Colata dei ceri, or the casting of the candles, a religious practice that dates back to 1325. At the time, wax was collected and used by churches for candle making and also sold as a source of income.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Locals dressed in traditional costumes of the time and processed into Piazza Repubblica accompanied by drummers and flag bearers.

©Blogginginitaly.com

S. Margherita was eventually led into the piazza

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

and a few events from her life were reenacted.

©Blogginginitaly.com

If you look closely in the pink part of the photo, you will see a headsman or executioner. After Margherita was willing to sacrifice her life in place a convicted criminal, her followers cried out, “She is a saint!” and the criminal’s life was spared.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Saturday was the Offerta dei ceri or the offering of the candles. Large candles were carried into the piazza and blessed by the bishop.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Each quartiere or neighborhood of Cortona was represented in a procession that portrayed nobility, religious and workers of the time.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Following the blessings, the flag bearers delighted the crowds with their skills.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Then the candles were taken to the Basilica of Santa Margherita.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

On Sunday morning, several masses were held at the Basilica. We walked up Via Santa Croce…

©Blogginginitaly.com

where beautiful mosaics of the stations of the cross are built into the wall.

©Blogginginitaly.com

S. Margherita died in 1297 in a room behind the old church where she had lived the last years of her life. Over the years, the beautiful Basilica of Santa Margherita was rebuilt in her honor.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Her body is preserved in a silver casket on the altar. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII on 16 May 1728.

©Blogginginitaly.com

On my way out of the Basilica, I turned once again to admire its beauty, said one more quick prayer, and as I headed toward the door, a gust of wind blew it open. Really.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Such a wonderful weekend and such an interesting way to understand and celebrate this important part of Cortona’s history.

Ciao,
Judy

Pasqua and Pasquetta

17 Apr

Yesterday throughout Italy, families and friends gathered after mass for warm hugs, long Easter lunches and lively conversation. Intermittent rain showers didn’t dampen any spirits, although we were happy we ate inside.

We joined some friends at their beautiful home just past Pergo, a short ride from Cortona. We’ve been before, but it is always a pleasure to return as the setting is incredible.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Len, of course, needed to check out the 1975 Fiat 500 parked in the drive.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

The house, built in the late 1700’s, was originally a farm-house, but is now a beautifully restored/renovated home with guest house, covered pool, garage and incredible 360° views, (and it is on the market as grandchildren live too far away!)*

©Blogginginitaly.com

We began on the terrace with a Prosecco toast.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Then lunch was served in the dining room.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Unfortunately, I missed taking photos of the delicious chicken with gorgonzola lunch, but desserts included a traditional Easter colombo – a dove shaped cake…

©Blogginginitaly.com

as well as fresh strawberries and cream on sponge cake.

©Blogginginitaly.com

After a few attempts, we even managed to take a timed selfie.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Afterward, some of us took a leisurely stroll around the property, admiring the views…

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

while others retired to the terrace.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Many thanks to our gracious hosts, shown in a photo I took of them on our last visit.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Pasqua and Pasquetta, Easter and Easter Monday, two holidays in Italy, the first religious, the second not. Once again today, Cortona was packed with people. In fact, both yesterday and today, there were traffic jams.

But today, Pasquetta, is a day set aside for relaxation. All the solemnity and preparation of Easter are over, and it is a day to relax, except, of course, for restaurants and retail shops who serve the masses of people enjoying a day off.

Strolling is the norm, so strolling we did. The park was filled with people,

©Blogginginitaly.com

taking in the views.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Others were enjoying entertainment in the piazzas, including the Old Florence Dixie Band,

©Blogginginitaly.com

and just appreciating the beautiful day.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Between the park and the piazza, we found an empty park bench and literally put our feet up as we took in the view.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Late afternoon, we headed home for a brief riposo (rest) before meeting friends for dinner.

©Blogginginitaly.com

And that’s what one does in Cortona for Pasqua and Pasquetta, a perfectly lovely few days.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

*Note: Many have asked me what the inside of an Italian house looks like. If interested, you can see more photos via the listing link below.

http://www.abodeitaly.com/property/68c/tuscany/casa-giordano-piazzano/arezzo/farmhouses-and-count/4-bedrooms

 

 

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.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©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.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©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

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.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Once the horses took their places,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

the flag wavers entered and all watched as they performed.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©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.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

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

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

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

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

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

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

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

img_0727

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.

 

 

September Days in Cortona

18 Sep

Autunno, or autumn, is my favorite time of year in Cortona. The days are shorter, the winds are cooler, and the tide of tourism transforms.  It is a calmer time of year that lends itself well to contemplating all that meets the senses.

Parterre Changing Colors©Blogginginitaly.com

Parterre©Blogginginitaly.com

Saturday Market©Blogginginitaly.com

Saturday Market©Blogginginitaly.com

Fall Harvest©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Fresh Porcinis©Blogginginitaly.com

Porcini©Blogginginitaly.com

Lavender Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Lavender Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Choco Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Choco Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Choco Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Choco Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Art Exhibits©Blogginginitaly.com

Art Exhibits©Blogginginitaly.com

And endless antiquities:

Via Santucci, Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Via Santucci, (Our street), ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Signorelli Arch©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Autumn – The third season of the year, when crops and fruits are gathered and leaves begin to fall.

A good time to take time to ponder.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

%d bloggers like this: