Archive | Italian History RSS feed for this section

Leopoldina

14 Jan

The first time I remember seeing a Leopoldina was in 2014. It was a warm summer morning and we were headed to Rome from Cortona for our flight home. The driver took a different route than we had been accustomed to – one that avoided the interstate as long as possible and instead wove past a beautiful field of sunflowers and a fascinating abandoned structure. I was intrigued by the structure, and at the time, knew neither its name nor its history. I soon learned that this farm-house is called a Leopoldina.

The following year, Len and I set out to find that same field of sunflowers (girasole) and that Leopoldina. With no place to be but there, we parked the car and took in the sights. Thousands of sunflowers, with faces open to the sun, spread out before us.

©blogginginitaly.com

And at the end of a curve in the road, still standing proudly albeit tired and worn, stood the enchanting Leopoldina.

©blogginginitaly.com

To me, the abandoned structure looked much more like a lovely watercolor subject needing to be loved and preserved than an abandoned structure needing to be forgotten and demolished.

In the weeks that followed, I discovered that Leopoldine (plural) could be found in many areas around  Cortona as well as in northern Umbria.

©blogginginitaly.com

As I photographed many of them, I wondered… Who had lived in these houses? How long ago? And why did they all look the same?

While learning the name of the structure was easy, finding the history not so much so. Although I spent hours searching the internet, I mostly came up empty-handed. So I turned to my friend Ray, a history buff, for assistance. Happy to have a history project, he provided most of the following explanation.

Some of the most iconic sites in Tuscany and northern Umbria are the rows of abandoned farmhouses, with their distinctive dovecotes, spread throughout the countryside.

©blogginginitaly.com

Called Leopoldine, they look ancient but they are of relatively recent origin, at least by Italian standards, dating from the late 1700’s until the middle 1800’s.

©blogginginitaly.com

Much of what we know as modern Tuscany, including the Valdichiana, Maremma, and lower Valdarno, was swamp for most of its history. The hill towns that we love were built there not only for defense but also for health reasons to avoid malaria (mal aria: bad air, marsh fever) from the mosquitoes.

 

Plans to drain the swamps (clearly no connection intended) had been proposed since Etruscan times. Probably the most famous map depicting the swamps was the map of the Valdichiana done by Leonardo da Vinci in 1502, (supposedly at the request of Cesare Borgia), which shows the water extending right up to the hills in the area of Montecchio Vesponi.

Valdichiana by Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], Wikimedia Commons

Major efforts to drain the area began in the mid 1600’s and continued through the next century. A significant impetus came with the ascension of  Pietro Leopoldo as Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1765. A  younger son of the Austrian Empress Maria-Theresa, he started a series of public improvements designed to strengthen agriculture and improve the position of the peasantry.

 

The drainage projects produced huge amounts of rich reclaimed farmland (bonifica) which was distributed to peasant families under a share-cropping system (mezzadria) similar to that in the American South. On an inspection tour of these properties in 1769, he commented on the poor quality and condition of the peasant houses. He commissioned a study by an institute in Florence to design an ideal structure for the peasant families. The farmhouses, named after him, are the Leopoldine we see today.

©blogginginitaly.com

The design was for a structure of three levels. The ground floor had space for the animals as well as storage and the oven. The upper floor included a kitchen, living space and the bedrooms and the upper floor was the distinctive dovecote. Every part of the building was planned including the size and positioning of the windows. The external staircase and loggia were designed on the south side to protect the farmer from the tramontana (cold north wind) when he went to check on the animals.

©blogginginitaly.com

The bedrooms were designed to accommodate two beds each for the large families. Even the positioning of the different stalls for horses, pigs, sheep and mules was designed around the peculiarities of each animal. 

©blogginginitaly.com

While originally designed only for the grand-ducal properties, the obvious value of the structure led private landowners to copy the design. The project continued under Leopoldo’s successors and the last Leopoldine were probably built in the middle of the 19th century just before Italian unification.

©blogginginitaly.com

After the World War II, with the movement of Italians to the cities and the increased mechanization of agriculture, the Leopoldine gradually became abandoned and fell into the ruins that we see today. 

©blogginginitaly.com

Currently, there is a movement underway within the Regione Toscana and some of the communes to save the Leopoldine. Let’s hope.

And thanks to Ray, we now know both the name and the history of the intriguing Leopoldina.

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

Andrea Bocelli in Chicago

7 Dec

Last night, Andrea Bocelli performed in Chicago,

©blogginginitaly.com

and last night, I witnessed the best “concert” I have ever seen. I put the word “concert” in quotes as I am actually unaware of a word that captures the breadth of the performances.

 Andrea Bocelli returns to the U.S. for seven concerts only of repertoire from his Grammy-nominated album Cinema, special selections from his groundbreaking release Romanza, and a selection of beloved arias, love songs, and crossover hits. The concerts will be led by Maestro Eugene Kohn and will also feature soprano Larisa Martinez and Broadway sensation and Chicago native, Heather Headley. Our own Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus will join him for his concert at Chicago’s United Center. (2017 © Lyric Opera of Chicago)

©blogginginitaly.com

Maestro Eugene Kohn conducting Chicago Lyric Orchestra and Chorus

Our daughter Benita had surprised us with these tickets for our anniversary. In 1999, we took her to see Luciano Pavarotti in Austin, and now she was taking us to see Andrea Bocelli in Chicago. How fortunate we are to have seen both!

Each artist was exceptional  – captivating the audience with finely-tuned skills. Although there were thousands in attendance, one could hear a pin drop. Stupendous was the word that kept coming to mind.

In addition to the incredible pitch-perfect performances, the large multi-dimensional projection screens behind the chorus provided a visual extravaganza. The audience was transported, as if we were at times sitting inside a grand European cathedral; attending an opera at La Scala in Milan; walking through falling snow at the Eiffel Tower; strolling ancient streets of an Italian town; enjoying a gondola ride through canals in Venice; or taking in any number of breathtaking vistas.

©blogginginitaly.com

Andrea Bocelli was born with poor eyesight and became completely blind at the age of 12, following a soccer accident. Yet nothing was going to stop his great passion for music, developed as a young child. Today, his musical accomplishments include fifteen solo albums, of both pop and classical music, three greatest hits albums, and nine complete operas, selling over 80 million records worldwide. In addition, over the years, he has performed in many charity benefits, and in 2011, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation was launched, focusing on medical research and fighting poverty.

©blogginginitaly.com

About two months ago, Len and I were in Portofino, a now very famous, picturesque and tourist-filled Italian fishing village where Bocelli performed under the stars in 2013. We had seen the performance on PBS, and as we lunched along the water, we talked about how fun it would be to attend a Bocelli concert.  Little did we know that just a few weeks later, Benita would surprise us with tickets. And since our concert was in December, we were happy to be inside where it was warm.

Kudos to the sound team at the United Center, a space more often used for sports enthusiasts than tenors and sopranos. Even with a packed house, acoustics were perfect.  And if you are a Bocelli fan, check his website as the tour has a few more east coast US dates this year and then returns next year to the west coast.

©blogginginitaly.com

We are so very grateful to Benita, not only for the tickets but that we were able to see this magnificent performance together.

Bravo, Andrea, Bravissimo! Thank you for coming to Chicago!

Ciao,
Judy

 

The 2017 Olive Harvest

23 Oct

Every year, around mid to late October, many Cortonese hope to begin harvesting their olives. I use the word hope because Mother Nature plays a huge role in the success of the harvest. While 2015 was a bountiful year, the complete opposite was true for 2016 due to the dreaded mosca (fly).  And this year, the 2017 harvest was severely limited by the drought…hence,  small quantity but good quality olives depending on the location of one’s olive grove.

Nonetheless, October begins the eagerly anticipated time “olio nuovo” (new oil) signs begin to appear in restaurants and stores. And it is also a time when locals invite friends to celebrate their production. Lucky for us, friends invited us to dinner last night, but didn’t tell us they had already been to the frantoio (mill) to begin processing their olives.

As soon as we entered the cantina, we knew we were in for a treat. The bright green color and the light peppery taste of freshly pressed olive oil is unlike that of any other oil.

 

IMG_0727

©blogginginitaly.com

Lapo and Paola like to call this a peasant dinner – simple and fresh food picked from the garden or locally sourced, all designed to highlight the taste of the new oil.

IMG_0728

©blogginginitaly.com

New oil is traditionally first tasted as a bruschetta  – toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with the oil. We each made our own. Delicious.

IMG_0729

©blogginginitaly.com

We also added the oil to a dash of salt in tiny bowls – a wonderful dip for fresh vegetables from the garden.

IMG_0730

©blogginginitaly.com

Next came what Len calls an Italian version of hummus, this one made from ceci (chickpeas), drizzled with the oil and topped with a sprig of rosemary. Can’t wait to try this myself.

IMG_0732

©blogginginitaly.com

The dish that followed was a type of bread soup, pappa al pomodoro, topped with a drizzle of oil. Simple, delicious and perfect for an autumn evening. 

IMG_0733

©blogginginitaly.com

Now this is Italy, remember, so you know there is more to follow, and what followed was rosemary roasted chicken and potatoes, with a splash of oil of course!

IMG_0743

©blogginginitaly.com

Now not all olives are turned into oil, as was the case with these tasty herb and orange marinated olives, served as a side dish.

IMG_0744

©blogginginitaly.com

For dessert, we were treated to Paola’s delicious torta della nonna, (grandmother’s cake), a traditional Tuscan dessert with a light custard. (I forgot to ask if she added a drop of the new oil to it!) Not being much of a baker, I bought the others at a local pasticceria. 

IMG_0746

©blogginginitaly.com

So that’s how we celebrate the olive harvest in Cortona, enjoying what Mother Nature provides, combined with the hard work of locals who pick by hand. 

From this…

IMG_0747

©blogginginitaly.com

to this. Doesn’t get much better.

IMG_0729

©blogginginitaly.com

Our thanks to Lapo and Paola for an always entertaining and delicious evening together. Complimenti to the cook and grazie for your friendship!

IMG_0734

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

In Love with Liguria

27 Sep

(hopefully reprinted with full photo views)

Liguria, a four-province region in northwest Italy, lies on the Ligurian sea.

400px-Map_of_region_of_Liguria,_Italy,_with_provinces-en.svg

Wikipedia

It is bordered by France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romana and Tuscany to the east.

Due to its breathtaking coastline, Liguria is also known as the Italian Riveria, as this narrow strip of land lies between the Mediterranean, the Alps and the Apennine mountains.

IMG_9887

©blogginginitaly.com

While parts of Liguria have familiar names – Cinque Terre, Portofino, and Sanremo, others are much less known.

Liguria is the original source of pesto, and it is easy to understand when driving through some of the towns. Basil is grown in an abundance throughout the year.

Trenette is a traditional form of regional pasta served with pesto alla genovese, which can also include potatoes and green beans boiled in the same water.

IMG_0048

©blogginginitaly.com

We had never been to Liguria before last week, and now it is one of our favorite places. Town after town graces the Mediterranean, yet each has its own identity. We visited several with friends, one of whom calls Liguria home.

After a literal 2-hour complete shut down of the autostrada near Arezzo, and a 5+ hour drive, we were happy to finally arrive in Loano. My first sight of the sea, albeit cloudy, brought a smile to my face.

Then off to join Daniela’s family who welcomed us with warm hugs and hot soup.

IMG_9833

©blogginginitaly.com

The next day, we walked along the sea and took in the views from Loano and Verezzi. The photos tell the story best.

IMG_9875

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9878

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9882

©blogginginitaly.com

After a beautiful morning of sightseeing, we enjoyed a Tuscan lunch, complete with chianina beef, sausage, and Sangiovese brought from Cortona. And yes, there was even a large collection of pet turtles to entertain us!

Now, one would think this lunch would suffice for the day, but hey, this is Italy, so later that evening, we headed out for seafood, a major staple of Ligurian cuisine, as well as Lumassina, a local white wine.

After dinner, we visited a dear friend’s shop to purchase some fresh pesto.

Wednesday was Monaco/Monte Carlo day, about 60 miles from Loano. I had visited both when I was a student in Rome, and while the sights remain beautiful, today the tourists and cars are dense.

On the way back to Italy, we stopped for what turned out to be a rather “rude” lunch in Menton, along the French border, so we were happy to join Italian cousins for dinner later that night.

IMG_0045

©blogginginitaly.com

Thursday was my very favorite day. We headed to Alassio, a neighboring Ligurian town, for a most relaxed morning of boating and swimming.

IMG_0148

©blogginginitaly.com

Up next, a moto ride for me around the harbor before a delicious seafood lunch.

Afterward, we strolled through colorful Alassio and learned some of its history.

In the early 1950s, Alassio was a capital of international highlife along the Riveria. The owner of Caffè Roma came up with the idea to create a wall with the autographs he had collected of famous people that came to the bar, including Ernest Hemingway. Hence, the Muretto di Alassio was born and now boasts about 550 tiles.

After our walk, we drove to the top of the cliff to visit Santa Croce Church and take in the marvelous views of the sea and Isola Gallinara.

Now just in case you’re concerned we might not be able to handle this lifestyle, we found our motto early on…

IMG_0030

©blogginginitaly.com

Our last night was a “typical small Italian family” gathering for pizza. 

IMG_0206

©blogginginitaly.com

It was hard to leave this beautiful part of Italy, but we know we’ll return. To ease our “sorrow”, we stopped in Portofino for lunch on the way home. 

IMG_0234

IMG_0235

Len and I began planning our trip to Liguria a year ago. It ended up being so much more than we had ever expected – the natural beauty, the sea, the people, the food, the colors, and most of all, the incredible hospitality shown to us. 

And now since it is Wednesday, I can finally say:

Buon Compleanno, Dani. Tantissimi Auguri cara amica!

IMG_0073

Grazie per una vacanza che ricorderemo sempre!
Thank you for a holiday we will always remember!

IMG_9897

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

Happy Mother’s Day 2017 – Buona Festa della Mamma!

14 May

Although similar to a post I wrote last year, the sentiments are always worth repeating…

Mother’s Day is a special time to remember
how fortunate I am to be part of a long line of strong,
intelligent and loving Italian women.

Maude©Blogginginitaly.com

Paternal Grandmother Maude ©Blogginginitaly.com

Serafina©Blogginginitaly.com

Maternal Grandmother Serafina ©Blogginginitaly.com

 

Benita©Blogginginitaly.com

My Mother Benita (at my wedding) ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

(L-R visiting Paris) Aunt Marilyn, Mom, Aunt Kiki ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Aunt Marion ©Blogginginitaly.com

It is also a day to celebrate
my incredible sisters, nieces and cousins, who are not only amazing Mothers,
but determined women who incorporate
the traditions learned from our ancestors as they create new ones.

To all of them,
and to the dear friends/wonderful Mothers
I have met throughout my life’s journeys…

I wish you all a beautiful day filled with love and relaxation.
Happy Mother’s Day – Buona Festa della Mamma!

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

2017 Orto Planting

6 May

Finally, finally, our plants are in the orto, or vegetable garden. We waited two weeks later than last year due to cold weather and are so happy we did. We have some friends who planted in April and now need to replant due to frost and a recent 0° night. In fact, we know several people whose fruit trees suffered a lot of damage and now won’t produce fruits like figs, apricots, cherries, etc. this year.

It’s hard to believe this small bunch of plants will populate Fernanda’s orto…
12 tomatoes (4 varieties); 12 red onions; 4 zucchini.

©Blogginginitaly.com

As you might recall, four of us, all novices, planted a vegetable garden last spring at our friend’s home in the country. And here’s a reminder of last year’s success!

©Blogginginitaly.com

Having set the bar pretty high, and wanting similar results, some advice was sought (“offered”) from more skilled neighbors. It’s a funny thing about “orto rules”…there seem to be as many as there are vegetable gardeners. In addition, Italians who live in the country are known to have superstitions about doing things on certain days of the week – but we didn’t let that bother us.

First step was for Len and Loreno to count off the space needed for the tomato plants.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Once measured, building of the cane structure commenced. There was some “debate” this year about teepee style (last year’s) vs. box style, but after much consideration, box style won.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Looks like a tying lesson is going on here.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Tomato plants were added, water troughs dug, and once completed, the perfectly aligned tomatoes looked like this.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Then the onions and zucchini were planted in the rear of the garden where there are also garlic and artichoke plants, hardier plants which had been planted earlier in the season.

©Blogginginitaly.com

After a very productive afternoon, Fernanda treated us to a delicious dinner and the day treated us to a beautiful sunset.

©Blogginginitaly.com

When your daily view looks like this…

©Blogginginitaly.com

how can you not want to plant your own orto?

Here’s to our orto trio, our hard-working contadini (farmers)…can’t wait to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Loreno, Carlo and Len©Blogginginitaly.com

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

 

 

Easter in Cortona

15 Apr

In cities and towns all over Italy, religious processions are held during Easter week. Many churches have large statues and crosses that are carried on the shoulders of locals in Holy Week processions through city streets.

Last night, Good Friday, Cortona held its annual Procession of the Stations of the Cross. Signs in English were all over town to remind visitors that this is a solemn event.

©Blogginginitaly.com

The procession began at 9 PM at the Church of Spirito Santo, a 17th-century church built just outside the medieval walls of Cortona. For those of you familiar with Cortona, picture the church beyond the bottom of steep Via Guelfa and out the wall’s entrance. Noting this is important because the route the procession takes is pretty amazing…either steeply uphill or down, and very rarely flat. (*See below for more of route.)

We waited for the procession at the Church of Saint Francis with others who had lined the steps.

©Blogginginitaly.com

The Stations of the Cross were being read over a loud-speaker as the procession moved through parts of town.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Local children were as involved as their parents.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

A group of strong women carried the statue of the Blessed Mother.

©Blogginginitaly.com

After reaching its highest point, the procession came down Via S. Margherita toward Via Nazionale.

©Blogginginitaly.com

The final destination was Piazza Republicca, where the statues were placed on platforms.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

At about 10:30 PM, religious dignitaries gathered at the top of the Municipio and a local bishop led all in prayer before the choir sang.

©Blogginginitaly.com

A year ago, Len and I were in Trapani, Sicily, for their incredible Misteri di Trapani, a 24 hour procession. It was large and dramatic, with musicians and choirs accompanying each heavy statue carried on the shoulders of dozens of men. But Trapani is flat, and Cortona is anything but. So, while Cortona’s procession was smaller, with less music and drama, it was nonetheless incredible to see the procession maneuver through the ancient town. Whether elaborate or small, dramatic or simple, it is each town’s commitment to carrying out tradition that matters.

Today, Saturday, Cortona is bustling with people, here to participate in the Easter weekend. I’m told there is a midnight mass tonight at the Duomo, and masses at various times and churches tomorrow.

The smells of special Easter breads and pastries fill the spring air, and tomorrow most Italians will gather around large lunches with their families and friends to celebrate Easter, as will we.

In Italy, the Monday after Easter is also a holiday called Pasquetta. Though not a religious holiday, Pasquetta is another day for family and friends to gather and also spend some relaxing time outdoors. It was introduced by the government after World War II.

Wherever your plans may take you, a gathering big or small,
I wish you a very Happy Easter – Buona Pasqua to all!

Ciao,
Judy

*Note: for those wanting more on the route,  I believe it was up Via Guelfa, connecting to Via Ghini, up the very steep Via Maffei to San Francesco Church, on past the old hospital to Via S. Margherita, down through Piazza Garibaldi to Via Nazionale and finally ending in Piazza Republicca.

 

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

%d bloggers like this: