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Guest Blog: Boetti Exhibit Shows Italian Art Still Resonates

Posted on: 8/13/2012 2:36:32 PM under Personal 
 

When people hear “Italian art” generally their minds conjure up images by Michelangelo or Da Vinci. There’s no doubting the impact of the Renaissance, but that period often overshadows what came afterwards and Italy never stopped producing great art. Artists such as Umberto Boccioni, Giorgio de Chirico and Sandro Chia made significant contributions to the development of modern and contemporary art.

 

This influence is evident in the major retrospective of Alighiero Boetti, now at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City.  Titled, “Game Plan,” and on view until October 1, 2012, this is the largest survey of Boetti’s conceptual work ever mounted outside Italy.  http://bit.ly/L5gSLL  

 

Boetti, who was born in Turin in 1940 and died in Rome in 1994, emerged in the 60s as a leader in Italy’s Arte Povera (“poor art”) movement.  These radical artists balked against the establishment in politics, business and culture. Boetti became known for sculptures made from found objects and inexpensive materials that made a profound statement on the efficacy of art to evoke an emotional response, regardless of material construction. 

 

Boetti’s work became more interesting after the confines of Arte Povera no longer defined his vast oeuvre.  He was fascinated with duality and adopted the moniker, “Alighiero e Boetti,” an allusion to both the dual aspect of human nature and of life in general.  (the “e” being Italian for “and.”)  He created a photographic self-portait, I Gemelli, (“the twins”), found at the entrance of the MOMA show, where he superimposed two images of himself holding hands.

 

Wanderlust influenced Boetti’s best work.  He loved to travel to non-Western countries, including Guatemala, Ethiopia, Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  These travels inspired his most universally appealing works — his Mappe (“maps”), a series of colorful tapestries depicting world maps, many created by local artisans. Two major works from this series were recently auctioned for more than $2 million.

 

Yet while the Boetti show is significant, it’s not the first noteworthy recent exhibit, or appearance, of an influential Italian artist.  In 2010, another famous Arte Povera artist, Michelangelo Pistoletto http://vimeo.com/17422421, was a keynote speaker at the largest contemporary art fair in the United States, Art Basel Miami Beach.  The same year, a major retrospective of work by Valerio Adami, also associated with Arte Povera, traveled throughout the United States http://bit.ly/aeWHDm

 

The Boetti show follows on the heels of another major Italian art exhibit in New York, the Guggenheim’s mid-career survey of Italian socio-political artist Maurizio Cattelan, which concluded in January  http://bit.ly/yd85wB   In March, Haunch of Venison, one of New York’s (and the world’s) most prestigious galleries, featured a show of new work by the renowned “Afro” duo of artists Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana http://bit.ly/NdBXVA  If you’re near mid-town this summer, not only can you see the Boetti show, but you can see Paola Pivi’s “How I Roll,” a work touted as the “Most daring public artwork New York has seen in years.” http://bit.ly/NodLSG  MOMA is showing work by another Italian artist, Lara Favaretto, at their satellite in Long Island City, MOMA PS1 http://bit.ly/OELw0S  If you’re in Los Angeles, until the end of August, at the celeb-studded Blum & Poe gallery, you’ll find work by Maurizio Vetrugno. http://bit.ly/Mtm1Uf   

 

Italian art is everywhere. If you train your eye to look for it, you’ll see how Italy remains as artistically thoughtful and engaging, in groundbreaking ways, as it was in the 16th century.

 

Contributed by Jenifer Mangione Vogt, an art writer and marketing communications professional who has her B.A. from Purchase College where she studied art history with a specialization in modern and contemporary art.  



 
 

Il Palio di Siena

Posted on: 8/6/2012 3:36:33 PM under Personal 
 

Horses running through Piazza del Campo can only mean one thing, “Il Palio” has returned! The biannual July 2nd and August 16th summer events draw thousands of Italians to Siena to watch and see if their “contrade” or district’s horse will win. A special hand-painted silk banner of the Virgin Mary created for each race goes to the winner. This banner (or “palio”) is thought to deliver great luck to the district that wins it. The bareback race has taken place in Siena since 1656 and continues again this year, so don’t miss it because it’s only 90 seconds.

Click here to find more about Il Palio and Italy’s celebrations, http://bit.ly/x8Lac.



 
 

Guest Blog: Le Grotte di Camerano

Posted on: 7/30/2012 11:54:15 AM under Personal 
 

Ah, Italy "the land of the endless discoveries."  One never finishes discovering the wonders "above ground" - let alone underground!  And sometimes, serendipity leads you to yet another discovery.  Gray weather at the seaside last weekend prompted us to head out for some exploration.  What wonders we found in a seemingly nondescript Adriatic seaside town, Camerano, whose very name is linked to its suprising labyrinthine maze of subterranean grottoes and tunnels, used by its first inhabitants, the Piceni, in the 9th-c. B.C , our guide, Daniele told us.

 

"Camerone" derives from the Latin and means "underground vaulted space", Daniele told us at the start of our tour, aptly called. "Le Grotte di Camerano, la memoria del sottosuolo"  ("The Grottoes of Camerano, remembrances of the  underground" or literally, "undersoil"). With Daniele and a handful of other adventurers, we spent a fascinating hour exploring about a kilometer of the two kilometers of underground grottoes and tunnels, carved into sandstone.   Daniele pointed out to us finely-rounded domes, barrel vaults, carved ribbed vaults converging on a mysterious sun/moon symbol, circular halls, ornate friezes, curious religious symbols and exquisitely- carved columns.

Our meanders in the underground labyrinth took us to a  17th-c. cistern, a medieval prison, a vaulted medieval church complete with apse and crypt, a 17th-c. private family chapel with black alabaster altar, and  a secret initiation grotto for Masonics.

 

In 1944, all three thousand Cameranesi hid in the sandstone sotterranei - each family occupying a niche in the underground tunnels - for eighteen days as the British and Germans battled above.  The most recent use of the Camerano underground?  Not quite:  Daniele told us that the largest vaulted room of the underground had been used as a discoteque some years ago!  "But the local teens were very respectful of this ancient space, leaving no signs."Since 2008, le Grotte di Camerano have been opened for guided visits, disco now closed.  The labyrinthine grottoes and tunnels are silent now except for the subdued voices of guides with small groups of fascinated visitors.

 

By Anne Robichaud, the only American authorized as an Umbrian Regional tour guide. Read about her Umbrian hilltown tours, cooking classes in her home and in the US and her "memoirs of rural life" on www.annesitaly.com. Enjoy the many stories on her blog http://annesitaly.com/blog/

 



 
 

NYC's East Harlem Celebrates Sant'Antonio!

Posted on: 7/26/2012 9:42:23 AM under Personal 
 

The Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel East Harlem, New York, will be having a traditional Latin High Mass at 10 a.m. on Giglio Sunday, August 12, 2012. The Giglio is a multi-storied tower carrying a band and statue of St. Anthony of Padua that is "danced" by around 120 men through the streets of East Harlem. (video below). There will  be a traditional feast in the street with food and amusements. St. Anthony's relics will be venerated after mass and the Dance of the Giglio begins at 1 p.m. Many people have exclaimed, “ It is one of the most amazing things you will ever see.”

Once the largest Italian community in New York City, East Harlem is a pleasant memory for countless former inhabitants. To renew that memory, thousands of former residents along with their children and grandchildren return to renew that bond and meet up with friends in the old neighborhood for the Feast of Giglio di Sant’Antonio sponsored by the Giglio Society of East Harlem.

 

The Giglio Society of East Harlem is a group of men who have dedicated their lives to honor Sant’ Antonio, their beloved saint. Their love and devotion is on display each year during their Annual Festival held in East Harlem. They honor their Patron Saint in very much the same fashion as their ancestry did and still do annually today by building a Giglio and dancing it in the streets of East Harlem.

For those unfamiliar with the Giglio (pronounced JEEL-YO), it is a 75 to 85 foot tall wooden structure weighing approximately 8,000 pounds with a paper-mache  face adorned with beloved saints and colorful flowers. On the platform just above the base of the Giglio sits a multi-piece band along with several singers. The music is an instrumental part of the dancing of the Giglio as it inspires the “Lifters” (also known as the ‘”Paranza” in Italian) to take on the burdening weight of the Giglio and band and dance it in harmony to the music being played.

The origins of the Giglio Society trace their heritage back to the town of Brusciano, approximately 20 miles outside of Naples, Italy. Here an annual Feast called the “Dance of the Giglio” takes place yearly in honor of Sant’ Antonio. The feast originally began back in the 1880s when Francisco Vivolo prayed to Sant’ Antonio to help cure his deathly ill child. In exchange for this cure, Francisco vowed to honor Sant’ Antonio in the same manner as the town’s people of Nola, Italy, a nearby town honoring San Paolino di Nola, by constructing Gigli in honor of Sant’ Antonio and dancing them in the streets of Brusciano. Francisco’s prayers were answered and the dancing of the Gigli in Brusciano was born. It continues today where six Gigli are built for the Annual Festival during the latter part of August and danced on the shoulders of hundreds of men.

Around the turn of 1900s, Italian immigrants left in search of a better life for their families. Many families from the town of Brusciano migrated to East Harlem to start anew with other families and friends that came before them. Although these immigrants brought little with them on their 30-day long voyage across the in the tight confines of the boat, what they did carry with them were their beloved traditions. For the people of Brusciano, this included the yearly Dance of the Giglio Festival in honor of Sant’Antonio.

Upon their arrival, the Italian immigrants of Brusciano in East Harlem decided to initiate their beloved traditions by building a Giglio and dancing it in the ‘New World’. (From bobbymaidasgigliopictures's website)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGYnC9yKa0A&feature=related

 

 

 



 
 

Favignana- “The Pearl”

Posted on: 7/23/2012 3:17:04 PM under Personal 
 

The Egadi Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Sicily, consist of mainly Favignana, Marettimo, and Levanzo, but also include La Formica and Maraone.  The largest and most popular of the islands is Favignana.  This beautiful island, a treasure to the Egadi, is referred to as the “pearl.”  Of the many unique qualities, the most famous is its shape.  Favignana is in the shape of a butterfly, which is where its nickname comes from, “La Farfalla.” 

Not only does the “pearl” of the islands have clear and pristine beaches, but it is also enriched with history and tradition. With both Italian and Arab influences, the history of Favignana dates back to before the First Punic War in 241 BC when the Romans seized the island.  Following the Roman rule over the island was the Arab rule.  During this time period the “pearl” gained several of its customs.  Favignana has many traditions from both influences, but the most renowned is the mattanza, which celebrates fishermen and their sacrifices for survival.

In the mid 1600’s, the Egadi Islands were sold to Pallavicini-Rusconi, Genoese bankers, and eventually handed down to the Florio family.  Under the control of the Florio family, Favignana thrived.  Today, tourists can visit Villa Florio, where the family lived, as well as an out of use plant used for the processing of tuna, and a statue of Vincenzo Florio in one of two piazzas.  With white sand, clear water, and various historical sites, Favignana is an ideal vacation spot!



 
 

Made in Italy, Still Going Strong

Posted on: 7/16/2012 2:07:01 PM under Personal 
 

Although the Italian economy may be suffering, the brand name “Made in Italy,” still continues to strive around the world. After Coca-Cola and Visa it is the most well-known and valued trademark in the world. According to ISTAT (The Italian National Institute of Statistics), when the international economy slipped into recession in December 2011, the Italian exports increased 4.2 percent and the total of non-EU exports shot to 44 percent, with Italy mostly exporting to China. There is a great demand for Italian products in China, especially luxury goods such as Ferragamo, Luxottica and Armani.

Wine is Italy’s most important agricultural export, with the United States as its primary customer. Although, in the past few years, China has increased its wine imports by over 80 percent. Recently, there has also been a boom in Moscato sales in the United States and Barolo in Northern Europe and Asia. Italian vineyards have been concentrating on quality rather than blending wines and as a result exports have almost doubled! Hopefully sales will continue to increase around the world, not just for wine, but all Italian products!



 
 

Guest Blog: Cantine Aperte

Posted on: 7/9/2012 11:26:00 AM under Personal 
 

This past May, fifty-one Umbrian wine cellars threw open their cantina doors, invited visitors into their vineyards and uncorked bottles of crisp whites and robust reds for the thousands joining in on Cantine Aperte (“Open Cellars”). The festival – launched twenty years ago by Movimento Turismo Vino – is targeted at the diffusion of the culture of wine and developing familiarity with Italy’s great wine regions. Bringing to life the slogan “Vedi che bevi” (“See what you drink”), over nine hundred Italian wine cellars welcomed more than a million visitors on the last Sunday in May, 2011.

During the 2012 wine festival, Umbria’s cantine offer guided vineryard walks with an agronomist, jazz concerts, literary events associated with wine, art shows, tastings of territory foods best associated with their wines, helicopter rides over the vineyards at one Umbrian cellar and a bocce tournament in the vineyards of another.

Young people in couples or in groups headed from cellar to cellar, Iarge wide-bowled tulipano wine glasses, tucked in the traditional cloth bag (here in Umbria, the color of “Sagrantino red”) hanging round their necks. “But just sips”, a smiling group of four told me while in line for wines at the Cardeto Winery near Orvieto. “We have to drive and the carabinieri are on the watch today!”

Families gathered at picnic tables surrounding the Cardeto cantina to enjoy the wines along with fried seafood – or with sandwiches of savory Norcia prosciutto or local pecorino cheeses. Cantine Aperte events for children draw in families: treasure hunts, plays, puppets, clowns and music. As one young mother told me, “We want our children to recognize wine as culture, as an accompaniment to flavorful food, to be savored in moderation with family and friends.”

At one stand, we talked to a producer/vendor of caprino (goat cheese), tasting her delicious caprino varieties and nearby, a local olive-oil producer offered us slices of bruschetta drenched with olive oil. As we were leaving, we passed the owner of a nursery at his stand of prized rose and hydrangeas, sipping an Orvieto white as he awaited customers. Bordeaux-colored wine bags holding tulipani glasses were piled high on the table at the entrance for the wine appassionati in line for tickets for wine-tastings and food-tastings.

We had arrived early enough to beat any lines. Cardeto, a wine co-operative founded in 1949 and specializing in Orvieto classico, has three hundred members today, cultivating about 1700 acres of vineyards. Next stop would be a smaller family-run winery near Assisi, SAIO, where the Mencarelli family lovingly cultivates thirty acres of merlot, Sangiovese, cabernet, chardonnay and Grechetto.

From il grande to il piccolo, Cantine Aperte wineries proudly offered excellence in wines – and hospitality as refined as the wines.

 By Anne Robichaud, the only American authorized as an Umbrian Regional tour guide. Read about her Umbrian hilltown tours, cooking classes in her home and in the US and her "memoirs of rural life" on www.annesitaly.com. Enjoy the many stories on her blog http://annesitaly.com/blog/



 
 

A Guide to Italy's Coffee Culture

Posted on: 7/3/2012 2:54:19 PM under Personal 
 

For the lucky ones travelling to Italy in the coming months, we found a guide to Italy’s coffee culture. Italians take their coffee very seriously; it is an art. Here are a few directions if you don’t want to be taken for a tourist.

 

-Un caffè is a single espresso in Italian. Espresso is just a technical term, not an everyday one. Order carefully.

 

-Any milky form of coffee is only allowed in the morning, and never after a meal. If you must, apologize to the barman or waiter.

 

-There are very few choices with Italian coffee, so do not expect a Starbucks menu. There are, however, regional variations throughout Italy. For example, in Naples you may order un caffè alla nocciola – a frothy espresso with hazelnut cream. Additionally, you can impress the local in Milan by ordering a marocchino – an upside-down cappuccino, service in a small glass which is first sprinkled with cocoa powder, then hit with a blob of frothed milk, then spiked with a shot of espresso.

 

-Do not sit at the bar and sip your caffè. Italians often stand at the bar and down their caffè in one standing.

 

For more tips and tricks on the Italian coffee culture, check out http://bit.ly/NuIrb.

 



 
 

Guest Blog: La Quintana, Baroque Splendor

Posted on: 6/25/2012 12:50:19 PM under Personal 
 

At the end of June, the Quintana festival takes over Foligno and Baroque splendor reigns. The culminating moment of the festivities is the jousting match, rooted in the Roman history of the town, once called Fulginium. The Quintana was the area of the Roman army camp, site of the arduous training of the soldiers. Soldiers armed with swords or lances launched themselves at a target in the form of a soldier holding a ring, trying to run the sword through the ring, thus honing their accuracy.

Town documents date the first Quintana – then a jousting match for entertainment of the populace – to 1418, and in 1613, the Priors of Foligno issued a decree including the Quintana in Foligno’s pre-Lenten celebrations, Carnevale. Today, the ten competing knights – one for each district or rione of the city – gallop at breakneck speed on a challenging course, lance aimed at the Quintano statue holding three rings, progressively smaller (the smallest is just about 8 inches in diameter). Said to be the most difficult jousting match in Italy – and called “the Olympics of equestrian competitions” – the race of the Quintana draws thousands of enthusiastic spectators.

 

Splendor reigns the night before when over seven-hundred personages in bejeweled and intricately-embroidered Baroque costumes as well as over sixty horses – also lavishly decked out – parade through the flag-decked Foligno streets and piazzas, accompanied by the triumphal music of trumpets and drums. 


Before the corteo storico (“parade of history”), the Folignati gather in the medieval taverne of their rioni (districts) for a propitious dinner of local specialties.  Last year, a friend and I joined the locals of the Giotti rione (“best people – and best food!”, a Foligno acquaintance had told me) for dinner in their stone-vaulted taverna with blue and white (colors of the Giotti rione) flags fluttering  over the entrance.

 

Outside the taverna, the Giotti rione tailor, Franco Parigi – in costume himself – now and then adjusted a delicate lace collar of a stately dama ready for the  corteo storico.

Signor Parigi proudly illustrated his costumes – in shades of soft blues and various shades of whites – for me: “this one is modeled on a painting of Velasquez… and this one was worn by a 17th-century Bourbon princess….and I designed this one from a gold-embroidered Baroque altar frontspiece.”

The evening was warm. The costumes were breath-taking but obviously incredibly heavy and the starched lace collars allowed little head movement. The discomfort would be born for hours:  the Folignates’ undying passione for their seventeenth century history and traditions lives on.


By Anne Robichaud, the only American authorized as an Umbrian Regional tour guide. Read about her Umbrian hilltown tours, cooking classes in her home and in the US and her "memoirs of rural life" on www.annesitaly.com. Enjoy the many stories on her blog http://annesitaly.com/blog/




 
 

La Festa di San Giovanni Battista

Posted on: 6/18/2012 11:24:55 AM under Personal 
 

June 24th marks one of the most important feast days in Florence, the feast of St. John the Baptist, who has been the city’s patron saint for over 1500 years! Celebrations start several days before and on the day itself, shops and restaurants are closed so the entire city can celebrate.

In the morning, festivities are kicked off with a procession through the city, starting in Piazza Signorina and continuing towards the Baptistery where a mass is held with an offering of candles.  In the afternoon, one of the most important events linked to the feast day takes place. A traditional Florentine soccer match is held in Santa Croce. The game is similar to rugby or American football and can often be very violent. The special day comes to a close with fireworks over the Arno River in Piazza Michelangelo!

Buona festa di San Giovanni Battista a tutti! Read more about the holiday! http://bit.ly/j3L1S0



 
 

Rome - The New Hollywood

Posted on: 6/11/2012 2:01:17 PM under Personal 
 

Many memorable films have been filmed in Italy’s historic capital. With picturesque landmarks like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps, it easy to see why directors choose the Eternal City as their backdrop. The 1953 classic film, “Roman Holiday,” starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck may be one of the best known movies filmed in Rome. It includes many famous Roman sights and its most memorable scene features Bocca della Verita, a marble sculpture in the Church of Santa Maria. Another popular film, “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” features the beautiful Piazza dell’Esquilino and its 1600-year-old Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

Recently many Hollywood blockbusters have been filmed in Rome. In “Eat Pray Love,” Julia Roberts embarks on a journey of self-discovery and heads to Rome’s 2,000-year-old city square at Piazza Navona. The famous square is also the backdrop for the film’s poster which features Roberts enjoying gelato on a stone bench. Dan Brown’s thriller, “Angel and Demons” takes place in St. Peter’s Square, however, the Catholic Church would not allow filming to take place in there. The movie features photo stills, scale models and computer generated images of Vatican City. Another movie that many people do not realize was actually filmed in Rome was Martin Scorcese’s “Gangs of New York.” A whole neighborhood of 19th century New York buildings was recreated in Cinecitta Studios in Rome and scenes were also filmed in the Villa Borghese gardens.

 



 
 

Guest Blog: San Terenziano Celebrates Porchettiamo

Posted on: 6/4/2012 9:33:04 AM under Personal 
 

La porchetta, noble street food of Umbria and central Italy in general, stars in the May festival of San Terenziano, “Porchettiamo”. Best translated as “Let us roast suckling pig”, your Italian/English dictionary won’t have a translation and you don’t need one: just head to San Terneziano to experience “porchettiamo” with the “locals” in this tiny hilltown near Todi.

La porchetta (pork roasted on the spit, generously seasoned with garlic, rosemary, sage and wild fennel) and panini di porchetta draw the crowds to the stalls of vendors – or to their customized moveable trucks – in the piazzas, streets and weekly outdoor open markets all over central Italy. La porchetta is omnipresent at every Umbrian fiera, the traditional outdoor market on a saint’s feast day (or the day before or after the feast).

The town of San Terenziano however, fêtes la porchetta itself, in late May when the small piazza leading to the fortified 16th-century city gate becomes “la Piazza della Porchetta“. Perfect timing: after all, the Romans called pig maialis, after the goddess Maia to whom it was dedicated. Every town, city, and region della porchetta is invited to San Terenziano to offer their product to critical visitors, who come to enjoy un panino di porchetta con un bicchiere di vino rosso locale.

The more critical palates savor small tastes of different porchetta types which vary depending on the size of the roasted pig, the breed, the area where the pig was raised and its forage as well as how la porchetta was prepared (and nothing beats the traditional porchetta spit-roasted over the wood fire).

Families and young couples share sandwiches, while others browse the booths near the piazza offering a variety of artisan crafts. Some families enjoy a “pig-nic” served to them on the lawn behind town walls and young people enjoy live music played throughout the three days of “Porchettiamo”. Passing under the fortified city gate, visitors walk the cobblestone narrow street lined with artworks of Italian design students who turn pig forms into art.

On the final day of Porchettiamo in nearby medieval Grutti (pop. 500) – home for centuries to skilled porchettai - young people in medieval costumes slice woodfire, spit-roasted porchetta (the best we had!) at a fraschetta in front of the town’s ancient tower.

By Anne Robichaud, the only American authorized as an Umbrian Regional tour guide. Read about her Umbrian hilltown tours, cooking classes in her home and in the US and her "memoirs of rural life" on www.annesitaly.com. Enjoy the many stories on her blog http://annesitaly.com/blog/

 

 



 
 

Guest Blog: Building Without Concrete

Posted on: 5/29/2012 9:46:44 AM under Personal 
 

Our business model was simple.  Create an interactive fund raiser for the province of L’Aquila and its neighbors that would endure long past the event.   

Everyone knows it takes mortar and stone to rebuild L’Aquila’s city center, university, homes and businesses.   The same for those surrounding villages whose inhabitants’ lives changed profoundly on April 6th 2009. In this third year since the earthquake struck, two facts remain undisputed.  The restoration effort will take 20 years and plenty of money. 

Those of us with ties to L’Aquila and Abruzzo- through blood, residency, or heart, have been challenged by what actions we can take to help the region recover. Donate money, yes. Write blog posts, yes. Visit and patronize local businesses, of course.

Last November, LifeinAbruzzo.com author Sammy Dunham and I began a conversation about how we could do more for the region.  Long story short, we tapped into our collective skills and interests to create a non-profit company called blogAway. Its mission: raise funds for two carefully selected local causes and grow Abruzzo’s online profile. To accomplish this, we have invited local and international bloggers to a ticketed destination conference to optimize their craft. Our ‘mortar and stone’ is to invite writers and sponsors to participate in a low cost sustainable project that will build long-term relationships with local businesses and international supporters.

The conference title ‘Hands On L’Aquila’ is meant to invoke commitment.  It evolved from the simple desire to lend a hand and to keep the province in the collective “newsfeed.”  We know that travelers turn to blogs for that personal and experienced view about where to visit and what’s cooking.  We’re confident that Abruzzo tourism will get a boost from this conference as more bloggers will understand what Abruzzo has to offer.

The most rewarding aspect of the planning and organization phase has been the reception this idea has had in Abruzzo. Both Sammy and I have called upon friends and acquaintances in the region who have gone out of their way to collaborate with us to make this late September event successful. A b&b owner in Teramo is entering conference goers into a drawing for a free 3 night stay, a professor at the University of L’Aquila translated our sponsor packet to Italian, a local tour operator is calling on local Italian businesses for sponsorship, a small wine and olive oil producer from Chieti is sponsoring and volunteering to work the registration table. And the list goes on.    

The commune of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, our host town which also sustained quake damage, has been generous to offer its piazza for our sagra lunch. Hotels and b&b owners are offering discounts for conference goers, and Mayor Antonio D’Aloisio has taken on the extra work of inviting other communes affected by the earthquake to showcase and discuss their specialties at our Market & Tour Fair. The grassroots response has been strong – from a restaurant owner in South Philly to a camping site owner in Chieti.   Please visit www.blogaway.org  to learn more.

By Helen Antonelli Free and Sammy Dunham



 
 

Guest Blog: Passione in Umbria's May Festival

Posted on: 5/21/2012 12:54:53 PM under Personal 
 

If you truly wish to experience Italian passione, join “the locals” for their May festivals.
Work goes on all winter in Assisi for the town’s medieval welcome to spring in early May, the Calendimaggio. In an explosion of color, excitement, and astounding creativity, the Assisani celebrate spring with three days of medieval dance, street theater, choral music, contests and pageantry. They don’t care if tourists join in the May medieval splendor (most of the stands are filled with Assisians): this festival is about THEM and those long-awaited three days when they can live again the Middle Ages – – with passione. 

What else but passione pushes those Eugubini (the townspeople of Gubbio) to raise up the three huge (approximate weight: nearly 700 lbs) wooden pyramidical structures, the Ceri, and race them all day through the streets and then up the mountain back-dropping Gubbio? As for most any Italian medieval festivals, the roots of the Corsa dei Ceri are both pagan and Christian. The ceri (“candlesticks”) could represent those carried in the funeral procession of their patron saint, St. Ubaldo in the 12th c. Then again, Cerfus was the Umbrian god of fertility and the ceri certainly have a phallic aspect! In any case, the origins are lost in history – and on May 15th, no one cares.

By Anne Robichaud, the only American authorized as an Umbrian Regional tour guide. Read about her Umbrian hilltown tours, cooking classes in her home and in the US and her "memoirs of rural life" on www.annesitaly.com. Enjoy the many stories on her blog http://annesitaly.com/blog/

 

 

 

 



 
 

The Bellini

Posted on: 5/14/2012 3:57:54 PM under Personal 
 

The Bellini is a refreshing brunch cocktail especially with summertime quickly approaching. It will be sure to make an appearance at many parties and on restaurant menus. Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of the historic Harry’s Bar in Venice, created the drink in the 1930’s and named it after the 15th century Renaissance painter, Giovanni Bellini.

Although it may seem like a simple cocktail to make, Cipriani had very strict rules for making the proper Bellini. A true Bellini must be made with chilled Prosecco (Champagne doesn’t combine as well with the peach juice.) The Prosecco should then be added to a puree made from fresh white peaches (never yellow peaches or peach schnapps) and when using homemade puree, the peaches must be shredded without the use of a food processor which aerates the fruit and changes the taste. His final rule -- all ingredients must be chilled as much as possible. Bellinis never contain ice.

When creating your own Bellini at home, use 2-3 parts Prosecco and 1 part fresh peach puree and don’t forget to follow Cipriani’s instructions! Salute!

 



 
 

Moncler

Posted on: 5/7/2012 10:35:45 AM under Personal 
 

Moncler may have started as a French company, but it is now headquartered in Italy and owned by Pepper Industries designer, Remo Ruffino. In fact Moncler provided equipment for the Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio who made the first successful ascent to the summit of K2 on July 13, 1954. The Moncler Group also owns the clothing brands Henry’s Cotton’s, Marina Yachting and Coast Weber & Arhaus.

The current Moncler collection for women includes a nylon leather laque puffer vest, a short black shiny laque puffer jacket, a cashmere turtleneck sweater, a fur collar belted puffer knee length black coat, a black nylon dog walker coat and a tan belted trench coat. For men the line features a zip track jacket, tipped polo and sweat shorts, a heather grey flag sleeve sweater, and more. A Moncler children’s line is also available! Visit their website- http://moncler.com/



 
 

Must Have Italian Products

Posted on: 4/30/2012 9:25:46 AM under Personal 
 

Walking through the cities of Italy, it is difficult to miss the “map” motif on purses, shoes and belts that adorn the beautiful Italian men and women. The Italian fashion designer, Alviero Martini designed the brand 1A Classe that has been a staple in Italian closets for years and now is making worldwide fame. The designer continues to reinvent and revamp the beloved Italian brand. Especially in the United States, celebrities such as Misha Barton, young professionals and college students have been seen wearing 1A Classe around town. More information visit www.alvieromartini.it.

 

Also on the Italian scene- Dolce & Gabbana launched “The One Sport,” a new fragrance for men, in February. The One Sport follows 2008's The One for Men and 2010's The One Gentleman. The fragrance adheres by the philosophy that Sport is a self-challenge: a route to fitness, for ourselves as much as for others. http://www.dolcegabbana.com/dg/perfumes/the-one-sport/man/.

 

Ferragamo and Prada also have released new fragrances. Ferragamo's new perfume for women, "Signorina," celebrates chic young women and their elegance and glamour. While Ferragamo goes for girly glamour, Prada has released a limited edition perfume as an extension of the Infusion d'Iris line, Infusion d'Iris Absolue, This line expresses preciousness and luxury, blended from carefully selected, rare and high quality ingredients.

 



 
 

The Enzo Ferrari Birthplace Museum

Posted on: 4/23/2012 9:47:08 AM under Personal 
 

When Enzo Ferrari was 22 years old, he sold the house he was born in to buy a racecar. Throughout his life Enzo unsuccessfully tried many times to buy it back, but as of early March, his childhood home in Modena, Italy, a small city between Milan and Bologna, has become a museum dedicated to his memory. The Enzo Ferrari Birthplace Museum includes the original house where Ferrari was born in 1989, as well as Ferrari’s father’s original workshop and a new building designed with a shiny yellow aluminum roof designed to look like the hood of a car. “I remember coming back one to see the house when I was a kid, but it wasn’t with my father because he never wanted to come back,” said Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s son and the auto company’s vice chairman. “He always said that if he couldn’t buy it, he didn’t want to go into a house owned by other people.

The museum features multimedia presentations which recount the life of the famous racecar driver turned legendary sports car manufacturer and memorabilia including Ferrari’s glasses, birth certificate and the violet pen he always used to sign documents. The new building will also hold temporary exhibits of historic racecars, including Maseratis, Alfa Romeos, Fiats and of course, Ferraris. The next exhibit, held in June, will be on the rivalry between Ferrari and Maserati, which is based in Modena and now also owned by Fiat.

Read more- http://nyti.ms/FPP3Wg



 
 

Raccontami

Posted on: 4/16/2012 2:12:03 PM under Personal 
 

Corsi di italiano per bambini (4-10 anni)

 

Authors Luca Cortis and Elisa Giuliani Pancheri of ALMA Edizioni have created a set of children’s books that takes a new and stimulating technique to learning Italian. Split into two levels, Raccontami uses a narrative approach that encourages imagination while allowing youngsters to approach learning Italian in a fun and exciting way.

 

The first level focuses on children from the ages of four to seven and level two reaches out to children between the ages of seven to 11. Through the revealing and repetition of fables, children are encouraged to speak and listen to Italian.

 

Each level of Raccontami contains a book for children with illustrated stories, a glossary with images, activities and games and a didatic unit. In addition, the books come with a set of photocopies for teachers, an audio CD with songs and a notebook with literature exercises. Topics covered in Raccontami include i numeri, la scuola, i giorni, la famiglia e gli animali.

 

For more information on Raccontami, please visit www.almaedizioni.it.

 



 
 

Pasquetta: Little Easter

Posted on: 4/9/2012 11:44:56 AM under Personal 
 

In Italy, the Easter celebration does not stop on Sunday, but continues onto Easter Monday with Pasquetta. It is a time to gather with family and friends and enjoy the warm temperatures with picnics and outdoor activities. Usually Italians escape the cities and head to the countryside to enjoy one another’s company. Some places will even hold dances, concerts or festivals for children and parents.

 

Pasquetta, also called Lunedì dell’Angelo (Angel’s Monday), commemorates Mary Magadalene’s encounter with an angel at Jesus’ tomb who told her Christ has risen.

 



 
 
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