Today I learned about Rabbi Barbara, and her work in reconnecting Calabrian Jews with their Jewish heritage. I found her website very interesting, and especially this information on the B’nei Anousim movement in Calabria, dedicated to Jews who were forced to repudiate their faith–or be exiled–during the Inquisition. How naive I have been, never considering that this happened in southern Italy, just as it did in other places where the practice was better known to me.
Check out this article from Italian Notebook on 3,000 year old urban planning, still at work in Naples. Photo also from Italian Notebook!
A writing-and-cooking workshop on Capri?? This is going on my bucket list!!
Check out Dianne Hales’ website too. http://www.becomingitalian.com/
See what she has to say about the Italian language–after all, she wrote a book about it.
Travelers to Italy often plan most of their visits around those “must see” tourist attractions like the Coliseum in Rome, the leaning tower in Pisa, and the ruins of Pompeii. Italy has enough of these to occupy many months of vacation time.
But there’s more to Italy than the typical tour itinerary includes. And one consideration might be local festivals. Just like local festivals here in the U.S. (and probably wherever you live), the festivals in Italy usually include booths with food vendors, special entertainment, and an atmosphere of excitement.
An internet search for “festivals Italy 2013″ ended in frustration. The information was too general, and often too limited to a particular area. So I began a search including the name of a region, and found much more of interest. For example, through this link for Abruzzo:
I found festivals throughout the year in towns large and small–ranging from a Trout and Shrimp Festival to a Bonfire Festival, to a snake-handling event with Roman origins. You might notice that this is the business website of a construction company in Abruzzo, but what a great service they have added for the English speaking traveler! Even a referral for an English speaking auto mechanic. Bravi, Craftsmen!
There are festivals for all kinds of interests: food (of course!!), religious holidays, history, music, and many more. You many belong to an organization with members in Italy you can connect with through a local festival in their town. And just as visitors to my town learn a little more about it if they attend our annual Irrigation Festival (going on this week, by the way), you can absorb some more Italian culture by enjoying a festival there.
So tell me, readers, have you attended a festival in Italy? Share about it in the comments, please!
This is a really quick post to put up my #project52 pictures before I run off to Italy again tomorrow, this time for a short holiday with my beloved, who has never been before. I am almost unreasonably excited about showing him around Rome for the first time and watching him have all of these amazing 'firsts'... On the MUST DO list: The Pantheon, The Forum, The Crypto Balba Museum, Castel San Angelo and Gelato from…
Today I finished planting my garden, and I was just imagining what I’ll be doing in a couple of months with my crops. Some of them don’t have particularly Italian applications that I know of. For example, rhubarb. It’s ready for pie-making now.
Asparagus hasn’t started peeking up yet, but I’m hoping to eat some in the next few weeks.
I have a patio pot with arugula planted in it this week. It’s too bitter for some people but I love the spicy bite of it in a salad, or even mixed into a sausage & potato Zuppa Toscana. And I’m growing the potatoes too.
Green beans in two varieties–one is the typical American string bean, the other the wide, creamy Romano. Looking forward to some of those sauteed with a bit of bacon!
I know I’ll be overrun with zucchini, because I planted FOUR of them. Aren’t they grand producers? And besides using them in minestrone, or sauteed with some tomato and basil, I’ll have plenty for zucchini bread. And for gifts.
In other garden beds I have some mixed salad greens, sweet onions, peas, beets, carrots, and red Swiss chard. I’ll plant a few tomatoes in another week or so. And scour my Italian cookbooks (and the web) for ways to use all of it.
Are you gardening? What’s your favorite thing to grow and eat Italian style?
Those of you who know my interests in history won’t be surprised at all that I was eager to read a book about Pope Celestine V, elected in 1294. And with the recent resignation of Pope Benedict, Celestine’s abdication has been mentioned in news stories, editorials, and blogs around the world.
From the time I first heard of this book, a year or more before its 2012 publication, I felt an affinity with Sweeney. I spent years researching the events surrounding Celestine’s election and resignation, as I’m sure Sweeney did. And considering the wide-ranging sources and research on the subject, it’s not too surprising that we came to slightly different conclusions about some of the characters involved.
The book is essentially a biography of Peter of Morrone, who took the name Celestine as pope. Thorough, well-written, and not too densely academic, I enjoyed reading it very much–burning my Nook late into a few nights to finish it. Little is known about Celestine’s early life, and even up to middle age he was a man of obscurity, seeking a life of isolation. Sweeney presents this unusual life in a well-0rganized yet lively way.
My disappointments came with his presentation of corollary characters: namely, the succeeding pope, Boniface VIII, and the King most directly involved with Celestine, King Charles II of Naples. I admit, I have a bias against Boniface. (I am certainly not alone in this.)
My fists went up in the prologue when Sweeney describes Boniface (Cardinal Benedict Gaetani, prior to becoming pope) as Celestine’s “trusted adviser”. I suppose, technically, this is true. Celestine trusted his advice on various things, and depended on his help in carrying out his desire to resign. But in light of the subsequent betrayal–imprisoning Celestine for the rest of his life–the term “trusted adviser” stuck in my craw.
Then there is the negative portrayal of the king of Naples, Charles II. Here is a weak king, and a man at the mercy of the papacy. An earlier pope had established Charles’ father as “King of Naples” in exchange for fighting some of the papacy’s worldly battles, and his kingdom (which initially included the island of Sicily) was subject to the pope as overlord. Charles II himself spent years as a prisoner of war in those battles. While Sweeney presents Charles as manipulating Celestine, he omits entirely the fact that Charles’s three sons, including his heir, were prisoners in Aragon for the previous five years. Only the pope could confirm a treaty to free them, and by the time Celestine was elected, there had been a vacancy for more than two years in the papacy. The previous pope flatly refused to approve the treaty that both kings involved had agreed to. I view Charles as a man desperate to free his sons, and doing all he can to gain influence with the one man who can help him.
Yes, I know. I’ve slipped from book review to historical rant. As you can see, what happened in history is far from settled, even though the events are long past. The true motivations of those involved are rarely known with certainty, and always subject to nuances of interpretation.
The end notes are thorough and interesting, mentioning numerous of Sweeney’s sources. There is no bibliography or index, but that’s not unusual in a book presented for public rather than scholarly interest. I most appreciate Sweeney bringing Celestine into the public view, more than he has been in a while. And I suppose I should thank the former Pope, Benedict, for his recent resignation which revived the interest in Celestine even more.
The Pope Who Quit is a worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in the thirteenth century, church history, or the medieval Kingdom of Sicily/Kingdom of Naples.
Here’s a lesson for visitors to Italy on why NOT to drive in the cities. This took place in Naples, and has seen a lot of action on YouTube, but it could be any Italian city.
I’m getting revved up for my trip to Italy in a few months, and one of my preparations this time will be to have some genealogical research done for me before I get there. My Italian language skills aren’t adequate to do it myself, and my knowledge of the systems of records in Italy is even worse. Some relatives are pooling resources with me to hire the help, and I’ll share the results when I get home.
I was preparing for an earlier trip to Italy when Anna Maria responded to a post I made online, seeking my Italian relatives. She is one!
We met in person in Italy, and she came to my home a few years later, but I have not been able to document our family relationship. For now, we are just “cugini”, cousins. One of my goals is to discover the family lines that connect us. This year, I’m looking forward to spending Ferragosto, that ancient Italian holiday, with Anna Maria and other family members in our ancestral village.
We have learned a few things about our Italian roots as my sister and I have researched over the years. Some are in the category of family legends.
1. Josephine Gualtieri was an old maid at 21 when she determined she would marry any man who asked her. The man who asked was Francesco Arcuri,
a man already 50 years old, and three years older than Josephine’s father. We learned that Josephine’s mother had died and her father remarried. Did she not get along with her stepmother? What other factors shaped her life?
2. There is a Palazzo Gualtieri in Josephine’s home town, which (we were told) was gambled away by an ancestor. While “Palace” is somewhat of an overstatement in describing the derelict building, I’d be interested to learn more of that story!
3. Raffaele of the B&B Calabria in Scigliano gave me a book about the history of Scigliano–in Italian, of course! However, I have been able to determine that at one time there was a “Baron Gualtieri” in Scigliano. I’d really love to know who he was and how he might be connected to my family line. And can I now start calling myself a Baroness? Please??
I discovered an Italian genealogy research outfit today, and thought I’d share a link. Initially I emailed Cherrye at My Bella Vita about some research interests because I know she does Heritage Tours in southern Italy. She referred me to Roots in the Boot, and I was very excited to find their website and the services they offer.
Have you found useful websites for Italian family history? Please do share in the comments!