Folk Festival to Stream Live!

Ri Ualanegli knows how to produce a Folk Dance Festival!  If you can’t get to Pontelandolfo – and I encourage you to get here – you can see the festival streamed live on Pontelandolfonews.com and on FaceBook Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo.  Save those links!  Save the dates – July 31, August 1 & 2. At the end of the blog there is a complete schedule of events – don’t forget the time difference if you want to catch the live stream.  The commercial will wet your appetite for folk dance and if that doesn’t work, read on about the two other Italian companies that will be in the festival – Urbanitas and La Pacchianella.

Associazione Culturale & Folcloristica Urbanitas

Based in the town of Apiro, Urbanitas, formed in 1933, shares the rural traditions and culture of the 19th-century Marches.  This was a period of abject poverty.  There were rare occasions for festivals.  Because they were rare, the festivals were incredibly unique and intense.  The peasants of the Marches, accompanied by sprightly music enjoyed themselves dancing that bordered on the phrenetic.

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The company was included in the filming of Dino Risi’s Straziami ma di Baci Saziami, starring Nino Manfredi.  They have also been seen on both regional and national television.

Since the 1970s, Urbanitas has collaborated with the town of Apiro and produced an annual international folkloric festival, Terranostra Apiro.

La Pacchianella

This folk group claims to be one of the oldest – founded in 1923 – and most famous Italian group.  They come from  Monte Sant’Angelo in Foggia – noted for the white line of terraced houses and in the Christian world for its ancient rocky shrine where in 490 The Archangel Michael appeared.  I thought it was interesting that their costumes hint of Spain and reflect the Spanish rule of the area.  Lots of color, tons of gold – bling personified – is fun to watch and adds panache to the dances.  They have toured the world and made a number of films including one by Disney on folk lore.  This video has them dancing in front of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower!

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Passing the Cultural Torch

The other day I visited la mia sarta, my dress maker, Rosa, and found her working on the smallest pair of traditional boys britches I had ever seen. “Are they for a large doll”, I stupidly asked.  Cara, questi sono per il più giovane membro di Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo!  What she meant was – “you silly cluck – it is dance season and I make all the costumes.  This is for the youngest member of the company – a two year old!”  Many of our village’s kids are learning about their heritage by performing with the dance company, Ri Ualanegli.

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Not only do they learn the dances, but they explore the stories behind the dances.  Learning about the contadini, serfs and farmers, who worked the land and just how they worked it. Extended families still live together here and children see their elders planting gardens, harvesting olives, pressing tomatoes into sauce and still eating and cooking in a traditional way.  Through the dance company, these piccolo dancers gain an even greater understanding of who they are and what life was like in their home town.  History lessons are a natural part of the dance lesson!   My Arts Educator brain just took over – think about it – these kids are having fun, learning about their culture and have the opportunity to grow as self confident, creative problem solving adults!  Yeah for Dance!  YOU CAN SEE THESE TALENTED KIDS LIVE – HERE IN PONTELANDOLFO – JULY 31, AUGUST 1ST AND 2ND. Here are a group of kids dancing in 2014 – wade through the introduction and you will get to the dance – note the older kids helping the babes in dance along –

Other children are fascinated with the old sounds and music that accompany the dancers. It makes my heart burst with joy to see the little guy learning the musicality of the fisarmonica – accordion – from the old masters.  This instrument, featured in the folk group Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo and other Italian folk companies, looks a small accordion.  These kids who rock out the local Tarantella don’t know it yet but they too are accepting the responsibility of passing on the culture of their village.   The traditional music reflects moments in our historic time line. The songs are of joy, fear and love. I was delighted a few weeks ago to listen to a recital done by a group of young musicians.  The traditional music of the Sannio Hills will live on through this and ensuing generations.

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This past week, a group of Pontelandolfese men made sure that the sport that I never heard of before I came here was passed down to the little men who would make up the teams of the future.  These kids began by strapping cord to their arms, loading up a wheel of cheese and letting it fly!  Welcome to ruzzola del formaggio – cheese rolling.  Actually, this weekend was our Festa di Formaggio with competitions for children and adults.  Of course, there was also the tasting of yummy local cheeses.  This was the first annual Festa di Formaggio so plan on being here next year for it!

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These wee cheese rolling wonders were working with adults who have been part of Pontelandolfo’s award winning team. Ruzzola del Formaggio competitions are incredibly serious.  The winner gets to keep the cheese – it does get eaten!  There are teams from all over Italy.  Those teams would not exist and that tradition continue if villages didn’t keep the sport alive.

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Passing the cultural torch is important for all villages and equally important for families.  Share those tales.  Write down those recipes. Dance the dances your grandparents danced. Let your children learn about who they are and where their roots are.

Don’t forget to come to Pontelandolfo on July 31St!  Explore our culture and enjoy our art!

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Serbian Dance Company in Pontelandolfo

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I went to YouTube and entered JEKA, the name of this Serbian company.  The first video I saw reminded me of the Rockettes in perfect Radio City Music Hall formation.  Then the music got faster and faster and the formations kept going and going.  I was exhausted, but enthralled.

If you are in Italy – or a cheap plane ride away – come visit Pontelandolfo this July 31, August 1 & 2.  I’ve seen a number of folkloric festivals over the years but this one, produced by Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo offers incredible diversity.  (I did an earlier post on the group from Poland and more are to follow.)

The folk dance group Jeka is from Obrenovac, Serbia.  They have been performing since 2010 and have over 200 dancers, musicians and singers working together.  I wonder if they will all be in our little village?  Jeka performs dances from all regions of Serbia, including central Serbia’s popular Sumadija and Kolubara. The artistic team includes – ethnomusicologist Biljana Konjevic (folk orchestra and folk singer group), choreographer, Jelena Stanisic and president, Nenad Mandic.

A typical form of Serbian folk dances is “kolo”.  This is a chain of dancers holding each other – this is what I started watching.  The dancing is ideally in a circle. After “kolo” comes “lesa” – a single chain in line or in two parallel lines, moving left and right, back and forth.  Sounds simple – but you try to keep 30 people in two exactly parallel lines.

 

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I read that Serbian folk costumes have a distinctive place in the tradition of the Serbian people. Their role throughout history, as symbols of ethnic identity, was of great importance. Every region inhabited by the Serbs had a distinctive folk costume. The outfit revealed not only someone’s origin, but in multicultural regions it was a recognizable sign of ethnicity.  You will see hand-woven skirts and vests filled with colorful designs and patterns.

Note that I said, “you will see”.  I sincerely hope you an make it to the 2017 Folk Festival on July 31, August 1 & 2 in Pontelandolfo (BN).

 

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Ci vediamo!

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See Polish Folk Dancers in Pontelandolfo!

 

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Thank you Associazione Culturale Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo for bringing an international Folk Dance Festival to Pontelandolfo!  Timing in life is everything, and I am incredibly lucky to be here this summer.  Ri Ualanegli is bringing some of the best folk dance companies in the world to our corner of the universe on August 31, July 1 and July 2.  Since, Ruth St. Denis invaded my body (mother of modern dance in America) 40 years ago, I have been a dance junky.  As such, I couldn’t just write about the festival – I had to – needed to – felt compelled to write about each of the companies that will be performing.  No matter what your heritage, you will appreciate feeling the music, spirit and passion of these companies.

Polonia folk

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The Polish Folk Dance Group Przygoda was created in 1972 and has been on the road ever since.  Their home is Rybnik city in the Upper Silesia. Like many folkloric companies, they strive to encourage not only youth but the world at large to understand and appreciate the traditions and culture of Poland.  One might think pierogis seem a lot like ravioli but they are as unique in their flavor as this company is to the Italian folk companies that will be performing.  The Polish dance company has shared its heritage in places like Canada, Denmark, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, South Africa and now Pontelandolfo!

Przygoda performs the dances and the folklore of Poland’s different regions.  As is important to the Polish tradition, the company sings and dances, maintaining a balance between the two.  The musicians play violins, violas, flutes, clarinets, bass and of course – the accordion. To enhance the regionalisms and make sure the dancers fully understand their heritage,  all participate in making the costumes. The costumes are all handmade -including the embroidery.  Natural materials, appropriate to the given region, are a must.

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Just because they have been winning international awards from Chile to Romania, isn’t the only reason you should come to Pontelandolfo to see Przygoda perform.  You should come, because the opportunity to see companies of this caliber performing in the same festival is something that doesn’t happen often.  You should also come because this dance junky wants to see a huge audience for this festival!  Be there – I’m taking attendance.

Ci Vediamo – July 31, August 1 and August 2 in Piazzo Roma, Pontelandolfo (BN).

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Dov’ è Pontelandolfo?

Non lo so. I don’t know.  Perchè?  Why?

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Can You Read This Sign? – This is Why!!!

Tourists – whether they are Italian or from abroad – will have a hard time finding our village because the street signage is terrible.  The Province of Benevento and the Region of Campania apparently doesn’t give a tinker’s damn if the road signs are bent, twisted, painted over or if the weeds grow so high around them that they are invisible.  This confuses me greatly.  We drive all over Italy and I’ve noticed that in the North – oh no here she goes with that North versus South disparity again – the signs seem to look like signs. Not like twisted pieces of art created by first year sculpture students.

We need the signs fixed!  At the end of the month there is an international folk festival in our village and I want outsiders to find us!  Currently, I am researching just who in the Province has the responsibility for the signs.  I am looking forward to sending that person the following video.  If someone out there knows who the right person is to lobby for better signs – PLEASE LET ME KNOW!  Feel free to send a copy of the video yourself.

 

PS – If the signs don’t get fixed you can always follow the brown and yellow signs to our Great Pub – Landulphi.  The owners made sure you could find our village.

 

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | 3 Comments

I Fell in Love on the Hop On, Hop Off Bus

The universe can toss you a curve ball when you least expect it. Certainly, riding a “hop on hop off” bus would be one of those places where you would least expect it. Least expect to fall in love. Least expect to find me. I’ve always striven to be the non-tourist and even thinking about riding the hop on hop off bus would give me hives.  My hip friends, Mike and Lori, insisted that I would truly enjoy it – no matter what city I was in. Well, I didn’t know if I would enjoy it but Jack and I had four hours to kill in Naples. 

Who knew the hop on hop off bus would have such an impact on my life. Maybe it was the Neapolitan songs. Maybe it was the sun shining over the bay of Naples. Maybe it was the 30 children on the upper level of the bus who were excited to be going to an art museum. Maybe it was the architecture or the feelings that the people of Naples sling at your soul.  Who can ever really tell you why you fall in love with someone or something. Love is a strange emotion.  It pieces your heart, turns your brain into mush and forces you to do things you never thought you would.  Today, I fell in love with the turbulent, bad boy city called Naples. 

Historically, I have found Naples crowded, a driving nightmare and the train station full of obnoxious faux cab drivers.  My eyes have been opened to the incredible parks, interesting neighborhoods and wealth of theaters and museums.  Tomorrow, we are going to Teatro San Carlo to see Verdi’s Il Trovatore.  Sigh…my love may deepen.

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This Is A Drill – Earthquake!!!

This is a drill. I repeat, This is a drill.  Crash, boom, the house is moving.  *&^%$, an earthquake!?  A terrorist attack? Run? Hide?  What do we do?  Sirens wailed.  We ran out of the house. Ambulances raced to the historic center.  My emotions are off the chart.  What the hell is going on?

Today, July 9, civil defense teams from all over Campania raced to Pontelandolfo to aid its residents. I repeat, This is a drill.  Jack was an emergency management professional for over 40 years and was part of the teams that created drills.  I would pop in and out of exercises simulating the media and harassing state and national spokespeople.  When we heard there was going to be a simulation of a natural disaster, we had to witness it.

I put it in my calendar and when I woke up I shrieked – it was 9:30, we’re late! At about 8.30 am, Pontelandolfo was to be invaded by approximately 150 Civil Defense volunteers from various parts of the Campania Region. Twenty associations had given their commitment to participate in this unique event.  When we got to the piazza at about 10:00 they were all gathering under a tree near the two way radio transmitter.  Soon, everyone stood at attention for the national anthem. This signaled the beginning of the drill.

The purpose of the drill was to implement and test Pontelandolfo’s Municipal Civil Protection Plan. I wander if I ask nicely, if Jack and I can read it?  According to my source for all things Pontelandolfo – the Pontelandolfo News – 

By setting up such a document, the administration wanted to give a strong signal for the protection and security of citizens in the event that they experience natural disasters such as an earthquake. Pontelandolfo, nestled in the Apennines, has  high seismic risk, knowledge and preparation to face this danger is critical.

Emergency vehicles from all over the region encircled Piazza Roma.  My heart burst with pride as I remembered that just like all of those Flagtown Fire Trucks of my New Jersey youth, these trucks were driven by a dedicated group of volunteers.  The same type of dedicated volunteers who, in recent years responded to horrific earthquakes and dug out the victims of the massive avalanches in northern Italy.  These men and women are the backbone of our communities. We thank each and every one.

After a short briefing, an Emergency Operations Center was activated at the Municipal Building.  We didn’t peak our nosey noses into the EOC but watched the volunteers mobilize for a variety of scenarios. The evacuation drills  were staged in our medieval village center – which has historically been hit by earthquakes. The various teams evaluated the extent of damage caused by the faux seismic events.  Other teams practiced rescuing the wounded. The Croce Rossa ambulances  soared up the steep hill and returned with rescued wounded.  A triage tent had been set up to evaluate and assist the wounded.

Vonuteers from Pontelandolfo’s Protezione Civile prepared lunch for all.  It is great that all of these volunteers from various towns get to network.  Those relationships will certainly be important if and when they need to assist each other.

I made a perky little video to salute the work of all of the volunteers – again – WE THANK YOU ALL!!!

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Love Fish? – Il Corsaro della Baia Azzurra

Some days – the ones when I am not pretending to work – Jack and I get in the car for rides to nowhere special. We simply drive and stare.  We have visited and lived in Italy for more years than I will admit to and the views still enthrall us.  Patchwork green hills frame the blue sky.  My favorite nowhere special drives have the sea on one side of the road and the hills on the other.  One day, we saw a sign that said Porto Vasto and thought – what the heck lets check out the port.  We veered off the highway and started bumping down one of Italy’s many pot hole riddled roads.  I think it was the bumping that got our tummy’s  gurgling for food.  Stop! I screamed.  What! Jack screamed.  Look there is a sign for a restaurant – Il Corsaro della Baia Azzurra.  Pirate by the blue bay????  Ahoy matey we found a place to eat. We made the 90 degree turn and slowly crept down the narrow lane.  We approached a large white house that seemed perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea.  Jack and I stared at each other.  There was no sign of life – and certainly no sign that said “Good Eats, Eat Here.”  What the hell, we are adventurous.  As I started to open the car door,  Woody Allen with a Jerry Garcia haircut burst from the house, helped me open my door and hugged me like I was his long lost Auntie Midge.  We were whisked into the house and a smiling gracious woman came out of the kitchen wiped her hands on a mapine and gave us hello kisses.

Where are we? I thought the first time we went.  Where are the cameras?  Is this my closeup?  Antonello and his wife Grazia are the owners, front of house, cooks and bottle washers of what has become our absolute favorite seafood restaurant. The interior is adorable.  The walls were festooned with portraits of press clips of a man who kind of looked like our host.  Further investigation revealed that Antonello’s dad, Claudio Crisci, was a vibrant entertainer who started the restaurant with his wife.  It has always been a two person operation committed to slow fresh food. The tables faced a wall of windows with a stellar view of the sea.  Rather than sit, we were taken on a short tour of the veranda that overlooks the Adriatic ocean.  Talk about view!  We would just come for the view but the food!  The scents of the sea wafted over us and we remembered we were starving. We only chose courses from the sea and all were prepared perfectly.   How can one woman alone in the kitchen turn out such great stuff?  Now that we are five times a year regulars, I can tell you that it is a wee bit more than eating in Pontelandolfo but worth it.  Our bill is usually around €100 but we spend hours drinking two bottles of wine, eating seafood antipasti served in multiple courses and a grilled fish entré that would feed a small family.

I could show you pictures of the food and talk about each course, but you will only get jealous and race to the refrigerator to angrily discover you don’t have any miniature clams opened in white wine, or octopus sautéed with parsley and garlic in the most fragrant of local olive oils and be frustrated because you can’t find langoustine split and grilled in your grandmother’s clay baking dish.  So, I won’t tell you what we had.   But please watch the video!

IT takes us an hour and a half to get there but ahhhhh – seafood by the sea with antics by our host. Who could ask for a better way to spend the day.  “Ristorante Tipico, Il Corsaro della Baia Azzurra is located at Via Osca, 51 in Porto Di Vasto.  Call them at 0873.310.1113

 

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