Have a wonderful 2020!
May this year be full of good health, happiness and grand adventures.
I hope we will see you in Pontelandolfo.
Have a wonderful 2020!
May this year be full of good health, happiness and grand adventures.
I hope we will see you in Pontelandolfo.
There aren’t many things I’m afraid of. Needles, however, turn my tummy to jello, make my teeth clench and my hands sweat. Imagine the wave of fear that washed over me when the orthopedic doctor in Alghero, Sardegna said “everyday for thirty days you have to give yourself a needle in the stomach.” I screamed NO. The nurse said, “or die from a blood clot.” Oh, I mused – die or get a needle in the stomach everyday for thirty days. Thirty days ways the length of time I was to wear the cast/boot on my broken ankle and repose. Gulp, I’ll take the needle but I can’t give it to myself. The nurse showed my husband Jack how to jab a needle in my gut. Jack did it – I think happily and with a malicious grin – for three weeks. Then he left for Venice. Catzzo, now what do I do? No way I can shoot myself up with blood thinners – eeeeeuuuuuchh.
Wheelchair and Booze! One way to get through this.
Curbside Service at La Farmacia! Annarita, my resourceful personal assistant, brought me to Pontelandolfo’s pharmacy. Since I wasn’t supposed to put pressure on my foot and wasn’t about to hop on cobblestones, I couldn’t get out of the car. Dottoressa Tina Perone raced to the rescue! Pharmacists here can give needles and will – even it that means watching me tremble in my car. Tina opened my car door, I pulled my dress over my head, pulled down my panties and closed my eyes. Hey, did you give me the shot? She had and I hadn’t felt a thing. We went to the pharmacy for the entire week that Jack was gone and I almost happily got my daily needle. Thank you Perone family!
Curbside service didn’t just happen at the pharmacy. Small town life is wonderful. Shop owners helped me, laughed with me and made sure I kept rolling along.
Curbside Service at La Feramenta! I had a new sink installed and needed to buy a faucet. No way could I handle the uneven street with my hop-along walker. The owner of our local hardware store sent out selections for me to choose from. The transaction happened at the car. Thank you Nicola!
Curbside Service at Da Tiziana! Since I was now sleeping in the dining room and folks kept stopping buy to visit and stare at my broken ankle, I needed nightgowns that weren’t tattered and stained. Off we went to our local clothing shop. The owner dashed out with nightgowns. Then, in the street, she and Annarita helped me balance on one foot while I tried them on. Of course, I did that over my clothes! My mamma taught me not to stand naked in the street. We visited her a few times to buy knee socks and other stuff. All carried to the car. Thank you Tiziana!
Curbside Service at Bar Elimar and Bar 2000! Wheelchair in tow, the ever powerful Annarita decided I needed to get out of the house. I sighed. She threw me in the car. We arrived at Bar Elimar and barista, Annette, moved tables around outside so I could easily toss my sorry butt in a chair from the car. Ahhhhh- Campari Spritz please. Another time we went to Bar 2000 and owner, Ghaleb, went out of his way to make me comfortable. Thank you both!
It pays to be a local! Thank you to all those kind and generous Pontelandolfese who fed me, laughed with me and made my thirty days of staying off my foot bearable.
Growing up in Flagtown, New Jersey, we often visited Raritan,the town next door. When the dinosaurs roamed the earth, and I was a child, we hopped in the car and visited Raritan for pizza and gelato. Raritan was the closest we could come to hearing and seeing Italians. Home to lots of Italian American families, it also was a real town and for country girls a treat. The town took great pride in it’s son, World War II hero, Marine Gunnery Sargent John Basilone. Every September there was and still is a parade and festivities to celebrate Basilone’s heroics in the Pacific Theatre and his Congressional Medal of Honor.
Imagine my surprise to discover that a scant 20 minutes up and down the hill from Pontelandolfo was Colle Sannita, the Basilone family’s Italian home town. Anthony Bengivenga, contacted me to let me know that Colle Sannita was officially being declared the Sister City of Raritan. Anthony would be there to represent Mayor Chuck McMullin of Raritan and as a national officer, District Governor, UNICO National. (UNICO is the largest Italian American organization in the USA and was started in Waterbury, Connecticut – home of more Pontelandolfesi than Pontelandolfo.) Anthony oversees ten UNICO chapters and has also helped form the sister city agreement between Terno D’Isola in Bergamo and South Plainfield. Basilone’s mother Teodora Bengivenga was the cousin of Anthony’s grandfather. The connections sent shivers up my spine. There was no way I would miss that celebration.
John Basilone’s father was born in Colle Sannita. The municipal meeting room was packed with Basilones from around the world, including Kim Van Note, Diane Hawkins and interpreter Regina Basilone. Six dashing young marines from the US Embassey of Rome, who had played earlier both the Italian and American national anthems, were also there.
The sense of pride was so strong that my heart expanded and I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Not only was it an emotional signing ceremony, but I realized it was also a tourism and growth commitment between the two towns. Listening to the resolution, I heard terms like arrange for trips, exporting and importing products and mutual promotion. Smart move for both towns.
Anthony, an incredible representative of Raritan, UNICO and the family, gave a heartfelt speech. He also presented the Mayor of Colle Sannita with resolutions of endorsement from the New Jersey State Legislature and Somerset County, NJ. UNICO National President Frank DeFrank sent a letter of congratulations. WOW, it felt great being an Italo-Americano surrounded by such Italo – Americano passion and pride.
Colle Sannita comes to Raritan, NJ
Thank you Anthony for making me realize that you can take the girl out of Flagtown but Flagtown is always nearby.
Since March 2011, Capital One has been our go-to credit card. We signed up with Capital One because it was such a great international travel card. The commercials were true you could use the points earned anytime, anywhere. We dumped American Express which had become a cumbersome nightmare – at the time fewer and fewer places would except it. I called Capital One today to get our history – we consistently pay the bill on time and in full. We are what you would call a good risk. Then why have our proverbial balls been busted for the last few months? Why has it been impossible to use the card for online transactions here in Italy – unless it is for Amazon or another Giant corporation? They know we are in Italy. It is in their data base. A little back story might be the reason –
Information from Capital One on the Cyber Incident
Updated 9:30 PM ET, Sun Aug 4, 2019
On July 19, 2019, we determined that an outside individual gained unauthorized access and obtained certain types of personal information about Capital One credit card customers and individuals who had applied for our credit card products.
What we’ve done
Capital One immediately fixed the issue and promptly began working with federal law enforcement. The person responsible was arrested. Based on our analysis to date, we believe it is unlikely that the information was used for fraud or disseminated by this individual. However, we will continue to investigate. Safeguarding information is essential to our mission and our role as a financial institution. We have invested heavily in cybersecurity and will continue to do so. We will incorporate the learnings from this incident to further strengthen our cyber defenses.
It seems that while strengthening their cyber defenses they are getting more and more cautious about who charges what where. Now that is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact over the years I have appreciated and loved their fraud alerts and caution approving charges we had made in strange non USA places. This is a really great thing. The bad thing is now they have changed their protocol and we can’t prove who we are or that we are making the charge unless they send a text to our NJ cell phone. Since we live in Italy half the year, the NJ SIM card is not in the phone or active. They won’t send a text to a European number. They won’t or can’t send a text to our NJ number that is a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) number. They won’t let us call to get the magic one time code to complete an online transaction. They won’t send the magic code to our e-mail. They ONLY thing they will do is send a text to an out of service USA number. In other words, as long as we are in Europe we can’t consistently use the credit card.
Historically, when a charge was held because they were concerned, I would call customer service and the charge would be immediately processed. There were times they sent an e-mail about a charge Jack made that seemed unusual with a link to approve the charge. Simple and always great customer service. Actually, they had stellar customer service.
This “we can only send a text” is corporate stupidity. Yes, I have called. Yes, I called three times and spoke to three different reps. All blamed it on Visa. Hmm, when the Capital One Card Visa alert asked for the magic code and we couldn’t get one, Jack used our TD Bank Visa card and it went right through. Same wonky out of USA vender. Hmm.
Today I tried to log into Capital One on my Computer. Even though they have it on our file that we are in Europe, I had to get a one time code to log onto my account. There were three options. The first was to text me a temporary code – I put in our VOIP number just to try. Boing bounced back. The second was to call the home number we had on file – which is the same VOIP number. The call came, I got the magic code and logged on. The third was for them to send the code to my Capital One App, which is accessed by my finger print. SHAZAAAM – why can’t they do that for internet vender charges that look smarmy???? Except I just tried that to re-log on and it wouldn’t work. Fix it!
I hate to cancel the card. We like the card. We like Capital One. As a last ditch effort to talk to someone who might understand our dilemma and not read from the script.”We send a text or we can do a three way call and talk to the vender.” (No they don’t have translators in the call centers.). I asked to speak to a Supervisor. Supervisor Riley listened, understood my frustration and read the same script. I then clearly, in my best radio voice suggested he forward the following to the marketing division of the company. Do they really want to consider marketing themselves as the travel card when there are folks like me who are willing to explain to other folks like me that Capital One cannot be consistently used abroad? Further, we know you’ve been hacked. We understand the gravity. That said, come up with a solution for acquiring the magic one time code that is not texting it to a USA number! (psssst – think about sending it to the app and allowing the app to still function with a non USA number.)
PS – If anyone out there works for Capital One please forward this to them.
Hats off to the organizers, dancers and volunteers from Cultural Association Folk Ri Ualanegli, who made the Festival Internationale del Folklore Pontelandolfo an artistic and administrative success. A special applause to the group’s president Antonio Sicardi, the incredible Michela Delli Veneri and all those who, through dance, proudly promote the culture of Pontelandolfo both here and abroad. Not only did over 130 dancers from five countries perform in Pontelandolfo but also in San Giorgio del Sannio and Morcone. Why is that touring factoid important to me? Simple, as an arts administrator I know that spreading the cost for something over a number of events and venues is prudent. If a dance company is flying 5,386 miles – as the crow flies – from Thailand, they better have a series of gigs set up. It was brilliant to share the festival with neighboring towns. That meant more opportunities for the dance companies, more publicity for the over all series, more opportunities to promote a participating country, more ways to get Pontelandolfo’s name out there, more happy sponsors whose names are posted more places and my favorite – you simply get more bang for your buck.
The opening and closing parades were energizing! Flags of all nations. Banners from each company. Dancers of all ages, colors and ethnicities. The piazza was full of families enjoying the night and excited to see what we all think is probably the best Italian Folk Dance Company, Ri Ualanegli, but also dance styles from far – away places.
Seeing the companies coming in reminded me just how much work organizing a dance festival is. Vetting and inviting companies is easy peasy. It is the other stuff that can be an organizational nightmare. Hmmm, where do you house 130 people? Where do they eat? How do they get from point A to point B? How about the outdoor stage? Lights, sound and tech staff? Promotion?
The hotel in town has 7 rooms. There is no restaurant. There is no real public transportation. The town does not have a professional public relations staff. Ri Ualanegli has members who are committed not only to the art of recreating historic dances but also enhancing the visibility of Pontelandolfo. That means – gulp – they clean out and repurpose the abandoned senior housing project. (That is another one of those political boondoggle stories.) Drag in beds to each apartment. Gather sheets, towels, toiletries. Shine up all the plumbing, light fixtures and grounds. Ask their friends and relatives to volunteer to cook. Arrange tours of Pontelandolfo and the province. Essentially, do what ever it takes to make the housing and cross cultural experience wonderful for the guest artists. Of course, we can’t forget the production values. They totally produce the multi night, multi venue festival. Work with the technical folks and promote the hell out of the event. Did I mention they do it all with volunteers!!!!
I am impressed. I am touched by their generosity, verve and commitment. It is this love for the dance, the village and the country that makes Ri Ualangli exceptional. OK, just thinking about it is making me weepy.
Anybody wonder who was dancing?
Thailand’s Suankularb Wittayalai Chonburi
Troy O’Herlihy Irish Dancers
Gruppo Folk La Takkarata, Fragneto Monforte, Italia
Portugal’s Grupo Folclórico e Cultural da Boavista Portalegre
Colombia’s Ballet Ciudad Duitama
Pontelandolfo’s Own – Ri Ualanegli
Mille grazie a Ri Ualanegli! I thank you, the town thanks you, the audiences thank you and all those dancers who flew in to experience Pontelandolfo’s love for the dance thank you.
Kids fighting fires. Kids finding lost kids in the woods. Kids rappelling down from a building. Kids assessing environmental risks. KIDS??? Thirty-eight lucky children between the ages of ten and thirteen got to explore exactly what it means to be part of Italy’s volunteer safety net, Protezione Civile. They also got an adrenal rush and I’m sure will consider becoming future volunteers.
Volunteers are a cornerstone of Pontelandolfo life. They organize arts activities, social events, parish festivals and most important of all ensure that Pontelandolfese are safe, secure and assisted in time of need. On call 24 hours a day, Protezione Civile Pontelandolfo, Civil Protection, is an organization of a highly trained and committed residents who are willing to leap into the fray whenever there is an emergency. On the news, you have seen volunteers like them, in their yellow trimmed uniforms, helping with search and rescue after earthquakes, floods etc. In Pontelandolfo, I have watched them do traffic control, handle snow emergencies, guide people to safety, assist the Italian Red Cross and essentially intervene whenever it was necessary. Click here for an example of their role with a 2015 flood and wind that knocked more than our sox off.
Italians have big hearts and have always had a willingness to lend a hand. After citizens mobilized independently to assist with the huge disasters that hit Italy in a fifty-year period, like the floods of Florence in 1966 and the Friuli and Irpinia earthquakes, it was recognized that an organized public system of deployment was necessary. In 1992, Protezione Civile, the National Service of Civil Protection, by law became an integral part of the public system.
This is serious business. The region organizes drills which simulate real risk situations. Since we live in an earthquake zone, our village hosted an earthquake drill.
It is so serious, that future leaders and volunteers are fostered through an annual exceptional week long summer camp. With the support of the National Department of Civil Protection, the Comune of Pontelandolfo and in collaboration with Protezione Civile di Fragneto L’Abate, Gruppo Comunale di Protezione Civile di Bisaccia, and Protezione Civile Irpinia di San Potito Ultra, Stefano Baldini, the head of our local Protezione Civile, and his team of volunteers organized Il Campo Scuola 2019.
From July 1 through July 7 this year, kids did the usual camp stuff like setting up and sleeping in a tent, they also were immersed in theoretical and practical civil protection training courses. What school in the summer??? Who would want to do that?? These kids certainly did. Besides it wasn’t all work and no play. Some of the work looked pretty exciting. The young trainees had to apply for admittance. The program was totally free! Participants came from Pontelandolfo, Morcone, Fragneto Monforte, Bisaccia, Sant’Angelo A Cupolo, San Potito, Aquilonia and Flumeri. Bringing kids from a variety of towns together makes sense. All of the individual Protezione Civile groups often work with each other. If it is an emergency or a giant festa that needs crowd control, we see uniforms from a variety of places. The kids working together at this age starts the collaboration ball rolling.
I remember being forced to go to Camp Speers ripping my forearm with a bow string and belly crawling with a 22 rifle. I hated every minute of it. If there had been some academic portion or if the firing a rifle was being taught for a real purpose I might not have fought tooth and nail not to go.
These campers got lots of physical activity and real-world experiences. Here is a quick overview – set up a field operation – yup put up the tents, rig electrical system etc.; over view of the National Civil Protection system; municipal contingency plans – what?? I have to pause here and tell Jack. My husband spent most of his adult career working in emergency preparedness planning. I bet after this camp some of these kids could write better municipal contingency plans than some of the town plans Jack read when he was with the State Police.
OK, back to the grueling week – they had a lesson on cartography ( I had to look the word up – science of drawing maps); figuring out territory orientation; using a map and a single compass figuring out a path through Mountain Cavello to lunch! No one got lost!!! I would have been found weeks later sitting on a log begging to go home. These kids were GREAT!.
After a lesson on the seismic conditions of our region and what to do if an earthquake hits, these kids leaped to another disaster. What do you do if someone is trapped high up on a hill with a broken leg or in a burning building? You use a safety harness, zip wire or rappel.
I’m exhausted just writing about all that they accomplished. And the list goes on – fire safety and protection, hydroeological risks (looked this up too – distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the Earth’s crust), use of radios for communication, working with canine units, forest fire rescues, searching for missing people, working with people with disabilities and…….
The kids who will be the leaders of tomorrow deserve a big round of applause and so do the volunteers of Protezione Civile Pontelandolfo who give their time, energy and love to our little village.
Ugo Gregoretti died on July 5, 2019 in the city where he began his life. The icon of Italian cinema and film was born on September 28, 1930 in Rome. The death of this pioneer of the new Italian cinema, director, actor, playwright and author was mourned not only by the film and theatre communities but also by the entire Pontelandolfo comunity. Within moments of the announcement of his passing, Pontelandolfesi from around the world paid homage to the man on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. Death notice condolences were ordered by individuals, families and community groups. These were posted throughout the village. Here is an example –
A titolo personale e a nome della Redazione del sito www. pontelandolfonews.com porgo sentite condoglianze alla Famiglia Gregoretti per la perdita del caro amico e grande Maestro Ugo Gregoretti.
Ugo Gregoretti loved Pontelandolfo and Pontelandolfo loved him. As a boy, he spent his summers frolicking in the fields and piazzas of Pontelandolfo.
His father once owned the village’s medieval Tower. Saddened when his mother decided to sell the tower, he was often quoted as saying he wanted to set up a foundation for the property and open it to all.
In 2014, he donated his library to the town so that his personal and professional history could be preserved in the village he loved. The collection of scripts, posters, film memorabilia and personal items is held in the newly renovated Piazza Rinaldi. The Ministry of Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism noted its importance.
Comicron, devoted exclusively to one genre – comedy – is a unique experience in the International Festival scene. The films are all shorts and most of the entrants are young filmmakers. Audiences come, watch and leave smiling. Gregoretti’s famous actor and film making pals have also participated which insured that national press covered the event.
Gregoretti could often be seen in Pontelandolfo. He even came to the Club del Libro and entertained us with his tales and writing.
The mayor, members of the city council and citizens went to Rome to say goodbye. His wake was at the famous Casa del Cinema in Rome. On their website they noted:
Noi di Casa del Cinema, insieme a Luca Bergamo, Vicesindaco e Assessore alla Crescita Culturale, ai vertici di Zetema ma soprattutto insieme alla straordinaria platea degli appassionati di cinema, siamo adesso vicini a Orsetta, ai suoi fratelli, alla moglie Fausta, agli amici e compagni di mille avventure. Ciao Ugo, questa rimarrà casa tua.
He will be missed.
(SORRY THE FONTS ARE SQUIRRELLY. WORDPRESS FROM MY IPAD IS HELL TO WORK WITH.)
Full moon, clear skies, linen covered tables, delectable dinners and twinkle lights like little stars flicker over the patio. Traditional concertino music wafted in from the concert down the block. A perfect night at Medusa, one of our favorite seafood restaurants in San Salvo Marino.
Jack, I whispered, look around. Notice anything odd?
Whaaat? Jack bellowed his favorite response to anything I ask. What am I supposed to see?
The evil FaceBook blue light of enticement, addiction and control. That’s what.
Whaaat? Get over the phone on the table fixation.
Maybe, I am fixated on groups of people who don’t talk. The first time I saw a couple eating dinner and each reading a book, I was horrified. Why aren’t they talking? Who could go out to dinner and not talk? It was beyond my comprehension. Now, I see it all the time. At Medusa I saw –
Two 50-something well dressed women sipping wine, sharing a seafood antipasti and each reading FaceBook.
A family of three each eating their own pizza and slopping tomatoes on their Facebook linked phones.
An older elegant couple – like Jack and I – eating cozze, mussels cooked in a touch of white wine, staring at their telephones.
Nonna, nonno, mom, pop and one baby were all staring at cell phones. Yup, the moment they sat down, the mom plopped a hand held device in front of the kid.
I could go on and on and on. There were only three groups – four if you count Jack and I – out of about 20 tables that were not glued to their fakakata phones. There were the two men and their adorable dog who chatted away. The couple with the not so adorable 3 year old who they had to chase all over the patio. Lastly, a young family of mom, dad and two sons. The boys were both under 8 or 9 and were chatting about their day at the beach.
This addiction to FaceBook at Italian dining tables is troublesome on so many levels. The silence is deafening. No one listens to the joys and tribulations of the day because they are commenting on pictures of flowers, food and other people’s babies. Over the past few years the FaceBook ferver has grown and grown. I fear that the stereotypical loud Italian conversations will soon fade to key taps.
When we are in the USA, I don’t notice as many phones out on restaurant tables. Have you seen an increase in diminished conversation and growing table side telephone staring? Am I the only person who finds this FaceBook addiction unnerving?
Frankly, I don’t understand the need for Facebook. Somehow we all got along before the social media pipeline sucked us in.
I hear you. I hear you. Yup, this blog has a FaceBook page. Yup, I use it to let people know about Pontelandolfo and our program Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo. Yup, I post links to The NY Times in hopes that those who suck on the teat of fake news websites will read something a bit more valid. Yup, I spend about 1\2 an hour a day checking my notifications and my pages. Yup, the fact that I too have a FaceBook account makes me culpable.
But it doesn’t make me not stare at the ocean, while dining at an outdoor cafe or ignore the people I’m out to lunch with.
Rant is over. Let me know what you think. Maybe I am fixated.