Baptized Lutheran and raised in the Dutch Reformed Church, I am not well versed in Catholic Liturgical ritual – I need you and your comments to round this out for me. What!? You said – how could this nice Italian girl not be Catholic? Mio nonno refused to let anyone go to the Catholic Church because the priest was boinking the area wives. Grandpa conducted mass in the house! Enough about me, let’s talk about Corpus Domini! it was 9:00 PM and the sounds of bombs bursting in the air still surrounded us. No need to duck and cover this is the end of the Corpus Domini Processione. Hundreds of Pontelandolfese went to mass at 6:00 PM and at 7:20 started processing through the hilly streets – stopping at small alters around the town.
Every year, sixty days after Easter, the Church celebrates “Corpus Domini”: a religious solemnity in honor of the Eucharist (the ‘body’ – corpus – of Christ in the sacramental sign of bread): an observance that first developed in Italy the thirteenth century and in 1263 was extended by Pope Urban IV to all of Christian Europe. In Florence as elsewhere, from that period the feast has been celebrated in solemn fashion, with a majestic procession in which the Eucharistic bread is borne through the city streets in a glass container know as a ‘monstrance’, which allows people to see the consecrated bread wafer. This procession acquired ever greater importance with the passage of time.
Here is what I saw that was so interesting – these are the rituals I want you to talk about!!
Note the Satin Drapes.
1. Driving down to the piazza we saw women hanging out what looked like their best lace tablecloths, satin bedspreads, fancy linen sheets etc. Check out the first photo – see some on the right. These things were waving like banners in the wind. At first we thought it was laundry but Jack remembered reading that when Henry the 8th came to a village everyone had to hang out their best fabrics to honor his coming. In Bar Elimar I asked our friend Gennaio why the piazza was festooned with lace and he said it was an ancient ritual to celebrate the king – in this case Jesus. What do you know???
Flowers on EVERY Street Light, Column, Pole.
2. We also saw that yellow wild flowers were tied in bunches on every single upright thing leading into town. Wild flowers – yellow – ANY IDEAS? This morning I asked my favorite barista, Marilina, and she said because they are wild and always in bloom this time of year. That makes them free. What is YOUR TAKE??
3. All of the children who last week celebrated their first communion were leading the procession. The boys were tossing rose petals and the girls were sporting flower crowns and looked like the promised vestal virgins. Since this event celebrates communion it makes sense that the children were involved – but how come the tossed flower petals???? 4. Are exterior alters set up in American towns? A big one was set up in front of the cemetery – which I thought made sense – tombs – rising up – celebration of second coming etc. Is the cemetery always part of the procession?
This is outside the cemetery.
5. Is this celebrated in the USA with processions etc? Are there the sounds of bombs bursting and fireworks?? Today’s regional newspapers were full of pictures and stories of the processions in towns all over Compania.
Come on folks – fill in the blanks for me and everyone else that doesn’t know. Let us have popping comment conversations. THE FIRST PERSON TO POST A COMMENT GETS A BIG VIRTUAL HUG FROM ME!
I was staring out my dining room window this morning and thought, how magical the snow covered trees look – like the setting for a Russian love story. Then I walked outside the door to smell the clean winter air – it’s freakin’ freezing. Dashing back into the house I knew I had to think summer thoughts.
Winter blahs getting to you too? Tired of snow, sleet and brr? Take a breath – close your eyes – NO – I mean pretend you’re closing your eyes. Imagine sitting in the bottom of a salad bowl and looking up at every color green in the spectrum. Green to the right of you. Lighter green to the left of you. Cascading greens floating down the side. That is what it feels like to be floating in the pool on a hot summer day at Queensley Country Resort in Morcone (BN). Ahhhhhhhh.
When one of my Pontelondolfesi pals told me about the swimming pool in Morcone, I thought they were exaggerating about how gorgeous it was. We are in the hills of Southern Italy – not on the Amalfi Coast at a swank resort. Under duress, I took a ride one afternoon to see this really “elegant” swimming hole. Yawn, could we go for gelato yet? We road around the whirly gigs of hill roads, came to a tired sign and made a left up the longish driveway. Holy Shit! How did I get to the Beverly Hills Hilton? Were we beamed up to some super chic spa in Tuscany?
No my friends you can find this ten minutes from our little village –
Private Spots with a Great View!
Ten euros gives you a full day of feeling like a princess. The price include a lettino – a lounge chair. It is more to reserve the Prive Bellavista – 4 spots for 100€. The club like resort opens from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The youngsters tell me it is open at night for the restaurant, bar and general partying. In July they had a Toga Party – free admission with a DJ! It started at 10:00 PM. We never made it.
My first trip was with my worldly London-living niece, Alessandra Rosaria, she quickly grabbed up one of the brown circular lounges, globbed on the sun screen and declared she had found sunbathing heaven. That day, not knowing what to expect, we packed our lunch and dragged bottles of water. We noticed the more urbane folks getting incredible looking sandwiches getting delivered to them – wait – this place has a restaurant? Yup – to eat at the restaurant one needs a reservation.
Caffè or Campari????
To munch pool side you can order food from the “bar” – even caffè, campari soda and all the wonderful drinks that go to my italo-americana brain. The locals tell me that the restaurant is top drawer – of course one goes for dinner at 9 or 10. We vow to nap one day next trip and try the restaurant out.
Elegant outdoor dining.
We did see people shedding bathing suits for dressier attire and lunching here.
Perhaps someday I’ll drag a bag with a breezy summer dress and change for lunch…. One visit, we ordered panini from the bar. They were huge and OK but for a scant 1€ in Pontelandolfo we could have gotten the same thing to go. We decided to buy our lunches to go for the next visits. Still, of course, availing ourselves of the Queensely Bar.
The folks that we saw poolside were a mixture of working class woman with a day off – we met a few from a local factory, moms with their children – though the price point makes that difficult for most, Americans visiting their families and lots of gorgeous young men and women. I particularly loved watching the gorgeous young men oiling themselves. Whew it got hotter.
When by BFF, Janet, came to visit she instantly chatted up everyone and discovered folks I didn’t know from Pontelandolfo. Other days I bumped into my English students and women from town. This is the place to ward off the heat of summer and luxuriate in surroundings found in tonier towns. I am so glad I was introduced to Queensley Country Resort.
Here is their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/Queensley-Country-Resort/496928613745805
Hmmmm, summer will soon be here. There now – don’t you feel warmer?
Perugini Franco Macelleria – A Yummy Place to Shop
Hey Babbo Natale – Listen up La Befana – All I want for Christmas is…..
My God, my God, I kept repeating as I slowly slid more into my mouth. Every part of my being was tingling with the sensation. I groaned and stared at the ceiling. Everyone in the macelleria looked at me like I was crazy, had sprouted a second head and would soon be banished to hell. Nicla, whispered to her father the butcher, Lei ha detto, “il mio dio.”
Franco Perugini – Master of Porchetta
This incredible taste bud experience was literally the best one I had during the frenetic August Festa di San Donato. San Donato had blessed me by sending me into Perugini Franco Macelleria and introducing my taste buds to this heavenly porchetta made in Pontelandolfo (BN). Now, as I think about Christmas dinner, I don’t lust for goose, I don’t lust for beef, I want porchetta!!!! Oh, you’re wondering, what the heck is porchetta?
No I Never Bought the Whole One! I Wish I Did.
It is a boneless loin of pork that has been butterflied – cut in half so it opens like a book – filled with a herb mixture, wrapped in pork belly – skin side out and meat side seasoned- rolled like a log and tied with string. I think Franco also seasons the outside. It is roasted at a high heat and the outside gets crispy while the inside is tender and flavorful. (Most of what I have tasted at festas and in bars is not.) When it is sliced you see ring inside ring of good tastes.
According to Wkipedia –
Porchetta has been selected by the Italian Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali as a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale(“traditional agricultural-alimentary product”, one of a list of traditional Italian foods held to have cultural relevance).
Now that I have tasted the porchetta made by the Perugini family, I can understand why it is honored as a cultural tradition. Franco tells me that folks buy it from him and he vacuum packs it to take back to America. Napolitans, who have weekend houses here, buy it to take back to Naples. Next time I have a party in Pontelandolfo, I intend to buy one, show it to my guests and not share.
Nicla Perugini proudly follows in her Dad’s footsteps making incredible pork products.
After discovering this family’s porchetta and sausages, I must admit we ate them often. The porchetta was great reheated in a covered skillet with barely any water covering the bottom. We also ate it room temperature on wonderful crusty bread. The sausages – particularly the hot ones – could be found on our table regularly.
Next time you are in Italy, I challenge you to try the best porchetta anywhere. Stop by Perugini Franco Macelleria Moderna, Via Nazionale Sud, Pontelandolfo (BN). I wish they had a web site and shipped to to the USA. If they did, I know what we would be having for Christmas Dinner.
Cozy Entrance Features Produce
Next year before we head back to the states, I’m getting some vacuum packed to go – a lot of it!
Buon Natale and enjoy whatever you decide to make for Christmas dinner!
PS – send a letter to Babbo Natale – http://www.babbo-natale.it
Have you ever been surrounded by people and yet still felt so lonely that your heart chakra ached? That is how I felt this morning. I am in sunny Ecuador, met a super italo-ecuadoriana, am staying with great friends but feel a gaping hole in my heart. At first I thought I was home sick – I never get home sick. Than I thought it was because my zia in Flagtown had a stroke yesterday and I am a continent away. Shazaam – it hit me -I was feeling lonely because I didn’t have a sense of community here. No “tribe” to connect with. All that depressive thinking made me hunger for comfort – comfort food – bread like I can only find at Diglio Panificio in Pontelandolfo! Diglio’s not only kept us in thick crusty bread but also was one of my connections to the community – it was a place I didn’t feel like a stranger or alone.
Some mornings I would walk down the hill just to buy a round of bread and if the Panificio wasn’t busy, I would talk to the owner, Nicola Diglio. My Italian isn’t the best but we would talk about the village, economy, USA, whatever. Nicola never made fun of my attempts to pronounce the pastries or how long it took me to decide which pizza slices to bring home in the morning for our night time snacks. That bakery was one of the anchors of the community for me.
Some Wednesdays after strolling through the market, my cousin Carmella and I would take a shopping break by going to Diglio’s for a cappuccino, a little nosh and a lot of laughter. Carmella is a bright star in my universe and of course she introduced me to this pasticceria.
According to their brochure, Diglio opened its doors in 1983 with a commitment to use recipes handed down form generation to generation. When you visit Italy, you can find the shop at 2, Via Eglido Gentile, 82027 Pontelandolfo (BN). It truly is a pasticceria artigiana – when you watch the video you’ll agree with me.
While selecting pictures for the video I saw one of the Diglio’s little sandwiches on scrumptious rolls and got a little misty. Zap – flash back to my dad’s first cousin, Giuseppina, insisting we stop at Diglio’s so she could buy the sandwiches before l’avventura. Jack and I take Giussipina and her sister Paulina on road trip adventures. They pick the place to go – it’s always a shrine – there are tons in our area. Since we never saw a shrine and loved listening to the two of them chatter and laugh at us, we would go to shrines – with bags of Diglio yummy mini sandwiches.
Then I flashed back to 1995. when I first knocked on Giussipina’s door, pointed at my family tree and said in pidgin Italian “tu sei il cugino di mio padre?”. That timid knock resulted in finding my extended family and celebrating with what – pastries from Diglio.
Whenever I bought pastries I would marvel at the way they are presented – perched on a golden cardboard tray and gingerly wrapped in pretty paper. The presentation always made any day that you bought a pastry feel like a special day. Some days I just need a special day and a sfogliatella prettily wrapped can be just the medicine it takes to turn the grey sky into blue.
This past June was the first time I had Il Rusticacio – a small bread puff made with cheese, egg and salame. When I bit into one I swear I felt my grandmother hugging me. People have been eating – what we call artigianale – dough filled things for generations. The connection I feel in Pontelandolfo to my family is intense and eating food made with ancient recipes makes the connection even tighter. Is that my grandmother pinching my cheeks?
One day I went into the shop and Nicola’s son, Antonio, who is a super creative part of the artistic bakery team was behind the counter. The door opened and his daughter came in from school – she looked at me, I looked at her and recognition twinkled in both our eyes. She said “Good Morning – How are You?” The secret phrase I told the kids in the public school that I worked with to say to me whenever they saw me. Boom – an even bigger connection to the bakery.
Community – that is what I need in order to feel secure, happy and healthy. When I am in Pontelandolfo – we go back May 1st – walking into Diglio Panificio yields more than just a loaf of bread. Enjoy the video!