Posts Tagged With: Comune di Morcone

Russian Symphony in Sannio Hills

More than one person has asked me what Jack and I do in a teeny, tiny Southern Italian village.  The implication being that we must be bored to tears.  Usually, I give a snarky response like – the laundry or pick tomatoes.  The reality is, we are involved in more cultural activities here than we are in New Jersey.  Italians have a passion for and a commitment to the arts.  The arts are part of the fabric of who they are and their lives.  Yesterday, after doing the laundry – no – not really, I got a text from my friend Adele.  She alerted me to the free symphony orchestra concert in neighboring Morcone.  Jack and I were absolutely in!  We love classical music and until we got there didn’t know or care who we were hearing.

I expected students from the music conservatory and was surprised to see the Grande Orchestra Sinfonica Russa della Repubblica di Udmurtia. ( I just googled Udmurtia to see what part of Russia it was – they breed great musicians!)  Their conductor, Leornardo Quadrini, is not only Italian but is committed to sharing the music of the world with the people in our Sannio Mountains.  I found out that some how he donated the concert to Morcone!  He has been recognized with a load of awards for his commitment to the Province of Benevento.  The maestro has conducted for places like La Scala and a variety of other opera houses.  Not too shabby!  Maestro Quadrini is also gorgeous and has a larger than life personality.  The orchestra entered in dress black, he bounded into the space on his cell phone giving directions to someone.  Folks in the audience were yelling out additions to the directions.  When they were finalized – all applauded!  He beamed and then looked down at his clothes – “it’s hot and I didn’t have time to change – do you mind?”  No one minded – including the musicians who obviously adore him.

Morcone is one of those towns that appear in guide books.  They seem to have been dropped onto the side of a mountain and by some magic of construction defy gravity and don’t slide down.  The historic center is at the very top of the town.  My friend Adele grew up in Morcone and can bound up the steep steps to the top like a gazelle.  “Are we there yet,” I would wine as we wended our way up another flight.  “How do people bring their furniture up here – or groceries?”  Jack poked me and said keep walking.  Suddenly, we were in this incredible piazza.  Piazza San Bernardino sits in front of the municipal theater.  There are stone buildings on three sides and than a view of the valley.  It was beautiful and incredibly well kept.  We walked a wee bit further to the bar – I thought someone picked up a 1970’s West Village NYC bar and dropped it here.  If there weren’t a million steps to get there, I’d become a regular.  The owner was as unique and charming as his space.  After a glass of wine, it was time to secure seats.

Not that many people still live in the historic center of the town, but lots of people came to the concert.  It was a NYC kind of crowd – well dressed people mingling with a younger set in jeans or bermuda shorts.  Aging hippy garb sitting next too a silk suit dress ensemble.  No matter who they were they became one with the music.  Some people even hummed along!  The concert started with a Russian composer – I thought he said Rimsky Korsakov but I could be wrong.  They then played Verdi, Rossini, Bizet and more.  Ending with a rousing tarantella that included the Maestro conducting claps in the audience.  Una Bella Serata!  No one wanted the night to end.  The applause and shouts of bravi insured an encore.

 

Next time someone asks me how we fill our time in a teeny tiny Italian village, I might just say – I put on my glamour rags and go to the symphony.

Ci vediamo.

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Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo, Stops Along the Journey - Sites Off the Tourist Track | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Festa Della Trebbiatura 2016

This past Sunday, I had a perfect day.  Jack and I went to an event that I not only loved – but drew me back to my childhood.  Growing up in Somerset County, New Jersey when it was still pretty rural agrarian, I experienced lots of farm life.  4-H introduced me to kids who grew or raised just about anything America ate.  Sunday, I thought of my childhood, how much growing up in a farming community shaped me and the work my grandmother did on her subsistence farm.  Festa Della Trebbiatura in the Contrada Montagna in Morcone harkened back to farm days of old and celebrated the contadini – farmers – of the Matese Mountains.  The type of people my ancestors were.

Did I mention mountains?  Those of you that know me, know I clutch the death grip in our Fiat whenever the wicked Jack drives like an Italian around the S curves sans safety rails on mountain roads.  This trip around those curves was worth it.  The views were incredible.

I need to take a moment to praise my Jack a wee bit.  From the town center of Morcone – which is literally clinging to a mountain – we made a left at the Auto School and drove up.  We didn’t know which way to go when the road split.  We opted for the one that looked steeper on the left.  It was really su, su, up, up.  Shit, I screamed as Jack hit the breaks.  The cobblestone street narrow to begin with had cars parked on both sides and didn’t go anywhere.  Jack backed our large car down the hill and didn’t take the mirror off one single parked car. Hugs to him.

Back to the Festa.  We found out about it from Antonella Lombardi, owner of Bar Mix Fantasy, and a member of the Lombardi family that produced the event.  Thank you Antonella for making sure that I knew about what turned out to be a wonderful day.  When we got to the farm and I saw the rows of seats under the trees and the Priest ready to start mass, I smiled and sat down.  Hearing this great speaker do the mass surrounded by mountains, fields of grain, a clear blue sky and floating cotton clouds started the day beautifully.  After mass children went for “hay” rides on the farm wagon festooned with shafts of wheat.  We walked through the exhibition set up by the Museo del Contadino and I kept pointing at stuff that had been in my grandfather’s barn.  Since we sold the family property and all the relics two years ago, it got a little painful to see  the artifacts.

During the day, people could wander through the World Wildlife Federation Preserve in the mountain, watch demonstrations and eat country fare. One of the featured foods was pecora interrata.  Interrata means underground.  Of course that is what I had!  In the evening there was music and dancing.  Since the zanzare, mosquitoes, and I have a love/hate relationship, they love to eat me and I hate them.  We left before it got dark.

The word trebbiatura  means threshing the grain.  There were glorious fields of wheat in this part of the mountain.  We were celebrating the harvest and the people that make sure we have bread and pasta on the table – the farmers.  The first threshing methods involved beating grain by hand with a flail, or trampling it by animal hooves.  The demonstrations included women doing this.  Women were doing lots of the heavy work – this is still not unusual in our little village of subsistence farms.  What was even more fun to watch was the early threshing machine!

(Uggggg – Jack just told me I have a typo in a caption in the video.  Sorry.)

Ci vediamo!

Midge

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo, Stops Along the Journey - Sites Off the Tourist Track | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Basta! Non Voglio Eolico! 

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Enough!  I do not want to see another ugly wind mill on one Southern Italian Mountain!  They are putting up more and more around Pontelandolfo, Casalduni and Morcone.  What I discovered is that the local community doesn’t benefit one iota from the ugly things.  I thought they could tax the landowner – who is getting rent.  Or the town got a piece of the revenue generated – or even a break on the electric bill.  Nada.  Niente.  Nothing.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I have been talking about the turbines for a number of years.  First I thought they were wonderful.  Than, I thought they we’re ruining the south’s chance to get a piece of the tourism pie.  I mean would you want to sit on the terrace of a charming agriturismo and stare at the whizzing blades and hear the ongoing whoosh of the colossal metal whirligigs?  Now, my anger has intensified – they are defiling mountain top grazing lands.  The mega corporations are the only winners.

My ire increased last summer when Jack and I finished a mini vacation in Northern Italy.  We drove on A7 through the mountains in Liguria and noticed high tension electric lines transmitting power but not one giant windmill between Milan and Genoa. Not one.   Staring out the windows I realized that I also hadn’t see one gargantuan whirling edifice in the hills surrounding Lago Como, any where in the regions of Lombardia, Toscana or Lazio! Hmm, the trees were flowing in the wind.  Perhaps that was an anomaly. Obviously, the wind has stopped blowing in Northern Italy.  I’ll bet those ski slopes never feel the slightest breeze.  The hills of Rome must cry for a breath of wind. Years ago cute Dutch looking windmills were used in Montefiesole, Tuscana for the salt production industry. But now, there obviously isn’t enough wind now to generate electricity or blow out a match.

We are tired of the disparity and don’t want to take it anymore!

The residents of Morcone are taking a lesson from the Dakota Pipeline.  On February 14th, they decided to peacefully stop the building of windmills on yet another ridge.  A mountain that for hundreds of years has been grazing land for large herds of white cattle and its rich soil farmed.  Stalwart citizens stood in the road blocking access to the bulldozers and mammoth drills.  Pleadings, negotiations and dialogue have been going on for years.  The mayors have gone to Naples championing the cause but no one seems to care what happens in the Province of Benevento’s mountains.

Saturday, February 11 environmental groups and local residents organized a sit-in on the mountains outside Morcone.  They wanted to draw attention to the abject devastation that occurs to a mountain by the savage and seemingly careless construction.  Complaints had been submitted to Comando Stazione Carabinieri Forestale di Pontelandolfo, Comunità Montana Titerno e Alto Tammaro the Carabinieri Command of Pontelandolfo and the Prosecutor’s Office of Benevento siting irregularities and asking for urgent intervention and suspension of work in progress. These arguments apparently had no impact.

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Photo by Pupo in Pontelandolfo News

So, on Valentine’s Day morning mountain farmers, ranchers and citizens stood in the way not of progress but of the degradation of the Sannio hills.

Pontelandolfo News  has a great article full of interesting yet depressing data on how the south gets screwed again – this time it seems by the politicians. (How unusual, she said with great rancor.)

American newspapers have not picked up on this political  travesty.
Errrrrggggggg.

Categories: Politics - Quirky Aside | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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