Festa Di San Donato — Comicron – Days 5 & 6


There I was, rifling through my tiny little notebook, looking for a clue as to what happened on day five of the festa. The seven day event filled party had addled my brain. Movie? 9:30 – what the hell did that mean.  I pulled up the Festa poster to read the list.  Cripes!  There are 8 – I counted – 8 days of late night events, drinks, etc.  No wonder I can’t remember.  Whack – it hit me – what did movie mean – just the biggest event to happen here – Comicron.  A two day film festival that drew entries from all over the world.  Note it was a TWO day even – so I only have to write one blog. The web site is slick – http://www.comicronfilmfestival.it – and states:

Il Comicron international short film festival nasce da un’idea di Ugo Gregoretti di creare un’inedita manifestazione dedicata esclusivamente ai cortometraggi comici. Un’esperienza in grado di scoprire nuovi talenti…

The Comicron international short film festival grew from the idea of Ugo Gregoretti to create an unprecedented event dedicated exclusively to comedy shorts.  An experience that allows us to discover new talent …


This festival and the drawing power of Artistic Director Maestro Ugo Gregoretti, attracted a huge well heeled audience  – including the red carpet crowd. They made the mistake of setting up the red carpet during the day – so that any old riff-raff could strut their stuff – like me!

Red Carpet? It must be out for me!

Slick, slick, slick. The roadies and volunteers were all dressed in red t-shirts, had communication equipment and moved about with purpose. High end ear buds could be seen on crew chiefs scurrying about with clip boards. Banners from the highway led you to the piazza.  The banners were a nice touch and perked up the streets.


We got there in plenty of time, sat on the red chairs and made sure I wasn’t sitting behind a tall person. The show was slated to start at 9:30 and being run by professionals so we knew curtain would be at 9:30.  Sitting there, I discovered that being on time was actually late.  The cutting of the ribbon and parade down the faux red carpet had started earlier – rats!!!

Maestro Gregoretti cuts the opening ribbon.             DEZPHOTO


Having the attention span of a gnat, I promptly started looking around – whoa flowers on the down stage edge.  That’s a nice touch and the screen is huge.  It was obvious that the A-team had done the setup, the stage was nicely dressed and lit.  Suddenly, I noticed that everyone was pointing to the front – must be someone famous – it is!  Sarah Maestri was here – she is an incredibly famous Italian film, television and radio star!!!!  She also just recently released a novel that has become a best seller.  Of course, I was here on time and didn’t get to meet her – ugggg.

Sarah Maestri and her daughter walking down the red carpet.    DEZPHOTO

Scared you – thought you wouldn’t see her face!  Don’t worry in the next photo we have Giorgio Arlorio, Sarah Maestri, Ugo Gregoretti and our own Sindaco Rinaldi.  H’mmmm I bet you are wondering who Giorgio Arlorio is – just an incredibly successful screenwriter with tons of film and television credits.


On the big screen, the asino – donkey of yesterday’s Pontelandolfo came to life and licked the screen revealing Comicron!  The wait for the show to start was broken by counting how many times they would repeat the mule action accompanied by some killer swing music. Then the graphic changed.  The music changed.  The lights changed.  I raced home and changed.


The producers of Comicron are in the film business so the film work and the digitized graphics was top shelf.  Media held our attention and signaled what was going on. You didn’t need a program because the art infused graphics let you know who was on stage and why.  The hosts, Laura Abbaleo and Rino Genovese were real pros and a welcome change from the creepy guy of the night before.  Unfortunately, they had to read an incredibly long list of sponsors but moved it rapidly.  Now those names should have been on an opening graphic and we could have read it while we were waiting.  I got just a tad antsy. The duo really impressed me when I realized they were verbally synching with images that were flashing behind them!

Two real pros! DEZPHOTO

They opened the show with a home town favorite, Ri Ualanegli Juonior, performing Gioca Dei Bambini.  Sadly, many in the audience left their seats after the little dancers performed.

Young Pontelandolfesi. DEZPHOTO
Young Pontelandolfesi.

Don’t you leave your seat – check out the dance.  I shot their concert in June and you’ll see Gioca Dei Bambini,  the traditional dance that everyone loves.  The opening is kids playing games – the dancing is a few seconds past that.


The folks that scurried out of their seats didn’t go far because the kids also performed at the very end of the night.   I was gone by then and really couldn’t grasp why you would have little kids stay up until 12:30 to be the finale of a film festival.  Oh, I get it – audience numbers.  I don’t think the programmers needed to do that.  The audience – like me – was there to see this international slate of short comic films.  The red carpet notables were another big draw.

Speaking of unnecessary fill – the night also featured additional live entertainment of of the well known professional variety. Next up, after the spirited young dancers was comic Antonio Riscetti.  I appreciated his political humor and the fact that he spoke slowly and beautifully enough for me to understand.

Comic at a Comic Film Festival makes sense! DEZPHOTO

Finally, we got to see the first set of three films. Then a singer came on who had starred in Notre Dame de Paris – It was already 11:00 ish we didn’t need another famous person we wanted to see the next set of films.  I was a bad girl and got up and walked around to get a drink.

Let’s talk about the movies. The professionalism of cinema, writing and editing varied. All were well done but some reminded me of silly student films – you know slap stick and stupid sophomoric ideas. I mean “Mafia University” – come on. I loved the well scripted and thought out Fulgenzia – Until A Name You Do Part.

The next night an additional six films were shown – sans a lot of the extra entertainment.

Young actress Giusy Mancini with famous comic Max Cavallari.  See - famous folks both nights! DEZPHOTO
Young actress Giusy Mancini with famous comic Max Cavallari. See – famous folks both nights!

They flowed on to the grand denouement – the announcement of the winners!

Two happy directors with their prizes.

The winning young director was Sydney Sibilia.   Lets keep our eyes and ears open for him!   To see all the winners visit the Comicron Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/comironfilmfestival/

Happy film watching.  I’m going to bed.

Festa Di San Antonio – Day Three and we are still Standing

August 2nd was Day Two of Contest Musica Live and day three of the Festa.  At 9:00 PM – dressed to the nines and with my party attitude on –  I left Jack snoring on the couch and forcing myself to put one tired foot in front of the other drove down to the piazza.  Gulp, I was going to a concert alone.  Who would I talk to, where would I sit, would I know anyone there?  The questions I just typed may have floated through my insecure 16 year old brain but the 65 year old knew that I would talk to everyone, sit where I wanted and – hey this is Pontelandolfo – I would know folks.

The first hint that less folks might be coming to this amateur event was the lack of vendors.  Many of the previous nights venders were somewhere else.  No one was selling shoes and there were fewer food trucks.  H’mm I got a parking space really close too.  This didn’t bode well for lots of people coming

Look – a pre-lit stage!

Wow, somebody noticed that the stage didn’t look so professional for the first day of the talent contest or else they hired a different company for Day Two.  The set up was much more professional looking. There were blacks up stage – black curtains across the back of the stage and a different light set up.  Jack said how do I know these things – I just know OK.  You’ll see on the video.

The pre show started at 9:50 – a lot earlier than the day before and almost on time!  (The show was scheduled to start at 9:30 PM.)   The MC – who over the week I began to loathe more and more – did his usual warmup.  When the first group came on stage, folks started pouring into the piazza – not thousands but a healthy crowd.  The opening act was a fabulous singer and band from Pontelandofo!  That explained the enthusiastic crowd.  I also discovered that the day before many of our talented young folks were performing out of town with our dance company, hence, could not be bopping and rocking in the piazza.  They made sure to be back for our home town singer,  Eleonora Di Marzo!  She was terrific and so was the lighting. From smoke spurts to strobes it was much better rock lighting than the night before.

Bar Mixed Fantasy had tables set up that gave a great view of the stage – I bought my Campari soda, grabbed a table and started dancing in my seat.  As more folks came, I chatted, rocked and rolled and throughly  enjoyed the music, booze, friends and summer night.  I am not a music critic but can easily say that the bands the second night were a hell of a lot better than the bands we heard the first night.  They excuse Jack had given for not wanting to come – before he drifted to dreamland –  was the bands were beh the first night, why should we go and listen to mediocre music.  Because it is FESTA WEEK and it is our responsibility to go and support the festa.  OK, I want to go because it is always one hell of a party.

Unfortunately, my videos of the later bands had lousy sound quality.  So you will only hear our local favorite BUT note the clips of the accordion player – his group was amazing doing Neapolitan classics – too bad my camera recorded the conversation of the folks next to me.  UGGGG

Let’s go to the video.


Festa – Night One!

Light and sound check as we were walking in at 9:30PM.
Light and sound check as we were walking in at 9:30PM.

Jack and I aren’t sure how many nights we can go out at 9:30 and get home at midnight – and that was early for festa. This morning I asked Marilina at Bar Elimar how much sleep she got – she opens at 7:30. She said they closed the bar at 3:30 AM and she got 1.5 hours of sleep. Whew – I remember when I could do that, but I think sometimes I had the help of little blue — oh never mind. So how was the first night your wondering?

When we got into the center of Pontelandolfo at 9:30 PM there were still lots of places to park. Hmmm, thats not so good. People were slowly arriving and the show was supposed to start at 9:30!  Of course as everyone tells me, this is Italy and nothing ever starts on time.

Need more chicks or ducks? Get them at the Festa!
Need more chicks or ducks? Get them at the Festa!
Diamonds, rubies and pearls – OH MY!

We walked through the small showing of bancarelle set up selling candy, panini, shoes – really – high end marked sneakers, probably knock offs, cleverly perched on the sidewalk –  jewelry, toys and I can’t remember. I felt there weren’t a lot and a betting there will be more on the weekend.

Then I spotted the most amazing ride – the swing to your death ride – set up in a rear piazza. I dragged Jack through the alley to get there just in time to watch the swings held on chains swinging out into space and teams of riders pushing each other to grab the “horses tail” that was hanging from a high perch. If you didn’t kill yourself by falling out trying you won a FREE ride!

Wheeeeeeeeee! Grab that tail! Safety belts????

Little tykes were practicing on the miniature version of the death swing. Then I noticed parents – OK DADS letting their little boys get on the large death swing!

Games of chance too!

We got to Piazza Roma and saw that the night’s show was set up. This was the sexiest set up I’ve ever seen here. Great sound system, projections – the screen could have been larger, there was even a grand piano on the stage. We saw my best buds, Carmella and Alda, at a table with a perfect view of the stage and headed over. First things first, lets get some wine and find out what is going on.


Alda’s cute daughter came running over, she had taken a picture at Bar Mix Fantasy with PIF an MTV star! Later Gabrielle ran over with his camera, he had a picture too! Wait, Annalaura just posted a picture of PIF with her!  Everyone was excited, I of course had no idea who PIF was or why he was here. So much for being current Auntie M.

PIF has a show on MTV and is a director. Annalaura needs to be cast in his next film!

Tonight’s show was titled VII edizione del Premio “Ugo Gregoretti – Landolfo d’Oro”.  No one I spoke to was quite sure what the night was about. Only that it had happened in other years.  I better do some research.  The stage was set with a grand piano stage right and two lovely golden upholstered chairs stage left – think talk show set.

We were all a bit hungry and it was now 10:15PM the show wasn’t starting so we looked at our food options. Apparently the pork panini truck had great roasted pork, the Mini Market was selling nice looking prosciutto panini for €1.

The pork stand.  Hmm we need to try this one night.
The pork stand. Hmm we need to try this one night.

Jack and Gennaro, Alda’s husband, said – “salsiccia!”  Since we were sitting at Bar Elimar it seemed right to buy their sausage panini, cooked to order on crispy hard rolls – €2.50.  Of course, one has to have a glass of Peroni Beer with that.  Jack announced the sausages were better than the ones we had at a festa in Casalduni the week before. Yeah for the home team!

Suddenly, music filled the square, a full orchestra was surrounding us. The sound system was top drawer because the sound was from the video. Shots of the iconic Pontelandolfo tower whirled into introductions of the notables who would tonight be awarded Landolfo d’Oro.  Yes I finally found out that it was a prestigious awards ceremony.

Beautiful red chairs were set up – real comfortable chairs, not the usual white plastic things Ii’ve seen here. This was a classy show.  The video was slick and well timed to the music. I realized that while I had been drinking and eating tons of people had showed up.  But why is this awards show happening here, in Pontelandolfo?  Time for the back story.

Ugo Gregoretti, the driving force behind the event, is an award winning Italian film, television and stage director, actor, screenwriter, author and television host.  His father once owned the iconic Pontelandolfo Tower and young Gregoretti spent his summers racing up the village’s green hills and has always had a special place in his heart for the Pontelandolfesi.  He was not happy when his mother decided to sell the tower.  According to one news report I found, he wanted to set up a foundation for the Tower so that the ancient portal could be open to all.  I wish he had – hey – it’s not too late.

He donated his personal library to the town so that his personal and professional history could be preserved in the village he loved.  Now, the library is closed – I wonder where this collection is?  I want to see it – Harriet the Spy is back in business.


The award ceremony, “Ugo Gregoretti – Landulf D’Oro”, is now the cultural kickoff the the summer season.  By bringing famous artists to Pontelandolfo and honoring them, Gregoretti is bringing the red carpet to our home town. This year’s honorees were art critic Achille Bonito Oliva, filmmaker and television writer Pif, the journalist Barbara Palombelli, the writer and the scriptwriter Giorgio Arlorio, and  author Giussepe Furno.


NTR 24 has great video!  Watch it and have good night – we’re getting ready for Festa – Night 2!


Festa Di San Donato – Pre Show

Pontelandolfo’s major festa is TOMORROW!  The Festa di San Donato is the cornerstone of our little town’s tourism drive.  July 31 is the kick off and we will all be exhausted when the festa is over on August 7th.  The finale is a concert with a headliner act and fireworks. The week long event has historically brought tourists and an infusion of cash into the town.  I’m told that years past, buses of American tourists searching for their roots would roll in. The oldest church would be open – not with vendors but with artisans and purveyors of local wines and food products. This year, no one that I’ve asked as been able to tell me if that is happening. I’ve only been in the ancient church once, many years ago and would love to see the inside again.

My favorite Pontelandolfo web-site, Pontelandolfo News, has a story on the church and the man.  Practice you Italian and check it out http://www.pontelandolfonews.com/index.php?id=230.

This is a religious festival but I can’t find a thing on any poster or web-site about when there is a mass or the procession.  As a matter of fact, the town web-site doesn’t even list the churches.  How could that be?

I’m thinking that as much as I love this town, it is hard to attract tourists looking to “see something” – you know to check it off their list.  Like the millions do that race through the museums in Florence and take a selfie with David.  Due to lack of funds – everyone blames “i crisi” – the small local museum is closed. The library is closed.  And listen to this travesty – years ago, one mayor sold the commune’s one major historic attraction – La Torre – for hardly any money to some out of towner. Now that is closed to tourists and it’s secret garden  – well no one knows because you can’t get to it – but I’m betting weeds.  The tower is the iconic image of the town.  Good old Prince Landolfi probably lived there.  Now, no one sees it.  Uggg

Our famous tower – a vacation home for some out of towner who is never here. Want to see if we can buy it?

This year, it looks like the town is prettying itself up for the week. I noticed men chopping down the weeds along the side of roads, the cement ditches are being cleaned.

Thank you to all who are working so hard!
Thank you to all who are working so hard!

Normally every morning men clean the streets and the piazzas but  this week I sensed a new bounce in their steps.

Every cobblestone is solid thanks to this man.  No tripping in our town!
Every cobblestone is solid thanks to this man. No tripping in our town!

There was a crew in front of Bar Mix Fantasy sculpting shrubs. I noticed new plants set up around the out door tables at Nonsolo Pizza. The portable tables and chairs are stacked by all the bars. The sun is shining and all hope it will shine from July 31 through August 7.

Tomorrow, happy revelers will be sitting at tables!

The other night we drove to Circello – a village about 30 minutes away and saw posters for the headlining acts plastered on walls. Every night of the celebration of San Donato there is something.  (Could any of you good Catholics out there tell me what he is the special saint for?  I spent an hour searching and couldn’t find anything related to this part of the world.  One of the elders said that he was instrumental in stopping the plague here but that is all I got.)  Here is this year’s line up. IMG_1752 IMG_1753 Tourists are already trickling in.  Yesterday, I was standing at a bar having a caffè when a woman speaking the ancient dialect of the village – the first clue that it is an out of towner who had elders from here – picked up a candy and asked me if it had sugar.  She couldn’t read the Italian.  I asked her in English if she was American.  She said, oh you don’t speak Italian.  I responded in Italian that one candy didn’t have sugar and could I read the other. Are you proud of me?  She and her husband were from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  A good number of Pontelandolfesi immigrated to Argentina.

Today is Wednesday – market day – and I noticed a good number of folks I hadn’t seen before.  One visitor, who was driving and staring at the vendors ran smack into a parked truck.  Ooops!  I’m told that many people come during festa time to visit their relatives.  Not a bad idea!  I tried to convince mine to come but didn’t have any takers.

With help from the producers and production companies that are providing the shows, Pontelandolfo is really trying to promote the events.  Last  Monday, July 28th, as part of the television program “UNOMATTINA Summer” on Raiuno the hosts  interviewed the artistic director of the Award program “Hugh Gregory – Landulf d’Oro” (scheduled for July 31) and “Comicron”, the first international festival of short comedic films scheduled on August 4 and 5. That my friends, brings this year’s festa national attention.  I’m hoping tons of people come and all of the businesses make a little extra money.

In this time of economic struggling, I kept asking folks who the hell was paying for all this.  Everyone said, we are!  I didn’t quite get it until two business owners explained it to me.  A committee went door to door asking every citizen for a donation.  Hey, as I used to tell my Arts Management students, it doesn’t hurt to ask.  Folks are so proud of the festa that the majority gave what they could and were rewarded with a flier that listed the events.  To be a sponsor and hang a banner cost about €200 per business. In other years, I’m told, it cost €500.  Bottom line, everyone contributed to the best of their ability.

Putting the finishing touches on the huge stage.
Putting the finishing touches on the huge stage.

I’m excited to see and hear everything that will be going on.  Of course nothing starts before 9:30 PM so a nap is important.  Keep your eyes peeled because everyday, unless the late night partying is just too much for me, I’ll write a post about the event of the day.  Please, please send me energy so I can send you stories!

If you can’t make it to Pontelandolfo, but can get to Connecticut, why not check out the next best thing San Donato Festival in the USA – Waterbury Connecticut  http://www.ponteclub.com/festa-di-san-donato-2013/

See you at the Festa!