Alex’s Take on Aunt Midge’s World

My talented and delightful niece, Alexandra Rose Niedt, takes her Italian heritage seriously! She was the third person in our immediate family to apply for – Italian Citizenship.  (She would have been second but her mom had to get it first.) The winsome lady also has the wanderlust! Not afraid to travel alone she often pops into Pontelandolfo – when we are here and when we’re not! We had only been in town for three days, when with toothpicks holding open our travel weary eyes, we headed to the Naples airport. She glided into the airport pulling a suitcase bigger than she was and people noticed her.  The kid is a chip off the Guerrera block and carries herself with Una Bella Figura – just like her ancestors.  Shut up Auntie M!  OK, OK, here’s Alex –

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Annarita Mancini fills Alexandra in on the latest gossip.

Dear Readers,

Years ago, I started coming here to see my family, so not too much surprises me when I come to my ancestral home. Though this trip, I did notice something that took me for a slight loop that I wanted to update you all on: my Aunt Midge has become a complete local.

Now let me clarify a few things on this topic-

• I don’t know if it’s because of my roots or because of the bond I have with my family here, but I always feel somewhat like I’ve been here forever. Whether that be all of the familiar faces I see in the piazza, or the friends and family members that make me laugh entirely too hard, it’s difficult to say. All I know is that I always feel a sense of belonging.

• Midge has been spending more and more time here over the past 3 years, from 4-7 months at a time, so granted there has been time for this all to take effect.

• Being considered a local and simply feeling like one are two drastically different things.

Midge arrived back in Pontelandolfo nearly 3 days before I got to our gorgeous little village, so she’d really only had the chance to see our family, go to IKEA to buy some more furnishings for her house and drive to Naples to pick me up at the airport.  (A task which I am always grateful for, as taking the train from Naples in the evening is not on my top 10 list of things I most enjoy.) Because she hadn’t had the chance to fully settle back in to the swing of things I got to bear witness to her complete transition from “that crazy American lady that’s always writing at Bar Elimar” to “one of our own.”

I thought, as my generation is obsessed with them, I would present this to you in list form.

1) Walking through the Piazza random people come rushing over to my aunt saying “Bentornata!” (Welcome back) with hugs and kisses all around and excited conversation. This happens frequently, with people I know and also people I have never seen before. I thought I knew everyone! Dead wrong.

2) While sitting in the Piazza drinking a macchiato, a school bus full of children drives by and the kids lean out of the windows screaming “Hello!  Hello!  Hello!” to their former English teacher. I laugh for a solid minute at the ridiculous nature of little heads popping out the window in Italy shouting hello!

3) We need cheese, so I say why don’t we go to the caseificio in town? My aunt responds with “Oh no, we can’t go to him…” And follows with some story about the inner workings of the politics of the town and our family… Or was it that he sold her bad mozzarella once and she won’t go back? Same thing!

4) When we do make it to the caseificio (the one she frequents a little outside of town) after more hugs and kisses from Nadia, the long time employee, she proceeds to ask for specific cheese. Nadia on the sly tells her what is most fresh and what to stay away from today. Because you know, she’s a regular.

5) Sitting at one of the bars around 9pm Midge is about to leave when one of the women we know stops her. She asks for help making costumes for the town play “Dramma Sacro du Santa Giocondina.” Midge, being the true thespian she is, heartily agrees. This play is so important, it happens once every 4 years and is taken very seriously. Go Midge!

6) We are having a little gathering at Midge’s house the night before I leave for London, so of course we have to go to the pasticceria to buy dolce for after dinner. Upon arrival we begin to talk to the girl behind the counter, when out from the back (having recognized Midge’s voice) comes the owner Nicola, who immediately takes over our order and starts shooting the shit with us. After we’re finished he takes the treats to the register, tells the girl to give us the friends discount and waves goodbye. I mean, what a life?

I love this town, it’s home. It’s beautiful in the morning, and lights up after 10pm- literally and energetically. I hang out with the same people whenever I’m here, and have created really beautiful relationships with friends and family alike. But I’m always just visiting. Sure, I’m from here, sure I feel like a local, but I haven’t put in the time to truly deserve the right to be considered one.

My Aunt Midge has, and is now sitting back and reaping the benefits of a truly loving community. And I am forever impressed.

Questa e l’Italia- La dolce vita.

Ci vediamo la prossima volta,

Alex

(Thanks Alex, I actually cried when I read this.  I love you to pieces!  Auntie M)

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Festa dell’ Accoglienza – Celebrate School!

The sun was shining and I was walking down the hill to my writer’s room – Bar Elimar. Suddenly a little blue Fiat stopped along side of me. My favorite lawyer, Rossella Mancini, rolled down her window and asked, ” Are you going to the Festa dell’ Accoglienza?” Even though, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what accoglienza meant, I hopped in the car. Hey, a festa is a festa. Rossella explained it was a program to welcome the opening of the school year and sadly she had to get to the courts in Benevento and couldn’t attend the show. Loving the Iacovella kids, I was happy to join her mom, Carmella, in the audience.

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What a Great Opening!

Google translating accoglienza I discovered it meant ” welcome – acceptance.”  What a great theme to start the school year – let us welcome the new students and accept each other!  Our local Scuola Di Infanzia Materna, Scuola di Elementary and Scuola di Media hosted the program in the village’s open air covered market. I  walked down the steep street to the market – note I never talk about walking up the hill.  The interior of the market was filled with smiling little faces dressed in their colorful grembiule – school smocks.

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Ariele Valazolo was excited!

The pink and blue grembiule of the pre-scool kids were swishing with excitement as the little tykes searched the faces of the standing audience for mamma, pappa, nonno and nonna.

A tiny little lad – about 5 years old walked to the front of the space with great aplomb and put the microphone to his mouth.  What an amazing host. Poised, he looked at the audience, smiled, welcomed all – Salutiamo tutti – and then introduced the first song.  I wanted to cheer for him! Oh wow I did!  The bopping and hopping 2.5 to 4 year olds singing their song were terrific.  Little mouths moved to the music. The three and four year olds knew every word the teeny tiny folks got every other. It was wonderful. Next up was a 4 or 5  year old girl who absolutely perfectly introduced a wickedly wild song and dance done with cheerleader style shakers by the oldest of the youngest students. I loved it. The kids were like pink and blue bolts of lighting moving and grooving to the song.

Then my mind snapped –  I could no longer ignore the constant blah, blah blah buzz around me.  I started to get frustrated and angry. Stata zitti – I wanted to scream at the young moms who insisted on gossiping during the entire song. OK, so your kid isn’t singing now does that give you permission to be a talkative asshole. Then I hear Jack’s soothing voice twirling around in my brain. It is a different culture. You don’t come from this culture. Take a breath.

Right, I’m an East Coast woman who built two performing arts high schools and would have gently wended my way through the audience and kindly pulled a talkative mom’s hair out.

Next up were the first year elementary school kids – 6 year olds . They recited an incredibly long story! Memorizing is an integral part of the curriculum. I was impressed.  The show continued with more freaking moms chatting up a bloody storm. Some one brought a baby in a pram and a gaggle of giggling moms had to ooo, ahh and chatter while the 2nd graders were reciting. That is when I couldn’t control my anger and started with my school administrator mean stare and the ugly sounding shushhh.

The show continued with each grade taking a turn at song, reciting and reading. Of course my favorites were the portions done by the kids in my extended family and the wee ones that I know.

Dear children – Keep on singing, memorizing and facing audiences. Please ignore the rude folks who are talking while you are performing. It is a life lesson in facing a tough audience. No matter what you do in life — some days there will be a tough audience.

Auguri to all the performers!

“Hello” – The English Teacher

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Last year I volunteered to be lingua madre instructor in the public schools. It was a great way to fill my day, meet cute kids and insure that little voices would say “hello” when ever they passed me in the piazza or during passeggiata.  You can read about the schools and that experience by flashing back to this earlier post  http://wp.me/p3rc2m-8Y.

What I really wanted to do during this year’s time in Pontelandolfo was organize a summer theater camp – free – in English for kids. Every student here has to pass an English proficiency exam and theater is a great way to get a grip on speaking. Unfortunately, I wrote my proposal to the town in a timely manner but was remiss in getting it translated in a timely manner. Che fa! Now its translated but we’ll save the proposal for next year.  That brilliant idea thwarted by il dolce far niente, I needed a something else to keep my brain and body occupied.

Idea numero due! In July I printed up fliers that said, ” lingua madre Midge is offering free English conversation classes.” I figured maybe four people would want to hang out in a salon like atmosphere and practice speaking English. WRONG!

The first people to reach out to me was a group of four middle school girls. We talked about refreshing skills before they went back to school. Four turned into six including one adult!  What I find interesting was that their text book had them reading and writing at a really advanced level – I mean I don’t know these grammar rules. But no one can speak!  Worse, some didn’t remember the simple concepts. The schools are between a rock and a hard place – everyone has to take English but there is no money to put native English speaking teachers in the schools. Imagine if every elementary school teacher in the USA suddenly had to teach Chinese. The same type of instruction would happen – videos, worksheets and books. I had a great time with them but will admit that after a few weeks only one girl and the adult kept coming. Something about homework in the summer…

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Talk about learning on the job – Marilina from my favorite morning writing room – Bar Elimar – wanted to learn enough English to talk to tourists. Hell, I didn’t know what half of the words on the bar menu meant and thought where do I begin?  I know, I’ll play the ugly American, DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH and provide her with a variety of responses. Then I thought of every question I’ve ever had about the stuff she sells. To make it fun for media loving me, I created a power point and made sure to include pictures of her behind the bar. So the up side is I’ve had to learn all the phrases in Italian in order to insure she understood them in English. Festival season happened and she was too busy to keep coming.  But I still have the power point!

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I Cuochi Antonio e Nicola.

Then, two great young men studying to be chefs at the vocational cooking high school knocked on my door. Help, we got internships in a restaurant in England – we need to speak English!  How do we meet people?  What if no one in the kitchen speaks Italian?  Whew – who knew there were so many cooking verbs to translate.  We toured my kitchen pointing and laughing as they identified every cooking tool I had.  Now, I have cooking study guides up the wazoo.

The two adult conversation classes were the most fun. One class had two butchers, a plumber and OK I don’t remember. They didn’t speak English at all so it was really ESL. Oops, Festa season and that class ended.

The other class had an attorney, pharmacist, shop keeper and florist. They do speak English and just needed an outlet to practice. It made me not feel so stupid when they admitted they knew vocabulary but were afraid to speak.  That is exactly how I feel about Italian!  We are still reading and discussing short stories and newspaper articles. Festa season didn’t impact them. Sigh – perfect.

Guess what also happened?  Strangers not in the classes are now giggling and saying “Good Morning” when they see me sitting and writing at the bar!  What a wonderful gift.

Festa at Terra di Briganti!

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Tante Auguri a Jack!

Jack was turning 70 – that meant I had to throw a humongous bash.  The problem is I had thrown Jackstock when he turned 60 and folks are still gazing numbly out from tents in our back yard.  How could I top three nights of music and mayhem?  Hmm, what’s a girl to do when she is in Italy and without the resources of her home team?  1. Make sure her BFF, Janet, is in Italy in time for the party. 2. Sit in the piazza, stare up the the hills and come up with a gimmick.  While staring at the grape vines that range up and down the mountain it hit me – take over a winery – it would be a blast from the past.

My first call was to Tony at our favorite winery, Terra Di Briganti. (Remember the story I did a few months back – http://wp.me/p3rc2m-ji)  Tony was a tiger and roared out ideas – starting with come on over and let’s pick out the wine.

Tony De Cicco is passionate about eating and drinking local!
Tony De Cicco is passionate about eating and drinking local!

Tony, his dad and his brother were pouring us a glass of Pidirosso. Then a glass of Aglianico.  How about a Falanghina.  Wait did you taste?  We tasted and knew that we would have a cocktail hour with a lovely sparkling – well it doesn’t matter just know it is all good.

Then came the menu.  Tony works with a chef – Gennaro – who by day is a policman!  But Gennaro is a foodie who relishes the dishes of historic Casalduni.  This is what we ate:  Quenelle di baccalà, Risotto al’aglianico e salsiccia profumato al rosmarino, controfiletto di pelatella casertana al Martummè con papacelle al’agro, Zuccotto con ricotta di pecora e ciccolato!  Notice that the Italian sings with the dialect of Casalduni.

Let’s just go to the video and you can see Jack’s 70th birthday at Terra di Briganti!  Click on the link and be sure to sing “tante auguri a jack!”

https://vimeo.com/107592027

To find out more about Terra di Briganti visit their website at www.terradibriganti.it

I See My Father

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Dominico Manna has my father’s eyes.

The other morning I was startled when my father’s eyes peered into mine.  He hadn’t made an appearance since my sighting of him in Belize.  That day he arrived in a big old Chrysler – driving right up the beach – got out of the car and looked up at me sitting on the balcony staring at the sea.

Dad's head shot for a State Senate Run.

He did that John Wayne gun shot with your pointer finger thing and told me to stop being a wimp and to get on the f’n plane.

Did I mention that he had been dead for three years?

Cripes, I thought, what had I done to have him stare me down in a public place – Bar Elimar in Pontelandolfo?  I gulped and pulled my eyes away to see if the image stayed.  It stayed. The face was smiling – it wasn’t my father’s face. But the eyes – they were his eyes.  My woo woo moment had kinda’ sorta’ passed. My cousin Dominico peered down at me.  Rats, those are my father’s eyes.  I just met Dominico Manna a week or so ago, but when my dad’s eyes looked back at me I felt like I’ve known this newly found cousin my whole life.  Dominico is my father’s second cousin just like my Guerrera cousins back in the USA – that makes him my third cousin or second cousin twice removes or…. Well it doesn’t really matter.  He has my father’s eyes.

Part of my fantasy living in Pontelandolfo for 6 months – besides writing a best selling memoir – HA – was uncovering more cousins.  Our family tree is full of all of the names that mark homes all over Pontelandolfo – Guerrera, Rinaldi, Fusco, Perugini, Mancini etc. etc. etc.  When I look at the family tree, I start thinking that I have at least one blood cell of every single person that I pass on the streets.

Every time I actually find someone with a clear direct link to my nonna and nonno, I get smacked in the face again with how much we are all alike.  What was that Haley Mills TV show about the cousins who looked so much alike they could pass for one another?  My USA family – starting with my incredibly talented sister and niece and branching out to second and third cousins – is full or actors, dancers, writers, photographers, artists and those who love the arts.

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Hand Crafted by my cousin Carmella in Pontelandolfo!

Imagine my joy to discover that generations of our blood line here have danced in the towns international touring folklorico dance company, are incredible photographers, writers, visual artists etc.  Others, like me, are arts administrator types and help organize the towns events. Damn that artistic DNA!

I always remember my grandmother, Uncle Sal and Aunt Cat working their Flagtown land. Grandma taught me how to kill and pluck a chicken for dinner. Many here farm their land to produce incredibly tasting meats and vegetables. Gifts of home made cheeses and meats have graced my door.

We have family all over the world – the ones I know about are in
Argentina, Montreal, England, Spain and I can’t remember.  Jack and I will have to definitely take a trip to Argentina.

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Our family members, when the village could no longer support them, took the risk and re-established themselves beyond the borders of Italy. Even though we had never met, live miles apart and in some cases don’t even know that parts of our blood line intersect we are the same. Hell I know this sounds like woo woo but maybe there is something about this DNA stuff.

Every market day, if I stay in one place I am sure to see more of my family. Sometimes I haven’t a clue what they are saying to me but it doesn’t matter. Other times they clearly share what is bothering them, who is driving them crazy or why today is an absolutely fabulous day. The connection that comes from sharing secrets makes me feel like I have been here my whole life. In reality I discovered this family of Pontelondolfesi a scant 18 years ago. 18 years of returning to the village of my grandparents has forged incredible bonds.

I have finally decided that this is where I want to live – it may be 6 months a year or full time. It was seeing my father’s eyes that put me over the decision making edge. Daddy visiting me through Dominico and telling me once again not to be chicken shit – life is too short.

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When we get back to NJ the house will go on the market. Anyone want a farm house with a bocce court and mulberry trees?

 

 

Zucchine Sono Arrivate! Ricetta 2

The zucchine elf - Zia Vittoria!
The zucchine elf – Zia Vittoria!

 

Everyday it seems there is a mysterious bag, basket or pile of zucchini (zucchine in Italian) by my door.  These things must multiply like…..   Wait – you already heard this!  Remember recipe 1!

Thank you subscriber Karen T. for reminding me about the vegetarian lasagna of my earlier life.  Le zucchine, grilled, becomes the best lasagna noodle. I don’t have a griddle – only a big frying pan.  First step slice the zucchine long ways – of course I ignore all the safety cutting rules I learned in 4-H and to make the thin slice pull that knife right towards my chest – don’t do that.

Tossed some of our heavenly local EVOO in the frying pan and after what felt like I had been standing on my feet for hours – enough were done.

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Since the oil was still hot I sliced up due melanzane – egg plant – and did those too. Note that I did them after I did the zucchine. Jack lumps eggplant with tofu as the two things that give him the food creeps.  God forbid una melanzana touch the zucchine!

For filling I dumped 500 grams of ricotta in a bowl, tossed in a egg, a bunch of grated parmesan, splash of pepper, fresh basil and oregano.  Stirred it up and called it art.

Stupidly, I had oiled my baking dish, then looked at the zucchine which had been essentially slathered in oil, grabbed a paper towel and wiped out the dish. Next, I laid down a layer of zucchine and with panache glopped and spread the ricotta mixture.

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My burnt fingers reminded me that  I had just roasted red peppers and had an ah ha moment.

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I added a layer of red pepper for color.  OK, time for a layer of mozzarella – shit we don’t have any.  Some days you win and some days you just have fun.

Creative a pinch of this and dash of that cooks use what they have.  I had great local cheese – cows milk integrated with hot peppers.

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Remembering that it melted well on a panino, I grated it up.  Tossed it on top of the red peppers and then added a second layer of zucchine slices.

Followed that with the requisite ricotta mixture and thought – I need another red layer to artistically balance the red peppers.  Hey, we bought super Spanish salame at the salumeria – I don’t think it was from Spain but they call it Spanish. The salame is crusted in black pepper.  OK, so this isn’t a vegetarian dish – but you don’t have to use salame.

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A layer of that, more ricotta, grated cheese and then – shit – I don’t have enough zucchine for a complete top layer. How could that be, I have bushels of zucchine?  Oh, yeah, I got tired of standing by the frying pan.

Thinking quickly, I eyed the eggplant, if I put some in the middle and cut Jack’s slice from the edge would he know that his precious zucchine might have egg plant kooties?  I just won’t mention it and use tons of grated cheese on top to disguise the critters.

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Rats, can see the eggplant – but will Jack?

Applause! Buon appetito, Jack. (Wink, Wink)

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Festa Di San Donato — Comicron – Days 5 & 6

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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 …

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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!

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.
DEZPHOTO

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KENVFeHVNg 

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.

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

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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

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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.

http://youtu.be/SwNO7ynLa3U