Pontelandolfo Featured on RAI TV!

On Sunday, March 5, 2017, something fabulous happened in Pontelandolfo. The national television channel, RAIUNO, broadcast the 11:00 AM mass live from one of the most beautiful churches in the province of Benevento –  Parish S.S. Salvatore of Pontelandolfo Chiesa Madre.  The church, built in a Romanesque style, heralds back to before 1500.  Completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1688, the church was then rebuilt ten years later in a Baroque style. This is the church my grandparents were married in and my aunts and uncles were baptized in.  It is truly magnificent and deserves to be seen by the world.

Archbishop March 2017 Ponte

Mass was officiated by the new Archbishop Monsignor Felice Accrocca.

Pontelandolfo News  published the formal announcement from our parish priest, Rev. Don Giusseppe Girardi and our mayor, Il Sindaco, Dott. Gianfranco Rinaldi.  My heart filled as I read the announcement.  It reminded me just how many of us left this village in the Sannio hills.

“Sarà un momento unico e irripetibile che ci permetterà di entrare nelle case di tutti, in particolare in quelle dei nostri fratelli emigrati in terre lontane, per stare ancora più vicini agli anziani e agli ammalati.”

“It will be a unique and unrepeatable moment that will allow us to enter the homes of all, in particular in those of our brothers who emigrated to distant lands, to be even closer to the elderly and the sick. “

The WhatsApp texts and e-mails started flooding my in box.  The mayor sent me a notice, my friend Nicola sent me pictures of the crews setting up an incredible collection of cameras in the sanctuary.  My favorite florists Nella and Fabio were up to their elbows in flowers.  My family urged me to grab a plane and get back.  I sadly missed the mass but thanks to the RAI application on my iPad.  I was able to get up at 4:30 AM and watch the program live.

Rai Pix

Pontelandolfese filled the church.

To me – with my public relations hat on – the opening of the broadcast was the best thing that could have happened to Pontelandolfo.   Before Mass, RAI, presented an overview of the village.  It featured the mountain scenery that daily takes my breath away, our iconic medieval tower and other points of interests.

I don’t know how long the link will be live so click on it and see why I return to spend months at a time in Pontelandolfo.

RAI 1 in Pontelandolfo

Ci vediamo.


San Antonio Di Padova and Me

San Antonio is the Patron Saint of Pontelandolfo.anthonyp

Now, I’m not sure what a Patron Saint does.  I asked Jack who went through 16 years of Catholic Education and he said, ” Nothing now, they’re dead”.  After I tossed an apple at him he continued.  They used to do miracles, now they are a conduit to God.  Folks ask them for help.  Ah, I said.  Believing there are no coincidences, I began to wonder why in the play I just finished, Mamma Mia – La Befana?! one of the characters asked San Antonio for his help.  I thought I had used the name San Antonio because I was finishing the play, here in Ponteladolfo and the festa for him was plastered on posters everywhere.  When I looked him up on Wikipedia it said:

St Anthony is venerated all over the world as the Patron Saint for lost articles, and is credited with many miracles involving lost people, lost things and even lost spiritual goods.

Woo woo time.  In Mamma Mia – La Befana everyone is looking for the little lost girl, Mary. (This is a secret commercial for my new play, Mamma Mia – La Befana?!,  which is perfect for Italian American Clubs, schools, children’s theaters. It is a modern spin on the traditional Italian tale.)

Friday night, June 13 a large percentage of our local community went to the piazza to honor San Antonio. The night started with a mass –

Mass was in Chiesa Madre the “Mother Church”

moved on to procession  –


A band led the procession.

and culminated with fireworks.


It was fun to see the whole community participate.
It was fun to see the whole community participate.

In the middle, was a performance by the youth dance company, I Bebiani di  Circello and our favorite – Ri Ualanegli Juonior, the junior company of Pontelandolfo’s folklorico troupe.  The company tours internationally!

Before I share a video of the local favorite, I need to tell you that the woo woo gets better. I asked a few people why the children’s company seems to always dance for San Antonio. The answer – he is also the dude who watches over children.  Boy did I score a home run picking him to be part of my play about a lost child!

Enjoy the video clip of our young dancers on June 13!


(Think about asking me about Mamma Mia – La Befana?!)

San Antonio Brings Summer to Pontelandolfo

San Antonio Kicks Off Summer

Yeah, it is officially summer in Pontelandolfo!  Yesterday, June 13th, was the festa for San Antonio di Padova – the annual kick off of the summer season.  This saint merits a two pronged celebration – check out the poster – “Programma Religiouso” and Programma Civile”.  Over two days, San Antonio was given three masses, a procession with a band  and his statue was carried through out the town!  The not so religious program was a great cover band set up in the piazza that played the canon of Italian rock and traditional folk frenzy music.

Jack and I made it to town in time to see the procession come down a hill from the church. The brass band led the way, followed by the little children in white robes and a group of men carrying the massive stature.  There were even more folks processing than I had seen for Corpus Domini.  We decided to sit at a bar and watch the actiity.

The three bar’s in the piazza had set up outside service bars, food stations and extra tables. Think the Jersey Shore! Our favorite, Bar Elimar, sported wicker couches and coffee tables. Two of the bars had set up “kebab” stations – we would call them gyro stations.  Big hunks of mystery meat on a gyro skewer turning slowly and oozing a great scent.

My favorite place to sit, stare and sip.

We plopped on the comfy couches at Bar Elimar, ordered a vino bianco and a prosecco, and quietly watched the procession wend its way out of the square.  When our drinks arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to also get great little plates of olives, mini mini sandwiches and little fried puff pastries.  After two drinks each and the whopping 5 Euro bill ($6.60), we carefully walked up the hill towards the medieval tower.   We were headed for Il Castello, a great seafood and pizza restaurant.

The band wasn’t starting for another hour and the owners of Il Castello, Salvatore and Lidia, always treat us like family.  We knew that munching on Salvatore’s wood oven pizza and chatting up a storm in both Italian and English with Lidia would be a great way to pass the time.  We ate our pizza, drank our wine and then felt the drums begin to fill the square.   It was time to carefully pick our way over the cobblestones down the steep hill to the piazza.  How do young women wear heels on cobblestones?  I am tripping my way down in flats.  Ooops – #$%#%%.

Since it was a bit chilly – the wind was whipping over the mountain – there weren’t as many people out for the nine o’clock “spettacolo” as I’ve seen at past musical events.  Those of us who did brave the chill, with grappa and caffè in hand, danced in place, swayed and sang along.  Ba ba boom – and then the fireworks kicked in.  Jack and I quickly went to the promenade that overlooks a valley and watched the show.  Something really bothered me – no one said “Ahhhhh” or  “Ohhhhh”.  I tried to get the crowd to ooo and ahh but Jack put his hand on my mouth.  I guess I was embarrassing him.

When we lived in Asbury Park and were the insane proprietors of Caffè e Dolce, the money losing bistro from hell, Memorial Day kicked off the summer season.  In the good old days, there would be a concert on the beach and thousands of kids would squish together on the sand and hopefully buy stuff from all of us starving beach front vendors. The day after the Memorial Day event the beach was full of trash.  The boardwalk was full of trash.  The streets were full of trash.  You will never guess what I didn’t see walking into town today – TRASH!  Last night, there was a concert, dancing in the streets, fireworks and folks sitting all around the piazza. I found one soda can under a tree and a couple of paper towels.  H’mmm che cosa???

I must tell you, until yesterday, I was freezing my proverbial ass off (OK, I wish it would freeze off) but you get the idea.  May was incredibly cold.  I had a visiting nephew pack a pair of sweat pants for me and bring them to not so sunny in May Italy.  Today – the day after we celebrated San Antonio, I walked down the hill to Bar Elimar for my morning cappuccino and it was hot.  Not a little warm, not maybe a great day, but honest to heaven summer hot – and it was only 8:30 AM!  That San Antonio is an incredibly powerful guy!

Check out the slides!


Read all about more Summer Events in Pontelandolfo – In Italian of course!