Posts Tagged With: Southern Italian Culture

Passing the Cultural Torch

The other day I visited la mia sarta, my dress maker, Rosa, and found her working on the smallest pair of traditional boys britches I had ever seen. “Are they for a large doll”, I stupidly asked.  Cara, questi sono per il più giovane membro di Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo!  What she meant was – “you silly cluck – it is dance season and I make all the costumes.  This is for the youngest member of the company – a two year old!”  Many of our village’s kids are learning about their heritage by performing with the dance company, Ri Ualanegli.

ariele dance

Not only do they learn the dances, but they explore the stories behind the dances.  Learning about the contadini, serfs and farmers, who worked the land and just how they worked it. Extended families still live together here and children see their elders planting gardens, harvesting olives, pressing tomatoes into sauce and still eating and cooking in a traditional way.  Through the dance company, these piccolo dancers gain an even greater understanding of who they are and what life was like in their home town.  History lessons are a natural part of the dance lesson!   My Arts Educator brain just took over – think about it – these kids are having fun, learning about their culture and have the opportunity to grow as self confident, creative problem solving adults!  Yeah for Dance!  YOU CAN SEE THESE TALENTED KIDS LIVE – HERE IN PONTELANDOLFO – JULY 31, AUGUST 1ST AND 2ND. Here are a group of kids dancing in 2014 – wade through the introduction and you will get to the dance – note the older kids helping the babes in dance along –

Other children are fascinated with the old sounds and music that accompany the dancers. It makes my heart burst with joy to see the little guy learning the musicality of the fisarmonica – accordion – from the old masters.  This instrument, featured in the folk group Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo and other Italian folk companies, looks a small accordion.  These kids who rock out the local Tarantella don’t know it yet but they too are accepting the responsibility of passing on the culture of their village.   The traditional music reflects moments in our historic time line. The songs are of joy, fear and love. I was delighted a few weeks ago to listen to a recital done by a group of young musicians.  The traditional music of the Sannio Hills will live on through this and ensuing generations.

allessio

This past week, a group of Pontelandolfese men made sure that the sport that I never heard of before I came here was passed down to the little men who would make up the teams of the future.  These kids began by strapping cord to their arms, loading up a wheel of cheese and letting it fly!  Welcome to ruzzola del formaggio – cheese rolling.  Actually, this weekend was our Festa di Formaggio with competitions for children and adults.  Of course, there was also the tasting of yummy local cheeses.  This was the first annual Festa di Formaggio so plan on being here next year for it!

ruzzola

These wee cheese rolling wonders were working with adults who have been part of Pontelandolfo’s award winning team. Ruzzola del Formaggio competitions are incredibly serious.  The winner gets to keep the cheese – it does get eaten!  There are teams from all over Italy.  Those teams would not exist and that tradition continue if villages didn’t keep the sport alive.

ruzzola 2

Passing the cultural torch is important for all villages and equally important for families.  Share those tales.  Write down those recipes. Dance the dances your grandparents danced. Let your children learn about who they are and where their roots are.

Don’t forget to come to Pontelandolfo on July 31St!  Explore our culture and enjoy our art!

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Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Paris in the Thirties – Guardia Sanframondi

Before the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I visited Montmartre, the old artist’s quarter of Paris. Noooo, the artists weren’t old the quarter was old. During the 2016 Vinalia in Guardia Sanframondi I felt like I was walking back in time. The purpose of the Vinalia Festa  is to reinforce the town’s position as a center for fabulous wines. What it also did was help me understand why American writers and artists were buying homes in the funky centro storico.  Clare Galloway, may have been the first artist pioneer.  She bought a house in 2011 for €10,000 and working alone transformed it into “Arthouse,” a B&B and artist studio.  Clare, has been an avid supporter of the arts in this hilltop village.


Borgo Artisti was the best part of Vinalia.  In the medieval quarter we found pop-up gallery after gallery of local art.  Every vacant street level space was professionally lit and showcased  individual pieces or groupings of art.




Jack and my pal the poet, Maria Williams, venture down the steps to Clare’s Studio.

During our walk we met some of the WOMEN who are homesteading in Guardia.  What really resonated with me, was that they are doing this alone.   We met a playwright, massage therapist/ alternative practitioner, artist and —well just a table full of really interesting international women who were looking for a different lifestyle.  AND  a  place to do their art that cost less than it would in the USA and offered the beauty of this Italian hill town.

The sexy sounds of  a French chanteuse  was broadcast through the air. Cobblestone streets, free flowing wine and art. Lots of art. Paris. No – Italy!!  Southern Italy the Sannio hills.

That said, it is 1/2 an hour from Ponelandolfo and really, if you want to live in a beautiful village with wonderful people, consider my hometown.  The hook?   Why me. of course!

Ci Vediamo!

Categories: Stops Along the Journey - Sites Off the Tourist Track | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo II

Saturday, September 3 to Saturday, September 10, 2016

Join us for the Second Session of Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo

The May 2016 cooking classes were a smash hit.  The Pontelandolfo women who lovingly opened their homes to American women this spring want to do it again!  They hope women from all over the world will come to love their little village.  Don’t think about it – just come and live the life of a Southern Italian.

The May video says it all better than I can –

Included Highlights:

  • Transportation from the Benevento Train Station to Pontelandolfo
  • 7 nights, single room, with television, refrigerator, morning caffè and coronetto. Five rooms in this cute B&B have private baths.  A two room suite share a bath.  Il Castello
  • Welcoming apertivo and snacks in a local bar. All the cooks will be there!
  • Sunday Pranza (lunch)
  • 5 Cooking Classes with local cooks culminating in eating with the families. Each pranza is complete with first and second courses, local wine, dessert, after dinner drink, coffee and conversation!
  • English Speaking Translator for all classes and events.  Translators in other languages can be made available for a group of 5 or more.
  • Wine and artesian food tasting at a local vintner
  • Pontelandolfo Day – open air market, tasting of locally produced products and other activities.
  • Excursion to Altilia Roman Ruins   http://www.sepino-altilia.it/
  • Walking Tour of Historical Pontelandolfo – http://www.pontelandolfo1861.it/
  • Excursion to the museums and shops of Benevento
  • Transportation to a different local restaurant each night.
  • Apron
  • Written recipes in English. (If a group is not English speaking other translations can be arranged.)

This culinary adventure is limited to 10 people.  We have a 5-person minimum.

This adventure wouldn’t happen without the commitment and support of Pontelandolfo Città Martire Associazione Culturale and il Sindaco Gianfranco Rinaldi.

Air Emirates has had some terrific sales from JFK – New York to Milan!  We booked last year two seats for $900 – $450 a piece!  Keep an eye on their sales.

Air Meridiana flies from JFK directly to Naples!  It is relatively inexpensive.

Contact me via the comments section for particulars and with any questions, thoughts or just to say hi.

Ci Vediamo!

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo, Food - Eating In and Out! | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo a HIT!!!!

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Mary, Leona, Ellie, Lynn, Dana, Flora, Charleen and Nancy
Cook in the Kitchen’s of Pontelandolfo!

WOW what a jam packed week of great food, incredible women and a village that opened its hearts and buildings to embrace the Americans who came to Cook in the Kitchen’s of Pontelandolfo! The families that opened their kitchens loved the experience so much that we are going to offer the program again this September.

I had this fantasy that every night I would regale you with the tales of what happened that day.  Who the women were, what we learned how to cook, what we ate, what, what, what….  Sigh…. I tried, I really did but at the end of the day all I could do was crawl into bed and get ready for the next day’s adventure.  Oooo – how could you think I didn’t try – look here is a couple of paragraphs on Day 1!

Le Donne Vengono Oggi

Hotel ready – check!  Wait – will they be hungry?
Rosella remembered that if people were coming at 1:00 PM they would need lunch. We raced to Il Forno and bought panini and cookies. Then on to the fruit and vegetable truck for tons of fresh fruit. Then on to the the Mini Market for water, plates and napkins. Then on to the B&B – for – for – Waiting.  We set up our welcome table and our swag bags and waited.  The five women from Rome didn’t get here when we thought they would. Jack and one of our translators, Annarita were sitting in front of Bar Elimar to flag them down. I was afraid they would be drunk by the time the women came.  Rats – it is 2:00 PM – where are they?   2:10 – Jack called – they are here!

What a great group of women! An extended family full of love, laughter and spark. We got folks settled in their rooms making sure that Mary – the groups catalyst – had a great room with the mountain view. Within minutes she had posted the view on Facebook. Yes!


Nicola had taken our slick 9 passenger Ducati Fiat plumino to Benevento. He was waiting for the two women from Milan via Naples. My stomach was in knots hoping that they made their connection in Naples – I’m guessing since they only had 20 minutes that their stomachs were in knots too. Rossella was calm. I was pretending to be calm. Finally, I got a text. They are here! Then I got a call – we are in a bar waiting for the passenger from Firenze via Rome.

Meanwhile, I did my dancing bear act and reviewed the agenda with the first group – encouraged them to eat the fruit, cookies and sandwiches – even though they had stopped on the highway. Rosella said I was very professional!

That is all I wrote in 16 days!  Me who is the blabber blogger only wrote a measly few words.  What I did do was shoot lots of video on my fancy HD video camera, scribbled frantic notes during every cooking lesson and made sure that the eight adventurous American women who wanted to live the life of a small Southern Italian village had a great time.  I promise that recipes will be posted, videos will be edited and you will all know more about this glorious week.  Here is a quick little video that highlights our wonderful First – Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo week. (There is more to read after the video.)    Click Here For Video

Stolen from the Pontelandolfo News who stole them from Facebook – are what some of the women said about the experience –

Dana got an “A” for best sausage making! We started out with a side of pork and culminated into a delicious meal!! Grazie Mille Franco and Maria for opening your home and hearts to us.

I am in awe learning how to roll dough for pasta. No words needed. Grazie Maria!

Each day our hearts are filled with the love of the women of Pontelandolfo. Today, group A spent the day with Carmela Fusco, who we knew we loved before we met her, because her daughters have been helping us all week. We made homemade cavatelli with a meat sauce, eggplant with fresh tomatoes, fruit salad and a beautiful nutella pastry! 

Today we made pizza in the brick oven with Nicola and tiramisu. He is a very special man and made our last day a perfect one. I think we were all a little tired today, but we still ended on a high note at his beautiful home. Grazie Mille Nicola!

Tonight we must say goodbye to all the wonderful people we’ve met.
Midge Guerrera has given us the opportunity to become a part of the beautiful town of Pontelandolfo for a week and we are forever grateful.

It has been an amazing week and anyone who has been following us should seriously consider coming when Midge offers this again. The village has embraced us with open arms and lots of fun.

Now, how could I not announce right here for the very first time – the Second Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo adventure will be September 3 – 10 2016!  This fall – imagine Labor Day Weekend here in Pontelandolfo!  For information leave a comment.

Ci vediamo!


Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo, Food - Eating In and Out! | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Culture Clashes – The Good and the Not So Good

This is not a rant.  I am not in a foul and ugly mood.  It is just that after a while I can no longer hold my tongue.  Some things in Italy annoy me.

Kids and Cars –

Everyone out there who is as old as I am can remember the fun filled roll around in the back seat time before mandatory seat belts.  Clean it up, I’m talking about being a kid and not buckled into your assigned third of the seat.  As toddlers we would stand on the back seat of the car peering out the back window, sticking our tongues out at the drivers behind us.  Or hanging out the side window and giving trucks the arm pull down signal for tooting their big horn – then getting yelled out for sticking our heads out.  When  you were about 4,can you remember sitting on your dad’s lap and “driving the car” ?  How about those fun filled times riding in the back of the pick up truck.  Sitting on the edge of the truck bed and balancing as the wind whipped your face.  Then there was the piece of plywood my father had cut to fit the back seat of the car that my mom tossed pillows on.  it was an instant bed for long drives.  So what if the car flipped and we flopped around.  Somehow we all survived and made it to – well whatever age we are.  Then someone started keeping data on folks killed in cars.  A lot of them and many because they weren’t buckled in.  Safety first!  Seat belts save lives!  Well, where car safety is concerned, here in Southern Italy it is kind of like 1955 .  I see toddlers standing on front seats – wheeee – you can really see out the window.  Now, not all parents do that – I have seen kids buckled up for safety.  Frankly though, I see more standing on seats and hardly ever see a car seat.  Someone lovingly holds all the wee ones.  The absolute worse thing I saw was in Puglia – a helmetless tiny tyke on the back of a giant motor cycle clutching dad’s shirt as they sped through town.  Jack pointed out the kid was smiling and I was the only one having a hissy-fit.  Apparently, according to Jack, I am often the only one having a hissy-fit.   Is this car riding freedom a good thing or a not so good thing?  You decide.

You Can Dress Them Up But You Can’t Shut Them Up –

This is the second year that Comicron,  the fabulous  international comic short film festival was staged in Piazza Roma.  Artisitic Director, Ugo Gregoretti spent his younger days summering in Pontelandolfo.  It is a classy event, from the red carpet, the film stars attending, the beautifully appointed stage, to the well dressed folks sitting in the cordoned off area.  We got there a tad late and sat in the back behind the incredibly well dressed Antonetta.  She had on a fabulous long silky blue gown and dingle dangle sparkly jewelry.  How did I know her name was Antonetta?  Her pals got there later than we did and during a film bellowed ANTONETTA.  She leaped from her seat and five dapperly dressed donne chatted in the aisle next to us.  My evil eye and shushing had no effect.  Of course the young ushers also occiasionaly chit chatted in the aisle.  Jack said I am the only one it bothers and I should get over it – do you sense a “get over it” theme here?  This is not the only time chatty chicks bothered the hell out of me.  The first time I got so insensed I asked them to be quiet – the performers deserved respect.  Who were the performers?  Primary school kids! The moms in the audience felt compelled to share their shopping lists, lover’s names and whatever was on their minds  throughout the performance.   The only time they were quiet was when they were snapping pictures of their own kid on stage.  Che fa!  Is freedom of speech whenever and wherever you want to talk a good thing or a not so good thing?  You decide.

What Time Does It Start?

The producer/director in me gnashes teeth and is ready to kill when the advertised time of events are absolutely ignored.  My theory is the lack of timeliness is taught in the elementary school.  Case in point.  A few years back I went to the primary school’s end of  year show.  It was slated to start at 3:00.  Parents who worked left work early to get there by 2:00 to join the non working parents and thier toddlers in line.  Why so early?  Well audience consideration is not taught in the school either – there were not enough seats for all the parents.  People got  there early to grab a seat.  It was a hot June afternoon.  By three, standing outside the school in the sun I was drenched in sweat.  By three-thirty, I was drenched in hate and wondering why the bloody doors hadn’t opened.  We could hear the kids still rehearsing.  Hey teachers, if you don’t have it ready by now give it up.  They let us in at about 3:35.  Everyone scrambled for a seat or wall and the spectacular finally began about ten minutes later. (Don’t get me started on the production values.)  

The team that produces the events in the piazza and/or the acts they hire seem to have lost their watches too.  This year the August festaval headliner, jazzman James Senese was promoted as starting at 10:00.  At 9:30 I’m nagging Jack to get a move on so we can get to the village  before the show starts.  Jack raised an eyebrow and said , “it will start at 11:00.”  We got to the piazza a bit before  10:00 and there wasn’t any crowd.  Sitting at a table at Bar Mixed Fantasy, Jack told me to look behind me.  I did and there sat the roadies for Senese eating sausage sandwhiches at 10:00 PM.  No one was on the stage.  At about 10:45 things started to wake up and crowds started to form in front of the stage.  Somehow they knew  when the show would start.  Son of a witch, Jack was right – the show started at 11:00.  Cripes, maybe I am an Ugly American with my own expectances and Jersey girl angst.  Jack, ever living his theme with me said, ” Midge, this is Italia, get over it.”   I must say, I have never gone to events in Northern Italy – except the opera in Verona and that started about 10 minutes late – so I don’t know if tardieness is just a southern thing or universal.   In the scheme of life does timeliness really matter?  Is timeliness – or the lack thereof – a good thing or a not so good thing? You decide.

Those of you who live in or visit Italy or simply have an opinion – please join the conversation.  You decide!

Ci vediamo .  Thanks for listening.

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

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