Assisi Floral Passione, Spanning the Ages

June 14, 2012

Passione takes hold of one early in Italy: passione for good food, for soccer, for the frescoes in your town church, for music, for one's village festival - and even for flowers. Flowers of all colors, picked in the fields, on thorny bushes, in your grandmother's garden, way up in the mountains off a twisty, dusty dirt road. Young children pick after a hot sweaty hike with a grandmother, teens zip along country roads on their motorbikes in search of specific flowers, specific colors and elderly Gina picks them as she scrambles like a goat up a rocky mountain path with walking stick in hand and cloth bag on her back. Everyone brings the flowers back into Assisi and then gather at night in the old medieval cellars to de-petal the blooms, grinding some, shredding others, drying or chilling as needed to enhance color, preserve the perfume. read more...

Sant’Antonio e il Malocchio

January 19, 2012

Our beloved San Francesco di Assisi might be revered as the patron saint of animals in other countries but certainly not here in Italy: Sant'Antonio Abate, 4th-century hermit saint who lived in the Egyptian desert with just a piglet for a companion, is the protector of Italy's animals. On his feast day, January 17th, animal-lovers gather at a designated church - cats in arms, dogs on leashes, turtles in boxes, canaries in cages, sheep harnessed, horses bridled - to have their animals blessed... read more...

Il Calendario di Sale

January 9, 2012

Onions and salt to predict the weather in the New Year? Over our years on the land, I've learned how farm women can take off il malocchio, how St. Anthony's image in a stall will keep the animals healthy, how a cross made of woven reeds can protect the crops in the field and that you never shake out a tablecloth nor throw out the crumbs swept off the floor after the Ave Maria (ie, after 6 pm) - and now I've learned how to predict the coming year's weather with onions and salt. read more...

Umbrian Hilltown tours of “Auntie Annie”

December 10, 2011

Our final tour together, the Rural Life Revisited tour, might have been the highlight of the Italy stay of this San Diego family. Chiarina won over little Van when she made us bruschetta with the olio novello. Kathleen and Jon enjoyed tasting the family's wine. When farm friend Gentile asked Aeriel to stay and live with her, Aeriel asked her mother, Kathleen, if she could say "SI"... read more...

Il Nonno di Ustica

August 29, 2011

"A blood relative or not, he's my relative. Pasquale's everybody's relative: he's "il nonno di Ustica." Nonno Pasquale's blue eyes - the same color as Ustica's sea - twinkle at friend Gaetano's affectionate words. A smile spreads ear-to-ear across his gentle face, pink cheeks still smooth with only a suggestion of wrinkles. Pasquale Palmisano will be a hundred next May. read more...

Our New Italians

August 13, 2011

Italians relax under umbrellas on sandy Adriatic beaches in the hot summer months. Under blistering sun, Moroccans, Tunisians, Indians, Pakistanis, Nigerians, Senegalese, Bangladeshi - to name a few of the immigrant vendors - trudge for hours in the sand, toting their wares, hoping to make a sale. read more...

Novella’s Last Wild Asparagus

May 23, 2011

Farmwoman Novella had a couple tempting bunches of wild asparagus at her vegetable box (to call it a "stand" would be an exaggeration) in the Assisi "piazzetta" the other morning. I stopped by early to chat with Novella and husband Bruno as they unloaded their 3-wheeled Ape ("bumble bee", literally, but maybe best described as a "scooter truck") and set up their farm abundance for morning sale. read more...

May 9th: Remembering an Anti-Mafia Hero

May 9, 2011

Pino and I will head to the meeting tonight (May 9th) in Assisi in memory of courageous young Sicilian Peppino Impastato, eliminated by the Mafia on May 9th, 1978 for his outspoken criticisms of Mafia crime via the Radio Aut he started (his brilliant broadcasts were often full of irony and cutting humor) in his small hometown of Cinisi, not far from Palermo. read more...

MOSTRA/MERCATO or “Show-and-Sell”

November 30, 2010

Not "show and tell" but "show and sell" is the theme of the Italian mostra mercato. These markets - generally open-air - can feature just a handful of vendors or hundreds and anything on display can be bought - and in some cases, tasted. For us, no better way to warm up a chilly November night than at the Mostra Mercato del Tartufo near Valtopina... read more...