Katoomba magic…

waterfallI can’t take credit for the cockatoo in flight, it just happened to appear as I clicked the camera.

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a little bit of Italiana…

IMGP3701Anyone with Sicilian connections or who have been to Sicily may recognise this doll in folk costume (right) and the decorated cart, carrello or carrozza…

Came across the display as part of an Italian migrant exhibition at the Commissariat Store Museum in Brisbane.

Along with some bomboniere… (below) familiar to Italian weddings, christenings and communions.

IMGP3697

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the old macaroni factory…

Macaroni factoryThe Lucini macaroni factory (circa 1859) is said to be the oldest building in Australia built by Italian-Australians. There are 150-year-old frescoes inside that unfortunately remained hidden as it was closed the day we came by. Sitting in the main street of Hepburn Springs in Victoria, the building was also the location for Jan Sardi’s film, Love’s Brother, about two Italian brothers in Australia and a proxy marriage to a girl in Italy.
Macaroni factory 2

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art in nature…

View from the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia where we recently went to see the new Margaret Olley Art Centre housing rooms from her Sydney terrace house, her artworks, and exhibitions by other artists. This view from the café was like an artwork in itself.

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a lovely spot for lunch…

Lavendula cafeLavandula – the Swiss Italian farm at Shepherds Flat not far from Hepburn Springs in Victoria, Australia. The air was filled with the scent from fields of lavender growing nearby and a friendly flock of geese (not on the menu!) kept us company.
http://www.lavandula.com.au/

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solvitur ambulando….

Solvitur Ambulando

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Mar 12, 2014 · 2:20 pm

the little world of Don Camillo…

giovanni guareschi blurbCame across this bio for Italian author, Giovannino Guareschi in one of my father’s original copies of the Don Camillo books published in the 1950s, and loved it.

After my grandfather and my father, I’m now the third generation to be reading these sixty-year-old copies and treasure every yellowed page.

http://www.mondoguareschi.com/

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Homemade arancini with ragù alla Bolognese…

homemade aranciniIt is claimed that arancini originated in Sicily as far back as the 10th century. The balls of rice with various fillings are shaped, crumbed and fried, resembling an orange – the Italian for orange being arancia. (Rice cooked the day before and cooled in the fridge works best.) In Messina, they can be more cone shaped, while in Naples they are pall’e riso (rice balls) apparently. I think ours (made 11 centuries later in Australia!) ended up being influenced a little by both cities.

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Cavolo nero…

Great to see cavolo nero  (black Tuscan cabbage)
amongst the produce exhibits at the local show
in the small Australian town of
Bangalow late last year…
cavolo nero

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il Corno in Caserta…

il corno in Caserta…this 13-metre high sculpture of the ancient amulet,
il Corno (to protect against the evil eye)
appeared in the middle of one night to gain attention regarding
the deterioration of the world heritage listed Palazzo Reale in Caserta,
and has since been creating some heated debate.

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the melanzane are here….

black capsicum, basil, eggplant and silverbeet picked from the vegie patch… to eggplant parmigiana.

Eggplant and capsciumEggplant parmigiana

Related articlethe melanzane are coming…

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Italian paper dolls…

I couldn’t resist this Italian paper doll book with regional costumes from all over Italy. Sofia and Ernesto are the names of the two paper dolls that come with it. I admit I haven’t come across paper dolls since playing with a 1960s set owned by one of my relatives a very long time ago in childhood. I think it was American and being from the sixties, the paper clothes it in were very groovy.

Italian paper dolls

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The melanzane are coming…

So far about half a dozen at last count in the vegie patch. Every day I see them getting a little larger. I cannot wait to cook them and am trying to think of different recipes – eggplant parmigiana, crumbed slices fritte, melanzane involtini, stuffed eggplant, melanzane in passata

Related articles…

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Togetherness and separateness within la famiglia…

…this family from le Marche were photographed by Mario Giacomelli during time he spent with them between 1964 and 1966 for his series, la buona terra – the good earth, in which his aim was to capture the story of work, of life, throughout the revolving seasons, and endlessly repeated throughout a lifetime.

la buona terra

Related article: Priests dancing in the snow

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After recent rains…

the coffee flowers are beginning to bud…

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“Dolcetto o scherzetto” ~ trick or treat

as night falls, the children may call…

{vintage paper cut – ‘if these walls could talk’}

…vigilia d’ognissanti ~ eve of all saints ~ halloween…

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‘alla fontana’ ~ to the fountain…

Civita d'Antino AbruzzoThe woman in the foreground carries two conche, the copper vessels traditionally used in Abruzzo to collect water from the village fountain for the household. Perhaps she was teaching the young girl to carry it back on her head (depicted by the women in the background). The village women used to do so to transport all manner of heavy things with evidence of this including iron bedheads and, on occasion in very steep areas, even coffins.

The artwork pictured here was painted in Civita d’Antino in Abruzzo by Danish painter, Kristian Zahrtmann (1843-1917) who first travelled to the mountain town of Civita d’Antino in June 1883. Zahrtmann came to consider it his second home as he was fascinated by “the life there, the strong Italian sun, the brightness of colours, and the exoticness of Catholic Church rites”.

He spent every summer from 1890 to 1911 in Civita d’Antino where he stayed with the Cerroni family, and was named an honorary citizen of the town in 1902. In Civita d’Antino, a memorial plaque to Zahrtmann is set into the wall of the Cerroni house near the town gate.

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Spring greens…

I know it’s a modest harvest yet I was thrilled to pick the first greens grown in our kitchen garden and make a salad for lunch with red and purple lettuce, parsley, basil and stevia leaves. I also added some cherry tomatoes (from the farmer’s market not the vegie patch, though I noticed the tomatoes I planted have some baby ones starting to form!)

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Pane Casereccio…

Pane Casereccio – delicious served warm – R made this Pugliese bread studded with salami and cheese, inspired after watching an old television series with Antonio Carluccio making it. I love how so many Italian recipes have been created to use leftovers.

For the recipe… http://www.antonio-carluccio.com/Pane_Casereccio

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Flight of the angel… il Volo dell’Angelo

Il Volo dell’Angelo… {the flight of the angel} – something a little different to do in Italy – ‘flying’ between the villages of Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano in the Dolomites of Lucania, Basilicata.

  Apparently, you start 1020m above the ground with the flight covering 1415m and reaching speeds of up to 120 km/h. Not sure if I’m game!

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the art of birds…

“Birds don’t only use their beaks to build: they press their breasts against the inner wall to make it round, imprinting their shape on their home, an interior formed by the steady rhythm of their beating hearts.”

Janine Burke
from Nest: The Art of Birds

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Castrovillari, Calabria…

I first learnt of this town when reading Old Calabria by Norman Douglas (published 1915), and on the map it looked a good halfway point to stay between Palmi and Pompeii. This part of the old town reminded me of some of the lanes in Fossa, (not so the 40 degree heat at the time) and even though it appears not to have changed much over the years, the town was quite different to the one Douglas had encountered about a century before when brigands were still imprisoned in the castle.

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Late afternoon walks…

a beautiful end to a Sunday, walking along Obi Obi Creek, Maleny…

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Castel del Monte, Abruzzo…

  • Castel del Monte – “Fortress of the mountain”.

    Castel del Monte, Abruzzo

  • Evidence of the site first inhabited as early as the 11th century BC.
  • Visited and painted by artist and folklorist, Estella Canziani in 1913.
  • Birthplace of a distant cousin I was pleased to meet the last time I was in Italy.
  • Location where George Clooney was filmed in, “The American”.
  • In mid-August the town hosts the annual event, La Notte delle Streghe – The Night of the Witches, a late-night spectacle I really hope to see in the future.

Castel del Monte by Estella Canziani, 1913

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In the Land of Submarines…

by Tim Sharp

 

http://www.laserbeakman.com/

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The Dome…

The Dome 1977 Jeffrey SmartJeffrey Smart, 1921 – 2013.

 

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freshly, baked bread…

“…whenever the loaf is put on the table, few foods will produce such joy and delight in others as when freshly baked bread appears, the aroma of fresh memories rising with every slice, and all things – poetry and miracles, friends and family, food and love – for a short time are as they ought be: one.”

Richard Flanagan, from The Food of Love.

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Giro d’Italia…

It’s ‘Giro time’ again in Italy at the moment.  {4-26 May, 2013}

Took this photo near the finish line of the leg of the bike race that ended in L’Aquila in 2005. Hours of waiting… seconds of cyclists rushing past…

The winner of this leg was Italian rider, Danilo di Luca {from the Abruzzo}. He rode the 229 km stage from Frosinone to L’Aquila in 6 hrs, 1 min. Waiting in the crowd was quite an experience! {p.197 Mezza Italiana}

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Hotel open for bees…

Bee hotels… and also ladybirds, lacewings and other garden friends.

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eggs in purgatory…

At home when I was growing up, we sometimes ate eggs baked in leftover pasta sauce which we called, ‘eggs in tomato’, not quite as evocative as ‘eggs in purgatory’ that I later discovered this dish is also called.

I’ve been told it’s origins are in Napoli {although the Abruzzo claims it too} and it is said that the eggs are like the souls in purgatory who are caught between the tomatoes {purgatory} and trying to escape to heaven.

 

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Litografia di Maurits Cornelis Escher…

Goriano Sicoli, Abruzzi, 1929, by M.C. Escher (1898-1972), a Dutch graphic artist known for his woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints.

After finishing school, he traveled extensively in Italy, where he met his wife Jetta Umiker. They lived in Rome from 1924 until 1935, during which time Escher travelled throughout Italy, drawing and sketching for the various prints he would make when he returned home.

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a beautiful place to sit and read, or lie and daydream…

Painted by Estella Canziani (1887-1964) who wrote {as well as drew and painted the illustrations for} one of my favourite books on the Abruzzo about her 1913 travels – Through the Apennines & Lands of Abruzzi.

She painted this picture {oil on paper} from inside her house in London at 3 Palace Green in 1922. The white bird in the painting one of the many birds she rescued and cared for.

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Maremma sheepdogs and penguins…

Abruzzo postcard picturing Maremma SheepdogThe Maremma Sheepdog is indigenous to central Italy, particularly Abruzzo and the Maremma area in Tuscany and Lazio, and has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves.

Recently I discovered a project in Australia where Maremma Sheepdogs are protecting a penguin colony almost decimated by foxes, and under their protection the penguins are increasing in numbers. {The dogs also guard free-range chickens.} A little mezza italiana/ australiana perhaps.

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little free libraries…

Love this concept of the ‘Little Free Library’ – “take a book, leave a book” structures built with recycled materials and popping up beside footpaths, coffee shops, houses and parks around the world….

http://www.littlefreelibrary.org/

little free libraries

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an edible bouquet…

il bouquet perfetto for Valentine’s Day
that by evening may become
dinner for two.

Recipe for carciofi alla romana…

Take four fresh artichokes.
Peel the tough outer leaves and remove the choke,
then trim the stem to about six centimetres.

Immerse in hot olive oil until golden brown and crisp.
{The artichoke will open like a flower.}
Serve piping hot, seasoned with salt and pepper.

On the side of the plate add a dollop of mascarpone
mixed with some lemon zest and
a couple of lemon wedges to squeeze over the carciofi.

Buon San Valentino!

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Popes, murder and Dante…

{Il Portale. Watercolour by Juan Alfredo Parisse.}

It was unexpected to hear of Pope Celestino V {1294} being spoken of in the media until I heard it was in relation to the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to resign. Celestino aka Pietro del Morrone, a hermit monk who lived in caves in the Abruzzo’s mountains, instigated the building of the Santa Maria di Collemaggio cathedral in L’Aquila (pictured), where he was crowned Pope in front of a crowd of 100,000, including Dante who referred to him in his epic poem, Inferno.

It’s thought the naive Celestine was chosen as a stooge for those in Vatican politics, and when he abdicated in 1294 after just five months, the next Pope, Boniface, took umbrage, and imprisoned him. Celestino was found dead in his cell with a nail-sized hole in his skull, alleged to have been murdered by Pope Boniface.

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un amour des livres… a love of books

Miniature book art by French artist: Marc Giai-Miniet

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The beauty of walking in Italy…

…a fleeting glimpse down a narrow, side alley often reveals the unexpected and the beautiful. 

{Taken in Orvieto, Umbria.}

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Italian Christmas treats…

CaggionettiCaggionetti/calcionetti are traditional Italian Christmas treats particularly popular in Abruzzo. They have a filling of almonds, walnuts, chocolate, chickpeas, lemon zest, cinnamon and honey enclosed in paper-thin ravioli casings fried in white wine and olive oil then cooled and dusted with icing sugar.

Perfect for eating in front of a fire with nighttime snow falling outside… far from the heat and humidity that Brisbane promises for me this Christmas….

Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

 

{Photo courtesy of Gabriella of Teramo, Abruzzo}
Find her recipe and step-by-step photographs here… http://ilrifugiodigabry.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/calcionetti.html

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the stillness of time…

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Lightly, lightly….

Life Behind by Maki Horanai

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days…Lightly, lightly—it’s the best advice ever given me. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling.”

Aldous Huxley

From ‘Island’, 1962

 

Related articles: Watching Over

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Neve in Roccacaramanico…

I grew up with stories of villages in the Abruzzo being snowed in, sometimes the snow so high people couldn’t open the doors and had to climb out their windows. Hearing this in the heat of a subtropical summer in Australia, I could only try to imagine….


{Neve in Roccacaramanico. Photographer: Andrea Basciano.}  

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una passeggiata in italia…

Passeggiando Santo Stefano Sessanio by Juan Alfredo Parisse

~ a walk in Italy…

Costa Masciarelli, L’Aquila by Juan Alfredo Parisse

 

 

‘…success
unexpected in common hours.

Henry David Thoreau

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The need for a lie down…

…about seven hours into an Italian wedding. 

{Photographer: Giuseppe Leone, Sicily.}

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Next step in the coffee process… dehusking.

Each bean must be done by hand. Grazie mille to R for a great ‘dehusking’ effort over many nights in front of the television!!  {Many more than pictured here.}

Left – dried beans (seeds) from inside the coffee cherries.
Centre – the outer husks once removed.
Far right – the green beans…

… ready for roasting next!

Related articles…
Coffee bean harvest… (zoeboccabella.com)
Coffee beans drying in the sun… (zoeboccabella.com)

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the copper chocolate pot…

Among the Spanish paintings of royalty, religion, death and destruction at the Masterpieces from the Prado exhibition is a small portrait of a copper chocolate pot with its wooden whisk, pieces of cacao, bread, and biscuits shaped like churros.

Still life with chocolate service {Bodegón: servicio de chocolate}, 1770 was painted by Luis Meléndez {1715-1780} who was born in Naples and died in Madrid, a pauper, his paintings unappreciated, and owning only his pencils.

242 years later, among all the other talented artworks, it was his that stopped me still the longest.

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Coffee beans drying in the sun…

Next step in the coffee process – the beans (or seeds) from inside the coffee cherries have been washed and are now drying.

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Coffee bean harvest…

It’s coffee harvest time again… these we picked from our backyard tree. Then, by hand, R extracted the beans from inside the coffee cherries and the beans are now spread out on wide sieves drying.

Next comes the {lengthy!} husking process followed by the roasting, the grinding, and then the drinking!

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Cannoli, cantucci and cornetti…

Cannoli, cantucci and cornetti…   Pasticceria in Assisi.

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Sep 20, 2012 · 9:32 am

Italia at night…

….taken from the International Space Station above the Mediterranean Sea on 18 August 2012.
{The lights of Rome and Naples are clearly visible on the coast near the centre.}

 {Courtesy Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, Australia.}

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Rogues, gargoyles and gallery….

Gargoyles, in their myriad forms include being carved to represent local heretics, controversialists, rogues, or personal enemies of the architect or building owner, particularly for ecclesiastical structures during the Middle Ages.

Photographer, Giuseppe Leone ~ known for his photography that ‘narrates’ life in Sicily, its traditions, monuments, landscapes and in particular, its people ~ has created a series that strives to match the faces of locals with gargoyles on nearby buildings.

Related article: the Italian wedding…

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Writing and witches…

Perhaps because my great-grandmother Maddalena was known as the village witch, there is something that appeals immensely about Italy’s most prestigious national literary prize, the Premio Strega being named ‘the witch prize’. In 1944 , Maria and Goffredo Bellonci began hosting at their house in Rome, Sunday gatherings of writers and artists that became known as the Amici della Domenica, or Sunday Friends. This resulted in 1947 the Belloncis, together with Guido Alberti, owner of the Strega liqueur business, inaugurating a prize for fiction, the winner being chosen by the Sunday friends.

Winners include Italian writers such as Umberto Eco in 1981 for Il nome della rosa – In the Name of the Rose and Giuseppe di Lampedusa posthumously in 1959 for Il gattopardo – The Leopard.

Liquore Strega has been distilled since 1860 in the town of Benevento, located roughly between Rome and Naples, the place where witches from all over the world gathered (and still do at a certain time of year). There is an old legend, still very much alive, this drink was a love potion witches created to forever unite couples who drank it. Strega liqueur continues to be tied to the sorcery of its origins. Some modern covens use the liqueur in their rites, burning it in bowls for various purposes.

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Estella Canziani bookplate…

Bookplate: Estella Canziani {1887-1964} artist, writer and folklorist, London {by Frank Brangwyn}, c1919, woodcut, 10.2x9cm.

 

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To the beach!

To the beach! ~ Gina Lollobrigida

Photographer ~ Gina Lollobrigida {from her book Italia Mia, which my father purchased in the early 70s}.

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Involtini di melanzane al forno…

It may not be the prettiest dish but the fried slices of eggplant rolled like crepes around prosciutto and mozzarella then baked with tomatoes, Parmigiano and basil tastes divine.

 

Related articles:

The melanzane are coming….

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A lovely way to spend an hour or two….

“If you have a garden and a library, you have all you need.” 

~ translated from Cicero’s Latin quote.

{The Artist’s Wife in the Garden at Skagen by Peder Severin Kroyer, 1893}

Related articles: A lovely spot for lunch…  (zoeboccabella.com)

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Fossa Sole, fossa soul, Fossa in the sun…

This painting of Fossa in the Abruzzo is by artist Juan Alfredo Parisse, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and whose parents are from L’Aquila, Italy.

Parisse paints watercolours ‘en plein air’ to capture the people, the towns and rural villages of the Abruzzo.

http://juanalfredoparisse.it/

Dietro Collemaggio by Juan Alfredo Parisse

Dietro Collemaggio by Juan Alfredo Parisse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related articles:

una passeggiata in italia…

Popes, murder and Dante… 

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Watching over…

Maki Horanai is an artist whose beautiful paintings we discovered by chance when we came across her first exhibition in 2005, and have been following her exhibitions since. Maki’s main influences are the works of Italian artists Giotto (14th century) and Fra Angelico (15th century), and Japanese artist, Kano Eitoku (16th century). This painting is called, ‘Watching Over’.

Related articles: Lightly, lightly…

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Roasted chestnuts….

Autumn means chestnuts, castagne and I always think of my Italian grandfather, Nonno Anni whenever we roast them. In the Abruzzo in the 1930s, Nonno Anni harvested chestnuts beneath Gran Sasso, later taking them to turn to flour at the stone mill with the wooden water wheel on the canal below his village of Fossa.

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Life in the Abruzzo in 1913…

Maria with cooking pots”, painted by Estella Canziani in Mascione, Abruzzi, 1913. Part of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery collection and printed in Canziani’s book, Through the Apennines and the Lands of Abruzzi.

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3 year anniversary of Abruzzo earthquake…

On April 6th it is 3 years since the earthquake hit the Abruzzo around L’Aquila in 2009 and most residents are still in temporary housing. This photograph shows residents also in temporary timber housing or barracks, taken in L’Aquila after the area’s previous major earthquake in 1915 killed more than 30,000 {epicentre Avezzano}. The humour of the man on the roof bending looking through his legs is heartening considering the recent trauma they must have experienced.

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Freshly baked bread…

For many centuries, baking in most Italian villages took place mostly once a week or even a fortnight. Both my grandparents told me how they recalled the women of the village taking their dough to the forno (often the only oven in the entire village), and that each piece of dough had an identifying mark on it for when the women came back to collect their baked bread.

In Palmi, Calabria my great, great grandmother and bisnonna baked for their area in a large, wood-fired oven or forno in a room beneath their house.

While I’d heard these stories and have been to the village forno I had never seen any pictures so I was thrilled when photographer, Carla Coulson recently sent me this Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph. It was taken in 1953 in the Abruzzese town of Scanno as women were carrying their dough to the forno for baking.

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Dancing in the snow…

This picture of young priests
dancing in the snow
was taken at a seminary in le Marche
in the early 1960s by Italian photographer,
Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000).

Initially they reminded me a little
of whirling dervishes but it is not any
type of ritual, merely an innocent time of
relaxation. The seminarians were
playing ‘ring a ring o’ roses’,
unaware of being captured by
Giacomelli’s lens as he hid up in a roof.

Later, he gave them cigars,
which the young priests enjoyed
but the rector wasn’t too pleased.

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Michetti’s Abruzzese shepherdess…

Francesco Paolo Michetti - Shepherdess Carrying a Bunch of GrapesBorn in 1851 in Tocco da Casauria of Pescara province, Francesco Paolo Michetti was an Abruzzese artist who aspired to paint ‘real life’ capturing people, animals, and local events. The Abruzzo was his inspiration and in 1883 he purchased a convent there as his home and studio. For the next 20 years, the convent was a meeting place for Abruzzo’s artists including writer Gabriele D’Annunzio. Time moves slowly in the Abruzzo and fortunately some landscapes such as in this painting remain.

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Pasta drying in Naples, 1897…

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Cherry wood and Estella…

Piedmontese peasant wood-pipe carved from cherry wood that writer, artist and folklorist, Estella Canziani presented to The Folklore Society of London in 1911. She donated it along with other items from her travels in northern Italy when she wrote and illustrated her first  book, Costumes, Traditions and Songs of Savoy (before she ventured to the Abruzzo in 1913 to pen Through the Apennines and Lands of Abruzzi).

I saw a similar pipe sitting on a stall table at the antique market in Arezzo and am still regetting not having bought it…

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