Tag Archives: Estella Canziani

Italian folk magic and amulets…

Raccavallala!’ Granny Maddalena cried out if someone stepped over a child lying on the floor – step back over it! – or you’d stunt the child’s growth. I’m currently researching Italian folklore and came across this very superstition and many others like… never put your wallet on the floor or you’ll have no money. If you accidentally put your clothes on inside out in the morning it’s good luck and you’ll receive good news. Wasting food or throwing it out brings misfortune. Remove cobwebs with your left hand for good luck.

On the cover of Mezza Italiana is Granny Maddalena’s actual corno amulet from Abruzzo that she wore on a delicate gold chain. Made of a gold likely from the 19th century when she was born, its chilli shape goes back to ancient times to ward off misfortune. Being born in Abruzzo in 1893, during her life Granny Maddalena had one foot in age-old, Pagan Italy and the other in the modern world, for she lived until the 1980s. And still in present time many Italians wear amulets and talismans for luck and protection from the malocchio – evil eye.

Beside Maddalena’s amulet are her gold earrings – given to young girls as gold was believed to protect against blindness and misfortune and interestingly because it symbolises the sun’s power and masculine energy. I have no idea how old these earrings are but Estella Canziani did paintings of similar earrings worn by peasants in Italy and France that she saw during her travels in the 1900s, including in the area of Abruzzo where Granny lived.

I hadn’t thought of it much, but since I was a little girl, I’ve had small, gold hoop earrings in my ears every day and sleep in them too, not realising until now, in my late forties, that this is such a tradition in warding off the malocchio and seeking the sun’s energy. This morning, I also accidentally put on a jacket inside out so perhaps today I’ll have good luck (though I’m still to find out if I’ll receive good news!) Hope you’re having a lovely day and remember, it’s bad luck to sweep your house after dark! xx

Leave a comment

Filed under inspiration + history, italy

Twilight over Scanno, Abruzzo – 1928 by Estella Canziani

Twilight Scanno Abruzzi

Leave a comment

Jul 26, 2014 · 11:59 am

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

1 Comment

Filed under art + photographs, italy

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.


Filed under art + photographs, books + writing, inspiration + history

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under art + photographs, italy, kitchen stories

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…


Filed under art + photographs, inspiration + history, italy