Tag Archives: Italian folklore

Stars, circles and crosses…

Thank you for joining me here throughout the year – for your wonderful interest in and support of my books and for sharing your own experiences and memories with me.

For me, the best part of writing is the connection when those words are read or heard and that magic happens of a story shifting from one mind to another. I love this also when you share your own stories with me. Grazie e auguri. xx

I understand all too well that this time of year can be one of joy, challenge or mixtures of both and my heart goes out to you all. Whatever your beliefs or experiences may be, I hope this time rests gently on you and that the coming year is a kind one.

Warmest wishes, baci e abbracci, Zoë 💙  x

* Pictured are painted tiles from the San Donato ceiling, 1615, in the village of Castelli, Abruzzo that lies on Gran Sasso, the highest mountain of the Apennines. The 17th century stars, circles, suns and crosses actually go back much further to ancient times in Italian folklore and are part of a little of the magic of the area that I’m hoping to write about in the coming year.


Filed under art + photographs, inspiration + history, italy

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

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Filed under inspiration + history, italy