The Master Coppersmiths of Agnone

The Master Coppersmiths of Agnone

My guest blog post for the National Italian American Foundation 20.03.2017

Copper has a long and important history in Agnone. At one time it brought great wealth to the town. Read about this tradition in my article for NIAF, Remembering the Coppersmiths of Agnone

You can see an interview with Franco himself on our Live and Learn Italian You Tube channel, and practice your Italian at the same time!

Credit: Reposted with permission from The National Italian American Foundation ‘Remembering The Coppersmiths of Agnone’

And you can find more of my guest blog posts on the National Italian American Foundation blog. For further reading about the bell foundry, let me point you to a brilliant article on Google Arts & Culture also titled ‘The Bells of Agnone’.

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Recipe: Pizza e minestra from La Piana dei Mulini in Molise

Pizza e minestra, or Pizza di granturco is a typical Molisana dish and a perfect example of la cucina povera. With ancient origins, it’s basically a vegetable soup with softened cornbread. In Molise, corn ‘pizza’ has always been the daily bread of the poor. Laura...

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April and May Zoom Workshops have been a terrific success – the teachers were so impressed with YOUR participation, and I know from you, you’ve been impressed with THEIRS! SO – WE CONTINUE ... The new round of workshops now open for booking:   30 MAY – 20 JUNE    ...

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Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

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Tumbr Fest

Tumbr Fest

Tumbr fest - Cann’lora and the return of light: secular rites and peasant calendar

 

Tumbr fest takes its name from the old unit used during the reign of the two Sicilies and set off in 1861, following the unity of Italy. The festival was born with the intention of bringing back ancient ways to preserve them from the ‘oblivion to which they are destined’. Uses, customs and traditions are almost completely lost. This winter will be a kind of pill to the summer appendage of the festival.

“With the fire comes the spark of light of humanity and with the cooked food the relief from the need that prevents reasoning. With the temporary armistice of hunger, with the fulfilment of digestion, with the sense of prolonging life comes the story and the story lifting the head to heaven. Man becomes a man with the spark of the story seized in hell.”

From the presentation of Jesus to the temple through the purification of Mary until we arrive at the ancient Pagan tradition of Lupercali, we will try to bring together ancient knowledge and stories in the presence of the fireworks and candles of tradition. Starting from two straw-hammers with a fireplace, which has preserved their burden of minor historical heritage, and gathering people around some fires, in the ancient nucleus around which our little country was born, we will try to fight the monotony of winter and turn on the country for one night. The Colle della Lama with its spiraling roads that circulate in a circular way that extends to the original religious structure of which remains a sketch of the name of a street (Via Chiesa Vecchia) will be the theater of this event, which has the main purpose of breaking the monotony given by the rigors of winter, fighting it with conviviality and culture. February, whose name derives from the Latin February, which means “purifying” since in the Roman calendar in February it was the time of purification rituals, it is not known to be one of the best, with its rigours and snow, and has always been beloved, despite the s party. Antonio Abbot, the entry of the carnival, the killing of the pig. Waiting for better times in the past they spent the days closed in the house to spy, occasionally, the possible “moves” of time. The white reigned as today unconventional and often came out of the windows or passed under white and unspoiled galleries, without the tv in the house to fuel the discomfort in a population hardened by adversity like war and poverty. Candlestick in this falls to the brush, indicating to the grower the predictions of the “v’rnata” and its effective duration, according to which to organize with the new seeds and the remaining stocks. The lunar calendar is among the things we have forgotten along with respect for the nature that the peasant, the big shoe and the brain up, never stopped listening and watching.

How many things have we buried under the ashes? Many, among which many proverbs. So be prepared to suffer a little bit of the bug and pull out the ashes of childhood memories and potatoes, just as grandma did once. We offer culture, music, theatre, poetry, fire, food and wine to fight the impotence that has taken over countries like ours. A country wants it.

Cannellora, chieara aprilə and majjə come é jennearə, if it is solə or sulariélləsò n’andrə 40 juornə də ‘nviérnə.”

***

I attach the poster, characterized by an original monologue divided into two parts (Christianity and Paganism), written for the occasion of the Roman theatre author Valeria Belardelli and interpreted by Manuel D’Amario, Abruzzo actor emerging in the panorama Italian.

The opening debate will be attended by Franco Valente, & include a concert of the folk-rock blues singer Adriano Tarullo, originally from Scanno (AQ). And a reading of Franco Arminio’s “Dreamy Mouse and Other Animals of the Country” by Manuel D’Amario followed by the poetry of Eugenio Cirese and Gustavo Tempesta Petresine.

Then traditional food such as cazzariell and beans and impressive potatoes accompanying a few (a few) potatoes to ash and pizza d grandign cooked to the cup, prepared in the fireplaces of the strawberries made available.

The frame is the charming hill of the Lama, home to the country’s first living nucleus.

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Abruzzo-Molise Heritage Society Q&A

Abruzzo-Molise Heritage Society Q&A

Our good friends at the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society in Washington DC kindly asked me to do an interview about our programme for their readers, which was published on their website, where I contribute as a guest blogger. They started with a tough question; ‘What makes Live & Learn Italian different from a typical language school?’ Where do I start!…

 

I keep promising myself that I will hunker down in a quiet (not too quiet) village to improve my Italian. Taking one or two weeks to brush up or even get started on speaking Italian makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? A program in charming Agnone in Molise allows you to study hard and take a holiday at the same time. The name says it all – Live and Learn Italian. A local, independent business whose aim is for a small number of students to integrate themselves into the fabric of the town, to experience the local customs, and engage in the crafts - as a welcomed friend!  Sounds like paradise to me.

1. What makes Live & Learn Italian different from a typical language school?

We are so different from a standard language school - with never more than 12 guests at a time, the emphasis is on integrating everyone into the community during their stay. We do offer classes (3 hours daily + homework!), yes - but the focus is on practising the language, and the rest of the time we join in community events, visit the local artisans and their workshops, or cook and share meals with local families. These activities and so many others are all in Italian because the community is not English speaking at all - and our guests really do get to feel part of it, and that they are living in an authentic town - come and discover your inner Italian!

2. How can a week or two of study also be a holiday?

Well, it’s a learning holiday - no doubt about that. Talks and visits include hearing about the cultural history of the region, and learning a language does take some effort. But combine that with enjoying exceptional produce, visiting family restaurants, local festivals and events, getting out into the incredible nature of the region and relaxing over meals and drinks with a small group of like-minded individuals - and everyone, without exception, has a very fulfilling holiday.

3. How many years has L&LI been in business and what are its origins?

2017 will be our 5th season. I came here to stay with cousins and learn Italian myself and discovered a unique opportunity - a community that does not speak English and is a protector of ancient traditions and world-class artisans. The idea came to me to share this with a few others - to give learners of the language an environment in which they can engage with anyone and everyone! We are mindful of the great gift we have in working with an authentic community, off the beaten track, and we play a small part in keeping aspects of this ancient culture and its traditions alive, without in any way compromising the authenticity. We encourage our guests to explore, learn, and discover, while respecting, protecting and valuing the modest way of life of the region. Working directly with many local families, individuals, and businesses, we are not only providing valued income, but an opportunity to tell their stories, and share their crafts and produce.

4. Typically, who comes to Molise to study with L&L?

Most of our guests are 50+, professionals who have been learning Italian for some time or who have started later in life. Some are recently retired - active people, learning for family reasons, or because they love Italy and the culture and language, and want to be able to converse when they travel. Many are lovers of music, art and architecture, and occasionally we get literature lovers keen to read Dante in the original! We also get second and third generation Italians who are discovering the language of their ancestors.

Credit: Reposted with permission from A Q&A with the Abruzzo-Molise Heritage Society Washington DC’

To find out more about our partner, The Abruzzo & Molise Heritage Society, Washington DC, why not visit their facebook page.

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Live & Learn Italian Language Holidays – A taste of the 2 Week Programme

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Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

  I'm delighted to share a wonderfully written guest review of Live and Learn Italian this month, resplendent with added tales from further Italian exploration by Jenny Matthew. Many guests find incorporating 2 weeks with us in Agnone as a great way to hone...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

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Immerse yourself in Italy

Let's discuss what works best for you...
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Learn Italian For Travel with Stella Lucente

Learn Italian For Travel with Stella Lucente

Stella Lucente Italian Language books

I heartily recommend this Italian language book to my own guests, all students and travellers visiting Italy for the first time. It really is the best book to learn Italian for beginners. ‘Conversational Italian for Travelers‘ by Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti, a radiologist of Italian-American descent, who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. During that time, she founded Stella Lucente, LLC, a publishing company focused on instructional language books designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience.

Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveller to Italy, she wrote the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language.

This series of books is truly different from other Italian language books. The Conversational books are friendly, humorous, and combine travel tips with language lessons. These books also provide a method for people to understand and remember Italian phrases so that they can create their own. Everything one needs to know to travel to Italy is in this series of books!

Useful links to the book and more from Stella Lucente

The website learntravelitalian.com, which is the home of the books, provides FREE interactive dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers, cultural notes, and Italian recipes to make learning the language really come alive.

 

Review for Conversational Italian for Travellers – book and website

A methodology created by a student of Italian, as she herself learns. But, this student is not only passionate about learning Italian, she is a scientist - a truly unique combination!  Kathryn Occhipinti has created this book and the many fabulous add-ons to the series, in a truly comprehensive and practical format.

Working her way through the language, building bit by bit, she is always mindful of the conversational, and idiomatic way that Italians think, and speak. Grammar is explained as needed – and comprehensively: an important solid base on which to build.

I heartily recommend this to students and travellers – and certainly to my own guests, some of whom are travelling to Italy for the first time. Although most are already studying Italian, they are not so well equipped when it comes to day to day speaking. Their practical knowledge of useful phraseology is often lacking, but this is what they need the most to enjoy their holiday.

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April and May Zoom Workshops have been a terrific success – the teachers were so impressed with YOUR participation, and I know from you, you’ve been impressed with THEIRS! SO – WE CONTINUE ... The new round of workshops now open for booking:   30 MAY – 20 JUNE    ...

ONLINE WORKSHOPS to complement your Italian Learning

The current lockdown is testing for everyone, but we’re also managing to find some silver linings. One of them, for me, is more time to study Italian. I am working with our wonderful teachers to put together a series of workshops, and the first one is about to...

A poem in Italian inspired by Maria Alice’s visit to Agnone, September 2019

Maria Alice joined us from the US and fell in love with Agnone, as so many have done!  She wrote this poem first in English and then worked on putting it into Italian.  This final version came to be with the kind help of Maria Alice’s teachers: Anna in Pennsylvania...

An introduction to the pre-Roman Samnites of Molise

Agnone, Pietrabbondante and the Sammnites - A territory rich in history. One of the names given to the ancient town of Agnone is “L’Atene del Sannio”, Athens of Sannium. Athens - because of Agnone’s rich cultural heritage, and Sannium - because Agnone is located in...

Live & Learn Italian Language Holidays – A taste of the 2 Week Programme

  Saturday, June 15-29, 2019 Our drivers Fernando and Donatella brought guests to Agnone in 2 batches - from Canada, Australia, the US and UK. Sunday, we went out to Marco’s, to hear about his honey and wine production. The pollen is extracted from wild fruits...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

  I'm delighted to share a wonderfully written guest review of Live and Learn Italian this month, resplendent with added tales from further Italian exploration by Jenny Matthew. Many guests find incorporating 2 weeks with us in Agnone as a great way to hone...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

Emerging young artist of the Marinelli family, Ettore shared his work with us at the Bell Foundry this summer   The tradition of metalworking in Molise goes began three thousand years, when the Samnite tribe, once Rome’s fiercest rivals, were casting statues for...

La ‘ndocciata, Agnone’s most famous event

La 'ndocciata 2018On the 8th of December I finally saw l‘ndocciata, Angone’s most famous annual event. Believe it or not, I’d never witnessed it. High time then…It’s the biggest ‘festival of fire’ in the world, ‘una scia di fuoco’, and allegedly the oldest – though...

Immerse yourself in Italy

Let's discuss what works best for you...
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La Mia Strada

La Mia Strada

La Mia Strada - a feature film from Michael DiLauro

 

“And they go down the ancient traturro to the plain. Almost down a silent grassy river following the footprints of ancient fathers… Gabriele D’Annunzio

<iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/X7n4eKJOSik?rel=0" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>

In the words of the director, Michael DiLauro (biography):

“This feature-length documentary explores the fragile bonds that connect a family from generation to generation, from country to countryit is a filmmaker’s personal journey along the iconic trails that Italian shepherds have used since ancient times. The focal point of La Mia Strada is the shepherd’s trail—the “ancient traturro” referred to by D’Annunzio. It has its origins in the Bronze Age (1800-700 BC), when during seasonal migrations in search of better grazing, shepherds led their flocks along the trail, often through narrow and treacherous terrain. This network of trails, covering more than 250 kilometers, starts in the Abruzzo region of central Italy, extends to Molise and Puglia, and down into the Province of Foggia—the paese of my grandparents.

With family members and friends on both sides of the Atlantic, DiLauro seeks to make a connection between these ancient trails and the one that led to a new world. La Mia Strada is a search for identity; both the filmmaker and those connected by common threads of ethnicity. It explores the experiences and traditions associated with the trattura— the hardships and simple pleasures of the shepherds, the natural beauty of the landscape, the food, the folk art, the music, and the culture of the regions through which the trails pass. During their long months away from home, the shepherds left their cultural mark; creating poems, etchings and songs depicting their harsh and lonely way of life. On the other side of the Atlantic, the shepherd’s stories have little relevance for modern Italian-Americans, yet they speak of a simple, uncomplicated life that so many yearn for. The filmmaker’s journey is a quest to find the bond between yesterday and today, between the ancient and modern.

Over a period of years, DiLauro has conducted dozens of interviews, explored historical sites, sifted through archaeological artefacts, dug through family photographs, and immersed himself in the music, poetry, and oral histories of the Abruzzi, Molise and Puglia regions. His journey has also taken him to many Little Italy’s of The America’s. The film is a link between the ancient and contemporary histories of families divided by an ocean, yet united by an indelible genetic bond.

Read our full biography of Michael Angelo Di Lauro

 

Discover more about La Mia Strada, and di Lauro's other films on iMDb

 

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Pizza e minestra, or Pizza di granturco is a typical Molisana dish and a perfect example of la cucina povera. With ancient origins, it’s basically a vegetable soup with softened cornbread. In Molise, corn ‘pizza’ has always been the daily bread of the poor. Laura...

Our ONLINE WORKSHOPS are zooming ahead

April and May Zoom Workshops have been a terrific success – the teachers were so impressed with YOUR participation, and I know from you, you’ve been impressed with THEIRS! SO – WE CONTINUE ... The new round of workshops now open for booking:   30 MAY – 20 JUNE    ...

ONLINE WORKSHOPS to complement your Italian Learning

The current lockdown is testing for everyone, but we’re also managing to find some silver linings. One of them, for me, is more time to study Italian. I am working with our wonderful teachers to put together a series of workshops, and the first one is about to...

A poem in Italian inspired by Maria Alice’s visit to Agnone, September 2019

Maria Alice joined us from the US and fell in love with Agnone, as so many have done!  She wrote this poem first in English and then worked on putting it into Italian.  This final version came to be with the kind help of Maria Alice’s teachers: Anna in Pennsylvania...

An introduction to the pre-Roman Samnites of Molise

Agnone, Pietrabbondante and the Sammnites - A territory rich in history. One of the names given to the ancient town of Agnone is “L’Atene del Sannio”, Athens of Sannium. Athens - because of Agnone’s rich cultural heritage, and Sannium - because Agnone is located in...

Live & Learn Italian Language Holidays – A taste of the 2 Week Programme

  Saturday, June 15-29, 2019 Our drivers Fernando and Donatella brought guests to Agnone in 2 batches - from Canada, Australia, the US and UK. Sunday, we went out to Marco’s, to hear about his honey and wine production. The pollen is extracted from wild fruits...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

  I'm delighted to share a wonderfully written guest review of Live and Learn Italian this month, resplendent with added tales from further Italian exploration by Jenny Matthew. Many guests find incorporating 2 weeks with us in Agnone as a great way to hone...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

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La ‘ndocciata, Agnone’s most famous event

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Immerse yourself in Italy

Let's discuss what works best for you...
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Making wine in Molise

Making wine in Molise

Traditional wine making in Agnone

In October, Agnone opens the door to one of the important traditions of our region. Making wine in Molise dates back to very ancient times and has been handed down from generation to generation through farming methods and peasant traditions as well as for the importance of its cultural and traditional aspects that characterize vintage as an annual event of work and sharing social in the territory.

The social and ritual role that characterizes vintage has been even stronger in recent decades when friends, relatives and neighbours gathered together in the vineyards, all together to work on grapes in the vineyards and then celebrate with a rich banquet.

Today, tradition is still alive, thanks to a few willing, who cultivate this passion with sacrifice and love to their own land.

Work in the vineyard:

It involves many activities: pruning, verderame every week, removing the weeds between the rows and making sure that the various diseases and parasites of the grape do not attack the grapes. Tinned, tinose cassettes the presser and the press must be carefully washed to avoid parasites and moulds that can spoil the must during the fermentation period.

The harvest

In the morning he prepares breakfast and awaits the arrival of friends and relatives who work together to grab the grapes, making breakfast start to the countryside to start work. Once you arrive in the vineyard you download all the necessary tools; cassettes and buckets, ready to be filled with bunches that pickers break away from the trunk of the vine with a net scissor blade or with a blade of a knife.Racing the one is transported to the place where it is transformed, generally in the cellar of the owner of the vineyard.

While transporting the grapes from the vineyard to the cellar, vending machines take advantage of a mid-morning breakfast with various omelettes and cold meats, all washed with fine wine.

The transformation

The traditional methods used for vinification are different, each family uses their own method such as:

Cotto (baking of must)

The baking is obtained by pressing and pressing the grapes:

The Must, which is placed in copper boilers and boiled slowly in direct fire until the 50% reduction in volume. When the baking is completed, the decanted must still be warmed up with the spices of the sprouts and pasted to the press and mixed with raw must.

The Cotto II Method (Cooking the Cucumbers)

The berries  are placed in copper boilers and boiled slowly in direct fire to a 50% reduction in volume. When the baking is completed, the decanted must still be warmed up with the spices of the sprouts and pasted to the press and mixed with raw must. .

The Navellato

The “wine” obtained from this first stage of processing must be placed in a container.

The container must be washed and disinfected.

All must be left to macerate for one to two days in the container-

During this phase, it will be necessary to check the must more than once to check the temperature, but also to carry out the so-called tarnishing , which consists of treating the skin peels on a surface to spread natural dyes in the wine.

The fermentation times vary depending on the final result we want to obtain; for a less alcoholic wine and sweeter we stop the process after 5 or 6 days. For a bitter taste and a higher alcohol content, we continue for at least 20 days. Always proceed with temperature control and grip throughout the period.

I decided the fermentation times, at the end of these we have to start with the ripping. With a sieve, divide the skins from the liquid. Before you throw away the peels’s, make sure torchiarle properly, because they contain still very liquid: we can do it by hand squeezing (less effective) or using a special press.

All the liquid obtained at this point is put to rest in a well-sealed barrel or container. The first transfer to remove the residual pose can be done after about a month, to be done with the help of a siphon (without touching the bottom of the container) and making sure that the wine is not shaken. After another month, a second transfer can be made in the same mode, while the third can be performed even after 15 days from the second.

Dinner

After the transformation of the grapes and after washing for benino, comes the time of the traditional dinner I will expose you the menu of the vintage 2016:

Appetizer : Braised, Suppressed, ham, bacon, rustic sausage.

Plate: Sagne to Tacconi with pork chops

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