#152 I miss Biblioteche – 2

In Inferno, canto XXXIII, Dante tells the sad story of count Ugolino Della Gherardesca, accused of treachery and together with his sons Gaddo and Uguccione, and his grand-sons Nino and Anselmuccio were detained in the tower called Muda (Torre della Muda). On orders of the Archbishop, the keys were thrown into the Arno river and the prisoners left to starve.

“Poscia che fummo al quarto dì venuti
Gaddo mi si gettò disteso a’ piedi,
e disse: “Padre mio, ché non m’aiuti?”.

Quivi morì; e come tu mi vedi,
vid’io cascar li tre ad uno ad uno
tra il quinto dì e ‘l sesto; ond’io mi diedi,

già cieco, a brancolar sovra ciascuno,
e due dì li chiamai, poi che fur morti
Poscia, più che il dolor, poté il digiuno.”

(Inferno XXXIII, 67-75)

“But after we had reached the fourth day, Gaddo,
throwing himself, outstretched, down at my feet,
implored me: ‘Father, why do you not help me?’

And there he died; and just as you see me,
I saw the other three fall one by one,
between the fifth day and the sixth; at which,

now blind, I started groping over each;
and after they were dead, I called them for
two days; then fasting had more force than grief.”

After that the tower was called Torre della fame (‘Tower of hanger’) or Della Gherardesca.

The tower is now part of Palazzo dell’Orologio (right part), in Piazza dei Cavalieri, Pisa

and part of the Library of the Scuola Normale Superiore.  

I used to study up there, in company of the ghost of the poor count and his kids.

(See also “I miss biblioteche 1” https://misshome.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/125-i-miss-biblioteche-1/ )


#151 I miss spesa di Natale – 1

At the end of November usually people start planning Christmas grocery shopping.

It is a really serious business, every year the italians spend a lot of money, time and energy to choose the best food, plan several meals, and prepare them. The list includes:  la cena della Vigilia, (‘Christmas Eve dinner’), il pranzo e la cena di Natale (‘Christmas lunch and Dinner’), l’ultimo dell’anno (New years Eve), Capodanno (January 1st) and l’Epifania (January 7th). Normally for each event the entire family meets, each lunch or dinner includes at least 3-4 courses, and great organization skills.

It’s a huge amount of food, and a big deal.

So people start planning and preparing everything in advance.

Starting from la grande spesa di Natale (‘the big grocery shopping’).

Step one: you want to choose the best grocery store, a good balance between good quality and good prices.

Step two: buying non-perishable goods.

Normally this includes sweets, such as

torrone (‘almond or hazelnut nougat’)


Ricciarelli (almonds cookies)

and dozens of Panettoni and Pandori the two typical Christmas cakes

carefully considering how many you will need for you and your family and how many you will give to your friends and family as a gift.

#150 I miss Italian creative scaramanzie -1

I am not a superstitious girl.

I normally facepalm (yes it’s a verb) when I see someone concerned for a black cat crossing the road, sometimes instead the complex cultural systems that originates specific superstitions or Italian reactions or creative scaramanzie ‘ways to keep bad luck away’, make me smile.

Many scaramanzie or many beliefs about what porta sfortuna ‘brings bad luck’ are just a smart way to forbid people from doing stupid things.

For example, speaking of olio d’oliva…

…they say that spilling olive oil, brings bad luck, and breaking a whole bottle is a death omen!

Of course they say that, olive oil was (and still) is so precious!

#149 I miss olio nuovo

Olio d’oliva, were made in a frantoio ‘oil mill’

Olives were pressed by huge macine ‘millstone’

In many places they still produce olio extravergine d’oliva in the traditional way.

The first oil produced right after la raccolta delle olive, is called olio nuovo ‘new oil’.

In several Italian regions famous for their oil production, many frantoi open their doors to the public, and offer free samples of olio nuovo

In Umbria for instance “Frantoi aperti” is a very popular annual event

#148 I miss raccolta delle olive

A few days ago my parents were collecting olives in our gardens.

When we moved in this house, in the Anno Domini 1992, my father planted 3 olive trees.

A couple of years ago he collected olives and made his first bottle of olive oil. One bottle. Just one.

Apparently our mini-oliveto is improving. This year they were able to collect something like 10 kg of olives.

Olives are harvested by shaking the tree or the brenches and them collecting them from the ground…

#147 I miss fumetti – 4

Corto Maltese

is a comics series featuring the sailor-adventurer Corto Maltese, created by Hugo Pratt in 1967 and translated into numerous languages.

Called Maltese, because born in Valletta, on Malta island on July 10, 1887, son of a British sailor and a gypsy Andalusian known as “La Niña de Gibraltar” he grew  up in the Jewish quarter of Còrdoba, reading Utopia by Thomas Moore,  and the books by London, Stevenson, Melville and Conrad, eventually become  a sea captain who supports the disadvantaged and oppressed.

(See also “I miss fumetti – 1-2-3″ https://misshome.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/135-i-miss-fumetti-1/


https://misshome.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/144-i-miss-fumetti-3/ )

#146 I miss rimedi della nonna – 2

And here’s more completely random rimedi della nonna.

L’infuso di melissa, the infusion made with Melissa officinalis, is a good remedy for cramps, and a natural downer

Someone calls melissa “la droga dei poveri” (‘drug of the poors’).

An infusion made with salvia, ‘sage’ and salt relieves gums problems

Acqua e aceto (‘water and vinegar’) is good to cure sinusitis.

Grandmothers has always use aceto for a variety of things.

Aceto e sale (‘vinegar and salt’) are perfect for cleaning. And in fact you can prepare a good home made dishwashing liquid with vinegar, salt and lemon juice. Low cost, natural and very effective

aceto, is also perfect to clean the fridge

(See also “I miss rimedi della nonna 1” https://misshome.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/143-i-miss-rimedi-della-nonna-1/ )