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EASTER TRADITIONS

Published March 30, 2013 by Tony

MEMORIES OF A TIME
THE CASATIELLO

Easter time.
In addition to doing my best wishes to you all, I take this opportunity to tell you some memories that in these days come to my mind.
At that time I was a toddler and often on Friday our grandmother picked me up to let me spend a few days at her home.
The grandmother “mmaculatina“, as people called her (Immaculate, God rest her soul), in those days did not go to work, and aware I liked being with her, came to our house to take me, and sometimes took my sister too. She loved her grandchildren, and on that time I was the youngest grandson, and although she was living with our grandfather, between work and commitments she spent little time at home. It had been years that the granddad was already retired, having made the postman became sick with bronchitis and arthritis, and alone spent all his days at home. He had his own bed with a bedside table on which a glass of wine and his radio never had to be missing. A man of few words who spent his days walking slowly in the house, sitting on the bed, sipping wine, smoking and listening to 1920: My grandma when youngopera on the radio.

It was an old building where, on different floors, a long balcony gave access to homes, inside the building those balconies turned all around the perimeter of the apartment blocks. The houses were not very large, entering directly to the first room, usually the living room, where the granddad had created his personal corner. On the right there was a small kitchen with a small window that looked out on the perimetral balcony, and where there was a very small bathroom formed simply from toilet and a sink. Beyond the living room was my grandma’s bedroom, that had a small balcony overlooking the street below. We slept in the same double-bed with grandma and I still remember her laughter when she told relatives how I sometimes fell asleep touching her breast and resting my head on his chest. I loved my grandmother and it was only the need in maternal instincts of a kid who, like me, had evidently not received enough cuddles from his mum. The grandma “Immacolatina” was good, cheerful and friendly, as well as a holy woman and had dedicated her life to work in the factory where she had become the “teacher,” as called her there, to wit the supervisor. Her relationship with the granddad were not excellent, having been from long more a nurse than a wife, and she was glad to have us at home to chat and pass the time.

As usual, Friday is the day when all Neapolitans dedicated to the preparation of the “casatiello“, also called “tortano“, the typical Neapolitan rustic pie (Neapolitan Lard Bread). And the grandma prepared it Friday afternoon to let it rise all day and then in the night took it at the bakery for baking. In those years it was customary to let casatiello bake by bakers because not everyone had a powerful ovens as bakeries where the cooking was done in an optimal way. There was no area or neighborhood that did not have some baker nearby. Anyone who would have walked in the alleys of Naples, during Friday and Holy Saturday, felt the almost stagnant scent of “casatielli” which were cooked at homes or by bakers. How can we forget that smell?
Odor that became all one with those feast days Grandma & Iand represented them as well. For this in Naples, even today, Easter is to say casatiello and vice versa.

At that time, due to the enormous work to be done between Thursday and Saturday, bakers worked continuously day and night. For this you could go to one of them at any time of the day or night, and deliver your casatiello or withdraw it.
The baker from whom my grandma went, was a few blocks from the house, the huge old wooden front door was always open for the occasion, placed on the ground and stacked up one above the other, hundreds of aluminum “ruoto” (round baking pan). They were the casatielli waiting for bakery.
Truly spectacular!
At that time, not everybody had the pan with the hole in the middle, which gives casatiello the classic donut shape, and so, most of the containers had a wineglass or a cup (glass or metal) at the center, around which the pasta was then grown encasing it.

Crossed the entrance hall, people arrived at the courtyard where on both the sides were stacked firewood for the ovens, shovels, sacks, buckets and other objects. In addition to the smell of casatielli, so strong here to become pungent, you also felt the scent of flour that you found everywhere, on the ground, on walls, on objects, everything was whitewashed with a pinch of flour!
Entered in the furnaces room, the heat became almost unbearable. Everywhere there were shelves made by long wooden boards, one above the other, on which side by side the casatielli already cooked were placed.
Here, the casatiello was not more as white as those encountered at the entrance, but the color of the rind of bread in its various gold shades.  A variety of sizes and shapes, those with the eggs above visible under two small strips of pasta in the shape of X, those without eggs or those where the eggs were just popping out below the golden crust. You could not but be enchanted to see those scenes, and especially for a kid like me.

People came and went, with those who were giving their casatiello and those who were going to pick up it, and all workers each with its own task. On that occasion there were more people at work and one of them went to the grandma and after taking two plates of aluminum from a huge basket, gave one to her and attacked the other with thin wire to the container’s handle. The baker asked if the casatiello had already risen and then placed it onto the others waiting for cooking. Probably, somewhere else there were those which were in need of further rise before being baked.

On those aluminum plates was imprinted a number which from then on would have marked our “casatiello.” After cooking the casatielli were placed on those planks in a coarse numerical order, according to the number that had been tied close, so to trace it when the owner would come back for it. In fact, to take the casatiello you had to give back your plate, and the baker began to turn around the wooden shelves to look for it. Hundreds and hundreds casatielli. You paid, wrapped the container in a cloth, and went back home happy with your casatiello ready to be eaten.
Things of other times, when everything was simpler and folksy!

casatiello

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Giorgio Sommer

Published October 13, 2012 by Tony

GIORGIO SOMMER
NAPLES IMAGES & CULTURE


In a previous post dedicated to the German photographer Wilhelm von Plüschow, I also had set out to talk about another famous German photographer, Giorgio Sommer,  who gave so much to Naples, about its culture and natural beauty.  What you will read below has been taken from Wikipedia.org site.


Giorgio Sommer (1834–1914) was born in Frankfurt (Germany), and became one of Europe’s most important and prolific photographers of the 19th century. Active from 1857 to 1888, he produced thousands of images of archeological ruins, landscapes, art objects and portraits. After studying business in Frankfurt, Sommer opened his first photography studio, during which time he worked in Switzerland, where he made relief images of mountains for the Swiss government. In 1856 moved his business to Naples and later (1866) formed a partnership with fellow German photographer Edmund who owned a studio in Rome. Operating from their respective Naples and Rome studios, Sommer and Behles became one of the largest and most prolific photography concerns in Italy.
Sommer’s catalog included images from the Vatican Museum, the National Archeological Museum at Naples, the Roman ruins at Pompeii, as well as street and architectural scenes of Naples, Florence, Rome, Capri and Sicily. Most notably, Sommer published his comprehensive album “Dintorni di Napoli” (Near Naples), which contained over one hundred images of everyday scenes in Naples. In April 1872, he documented a very large eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a series of stunning photographs. Sommer and Behles exhibited extensively and earned numerous honors and prizes for their work (London 1862, Paris 1867, Vienna 1873, Nuremberg 1885). At one time, Sommer was appointed official photographer to King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy.
Sommer was involved in every aspect of the photography business. He published his own images that he sold in his studios and to customers across Europe. In later years, he photographed custom images for book illustrations, as well as printing his own albums and postcards. He worked in all the popular formats of his day: carte de visite, stereoview, and large albumen prints (approximately 8×10) which were sold individually and in bound albums.

The images are a lot and I’ve chosen only a few to show to you now. Click to magnify.

730px-G__Sommer_1103  736px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_1171_-_Tempio_di_Venere_a_Diana_Baja  737px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1155_-_Napoli_-_Vesuvio  742px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2123_-_Sorrento  755px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__3830_-_Pozzuoli_-_Panorama  766px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1191-_Amalfi  771px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__103_-_Napoli_-_via_Roma_(Monumento_a_Carlo_Poerio)  780px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__0556_-_Sorrento_-_Marina_coll'Albergo_Tramontano  792px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2501_-_Napoli_-_Eruzione_del_Vesuvio_26_Aprile_1872  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1169_-_Capri_-_Marinella  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2044_Strada_da_Sorrento_ad_Amalfi_Positano_verso_Prajano  396px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__7102_COMO__Il_Duomo_  477px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_1516_-_MUSEO_DI_NAPOLI  741px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1210_-_Pompei_-_Casa_del_Poeta  756px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2066_-_Pesto_-_Tempio_di_Nettuno  759px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2146_-_Capri_-_Grotta_azzurra  765px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1297_-_Pompei_-_Strada_di_Stabia  773px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2012_-_Amalfi_-_Convento_dei_Capuccini_-_Chiostro  800px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__4428_-_Bronzi_-_Museo_di_Napoli_-_Cornell_university_website  G__Sommer_1164  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__3010_-_Pompei_-_Casa_dei_Vettii  761px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1187_-_Napoli  777px-Makkaronifabrik_Neapel Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__11610_-_Napoli_-_Costume  Sommer,_Giorgio_-_Contadini_di_Capri_-_sec__XIX  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2742_-_Scritturale  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2796_-_Zampognari     Sommer,_Giorgio_-_Famille_napolitaine  Makkaroniesser

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FEARS OF TODAY

Published September 9, 2012 by Tony

HOW FEARS HAS CHANGED OVER TIME

If someone claimed to have had no fear in his life, I would advise him to go to a doctor and get treatment.
Fear is born with man, also if at the beginning he only was afraid of his God, omnipotent and capricious, then, as the story went on, fear has proliferated inevitably transforming over time. However, the fear often has been a good weapon to stimulate a positive and healthy reaction
The prehistoric man was afraid of wild animals and natural disasters, while other forms of fears, more vague and irrational, came a little later: the fear of the vacuum or of immensity, the fear of falling, for water, fire, etc..
The passage of time and the arrival of new and unforeseen events led to the emergence of new anxieties, such as the fear of diseases, epidemics (plague, leprosy, syphilis, etc.), and about contagion that continually threatened the life of entire neighborhoods.
The development of science and human knowledge has added new fears to the list, such as the fear of flying, of the lift, of the sea, of closed places, of animals, of “nothing” and of the “unexpected” even.
The eldest Italian persons remember well the “black man“, and the fear it represented when they were children.
The black man was an unreal and grim figure created by our ancestors just to frighten children and avoid their whims. Until a few decades ago, children have grown up with the fear that the black man could arrive suddenly and scare them to death. Without ever knowing who he was or what would have done.
If you do not stop crying I call the black man!”
Poor and innocent creatures!
Anyway, fear of the dark is everywhere the main one that has always accompanied children growth, as well as the fear of death is common to most of the elderly.
But my question now is: “What are the fears of modern man?”
Or how fear has changed over time?
If fear is proper to man, no doubt it is also son of the times and circumstances.
To the fear of epidemics of the past centuries, we may associate the fear of AIDS or of avian epidemic had a few years ago, for example. The fear of the black man, instead, may have been replaced by fear of terrorists or of different cultures.
To the ancient fear of God we can associate the fear of the “existential vacuum.”
Today, it is believed in everything and to the opposite of everything, while everything has lost its real value.
The pursuit of material goods and a life lived in comfort, has led to a lack of imagination and a cultural standardization. In today’s society, which changes fast, the roles no longer exist.
New fears, sometimes unjustified, arise and spread over, while those atavistic and irrational ones magnify at the level of widespread panic. There is the fear of crowds, of a different religion, of war and tyranny, as well as the fear of environmental catastrophes, of crime and poverty.
Then there is the fear that comes from fear itself, as the race for power.
“You build a bomb from 2 kilotons and I am forced to make one of four.”
“The society did not give me anything and so I take from others! “
It’s lacking faith in man and in neighbor, thus trust and love.
Man who is afraid of his fellow creature.
The terror and the great disasters which we often have experienced as spectators so far, have marked our souls and feed our fears. Once, the fear of the dark  and of the black man helped growth and awareness, giving certainty and self-confidence.
The fears of today, instead, kill your confidence, sadden and make us weak and asocial.
I feel sorry for future generations, but in this chaos I do not think that there is still, in short, a way of escape.

DEFERRED MATURITY

Published August 31, 2012 by Tony

DELAYED  ADULTHOOD

It’s a matter of fact, thanks to scientific and technological innovations today we are living more and better.
But these changes have helped over the years also some genetic mutation, for example just think of the stature, with the new generations taller than their ancestors, or to the reduction of the fertility, because evolutionarily not the same need to reproduce ourselves as in the past.
But looking more closely to the evolution of the species, I have noticed, as many  experts also say, that with the longer expectation of life and from age to age, it also have been acquired  a lengthening of the time necessary for children to become “mature” or adults.
From long in many countries, the eighteen years of age represent the achievement of legal age, the coming of age linked with maturity, and this should suppose an eventual physic and mental maturity.
In the past, before age 18, a teenager was already considered an adult man, as evidently he  already showed a physical and mental adulthood. Once, for a young man twenty years old, it was normal to be married, having children and already with a professional activity, beyond the need to cut definitively the “umbilical cord”, which kept him still tied to the family.
Today, instead, it’s not unusual for men older than 20 years still act and look like teenagers!
I would venture to say that the 18-years-old of sixty years ago can be compared roughly with the 25-years-old of today, about the look or the manhood, at least.
An evolutionary gap of 6-7 years or the price to pay for a greater longevity?

Formal portrait of a 15 year old New York City boy in 1898 Portrait of a 15 year old boy in early 1900
0000271726-030 John Wayne at 30 years, with Marlene Dietrich
Handsome-Zac-Efron at 25 yo Zac Efron at 25 years
472px-Justin_Bieber_at_Easter_Egg_roll_-_crop Justin Bieber, 18 years old
early_years_0009!BoPO-Ug!2k~$(KGrHqMH-EUEuYESHe3RBLmtyp06 Q~~_3 George Clooney in his 20 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very young couple with children in early sixties

CHILDREN OF A TIME AND CHILDREN OF TODAY

Published June 10, 2012 by Tony

GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES

YOUTH OF TODAY

YOUTH OF FOMER DAYS

contacts mom by cellular;

had their moms who called them from the window;

chats with friends by social network;

talked with friends in the court or club;

plays with Playstation or PC at home, often alone;

played marbles, stickers or football on the footpaths;

goes to the gym and does sport;

always was in movement spending hours in the street;

follows a diet or eat healthy;

ate everything;

is always under parents’ control;

was as much as possible away from parents;

is pampered and spoiled by relatives;

was more mature and independent;

often is mentally unstable;

was determined and with a strong personality;

is insecure and needs parents’ help;

had fewer fears and faced experiences of his/her own;

feels more the need to be alone;

always was along with friends;

spends much time indoors;

tried to stay outside as much as possible;

have so much but share few with other people;

had not much and shared everything with other people;

does well in school, parents are involved and there is a friendly relationship with teachers;

wasn’t going well in school, parents did not care and there was no relationship with teachers;

often is unsatisfied;

adaped and asked for nothing;

feels inferior if has no brand clothes and accessories and has a fully stocked wardrobe;

was just content to go not-naked in the street and happy when received a paltry new garment;

watches much television;

watched TV only at late evening or when couldn’t go away;

receives allowance from parents and often money from grandparents;

never had money and ifhad, not even knew how to spend it;

between Christmas and birthday receives more gifts per year;

barely received one toy at Christmas;

has more knowledge, but more theory than practical;

also if more ignorant was more ingenious;

is attached to parentsand mom in particular;

loved parents but wanted to be free;

leaves home in very old age;

left home as soon as possible;

thinks that everything is due, is demanding and picky;

was grateful for the mere fact to be fed, and his claims, if there were, were for necessary things;

spends vacation with parents and often visiting new places;

rarely went on vacation or on a trip  ‘cause parents couldn’t afford it;

hardly had permission to travel alone;

on some occasions could travel alone;

often talks about sex and his flirt withparents;

knew little about sex, but were private matters;

is turning to parents for any trouble or mischief;

felt it was important reserve, privacy and conspiracy of silence;

has little courage and resourcefulness;

has no ideals or dream to realize.

was daring and enterprising in all;

lived with ideals with some dreams to fulfill.

mmmm