All posts tagged memory


Published March 30, 2013 by Tony


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!



Mercury’s memorial plaque goes missing

Published March 10, 2013 by Tony

Who Stole Freddie’s Burial Plaque?

Freddie Mercury burial plaque

The Queen frontman died in 1991 and was cremated after death, but still today no one knows where his ashes are or if and where they were scattered.
“I promised him on his deathbed that I would never say where I put his ashes. I know where they are, but this is the only thing I want to say about this” These are the words of Mary Austin, Freddie Mercury’s girlfriend who was at his side during the final agony.
It was she who put in Kensal Green Cemetery, where Freddie was cremated, a plaque in his memory, with the inscription: 
Mary Austin

“In memory of Farroukh Bulsara. Sept 5. 1946 – 24 Nov. 1991. Pour être toujours avec tout près de toi mon amour”
(To be always close to you, my love).

Days ago it has been noticed that this commemorative plaque was missing.
Perhaps, since on the plaque only the real name of Mercury had been engraved, the cemetery’s staff had not noticed neither the plaque nor its immediate disappearance. Who stole the burial plaque?
Whatever the reason, for commercial purposes or real desecration, you are blasphemous!
The mystery over the remains of the great artist deepens more and more.



Published September 10, 2011 by Tony


According to a recent study of Columbia University, the abuse of search engines could bring the brain to get lazy.
Which of you  still remember the advice of the teachers at school – “…avoid to have recourse to the calculator for the computation and train your mind?” –
The concept is the same.
Today, thanks to computer, cell and Internet most of us do without memorizing data, because we then can go back any information easily,  by a few clicks on computer or cell, independently if it’s a telephone number or information.
Why must I remember if I can find everything I need whenever and wherever I want?
In short, (rote) learning and memory would be strongly influenced by the presence of digital media that people usually use.
It’s a fact that the new technologies are changing lifestyle, but someone else says, on the contrary, that beyond memory performance,  the new technologies help to be more efficient extending our cognitive capacities too.
Which of them is right? Who will live, will see!



Published August 23, 2011 by Tony



During the walk of our life we make acquaintance and meet many people, including friends and relatives, and it sometimes happens to establish a closer relationship, an intimate or emotional one, and I am not referring, in this case, to romance or love stories in particular.

Relationships that often last many years and for various reasons then end, falling into oblivion inexorably.

Usually they are relationships that arise during youth, when we have more time to wander and to be together and later then, the unfolding of the life – from both the sides – leads them to end or to limit certain friendships born in the past. For example, consider the entry into the world of work, with all its obligations and problems, or the love affairs, engagement or marriage, with all the concerns and commitments coming from it. Important things that affect and transform our life radically, opening new chapters of our existence. And just in these new chapters it can happen to forget or put aside some things happened in the previous chapters, and this is what happened to me too.

While in the bed I was trying to fall asleep, during one of these hot and sultry summer night, my mind, as often happens, was wandering over time reminding or analysing past things.

Franco and Giovanni the first years we knew each other.

Franco and Giovanni the first years we knew each other.

At once, John’s face appeared…. Franco’s, parent’s and other members of their family.

They were distant relatives, but between us suddenly came a friendship and a deep fondness that lasted long. Years of carefree, happiness and projects, with John and Franco, two brothers, younger than me, whose home I went every weekend to be together. The days spent together at the seaside, the humour and joy of their father and the good will and affection of the mother, who regarded me as a member of the family … … a whirlwind of memories flowed as a flashback in my closed eyes.

What a tenderness and melancholy!

It is true that we exceptionally met at a funeral many years after the end of the relationship, with just the time to ask each other:

how are you? … where are you living? … what job are you doing now?

In my eyes their faces were those of 30 years ago, faces that I knew well and that will remain forever in my mind, and I wondered:

how do they could look like nowadays?!

In the case we will meet in the street, it even could happen to  be unrecognizable people.

Gee whiz! A shiver crossed my skin.

Their family changed their residence after our friendship had vanished and some year later I had knowledge that John got married, and because the job had gone to the north.  I do not know his children as he doesn’t know mine. They are perfect strangers each other.

What a shame!

I do not have their addresses and neither found them on Facebook … who knows, all things considered, I perhaps prefer to remember their faces as they looked like at the time.

As said, this can be considered just one of those relationships that ends without a particular reason, and though long and important, then became a memory that will disappear with us only.
How strange life is!