247 – Minturno Festival of the Wheat Harvest and International Folklore Festival

Each summer at the beginning of July  the town of Minturno comes together to celebrate the Festa delle Regne or the Wheat Harvest Festival. This year marked the 63rd edition. The main feast day celebrations are held on the second Sunday of July when thanks are offered to the patron of the town, the Madonna delle Grazie.  Historically monks of the Franciscan order used to bake bread that was then distributed to the poor.

There is a procession throughout the old town where the statue of the Madonna and child is carried on a rustic cart decorated with wheat sheaves, and pulled by a pair of strong oxen.

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There is also a parade of decorated carts and trailers, representing the harvest, that have been submitted by various neighbourhood groups. These are towed up to the main square of Minturno and a prize is generally awarded for the best design. The designs are incredibly intricate and detailed.

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There is a long and colourful parade made up of various groups, these include characters dressed in elegant medieval costumes, sbandieratori or flag throwers and musicians.

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The Associazione Folklorica di Minturno was formed in 1989 to strive to promote and keep alive the town’s popular traditions, culture and musical heritage. From a young age local children are encouraged to learn about their traditional heritage. There are dance classes organised to suit all ages and troupes of dancers are put together.

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Throughout the year the skilled dressmakers of Minturno busy themselves by sewing fine costumes that are typical of this area.

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photo by Melinda Abbott

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photo by Melinda Abbott

The most famous Minturnese costume is called “la Pacchiana”.  This has the characteristic elaborate head-dress made of a starched and folded white linen or muslin cloth, which is edged in lace. There is a white blouse with full puffed sleeves, made of a finely pleated material, which are gathered just above the elbow. The laced bodice is richly embroidered in gold thread, and over this a cream-coloured shawl is worn over the shoulders, once again decorated with gold embroidery.

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The skirt is long and black. At the front a black silk apron is worn, while at the back there is the addition of a special fold of red material known as a “pagnuccia”. The costume wearer is also adorned with abundant gold jewellery and large earrings.  Historically, these ornate costumes would have only been worn on special feast days or at weddings. Often the beautiful treasured costume would be passed down in families from mother to daughter. The men’s clothing typically consists of a black jacket, a white frilled shirt with wide sleeves, knee length trousers, a wide red band tied around the hips, black shoes and bright red stockings.

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At the festival the groups perform numerous traditional dances such as the tarantella and the saltarella.

On the same Sunday evening as the Feast of the Wheat Harvest,  Minturno also hosts an acclaimed International Folklore Festival. This welcomes other dance troupes from around the world to share their cultural heritage and traditions. This year there were colourful performances by groups from Chile, Mexico, Macedonia and Maldova.

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In this cultural exchange dancers, singers and musicians from all around the world can meet up and share their traditional cultural heritage and ethnicity in an atmosphere of warmth, friendship, peace and harmony.

All photos are by me © Louise Shapcott (except those by Melinda Abbott above)

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246 – A Visit to the Local Buffalo Farm

The Fattoria Santa Lucia is a modern farm complex located near to Minturno and Sessa Aurunca, along the ancient Roman thoroughfare of the Appian Way, not far from the River Garigliano which divides the regions of Lazio and Campania.

Buffalo have been farmed on these plains for many centuries, yet the buffalo, bubalus bubalis‘, is not an animal indigenous to Italy, in fact it originates from  the of East India. There is some debate as to how and when the buffalo were introduced into Italy. Some historians believe they were brought here by the Saracens while others think it was down to the Lombards. However it is known that there have been buffalo farmed on the plains of this area of southern Italy for many many centuries.

The Fattoria Santa Lucia has a large herd of buffalo and it welcomes visitors to its premises.  It also welcomes school parties and offers educational tours. You can observe the buffalo in various areas of the farm.

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It soon became apparent to me that there is nothing a water buffalo likes more on a blisteringly hot day in Italy than to wallow and roll in a pool of mud, to help protect itself from the heat.

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Dotted around the farm there are interesting educational panels regarding the breeding of the livestock and how the animals are fed and cared for.

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There is another section with the mothers and their young calves. The babies are so adorable.

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A lactating mother can produce 7 litres of milk a day which is high in protein content and essential vitamins especially vitamin B, K, and J.  Following the milking process the milk must be quickly chilled to a temperature of 4 to 6 degrees C.

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Rennet is then added to the milk to form the curds which are then heated in the whey to form strings which give the mozzarella its elastic consistency.  The strings of curd are then cut – The term mozzarella is derived from this procedure called mozzare which means “cutting by hand”. The curd is then formed into the characteristic balls of soft milky cheese.

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The smaller sized balls are known as boccancini. The cheese can also be formed into plaits.

Mozzarella produced in this area has the certification of Mozzarella di bufala campana DOP. On the farm is a small shop where you can buy the freshly produced Mozzarella and other delicious locally produced products.  The cheese is best preserved in some of its whey and should ideally be consumed within a day or two of purchase.

We love it served sliced or quartered together with sun ripened tomatoes, chopped basil and a generous drizzle of our own Tre Cancelle November Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Delicious – there’s nothing quite like it !!!

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The farm also has an agriturismo, a restaurant where you can sample the local produce and traditional dishes.

The Fattoria Santa Lucia website

* photo Luigi VersaggiCC BY-SA 2.0

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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245 – My New Website about Atina and the Val di Comino.

I am really passionate about this little hidden gem of a town that has panoramic views over the valley of the Val di Comino – an area of outstanding natural beauty. My maternal grandparents originated from this beautiful mountain community, so it is part of my ancestral heritage and my roots.

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However, I used to find it somewhat frustrating that I couldn’t manage to find much information in English about this area, so I came up with the idea of creating a website in English all about Atina and the Val di Comino.  For over a year now I have been working on setting up a new site about the town of my Italian ancestral heritage – Atina.

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Atina is situated in the province of Frosinone in the region of Lazio Italy, conveniently situated approximately midway between Rome and Naples. It is also only a short drive from the Abbey of Montecassino and the beautiful coastline of South Lazio.

Over the centuries Atina has experienced such an interesting history.  It was an important town even back in the times of the Romans and Samnites and it has been destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt several times over the centuries.

 

Within the historic centre there are many places to explore such as the medieval fortified palace of the Cantelmo family, the beautiful cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the nearby Palazzo Prepositurale.

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Atina also has several other churches of interest,  archaeological sites to visit and local museums.

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During the summer months there are many popular events held in the area such as the Feast of Santa Maria Assunta, the Atina Jazz Festival, the International Folklore Festival and the CantinAtina wine festival to name but a few.

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photo © Mirko Macari

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There are many interesting local products to sample, notably the Cannellini beans of Atina and the local wine Atina Cabernet Doc and as well as other traditional gastronomic delights.

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It is also a great region for exploring the great outdoors and partaking in various sport activities such as treking, mountain biking, horse riding, climbing, canoeing and paragliding. Indeed this area has so much to offer.

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I am hoping to translate the website into Italian and French and to add a blog which could be a supply interesting articles and publicise local facilities, festivals and events. I hope that my website may encourage more people, with connections with Atina and the Val di Comino in Ciociaria to come and discover more about this wonderful area.  

My new Atina website:  Atina Italy

I have also created a Facebook Group named “We Love Atina”. It is a great meeting place for people who have family with origins from this town, and who share my interest and passion. If you have a connection with Atina please do feel welcome to come and join us.

Facebook Group We Love Atina

All photos except where stated by me © Louise Shapcott

 

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri in South Lazio

 

243 – The Lake of Posta Fibreno

During our grandson’s April visit to Italy we took time to explore the Lake of Posta Fibreno, which is located in the beautiful area of the Val di Comino in Italy. The village, of the same name, is perched on on a rocky ledge and has a splendid view of the valley and lake below.

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The lake is in the shape of an elongated curve. It is a protected Nature Reserve measuring about 400 hectares.

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The lake is fed by thawing snow and rainwater that has flowed down from the slopes of the mountains of the Abruzzi. As the rock is limestone much of the rainwater is channeled underground.  Where a pool of water collects the water becomes dispersed through springs into the lake.  Thus the water in the lake is icy cold and crystal clear, and remains at a constant temperature all year round.  Scuba divers enjoy exploring the lake due to crystal clearness of the water.

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The lake has a curious “floating island” known as “la Rota” which has developed over the course of thousands of years due to an accumulation of peat, rhizomes, tree roots, plants and algae.  The thick mat of vegetation is not rooted to the bottom of the lake, so it drifts according the undercurrents  and the strength of the wind.  

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Local fishermen use flat-bottomed boats, known as “nàue”, traditionally made of oak and propelled by the use of a pole or an oar.  It is thought that this type of boat was designed and first utilised thousands of years ago by the Samnite people. The lake contains an abundance of fish such as trout, carp, eels and freshwater crayfish. The lake is lined by weeping willow trees, by rushes and reeds and other aquatic plants.

It is a popular haunt of nature lovers and bird watchers.  Several nature trails have been created through the park and there is also restored watermill and a museum of local culture and tradition to visit. 

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On the shoreline there are several bars and restaurants set beside the lake. There are also lovely spots to have a family picnic. It is a favourite place to visit on a Sunday afternoon by the locals.

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We hired a pedal boat to further explore the lake. 

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We saw numerous birds such as coots, ducks and herons. There were also some eager beavers who were busily collecting sticks to build their dams. Together with its unique natural beauty and eco-system the lake provides an ideal environment for many species of flora and fauna. 

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All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri

Discover South Lazio

241 – Christmas Greetings 2016

Well as you can see we have had a busy full-on year here at Tre Cancelle.

We have welcomed guests from all around the world and have had many happy guests, and we’ve received some kind reviews on TripAdvisor

We’ve had the pleasure of meeting some really lovely people, sharing special times with family, friends and visitors, visiting some really beautiful places and enjoying the peace and tranquility of Tre Cancelle.

We are so lucky and we have so much to be grateful for.

Here are some photos of the Christmas decorations in the nearby seaside town of Gaeta.

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Wishing you, one and all, Peace and Joy this Christmas

and also wishing you all the very best during the year ahead.

Ciao for now !!!

Louise and Paul

xxxxxxx

238 – Elsie’s Birthday

The day after we got back from our trip to Tuscany and Umbria was Elsie’s birthday, which she usually likes to celebrate with us in Italy.  It was another beautifully warm and sunny day so we all headed for lunch at the Miramare down by Sant’Agostino beach, between Sperlonga and Gaeta.

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The birthday girl Elsie

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Kay

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Laurie

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Lora and La Dolce Vita !

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Lora

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Lora collecting shells

That evening more friends were flying over to stay with us and help celebrate Elsie’s birthday. So that evening we all went for a meal at the Bellavista in Itri.

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Paul, Amanda, Patrizia, Elsie and Andrea

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Patrizia and Elsie

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Andrea and Kay

On evening before Lora and Laurie were due to depart for Rome Pat and Melinda invited us to join them for a meal at a restaurant near Castelforte called Terra di Briganti. This was our first visit to this eating establishment.

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Lora, Melinda, Andrea and Amanda

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Paul, Laurie, Lora and Melinda

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Amanda, Elsie, Kay and Pat

We were impressed by the food served and the prices were quite reasonable. I do believe we will return again one day soon.

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Pat chose a buffalo steak from the menu. He highly recommends it.

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Sadly soon it was time to say goodbye to our American friends Lora and Laurie as they were going to spend a couple of days in Rome before winging their way back to Wisconsin.

A last picture of all us girls together.

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Laurie, Lora, Kay, Andrea, Elsie, Amanda, Louise

We so enjoyed their company and I enjoyed our trips to Herculaneum, Sorrento, Pisa, Cortona and Assisi.   Thank you so much for coming to help celebrate my milestone birthday. I dream of coming to visit you in Wisconsin one day.  Ciao for now !!!

#birthday #italy #Buffalo Steak #SantAgostinoBeach

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230 – Paul’s Dad and Sister Annie Come and Visit

Paul’s sister decided to take early retirement last year from her job as Head Teacher at her school in Warrington.   She had started teaching at the school over 25 years ago and had progressively worked her way up. Anne was hoping to have more time to relax and unwind after the last stressful years of her job.  She also wanted to be able to spend some more time with Dad Shap in his later years. He still lives in Bristol, and Anne visits him whenever possible.

It was also lovely that she could organise a trip for her and Dad to visit us in Itri, since in the past he has loved to come, but at the age of 87 really finds travelling on his own too much these days. It was lovely for him to be able to catch up with us at Tre Cancelle and meet up with some of our Italian friends who he has come to know well over the years.

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Paul and Dad Shap – photo by Anne Bright

During their visit we had a very pleasant lunch at a little restaurant by the beach called the Miramare, the weather being beautiful at this time of year, sunny but not overbearingly hot as it can be for northern Europeans during the summer.

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Dad, Paul and Louise – photo my Anne Bright

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Dad, Anne and Louise – photo by Anne Bright

Also during their visit we chose to go to one of our favourite eateries – “La Casareccia” in the nearby little town of Campodimele. You may well have read some of my previous posts about this wonderful little gem of a Taverna.

Here we organised to met up with our friends Pat and Melinda and their visitors Bobby, PJ and Luke from the USA, also Pat and David, also from the US – who like Pat and Melinda, have recently purchased a property in Minturno, and finally Karen and Stewart from Nottingham who have a holiday home in Sperlonga.  We were celebrating Melinda’s birthday and Dad and Anne’s visit.

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Stewart, Pat, PJ, Luke, Bobby, Paul, Anne and Dad

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Melinda and Stewart

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PJ and Luke

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Bobby and Anne

Once again we were not to be disappointed by the wonderful spread prepared by Maria the c0-owner and cook of the Casareccia. Plate after plate came our way of truly delectable food.

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Maria, David and Pat

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Stewart and Karen

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Happy Birthday Melinda !!!

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Very seductive pose Ms Melinda !

Here are some photos of a previous visit to “La Casareccia”.

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Pat and David, Melinda and Pat

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Paul, Pat, David and Melinda

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Pat, his brother Mike and sister-in-law Jeanne

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Pat and David

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Highly Recommended !!!

Please note that during the winter months La Casareccia is only open at weekends.

A previous post about La Casareccia

Trattoria La Casareccia in Campodimele

The Casareccia reviewed on TripAdvisor

Bar Trattoria La Casareccia
Stazione di servizio Repsol, 04020 Campodimele, Italy
Tel:  07715980207

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#LaCasareccia #campodimele #italy #Traditional  #typical #ItalianFood #restaurant #trattoria #SouthLazio

Read more about Campodimele The Village of Longevity here

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

229 – Florisa’s Garden

My wonderful Italian friend Florisa is always busy, whether it be cooking, cleaning, working, harvesting olives or helping people, friends and family. She has such a very kind and generous nature.

However the thing that she loves the most is her garden. She really does have green fingers, or as they call it here in Italy “pollice verdi” which curiously translates as “green thumbs”. She really does knows how to make her garden grow. It is a delight to wander through it.

This will be just a photo blog, as I believe the pictures will speak for themselves.

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Isn’t it just amazing !!!

Florisa with some of her home grown strawberries.

Grazie Carissima  Florisa xxx

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All  photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#garden #gardening #italy #italian #recipes #italian

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy