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Well, sadly all good things must come to an end.
All the members of the “We Love Atina !!!” Group seemed to really enjoy their long weekend in Atina. They were a great bunch of people and everyone got on so well. The weather was so kind to us, lovely warm sunny days, perfect for all our little trips around Atina and it environs.
We enjoyed several lovely evening meals together at …
The Villa Fortuna’s restaurant in lower Atina / Ponte Melfa. We found it to be very friendly, the food was very good, tasty and reasonably priced.
We also used the Villa Fortuna’s bar as our meeting point and were made so welcome by Marcello and Christiane, the Italian / American owners who also share our passion for Atina and genealogy. We were also able to use their Wifi network which was very useful. Thanks guys !!!
The group also had a lovely meal one evening at the well known restaurant named “Il Vicolo” in Upper Atina, which was also very enjoyable.
You can read more about “Il Vicolo” here:
One lunch time we went for a spot of lunch at “La Botola” (opposite the Museum) and had the typical Atina dish of “pasta e fagioli“.
During their stay in Atina Brigida and Trevor, and Gina and Enrico chose to stay at the Fontana Vecchia, which is situated a little outside Atina, so a car would be useful. They found the owners to be very friendly and helpful and would have no hesitation in recommending it to future visitors of Atina.
Mary stayed at the “Hotel Virginia” near the centre of Atina. Here are some photos she took of the view from her room:
She said: “It was very clean and quite retro … A mix of old and new, the owner’s husband is a French architect and he designed it. The owner also took me to the train station in Cassino when i left and would have picked me up too if I had called her … I spent a week there and I was the only one in the hotel so a bit scarey. It was very central for Atina, if like me, you are without transport.”
The Bed & Breakfast Posta Vecchia is also well recommended. It is situated in the heart of the old town. However it only has 2 rooms
We’d also like to recommend the Hotel Villa Fortuna (who also have the bar and restaurant above) to anyone looking for accommodation in and around Atina. This is situated in lower Atina, in Ponte Melfa.
Well, we are soon to plan next year’s “We Love Atina” Group’s next gathering in 2015. We hope it may become an annual event.
The date is still to be decided, however some have asked if it could be held during the summer months.
Any further feedback would be much appreciated.
If you would like to join us, please feel free to join our
“We Love Atina !!!” Facebook Group
or get in touch with me.
We’d love to hear from you. The more the merrier !!!
Ciao for now !!!
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
#atina #atinafrosinone #italy #familyhistory #surnames #weloveatina
Some members of the “We Love Atina Group” stayed on for a couple more days to see for themselves the Feast of San Marco, the patron saint of Atina. Marco Galileo is said to have been an apostle of St Peter and was persecuted and martyred for his Christian faith in Atina, during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian.
Once again we met up at the café next to the Arco in Piazza Garibaldi.
On this occasion we had the pleasure of meeting Lorraine Tambourine and her husband Billy, who are both from Scotland. They are frequent visitors of Atina.
Festivities were just starting to get underway. There was a brass band playing across the square by the Convent of San Francesco.
I went up to the church and peaked inside where the ceremony was still taking place.
There was San Marco in all his glory.
By this time darkness had fallen and I wandered through the streets
admiring the illuminations.
After the church service there was the procession
throughout the streets of Bella Atina.
The festivities continue into the night
when at midnight there is a grand firework display.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
#atinaitaly #atinafrosinone #feastday #feast #sanmarco #santamariaassunta #cathedral #cattedrale
We took some of the group to Montecassino Abbey, which is just a short drive away from Atina. Mary Gilmour, Gina Polard and her father Enrico Battaglia had not had the opportunity to visit the abbey before.
Saint Benedict of Norcia founded the ancient Monastery of Montecassino in 529 AD and the order of the Benedictines. The Abbey was built on the ancient ruins of a Roman fortification, and became renowned through the ages as a place of great holiness, culture and art.
During World War II Cassino was a stronghold of the German Gustav line and the abbey was almost completely destroyed by the Allied forces who carpet bombed Cassino and the Abbey, the decimation of this holy bastion gave rise to a massive public outcry. After the war the Abbey was eventually rebuilt according to its original design, and brought back to its former glory.
As you enter the Abbey you first come to a peaceful cloister, and standing in the centre of the garden is a bronze statue depicting Saint Benedict as he is dying, being comforted and supported by two of his Benedictine brothers.
In the cloister is a beautiful and colourful mosaic.
This leads on to the Bramante Cloister.
In the centre there is an octagonal well.
The Monastery’s vineyard
Steps lead up to a higher cloistered area and the facade of the grand Basilica, which has three bronze doors.
As we entered the Abbey the monks were singing verpers.
The inside of the Basilica is incredibly ornate and lavishly decorated.
There are wonderful examples of colourful intricate inlaid marble work.
Another Cloister with a fountain.
More than 30,000 soldiers lost their lives at Cassino and many are buried in the relevant British, French, Polish, German and Italian Military Cemeteries. The Polish Cemetery is positioned on a hillside overlooking the Abbey, a footpath leads down to the entrance which is guarded by two stone eagles. 1,052 Polish soldiers are interred here, each grave is marked by a cross and the graves are laid out on a terraced area. Above the terrace is a hedge, clipped and shaped to form a hollow cross. An inscription, which translated from Polish reads:
“We Polish soldiers for our freedom and yours
Have given our souls to God
Our bodies to the soil of Italy
And our hearts to Poland”.
You can read more about Montecassino and Cassino here at my website:
We then headed for the British Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Cassino, here the individual gravestones stand upright in the landscaped grounds which are meticulously tended in memory of the fallen soldiers. Here in this tranquil sanctuary more than 4,200 brave young Commonwealth servicemen now slumber in eternal peace, overlooked by the abbey from aloft.
I always feel so sad and emotional when I visit these cemeteries. We have another such cemetery not far from here, in Minturno with contains yet another 2,049 Commonwealth graves. So many fine young lives lost – and what for I ask? Paul, my husband, said to me – “Imagine seeing instead of gravestones all these soldiers standing up proud in their uniforms, ready to defend their country / commonwealth. How splendid they would have looked.” We must never forget that each one was a wonderful person, courageous, loving, with a family behind them, who would miss them forever. The same applies to all British soldiers who fought for their country so bravely in wars across the world but didn’t make it back home. We must also remember all those injured and maimed.
May they rest in peace but remain in our hearts and prayers.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
From Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, written in September 1914
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
#montecassino #abbey #cassino #wargraves #british #warmemorial #italy
Francesco Massa also organised for us to visit a local museum by the name of Casa Museo Académie Vitti. We did not know of its existence prior to this, and from the outside it just looked like an ordinary house, but once inside what a treasure trove it proved to be.
The museum is dedicated to the Academie Vitti, a private art school, founded by Cesare Vitti in the Boulevard de Montparnasse, Paris in 1894. During this period the Montparnasse quartier was a centre of art and bohemian culture which attracted artists from all over the world.
There were three beautiful Caira sisters, namely Maria, Anna and Jacinta, who worked as professional models posing for artists, sculptors and photographers. They came from Gallinaro, a small town in the centre of the Val di Comino, quite near to Atina. On display are many nude sketches in pencil, charcoal and chalk and paintings and drawings by Jacinta Caira.
There are also many postcards and photographs of models in costume taken by the greatest photographers of the time, such as Nadar and Naudet.
Maria Caira married Cesare Vitti.
The Academie Vitti became one of the most respected schools of Art in Paris and operated without interruption for about 25 years, until the beginning of the First Word War in 1914 when the Vitti’s and Caira’s decided to return to Italy. They lived in the very same house where the Museum is now situated.
Cesare Erario is a direct descendant of the family and decided to open a museum to exhibit the family’s treasured private collection of authentic works and memorabilia.
Thank you to Cesare and Francesco Massa
for organising this really interesting visit.
All other photos
© Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)
#atina #italy #MuseoAcademieVitti #museum #schoolOfArt #MontparnasseParis #ValDiComino
Our Visit to the Winery of La Ferraria.
La Ferriera is an establishment run by a family that has a long tradition in the production of wine, specializing in the production of quality red wines with the designation of origin ‘Atina Cabernet DOC’. It is located in the Rosanisco district of Atina and is housed in the buildings of an old Iron Foundry.
The Iron works were founded by the Bourbon king Ferdinand II in 1858 to extract iron from the ore mined in the nearby area of Monte Meta. There have been mines situated here since Samnite / Roman times, and it was this that historically gave Atina much of its wealth and accordingly the name of “Atina Potens”.
The plant had a huge blast furnace with a large air pump or bellows to ventilated it. Today it is draped with a curtain of vines and creepers.
There is a spacious courtyard surrounded with other buildings which were utilised as warehouses in which to store the raw materials, workshops, administrative offices and accommodation for the some of the workers. Unfortunately the life of the Ironworks was to be short lived as it shut down in 1860 and was left abandoned.
In the centre of the courtyard stands an ancient poplar tree.
Below – Lucio Mancini giving us the guided tour.
Some of the old building are now used for the production of wine. The Cabernet and Syrah varieties of grape are cultivated in the vineyards of the estate of Colle Alto in lower Atina, in the beautiful Val di Comino.
Modern equipment has been installed for the production of wine with controlled temperature and inert atmosphere in order to obtain a good extraction.
The wine is aged in barrels make of French Oak, with maturing on the lees and finally in the bottle.
La Ferriera specializes in the production of quality red wines with the designation of origin’ Atina Cabernet DOC ‘.
The Realmagona DOC, is produced with Cabernet and Syrah grapes, We also tasted the Dorato derived from Pinot Bianco and Malvasia varieties.
Below Lucio Mancini overlooking the wine tasting.
Lucio Mancini overlooking the wine tasting
We were also kindly invited to taste of some other local delicacies.
Thank you to Lucio Mancini – Sales Executive of La Ferriera and Francesco Massa – Consigliere Comunale of Atina for organising this interesting tour for us.
Thank you very much to Mary (shown on the left)
for treating us to a lovely bottle of
La Ferriera’s Realmagona Atina Cabernet.
So very kind of you !!!
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
#atina #wine #winery #AtinaCabernetDoc #grapes #visocchi #LaFerraria #IronMines #IronFoundry #italy
The Church of Santa Maria – the first church was built in 1044 on the site of the Roman temple of Saturn. This was destroyed in the earthquake of 1231, however was soon rebuilt and was enlarged over the years. In November 1943 it was destroyed during the bombing of Atina. This is the entrance to the Cemetery.
Atina’s Cemetery – The Visocchi Chapel
Looking down at the lower section of Cemetery at the church of San Pietro and in the distance the district known as “Il Colle” and the small octagonal church of Santa Croce.
From Atina’s Cemetery
A view of the Val di Comino and the mountains beyond.
A section of ancient Cyclopean wall dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries BC, situated near the Cemetery.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
#WeLoveAtina #Cemetery #Atina #frosinone #italy #church #churches
Having enjoyed it so much last year, on the first Sunday of August we eagerly returned to Atina to watch the Gran Premio Dell’Arco, the Go Kart racing competition. This year we took lots of photos of the event.
Just like last year, the designs of the carts were many and varied, the common theme being all “wheels” are made from “Ball Bearing Races” kindly donated by the manufacturer SKF of nearby Cassino.
Whilst not fully up to pace with all the design regulations, its seems carts can have three or four bearings and these can be either large or small, or indeed a combination of both. For months in advance the carts are lovingly crafted and tinkered with in the cellars and garages around the town, it has to be said some a little more seriously than others.
There are three driver age groups, the youngest driver age band being the Teenagers, then the 18 to 50 year olds, and finally the Seniors or over 50’s. Time trials are carried out throughout the morning of the event. Each driver gets a lone run which is meticulously timed and determines their actual starting position on the grid. Then in the afternoon, after a good plate of pasta of course, the main races follow !!!
This year in addition to the normal fixed point cameras along the course, the events were recorded by an “eye in the sky” in the form of a helicopter camera man, and the event was recorded by a local radio station c.A.c. A c.a.S.
The course runs for a length of approximately 2.5 kilometres, starting from the main archway at the entrance of the old Centro Storico in Atina Superiore, and winds its way down to Atina Inferiore / Ponte Melfa on the valley floor below.
3 members of our family were to take part: Cousin Mario and his two sons Giuseppe and Simone.
Each race began with the sound system playing a loud rousing fan-fare to fully set the scene. The commentator then began the final countdown, and soon the competitors went careering off down the hill, fronted by a squad of motor bikes noisily beeping their horns. In the square a large TV screen had been set up for the spectators to watch the rest of the race on the long winding road down to the finishing line.
Finally the ceremonial presentations of the trophies to the victors are held in the early evening. This year was more special for our family because we had a podium finish. Cousin Mario achieved second place in the over 50’s section, setting the standard for next year for his two sons to endeavour to supersede.
Bravo Mario !!!
Also this year was special because in the middle category there was a lady driver on the podium for the first time ever.
One day we drove with Ben and Keith up to Atina, to visit “la famiglia” where we were, as always warmly received. It was over 3 years since Ben’s last time in Atina.
He enjoyed wandering through the cobbled streets, taking some photos here and there of the home town of his Italian great-grandparents, Benedetto and Maria Grazia.
photos by ben woods
We very much enjoyed Dad and Esmé’s stay, even though we were somewhat preoccupied with Deefer’s snake bite and final preparations as new guests that were to arrive shortly. During his holiday with us, we belatedly celebrated Dad’s 80th Birthday by holding a little “Afternoon Tea Party” here at “Tre Cancelle”, inviting a number of our friends.
That week we were all invited to visit my cousin’s in San Donato for lunch. Dad very much enjoyed meeting Antonella, after having read about her trials and tribulations regarding the Earthquake in L’ Aquila.
Peter was keen to explain to her that he had shared a similar experience. During the war, as a lad, he had been evacuated out of London, to stay with family in Exeter. However during this time the house they were living in was bombed during one of the German Baedeker raids. Dad had taken refuge in the house’s Morrison Shelter, and somehow managed to scramble out of the ruins and debris virtually unscathed.