February: short month, long post

05 Mar

This busy month started a grey and rainy sunday afternoon, when my daughter and her bgf Alice organized a baby shower for their friend Marty who’s expecting baby Edoardo any minute now……her fianceè out of the way, it was a women thing, even my mother was there especially invited by the mother-to-be (affectionately she calls my mom her “spare grannie”) but who forbid me to post her pic……As you can see by the posters hanging on the walls, the proud soon-to-be-a-father is devoted to Hollywood (and my personal supplier of movies)

Marty little niece Manila was there too, the center of everybody’s attention……………

Manila helped with the gifts too, a little disappointed that they weren’t hers!

Daughter M’s friend Alice has very compassionate parents, always ready to give a hand and always caring and willing to help. They practically helped a young woman from Ghana to raise her daughter Matilde, now 17 years old, in fact a member of the family. She studies at the local music school (and she play the violin wonderfully!) and one saturday afternoon we had the chance to be there, visiting the school and attend the rehearsal of the second term final show….

At 15 km from Parma, along the ancient Franciscan route to Santiago de Compostela you can find the Museo Ettore Guatelli, perched on a hill overlooking the river Taro Valley. The Museum is a treasure trove of 60.000 objects, ranging from pre-industrial peasantry tools to kitchen utensils to hand-made toys. Items that speak of poverty-stricken, but provided with inventiveness and imagination. There are also rooms devoted to clocks, porcelain, tin boxes, musical instruments and a lot more making it, thus, a wide-ranging collection of enormous ethnographical and historical value. Memories that the visitor feels like his own and will take with him as part of history of mankind. I was there already once, a long ago just after the museum opened, but my daughter never seen it. So one sunday afternoon while my husband was at the football game, we drove up the hills to fall back in time for a few hours….

From the museum brochure: The Guatelli Museum is not only an object of landscape, building construction or collection of great spatial and distributive complexity, but it is also a map of the author’s intellectual world, a world that is not limited to metaphors. It communicates to posterity more than what meets the eye: it gives a sense of the value of the human course that continues to shed light on the present sense. Ettore was a man who investigated, who searched and looked inside himself. The museum was his way of investigating, conquering, seducing, discovering about men, relationships, history…

One friday morning while going to work I saw this on one of our city main streets….

It was the beginning of a three days of pure chocolate lust……that morning they were fixing the stands all along the street………….

but that same evening when I was out from work, the market was in full activity….

Last sunday of february the forecast were good for our area, so with two couples of friends we decided it was the perfect day for a visit up to the hills and to have lunch at a very good (food wise) restaurant/farm holidays…..

After lunch, all based on the chef personal interpretation of local dishes of black pigs (soooooo good!) we needed a walk, so we made our way through the natural reserve to a nearby almost deserted village….the sun was still shining, we were still tasting wonderful flavors in our mouths, and we enjoyed each other company, chatting and walking….and taking pics in my case…..

Mount Prinzera is located in the hills of the Taro River valley, and as far as the geological aspect is concerned, it has volcanic origins with allochthonous, ophiolitic formations composed of magmatic rock and their alterations with the prevalence of periodites and serpentine sand rarely basaltic. This distinct basic rock formation is poor in silica, and chemically rich in iron and magnesium, and poor in phosphorous, calcium, sodium and potassium. The combinations of these factors of the earth with the other climatic and other environmental characteristics together with climatic history of the Quaternary era has made it a true and authentic biogenetic island and has determined a rich and varied population of flora with a concentration of numerous endemic species having ecological and biogeografical characteristics typical of relics and thus of great scientific interest. Among the 350 species of superior plants catalogued so far, over 30 belong to the protected species, according to the regional law, with the presence of numerous ophiolitic and geographic endemism and other species that grow sheltered on the rocks.

This below is one of the many “maestà” (literally majesty) that you can find along these mountain roads, sacred images engraved in plates of white marble and often framed by decorations in sandstone. In the whole territory of the Appennino majesties are particularly numerous, sometimes forgotten and covered in musks, from the ivy or from weeds, they are anywhere, on the side of the road, inserted in the rocky walls along the paths leading into the woods and among the pastures, inside the inhabited centers on the houses walls.
They are divided in three fundamental typologies, of house, of source and of road, depending on the location, walled on the external walls of residences (thus protecting the home), on the pediments of a fountain (protecting the rurale life) or, in form of aedicula along the roads (protecting the pilgrim or wayfarer).

This area has a diversified environment and an abundance of habitats which favour the variety of fauna. There also numerous species of insects and amphibians as well as a considerably important birdlife population which is permanently represented such as the red-legged partridge, the buzzard, the sparrow hawk, the kestrel and the tawny owel. Among the mammals are the wild hare, the squirrel, the fox, the stone marten, the weasel, the wild boar and the roe. Another attraction must not be forgotten and it is that of the historical-artistic patrimony. While travelling along the ancient route called “Strada Romea” or “Via Francigena” of Mount Bardone, the visitor cannot help but notice the remarkable beauty of such testimony. Pro Natura Parma which manages the oasis under the National Federation has set up a nature trail which develops through a series of observation points which allow visitors to understand the main environmental characteristics of the territory. Moreover, in the centre of ancient village of Bardone, in Val Sporzana, a few rooms of a former elementary school have been transformed into an Environmental Centre. This study centre is equipped for various teaching and study activities and for environmental education and contains an archives and a technical video library with the possibility of hosting groups to provide activities for lessons, debates and meetings.

Then we drove till the lower village of Calestano, searching for a good coffee……The town is located in the Apennine zone of the province of Parma and is between the right bank of the Baganza Torrent and the woods, meadows and uncontaminated natural scenery. The territory was regularly visited in the prehistoric era and settlements from the Bronze Age have been discovered. Scattered over the land there are houses and towers from the late medieval period and 1600s, country dwellings, residential palaces, from the 1600s-1700s. The stone buildings from the ancient nucleus originate from the 15th and 18th centuries, giving testimony to the long history of habitat.

This little guy is called “the old elf” but it seems no one really knows who he represents or why they put him on top of that little pillar, but the palace (fully renovated) is of medieval origin, so I bet he’s sitting there for a long time…..

On the façade of the Coruzzi-Colla palace, medallion with Giuseppe Coruzzi profile, physician, and niche with the bust of Lorenzo Coruzzi, philanthropist (1852).

The Bastia (bastion), on the back of St. Lorenzo church, is a strengthened outpost of a hypothetical fortress, never finished and then destroyed……………

Another majesty, on the bastion north wall……

And now, after all this, I’m ready for march and what it might bring………………….


Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


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2 responses to “February: short month, long post

  1. Shirley Sorbello

    March 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I enjoyed your post as always, Gracie! That chocolate sure looks good!

    • gracie1961

      March 7, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Too bad I didn’t buy any!



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