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Updates – Six – June

June, where summer really begins….

Near the river Po, there’s a village called Zibello, known all around the world for a culinary excellence, culatello….every year, the first week-end of june all the area celebrates it with dinner, concerts, games, markets and debates with italian top chefs…….could we miss the chance to eat something so good?

However, the best part of the dinner was the company, as always…….

The village was full of people, all the shops and tourists’ attractions were open………

and I just couldn’t pass the chance to visit the local main church…….

Following the foundation of the marquisate of Zibello, Giovan Francesco Pallavicino, the first gentleman of the small state, before his death expressed the desire to complete the construction of the Dominican convent, which he started in 1494, and a church in the village that served as a family chapel; it was only in the middle of the sixteenth century that the work for the church was started, on the initiative of the Marquis Uberto Pallavicino, before he was forced to surrender the marquisate to the Rangoni of Modena.

The work was concluded around 1580 but the church was consecrated only in 1620; elevated to parish, assumed the functions of the church of the Blessed Virgin of Graces , until then it was dedicated to the saints Gervasio and Protasio. In 1673 the rectory was erected attached to the church, while the bell tower was built in 1677, at the wish of the parish priest don Gardini.

The imposing church develops on a three-nave plant, with three chapels in the absidial area and a baptistery beside the entrance. The symmetrical salient facade , made of red brick in Gothic-Lombard style, is marked in three parts by buttresses surmounted by high tented roofs; in the middle there is a large rose window framed by terracotta tiles made by Jacopo de Stavolis around 1484. On the left side of the façade, the baptistery rises with Renaissance tracts, on which an octagonal dome rises. 

Inside, the three aisles are subdivided by a high colonnade whose decorated capitals support elegant arched bows, whose solemnity is accentuated by ornamental motifs that frame them, and from high vaulted ceiling, repeated in the same shapes even in the lower aisles.

To the left is the baptistery, covered by an octagonal, featuring 19th century decorations by Girolamo Magnani, a scenographer.

The left chapel houses a particular relic of the patron saint of the country, Saint Carlo Borromeo, a piece of the robe he wore on the day when he was extraordinarily saved by an attack. 

The next day we had another culinary date in the city center…..the second edition of Gola Gola Festival, the first after Parma was nominated Unesco City of Gastronomy, so this year the foods stands were even more…

our friend A with two new friends….lol…

For dinner we opted for a very much loved abruzzo excellence, arrosticini

and obviously a little dancing was mandatory!

The night of June 23 is the magic night for excellence. There are, in fact, very ancient popular traditions and profound esoteric and religious meanings that Saint John’s recurrence is linked to the summer solstice that corresponds to the winter one that is remembered at Christmas. In conjunction with the summer solstice, when the sun reaches its maximum positive declination and then resumes the winter walk, begins the summer, so St. John is the supreme solar festival, the overwhelming victory of light on darkness, good on bad. But the most clear and eloquent explanation on the important and significant astral situation is provided by Maria Castelli Zanzucchi, a writer, a scholar of traditions and author of interesting publications: “The sun reaches the highest point on 23 June: it is common knowledge that the night of St. John is the best time for planets and zodiacal signs to give stones and herbs their virtues. It is a magical night, the night of the impossible, of wonders, deceit, evil influences and witches. “

In Parma and around, the traditions of the “rozáda äd San Zvan” (dialect for dew of Saint John) are countless: from the best known, such as the gastronomic dish “tortelli di erbetta” (chard ravioli), to those less well-known, whose origins are lost in the night of time. Preferably the “tortelli” are made to be enjoyed with the feet under the outdoor table, but inside is allowed too, as long as you leave the door and windows open to favor the benefits of dewy influences……better if with dear friends and surrounded by flowers and herbs collected the year before…

Another month gone, leaving great memories of food, places and dear faces……..

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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Five -Another castle

An elegant fortress, with a big farming court, a moat full of water takes our memory back in time. Today it is a private residence, a biological farm, a vegetable garden with old vegetable varieties, educational farm and place of imporant meetings dedicated to land farming……that’s the Castel of Paderna.

These two kind human beings are the owners of the castle, who where there on a warm sunday in may, when we joyned our friends present with their stand at the spring date in the beautiful castle garden, for the great exhibition of plants, flowers and fruits…. and so many other things….

The first testimony of the existence of the castle is a notarial purchase order dated 1028 , another act of 1163 which attests the property to the monastery of San Savino in Piacenza maintained until 1453 when it was given to the Rimini family of the Marazzani that kept it in the centuries to the current owners Pettorelli, their descendants. It suffered heavy destruction in 1216 due to Pavia and Parma troops invasions and in 1247 by the troops of Emperor Frederick II to repair which the abbot provided in 1280 to the reconstruction works and to the rise of the tower.

A strongly articulated, trapezoidal plant complex is completely surrounded by the walls , which are surrounded by buildings, and by a large moat that is still full of water. It is divided into two segments separated by a wall, one to the south, with a large square encircled by farmland: stables, barns, porches and farmhouses; the other, to the north, divided into two courtyards: one with the stately residence, the well, the main tower and other dwellings; the other with the chapel and the building through which you enter the garden. The access on the south side is protected by a massive dungeon that collects the two lifting bridges, one for the pedestrian crossing and the other for the carriages . The towers, all based on quadrangular but of different shape and size, are four distributed along the walls in an irregular manner. Unusual the location of the north tower outside the walls but inside the moat.

 

We bought herbs pots, asparagus, strawberries and seeds but the most interesting thigs was that we had the chance, following our friends who for almost a decade are well knwon to the castle tenants, to have a look at small private area just “behind the scene”…………

We had a very special day off, spent in the open, smelling so many perfumes and enjoying some very special quality time with our friends, filling our eyes with so many colors and our hearts with treasured moments….

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Four – A day at the castle

The Castle of Scipione of the Marquises Pallavicino (just to stay loyal to some of my life characteristics….lol) is one of the oldest historic castles in the region. It proudly stands watching the hills breathtaking landscape of the Stirone and Piacenza Regional Park, on the charming medieval village named Scipione Castello, halfway between Parma and Piacenza. On a sunny may sunday, with a couple of friends, we were there for a private visit in order to fix details for our friends’ son wedding (scheduled for next spring).

Again, a little bit of history about the Marquises Pallavicino. They originally formed together with the Malaspina Marquises, the Massa Marquises and the D’Este Marquises – from which the Dukes of Ferrara and Modena and the current Hannover Princes originated – one single family known as the “Obertenga”, from Oberto (945-975) their common progenitor who was the Marquis and the Count of the Sacred Palace. Their land possessions included the Counties of Luni, Tortona and Genoa, reaching near Pavia, and his descendants also acquired the County of Milan, who held it until the eleventh century. After that period, the different family branches became independent from each other and the Marquises Pallavicino founded their own State, as immediate feud of the Holy Roman Empire, on a vast territory between the Po River and the Apennines mountains whose capital was Busseto. In 1479, Gianfrancesco Pallavicino, the son of Rolando “The Magnificent” founded a new capital called Cortemaggiore, an ideal city, perfect example of the Renaissance architecture,  according to the precepts of Leon Battista Alberti. In 1636 the Marquisates of Busseto and Cortemaggiore were confiscated by an act of force by the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, dependent from the Farnese family while the Marquisate of Zibello survived up to the Napoleonic Era. When, in 1636, Emperor Ferdinand offered to the MarquisesPallavicino the title of “princes”, they refused, faithful to the dignity of marquises that have always bound them to their lands.

The first official document recording the existence of the Castle dates back to 1025 when the castle was built by Alberto Pallavicino as a military fortress, part of a large defensive system set up by the Pallavicino family for the protection and control of their State, which embraced a vast territory between the Municipalities and the Diocese of Parma, Piacenza and Cremona, strategically extending from the river Po to the Apennines mountains. The legend states that its name derives from a preexisting Roman Villa built by the family that once destroyed the Empire of Carthage. In 1267, during the feudal struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, the castle endured several attacks by Piacenza’s families and in the years 1403 and 1407, by the Guelph families Rossi, Da Correggio and Terzi. In 1447, the castle was rebuilt and transformed by the brothers Lodovico and Giovanni Pallavicino who conformed it to new and more advanced defensive requirements. From this restructuring period are in fact the new circular tower and the reinforced walls in order to be less vulnerable to the attacks of new firearms. From the same period are the narrow prisons that remained unchanged until today. Other important changes have been performed during the middle of the XVII century as the elegant loggia and the great entrance doorway that leads to the main garden.

In the middle of the Seventeenth Century, other large projects have been implemented with an elegant loggia that enables the open view of the surrounding hillside, a great gateway to the courtyard surmounted by the family’s coat of arm as well as frescoes and important paneled ceilings in the halls that can be admired in their original condition.

Today, in some rooms, the medieval ceilings with their original decorations are still jealously preserved, with their soft garlands, flowers and emblems that seem to narrate of the bygone days, when the castle was inhabited by Manfredo, brother of Uberto “the Great”, as the historian Salimbene de Adam reported in its thirteenth century Chronicle “(…) In this castle lived Messer Manfredo, he had four sons and three daughters, beautiful ladies, married in different parts of the world. His wife and their mother was Donna Chiara of the Counts of Lomello, beautiful lady, very wise and jovial. (…) Messer Manfredo was a man of peace and almost religious (….) And gave to all institutions salt in abundance without measure. He had in the area of Scipione’s castle many wells of salt, for which he became rich and powerful(…).

In the Medieval times the castle had a central role also due to its strategic position perfect for the control of numerous salt wells, whose the Pallavicino Marquises were both major producers and the most powerful market arbiters, promoting the development of salt factories and digging new wells around Salsomaggiore. For centuries salt has been an essential element in food preservation and for this reason it was a strategic and valuable resource, even more important than gold. The same saline waters from which the salt was extracted, centuries ago, are today appreciated thanks to their beneficial and healing properties that gave birth to the thermalism in Salsomaggiore.

The Castle of Scipione always remained a possession of the Pallavicino family except for a short time after World War One, when it was donated by the Marquese Clelia Pallavicino Fogliani to the ‘National Association of The Orphans of War”. In the1970’s the castle was bought by the Danish diplomat Christian Frederik Per von Holstein, who gave it as a gift to his wife, Marquise Maria Luisa Pallavicino, turning it into their new residence. The castle thus returned to its founder’s family branch that ranks among its ancestors important historic figures such as Adalberto, a great leader praised in the Ludovico Ariosto poem “Orlando Furioso” and in the Torquato Tasso “Jerusalem Delivered”, and Rolando called “The Magnificent”, man of the Renaissance times who wrote the “Statuta Pallavicina”, an important legislative text which was the basis for a modern reorganization of its own State and that will remain in force until the nineteenth century.

The Castle of Scipione was among the first in the region to be declared a National Monument in 1922 for its historical-artistic and landscape values.

I can’t wait to be back there to celebrate a young couple’s wedding next year!

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Two – April

The begining of april was sunny and warm….suitable for early motorbike outings…

First of all, a day off with a former collegue of mine and her husband, at their seaside home in Lido degli Estensi….comparing the two new bikes…..lol….

….and after a short boat ride…..

to Porto Garibaldi for lunch……

the best catalana salad ever!

After that, a digestive walk………..

Easter Sunday lunch “chez maman”………..

…and the afternoon spent with our bikers/dancers friends at a local event in town…..

We decided that considering the good forecast for Easter Monday, we could give a try to a place we read about some time ago…..and the day for just perfect for bikes!

Chignolo Po Castle is one of the most sumptuous castle residences in Lombardy. The oldest part is the tower which was built to defend the Po river and the trading routes between northern Europe and Italy. The castle was built in the thirteenth century and transformed into a princely palace in the eighteenth century in an inventive stylistic reinvention of the building. Its present form is a majestic earthenware building surmounted by a hanging gallery held up by stone ledges.

The oldest part of the castle is the great tower, from which is controlled a long stretch of the Po (Cuneulus super Padum). It is believed that it was built by King Liutprando around 740 AD, when Pavia was the capital of the Lombards, in order to serve as a fortress of defense and garrison on the Po and the Via di Monte Bordone, later called via Francigena – Romea linking northern Europe with Rome.

In 1251, the Abbot of the Abbey of Santa Cristina appointed a Head of the Government of the Castle and the extensive territories attached to it. The castle, shortly since the thirteenth century, became one of the major Lombard fief, on which the Pusterla family first settled, until in 1340 that family was involved in an anti-Visconti conspiracy and fiercely exterminated. They were followed by the Federici and the Cusani, which maximize the power of the castle, also constantly receiving privileges and concessions from the King and the Dukes of Milan. From 1700 to 1730 it was expanded and transformed from a medieval fortress in a true eighteenth-century palace, where stayed popes, emperors, kings, princes and Archduke.
Artists from the school of Tiepolo was entrusted with the implementation of the stucco and paintings that adorn the rooms of the castle.
The works were done at the behest and funding of the owner at the time, Cardinal Agostino Cusani Visconti (1655 – 1715), who was Ambassador of the Pope at the Venetian Republic and at the Court of Louis XIV in Paris.
Following this impressive work, the Castle of Chignolo Po was called and known worldwide as the Versailles of Lombardy”.

Our guide before entering the castle, explaining us the history of the place and te rules (no photos inside, being that a private residence….well I managed to sneak a few…lol)

Below, the ceiling of the entrance arch…

The inner courtyard and a couple of painted ceilings inside….

The backyard (being in fact the main entrance, towards the village)

The complex is surrounded by a large English park, featuring a spectacular tea-house from the eighteenth century, and includes the Borgo, a series of palaces located behind the castle and built in 1600, which has a moat and four towers along the outer sides

We had a reservation at a cozy restaurant near the castle, along the river Po….

It was really a beautiful day, we had really a gret time with our friends, enjoying the good weather finally….

 

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – One – March

After a short and not so cold month of february, almost lacking of events, march started with a nice late afternoon meeting, celebrating a collegue wedding, in a very well known place in the city center…..

Then we brought home a new road companion, for the happiness of my husband….and for the sake of my lower back!

One sunny sunday we drove to our friends’ country home to have lunch together…….

…..and to fix a date for a guided visit to a stunning private palace in town.

Well, it seems I have some recurring names and places in my life…… I’v been in that palace before a few times (work related), but I only saw a few rooms. Open to the public exceptionally for a day, Palazzo Pallavicino, a historic baroque residence in the heart of Parma, was shown to the members of a cultural association that arranged the appointment, by the marquise Maria Gabriella Pigoli Pallavicino and Professor Carlo Mambriani (an historian) who led the participants through the stunning rooms of the private residence. And amazing as it was, the marquis Maria Gabriella recognized me after so many years and at the end of the visit she kindly gave us half an hour of her time chatting about our lives after the last time we met  …… very kind of her, don’t you think?

The palace was commissioned by Alfonso Pallavicino from Zibello in 1646 and built on the spot of a 15th century palace belonging to the Sforza of Santafiora family (the square before the palace still has the same name). The façade dates back to 1705 and is characterised by windows of different sizes and designs surrounded by marble, with a balcony held up by corbels.

Inside, from a baroque courtyard, a balustrade staircase with three flights in Bolognese style of the end of the 17th century  adorned with statues, leads up to several rooms with stucco, Austrian marble fireplaces, mirrors, paintings, a Chinese salon with 18th century marble floors and a salon frescoed by Sebastiano Galeotti. Four works are by Girolamo Donnini, including The flight of Eneid from Troy, The flight of Ifigenia from the temple of Artemides, Medea and Jason and Diomedes revealing the faked madness of Ulysses. Donnini also painted the ceilings, as well the artist from Bologna, Aureliano Milani, depicting Hercules in many of his works.

Just the staircase is worth the visit….

The visit started at the long hallway that i remembered so well, where the marquise was waiting for us……

then, her precious bridge room, a card game always loved by her and her late husband….

….the conversation room…..

….the Chinese salon…..

….the dining room….

….the library where the late marquis Pierluigi used to meet me….

It was really an amazing experience for me, just like it was anytime I met that kind couple, so many years ago….thank you Lady Gabriella for a wonderful time!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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I’m back! ….for a one shot, at least….

It’s been ages since last time I posted something….and lots of things happened of course….here is a little re-cap of my life in the last few months….

First of all there was an event in mid-september to present the opening of the Parma branch of the dance school where our friends/cousins teach….

September was a busy month….One of my favourite events…a country night

…..then the wedding of dear friends of our daughter, a very nice celebration…….and their little boy was the center of all the attentions…

….. a day out at the end of the month, discovering a new place, to savour and taste a rural market, where our friends were selling their fruit and olive plants

It was a great place, near to us but left ignored for way too long, a very nice surprise, full of great buildings and lot of history behind those walls…

In october we had a night all together to say goodbye to a couple of our neighbours moving away….

Mid-october we spent a day in Murano (a very beautiful island in the Venice lagoon)  to visit the Glass Museum where maestro Vianello had some of his pieces displayed… (remember Mauro and my glass ducks?) It was a stunning visit……

Below, one of Vianello creations….

We did enjoy the sunny day to walk around….the beautiful Church of St Mary and St Donato….

…and another desecrated church, St Chiara, now a glass workshop….

I’ll never get tired of this beautiful place!

Usually we don’t take time off in fall/winter, but last october it was different. We just needed a few days off, after a very busy period renovating our daughter home, so we choose France for a short vacation. We had our hotel (below) in Salon-de-Provence, and we just drove around between Provence and Camargue…..

Salon-de-Provence was really a nice surprise….the old centere of the village was full of cozy and beautiful corners…starting with the fountains, all green and more like trees….

….or the clock tower, that signs the time of the residents since ages….

….every street and every square holding something to remember…..maybe a modern statue of Nostradamus who lived and died here….

A more classic statue of Nostradamus…

….beautiful mansions and gardens….

And obviously there is a castle….

We had a great time spending a sunny and warm day at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, being there after 20 years since the first time….

The first time we didn’t get into the church, it was closed for some event rehersal, but this time we did!

Can you tell the majority of the people living here are Gypsy from Spain?

One morning we decided to visit a “savonnerie” (soap factory) and we didn’t come out empty handed….

We spent the rest of the day between an old pirates outpost and the “salines” (salt evaporation pond)….

It was a nice trip, and we’d like to come back in the area next fall as well….

Me and daughter spent a day in Milan for a job interview…..and nope, she didn’t get the job. At least, we had a very good lunch…

Mid-november we had dinner with some friends, savouring a very tasty bistecca fiorentina

At the beginning of december my daughter boyfriend’s parents came to spend a few days with him so we got the chance to know each others and have lunch together with my mother too…

Last december with some of our friends, we resurrected what used to be a Christmas tradition for some years, the making of “spongata“…..beside having something to give as a gift, the tradition was just to have fun and spend some quality time all together, having lunch as well…

The final result ready for the oven….

And then it was Christmas time…Eve’s dinner at home as usual…

To celebrate the arrival of the new year, we had dinner out with some friends (with daughter and her bf/friends in a nearby table….lol) in a unpretentious place, but very good…

First event of the new year was the classic, by now, Epiphany on bike….to bring gifts to the Children Hospital’s patients…

Another classic already, the charity dinner for our friends’ son in Brazil….

Finally, after some time we had the chance to meet with our friends from Modena….obviously at lunch!

Our friend S with a partner, opened a tex-mex restaurant….we were there for dinner one night of course….

And this is all, at least till the end of january…..but two big event took place among all those above…hubby retirement (at last!) in mid-december, celebrated at his workplace with all his collegues….including gifts and jokes…

…and daughter M finally moving to her new home in january…

So now we’re officially empty nesters…..and we miss her so very much….but that’s life, right?

Till next time, take care….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Life goes like this…

Lots of things going on here…. It’s the busiest time ever at work, working 10 hours a day all week…saturday and sundays are for shopping, cleaning, family and friends, not really enough time for being social….I’ll be back to normal mid-august….if I survive!

Here are some pics from our visit (end of april) to the annual flowers and plants fair, held in the park of the Royal Palace in Colorno.

We try to visit it every year because our friend R has a stall there where he sells his olive and fruits plants….our last time was two years ago, read about it here….

 

This muscular back belongs to M, our friend’s son….

The same weekend was also dedicated to some Street Food tasting…..a really good tasting!

From the end of february we are renovating my m-i-l apartment for our daughter, lots of things to do, to buy, to decide, problems after problems…now we are almost done, and this will be a subject for another post…soon, I hope.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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