15 August 2023

15 August

- Ferragosto

A chance to enjoy quieter cities while Italians take a holiday

Italy, San Marino and the Italian speaking region of Switzerland all celebrate Ferragosto on this day every year with a public holiday.  This day of celebration originated during Roman times, when Feriae Augusti, the festival of the Roman Emperor Augustus, took place on 1 August. It was a day of rest for working people to signal the culmination of weeks of hard work by labourers on the land.  The month of August itself is named after Augustus. Its original name was sextilis, as it was the sixth month in the Roman calendar. Just as Julius Caesar had previously renamed quintilis - the fifth month - Iulius after himself, it was only natural for Augustus, as Julius Caesar’s chosen heir, to follow suit.  Over the centuries, it became traditional for workers to wish their employers ‘Buon Ferragosto, and to receive a bonus of extra money from their bosses in return. During the Renaissance, this tradition actually became law throughout the Papal States.  The Catholic Church moved the date for Ferragosto to 15 August to coincide with the celebrations for the Feast of the Assumption, a day of worship to mark the ascendance of the Virgin Mary into Heaven.  Read more…


Gianfranco Ferré - fashion designer

Sought to create clothes for real women 

Gianfranco Ferré, who became one of the biggest names in Italian fashion during the 1980s and 1990s, was born on this day in 1944 in Legnano, a town in Lombardy north-west of Milan, between the city and Lake Maggiore, where in adult life he made his home.  Ferré was regarded as groundbreaking in fashion design in the same way as Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent in that his clothes were created with real people rather than catwalk models in mind, yet without compromise in terms of aesthetic appeal.  At the peak of his popularity, his clients included Sharon Stone, Elizabeth Taylor, the Queen of Jordan, Paloma Picasso, Sophia Loren and the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Ferré first trained to be an architect, placing emphasis on the structure of his garments in which strong seams were often a prominent feature. He was once dubbed the Frank Lloyd Wright of fashion, which was taken to be a reference to the powerful horizontals in his designs.  His staff addressed him as "the architect". He was also well known for inevitably including variations of white dress shirts in his collections, adorned with theatrical cuffs or multiple collars.   Read more…


Carlo Cipolla - economic historian

Professor famous for treatise on ‘stupidity’

Carlo Maria Cipolla, an economic historian who for many years was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and taught at several Italian universities, was born on this day in 1922 in Pavia.  He was one of the leading economic historians of the 20th century and wrote more than 20 academic books on economic and social history but also on such diverse subjects as clocks, guns and faith, reason and the plague in 17th century Italy.  Yet it was for his humorous treatise, The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, that he became famous. The book, written very much tongue in cheek, became a bestseller in Italy after it was published in 1976.  In it, Cipolla produced a graph that divided the human species into four types, each sharing one characteristic of another type.  He proposed that there are (a) bandits, whose actions bring benefits for themselves but losses for others; (b) intelligent people, whose actions bring benefits for themselves and for others; (c) naive or helpless people, whose actions bring benefits for others but who tend to be exploited and therefore incur losses for themselves; and (d) stupid people, whose actions result not only in losses for themselves but for others too.  Read more…


Francesco Zuccarelli - landscape painter

Tuscan-born artist appealed to English tastes

Francesco Zuccarelli, who was considered to be the most important landscape painter to emerge from Venice in the 18th century, was born on this day in 1702.  Zuccarelli’s picturesque Arcadian landscapes were especially appealing to English buyers, and he was more famous in England even than his contemporary, Canaletto.  His fame in England prompted Zuccarelli to spend two periods of his life there. He settled in London for the first time at the end of 1752 and remained for 10 years, enjoying great success.  After returning to Italy after being elected to the Venetian Academy, he went back to England from 1765 to 1771, during which time he was a founding member of the Royal Academy and became one of George III’s favourite painters.  Born in Pitigliano, a mediaeval town perched on top of a tufa ridge in southern Tuscany, Zuccarelli received his early training in Florence, where he engraved the frescoes by Andrea del Sarto in SS Annunziata.  Zuccarelli’s father Bartolomeo owned several local vineyards. With considerable income at his disposal, he sent Francesco to Rome at the age of 11 or 12 to begin an apprenticeship.  Read more…


Book of the Day: Italian Festival Food: Recipes and Traditions from Italy′s Regional Country Food Fairs, by Anne Bianchi

Italy is a nation that likes nothing as much as an extravagant party with wonderful food. Throughout its twenty regions, people celebrate with feste patronale, religious festivals, as well as sagre, which are secular events paying tribute to specific foods. The region of Gubbio boasts of a festival dedicated to the enjoyment of truffles. The festival in Piediluco, which sits on a lake of the same name in Lazio, takes the local bounty of fish to new culinary heights. There are many other festivals that celebrate everything from crabs to chestnuts to soups - as well as popular Italian favourites like risotto and polenta. Anne Bianchi's Italian Festival Food is a celebration of the foods from these wonderful gatherings with more than 200 recipes representing the best of these festivals, with chapters organised by course, from appetisers and salads to desserts. The book also features nine insightful and fascinating essays, highlighting specific festivals and the people involved in their success.

Anne Bianchi is a New York City-based food writer of Italian heritage who spends half of each year in her ancestral home in Tuscany. She is the author of several Italian cookbooks, including From the Tables of Tuscan Women, Zuppa!, and The Book of Tuscan Desserts.

Buy from Amazon


No comments:

Post a Comment