Showing posts with label Torre del Greco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Torre del Greco. Show all posts

17 July 2017

Gino D'Acampo - celebrity chef

Neapolitan inherited talent from grandfather

Gino D'Acampo's grandfather had a  restaurant in Naples
Gino D'Acampo's grandfather had a
restaurant in Naples
The celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo was born on this day in 1976 in Torre del Greco, a conurbation of around 90,000 inhabitants within the Metropolitan City of Naples.

Based in England since 1995, D’Acampo is scarcely known in his native country yet his social media pages have more than two and a half million followers.

The author of 11 books on cooking, his numerous television appearances include four series of his own show, Gino’s Italian Escapes.

He owns three restaurants and five pasta bars and has plans to open more.  The latest, in fact, launches in Liverpool later this week.  D’Acampo is also the co-owner of a company selling Italian ingredients.

His success is all the more remarkable given that he had to rebuild his life after being convicted in 1998 of burglary, an episode that took place while he was working as a waiter. He described the incident as a mistake he vowed never to repeat and has since spent time helping disadvantaged young people to learn from their mistakes.

D'Acampo's appearance on a reality TV show helped launch his career
D'Acampo's appearance on a reality TV
show helped launch his career
Born Gennaro d’Acampo, he grew up around food. His grandfather, Giovanni, who had been head chef for a cruise company, owned a restaurant and although he had early aspirations to become a doctor or a dentist, he eventually enrolled at the Luigi de Medici catering school in Naples.

He arrived in England via Spain, where he met the girl who would become his wife, Jessica, who is English with Italian heritage, while they were both working at a restaurant in Marbella owned by the American movie actor, Sylvester Stallone.

In England he worked at restaurants in Hampstead and Guildford before he becoming involved in sourcing Italian ingredients, which in turn led to work designing ready meals for a supermarket chain.

His first television appearances came on the UKTV Good Food channel and the ITV magazine show This Morning, but it was his decision to take part in a reality TV show that became the launch pad for his career.  Signed up for ITV’s popular I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here! in 2009, he emerged from the show, in which contestants live in a jungle conditions in Australia and undertake a series of often unpleasant challenges, as the winner.

D’Acampo became a regular on This Morning and was given his first cookery TV series in 2011, when he co-hosted Let’s do Lunch with Gino and Mel alongside the presenter and model Melanie Sykes.

Gino D'Acampo with the singer Peter Andre on one of his shows on UK television
Gino D'Acampo with the singer Peter Andre on
one of his shows on UK television
One of the features of the programme involved D’Acampo making record attempts, often but not always involving food and drink.  He has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the most ravioli made on two minutes, the most truffles made in two minutes, the most bottles of champagne – seven – opened in one minute, the most jumpers – 11 – put on in one minute, the most Christmas crackers pulled on one minute and – most bizarrely – for the most steps taken across a giant bowl of custard before sinking.

D’Acampo most successful TV venture, Gino’s Italian Escape, launched in 2013 and has spawned a live stage version, with which he has toured the UK.

His first book Fantastico! was published in 2007 and his latest, Gino’s Healthy Italian for Less, in 2017.

A member of the Federazione Italiana Cuochi and the Associazione Professionale Cuochi Italiani, he has homes in Hertfordshire and Sardinia. He and Jessica, who were married in 2002, have two sons, Luciano and Rocco.

Torre del Greco illuminated by the setting sun with Vesuvius in the background
Torre del Greco illuminated by the setting sun with
Vesuvius in the background
Travel tip:

Once colonised by Greek settlers and later a prosperous Roman suburb of Herculaneum before it was buried by the 79AD eruption of Vesuvius, Torre del Greco is thought to take its name from being the site of a watchtower in the eighth century that was occupied by a Greek hermit.  In more modern times, it became a popular holiday resort with wealthy Italians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It was renowned for its cafés and eateries, particularly the Gran Caffè Palumbo, a large Art Nouveau café with an extensive outdoor pavilion.  It owed its popularity to a combination of fine beaches and the proximity of farmlands and vineyards, as well being the town closest to Vesuvius. A funicular railway (the Vesuvius Funicular) was built to take tourists to the crater from the town.

The Piazza Municipio in the historic centre of Alghero
The Piazza Municipio in the historic centre of Alghero
Travel tip:

The Italian island of Sardinia boasts beautiful beaches and coves and a mountainous interior with fascinating towns and villages. It has a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous but in Alghero, a town of 44,000 people on the north-west side of the island, it boasts a destination with a delightful historic centre and a sandy beach that is entirely accessible to travellers with more modest spending power. It has excellent seafood restaurants and plenty of bars from which to watch spectacular sunsets. The town’s economy is not reliant on tourism, although it is busy in July and August.

3 June 2017

The Blessed Vincent Romano

Priest who devoted himself to helping the poor

The Blessed Vincent Romano came from a poor family
The Blessed Vincent Romano came
from a poor family
The Blessed Vincent Romano, a priest from Torre del Greco on the Bay of Naples who became known for his tireless devotion to helping the poor, was born on this day in 1751.

Admired for his simple way of life and his efforts in particular to look after the wellbeing of orphaned children, he was nicknamed “the worker priest” by the local community. His commitment to helping poor people extended across the whole Neapolitan region.

He would demonstrate his willingness to roll up his sleeves in a different way in 1794 after his church – now the Basilica of Santa Croce – was all but destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius.

Not only did Romano devote many hours to organising the rebuilding he actually cleared a good deal of rubble with his own hands.

He was born Vincenzo Domenico Romano to poor parents in Naples. He developed a strong faith as a child and began to study for the priesthood in Naples at the age of 14.

He was ordained as a priest in 1775 and assigned to Torre del Greco, where he led a simple and austere life.

Camillo de Vito's painting shows Torre del Greco  engulfed by fire after the 1794 eruption
Camillo de Vito's painting shows Torre del Greco
engulfed by fire after the 1794 eruption
The eruption of Vesuvius in June 1794 destroyed most of Torre del Greco as a lava flow swept down to the sea, bringing down and the church and part of the bell tower.

Romano, then assistant pastor and treasurer of the church, promoted its reconstruction. The rebuilding began in 1795 and continued over many years, ending with the consecration of the new structure in 1827.

Miraculous events seemed to accompany the reconstruction, including the arrival of a ship from Libya loaded with timber, which was offered as a gift for the construction of roof trusses. No one could explain this act of generosity nor knew who had commissioned it.

The new church was designed by Ignazio di Nardo, who was also responsible for the urban plan for the reconstructed city.

After the death of the incumbent parish priest in 1799, Romano became the provost of the parish, part of his mission being to promote the better education of children. He welcomed all people into his church.

Pope Paul VI, who beatified Romano in 1963
Pope Paul VI, who beatified Romano in 1963
Romano died in December 1831 after a long period of ill health. His remains are housed in the Basilica.

The beatification process began under Pope Gregory XVI in 1843 when Romano given the title of Servant of God. In 1895 he was declared to be Venerable after Pope Leo XIII recognized that Romano had lived a life of heroic virtue.

He was beatified by Pope Paul VI in November 1963 after the necessary two miracles received papal approval.

The first was the healing of Maria Carmela Restucci in December 1891 from an aggressive breast tumour after she had invoked the patronage of Romano, her recovery confirmed by her doctor as something unexplained by science and medicine.

The second was the healing of Maria Carmela Cozzolino in 1940 from an ailment diagnosed by her doctor as throat cancer but which miraculously disappeared when she appeared to be nearing death after she invoked the intercession of Romano. Again, the cure could not be explained.

Travel tip:

Torre del Greco was once part of Magna Graecia – Great Greece – in the eighth and seventh centuries BC but its name is thought to originated in the 11th century AD when a Greek hermit was said to have occupied an eight-sided costal watch tower called Turris Octava. From the 16th century it became popular with wealthy families and even Italian nobility, who built elaborate summer palaces there. In the 19th century and early 20th century Torre del Greco enjoyed its peak years as a resort to which wealthy Italians flocked, both to enjoy the sea air and as a point from which to scale Vesuvius via a funicular railway. A thriving café scene developed, and the art nouveau Gran Caffè Palumbo became famous across the country.  Since the 17th century it has been a major producer of coral jewellery.

The rebuilt Basilica of Santa Croce in Torre del Greco
Travel tip:

Built originally at the beginning of the 16th century, the Basilica of Santa Croce is the religious heart of Torre del Greco and houses the remains of the Blessed Vincent Romano. It was rebuilt after the Vesuvius eruption in 1794 and now overlooks Piazza Santa Croce in the historic centre of the town. Other buildings of note include the 18th century Palazzo Vallelonga and the Camaldoli alla Torre monastery.