Above: The famous horse race of Siena, the “Palio di Siena,” held every year in early July and mid-August (image via WikiSiena).
If you’re anything like us, you’re probably Googling around the internet looking for information and updates on the Palio di Siena to be run on Friday, August 16.
We recently came across a wonderful online description of the Palio at WikiSiena (probably the best English-language resource for all things “Siena” that we’ve ever seen).
Here’s what the editors have to say:
The Palio is the most important event in Siena and it has involved the life of Sienese people over time and in many different aspects and feelings: “You run the Palio all year long”, someone says. It is a horse race run in Piazza del Campo and it was born long time ago (the earliest known antecedents of the race are medieval and some present day regulations are still valid since 1644, when it was run the first Palio with horses, as it is run today).
It is held on July 2nd (named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of Madonna of Provenzano) and August 16th (named Palio dell’Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary) and it is run by 10 of the 17 Contrade (city wards) that form the city.
Each Contrada is like a small state, ruled by a Seat headed by the Prior and led in the “carousel” by a Captain, assisted by two or three contradaioli called “Mangini”; their boundaries was established in 1729 by Proclamation of Violante of Bavaria, Governor of the City.
As we gear up for the Palio dell’Assunta this Friday, we’ll be following some of the Italian-language sites that document the events every year (like SienaFree.it; if you do read Italian, have a look at this detailed post, including information on how to attend the events).
And we’ll post the winning contrada and its flag on Friday.
But in the meantime, if you want to read up on this wonderful, historic pageant, take a look a this entry from WikiSiena.
Above: A fireworks display in Trieste, Italy (image via Wikipedia).
According to the Wikipedia entry for pirotecnica (pyrotechnics), “Italy is one of the countries that has a marked pyrotechnic identity.”
The bottom line? Italians love fireworks.
Italy is home to one of the world’s leading gatherings of pyrotechnic enthusiasts: Caput Lucis, the international fireworks championship, now in its tenth year.
Most believe that fireworks were first introduced in Italy by Marco Polo who brought them back from Asia in the thirteenth century.
By the time of the Renaissance, fireworks had become a true art form in Italy and they played an important role in aristocratic pageantry. Most believe that the invention of fireworks can be attributed to the Chinese but that it was the Italians who turned them into a form of celebratoin.
Today, some of the world’s leading producers of fireworks are Italian.
And here in the U.S., Grucci — the “first family of fireworks” — traces its roots back to nineteenth century Puglia where it was founded.
Wishing everyone a fun and safe holiday, buon 4 luglio!
Above, from left: Will Rogers (Mazzoni ambassador) with Live Like an Italian Sweepstakes winners Ed and Amy from Atlanta.
Ed and Mary from Atlanta were this week’s winners of the Live Like an Italian Sweepstakes.
Their prizes included a stove-top coffeemaker by Bialetti, an icon of Italian coffee.
Live Like an Italian is at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival throughout the weekend.
Please stop by and taste with us!
This week, Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci snapped this photo of a wild orchid as he was walking through the vineyards at the Tenuta Il Poggione in Montalcino where Mazzoni wines are produced.
Happy mother’s day! Buona festa della mamma!
Above: A bee feasts on the blossoming flowers of a rosemary bush. Easter and the arrival of spring are a time of renewal and rebirth.
In many ways, Easter is a “bigger” holiday in Italy than Christmas is.
Indeed, until the time of the Napoleonic conquest, many Italian city states observed and celebrated the new year at Easter and not the week after Christmas as they do now.
Above: A wild rosemary bush in Puglia.
Easter and the official arrival of spring are a time of renewal and rebirth. And while many Italian families certainly will gather for Christmas celebrations in December in their hometowns, Easter is the yearly holiday that nearly all families will celebrate together.
And no Easter celebration is complete without roast “Paschal” lamb that has been seasoned with rosemary, a traditional spice used in Italy — especially southern Italy — for lamb.
Happy Easter to you and your family from the family at the Live Like an Italian blog.
We’ll see you next week. Buona pasqua…