January, the month of Fresh Starts and Resolutions, even if just symbolic, are a useful way to put momentum behind good intentions. Resolutions can also draw you to to brighter place because they are inherently optimistic.
If one of your New Year goals is to update the mostly dialect Italian Language skills learned in your childhood years or desire to introduce Italian to the “bambini” in your life, you are in luck, because both adults and children will find an “abbondanza” of Italian classes sponsored by Italian-American organizations in the Bay Area and beyond waiting for you. Among them is the School of Italian Language and Culture (Scuola di Lingua e Cultura Italiana) a non-profit organization founded in 1970 which my “Bambini” Angelina and Caterina attended on Saturdays back in the 1970’s.
La Scuola offers conversational Italian classes which include history, culture, pronunciation and grammar. Italian speakers and non-Italian speakers are welcome. There are classes for children and seven levels for adults. Classes meetSaturday morning from 10:00am to 12:30pm. The Winter session will begin January 11, 2014.
La Scuola is located at 825 Southwood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94083, Tel. (650) 574-3089, Website: www. italianclasses.com.
Fairy Tales can come true, it can happen to you, or someone in your family as this one did back in the days when Italy was a monarchy, ruled by Kings and Queens. “Grazie” to Signor A.G. For sharing this “Fairy Tale”, with a happy family ending, with us:
In 1935, sixteen year old Alba (Albina) was perfectly happy living in Ancona, a beautiful city on Italy’s Adriatic coast, in a home she shared with her parents, Simeone and Caterina Fenoglio Ghezzo and her siblings, Lida, Alma, Renata and little Antonio, the long awaited answer to her mother’s prayers to St. Anthony for a healthy male child. Alba’s father, Simeone, a lieutenant in the Royal Italian Army, had left his native Trieste (at that time under Austria) and had enrolled at the Military Academy of Modena (the counterpart of West Point in the US) and upon graduation had been transferred to Libya in 1911 to fight against the Ottoman Empire. Italy won that war and Libya became an Italian colony. Simeone was then transferred to Salerno.
In Salerno, he met and married a lovely local “signorina” and they had 4 children together. Unfortunately, the Spanish Flu, in 1918, killed her and 3 of her children. Simeone was a widower, when he married Caterina and began a new family. As an officer in the Royal Italian Army, Simeone often moved his little family when he received transfer orders, however, this assignment to the seaport city of Ancona, in the Marche regione of Italy, seemed to be a long-term one, so Alba and her siblings Lidia, Alma, Renata and Antonio happily settled in. Unfortunately, their idyllic family stay in Ancona was abruptly cut short by a war of words.
It seems that Alba’s father, Lieutenant Ghezzo, had a discussion with his “colonnello” (commanding officer) which escalated to epithets and heated words being exchanged. This resulted in Alba’s father being transferred to Catanzaro, in Calabria, “per punizione”. Usually a “punishment transfer” can’t be reversed before 5 years have elapsed, but Alba a good artist even at age 16, decided to draw a painting of Regina Margherita (Queen of Italy) who had just delivered a baby and their picture (Queen and baby) were in all the papers and magazines. Alba, on her own, decided to draw a Madonna like resemblance of a famous painting by Botticelli.
“La Regina” was so impressed, she wrote a nice letter to Alba asking her what she could do to reward her for such a nice gift. Alba answered that she was about to complete her last year of Liceo Classico in Catanzaro and that her dream was to pursue her vocation in painting, by enrolling at an Art Academy like the one in Florence, the most renowned in Italy. Two days later, Alba’s father and his family received a transfer for FIRENZE, where both Alba and her younger sister Alma attended the Art Academy, where both were students of Pietro Annigoni, the famous painter that was selected among 100 artists from all over the world to paint the Queen of England’s portrait, which was presented to Queen Elizabeth on the day of her coronation.
Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510), a great Italian Renaissance painter, studied with Fra’ Lippo Lippi and Leonardo da Vinci. His artistic work ranges from scriptural, historical, classical, mythological to portraits and exquisite Madonnas. In collaboration with other artists he decorated the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican at Rome. His frescoes can be seen there in the present day. His great works include “Birth of Venus” and “Adoration of the Magi”.
Pizza Margherita, your basic pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil (red, white and green) has been around since 1889. Tis said that 28 years after the unification of Italy, during a visit to Naples by Queen Margherita of Savoy (wife of King Umberto I), chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi, created a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag and named it after the Queen. Although pizzas with an exotic array of toppings are now available, Pizza Margherita remains the best seller in pizzerias around the world.