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Napoleon • Montefalco

Napoleon • Montefalco

Did you know?
One of France’s most famous generals and kings had Italian roots. Originally named Napoleone Buonaparte, son of Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Letizia Ramolino, the man who became Napoleon I, Emperor of France, was descended of Francesco Buonaparte of Florence.

He was born on 15 August 1769 in Ajaccio on the Island of Corsica. His brother Giuseppe, one of Napoleon’s seven siblings, was born in 1768 when Corsica was still part of Italy, and his other brothers and sisters were also given typical Italian names: Luciano, Maria Anna, Luigi, Maria Paola, Maria Annunziata and Girolamo. Napoleone reigned as King of Italy from 18 May 1804 to 6 April 1814. 

Famous Italian
Mother Cabrini was born Maria Francesca Cabrini on 15 July 1850 in the village of Sant'Angelo Lodigiano in Lombardy. She was the 13th child of Agostino Cabrini and Stella Oldini, who were farmers. At age 13 she started to attend a school run by Daughters of the Sacred Heart where she earned a teaching certificate and eventually followed her childhood dream to become a nun. Monsignor Serrati placed her in charge of the House of Providence Orphanage in the nearby town of Cadogno. After years of dedicated service she was named Mother Superior of the institution, which led to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Pope Leo XIII, known as the “workingman’s pope,” met with Mother Cabrini, blessed her work and became a personal supporter of her ministry. Although she wanted to serve as a missionary in China, Leo XIII presented the young nun with a pressing challenge. There was a desperate plight of Italians in foreign countries. Millions of her countrymen and women emigrated to the United States and to South America in hopes of a better life. Many faced discrimination, joblessness and, in some cases, poverty. Assimilation was not always easy. Serving this cause was now her priority. "Little Italies” sprang up all over America. In 1909 Mother Cabrini became a United States citizen. After decades of tireless service, during which time she was a foster mother to thousands of children, founder of a flourishing order, provider of shelter and food to thousands around the world, she passed away on 22 December 1917 in Chicago. Cabrini became America’s first servant of God to earn the designation of saint on 7 July 1946. She’s the patron saint of immigrants. Mother Cabrini – St. Frances Xavier Cabrini – is buried under the Mother Cabrini High School’s chapel altar in New York City.

New phrase
Fede, Speranza e Carità. Faith, Hope and Charity (or Love). St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians 13, 13. Paul says, “ And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” These are called the three virtues—movements of the soul. This inspiring and powerful phrase is inscribed in the crest of Sette Angeli as “ Fede, Speranza, Carità, Amore, Pax Et Bonum”: Faith, Hope Charity, Love, Peace and all good. Equally powerful are these words from Paul: The First Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians 13, 4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. In Italiano: Dalla Prima Lettera di San Paolo Apostolo ai Corinzi 13, 4-8 Chi ama è paziente e generoso. Chi ama non è invidioso, non si vanta, ne si gonfia di orgoglio. Chi ama è rispettoso non cerca il proprio interesse non cede alla collera dimentica i torti. Chi ama non gode dell’ingiustizia, la verita è la sua gioia. Chi ama tutto scusa di tutti ha fiducia tutto sopporta mai perde la speranza. L’amore non tramonta mai.

Place to visit
Montefalco. “Mountain of the Falcon”. The enchanting city is built high atop a hill which overlooks the valleys of Clitunno, Topino and Tiber rivers. Often called the “Balcony of Umbria”. The town’s basilica dates back to the early 5th Century. The “Strada del Sagrantino” is a trail with road signs marked which allows visitors to journey through some of the most beautiful terrain in all of Italy, passing vineyards and endless olive groves to 23 local wineries such as Madonna Alta, Cantina Napolini Montefalco and Arnaldo Caprai. The San Francesco Museum displays history, culture and art of Montefalco dating back 1,500 years. Official CittaSlow – Slow City, designated by the Italian government and Slow Food for its hospitality, conviviality, urban excellence and commitment to Slow Food and its ideals. Be sure to visit the marvelous enoteca (wine store) L’Alchimista di Moretti Patrizia located in the main square Piazza del Comune 14, Montefalco, PG Perugia 06036 Tel.0742.378558. Owners Patrizia Moretti and her daughter Cristina treat you like family. Excellent wine selections and they serve homemade bread and regional cheeses and meats with wine tastings. You may contact them at Tel. 0742.378558 or email: | Ristorante Federico II serves outstanding lunches and dinners at Piazza del Comune, Vicolo Valenti, Montefalco. Tel. 0742.378902.


Hotel and Restaurant
Hotel Melody*** La Famiglia Falzetti: Gaetano and Rosanna and their children Marco Aurelio Alfredo, Walter, Daniele and Marta all work hard to make this a bona fide three star hotel. Comfortable rooms, many with balconies and views of the ancient town of Deruta. Their outstanding restaurant is popular with locals and tourists alike. Chefs Daniele, Athos, Giulio and Elvira prepare ambrosial Umbrian favorites including Filet al Tartufo (truffles), tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and pasta strozzapreti al tartufo exquisitely accented with a delicate cheese crust that cradles the pasta. The words “comfort food” come to mind while savouring these specialties. Now for the “trionfo finale”—final triumph:  the finest pizza in Deruta is prepared by expert pizza chef Rosario Conte. Try something unique and not often served: the pizza with fresh Bufala Mozzarella from near Napoli. Marvelous seafood on selected days. Desserts are also scrumptious: panna cotta (cream, sugar, vanilla, gelatin) with berries, chocolate or caramel, tartufo ice cream with coffee are delicious. Good wine list. Giuseppe Bianconi has been a star waiter here since 1988 and Irma Pretta provides outstanding service as well. The hotel’s bar serves excellent coffee, pastries, sandwiches and other snacks. Via Tiberina Sud (Exit E45 Deruta Sud (South) at highway marker S.S. E45 highway Km. 55,800 and it’s near the exit) Deruta, PG Perugia 06053. Tel. 075.9711022 Fax 075.9711018 info@hotelmelody.it

Arnaldo Caprai. Val Di Maggio. Montefalco, PG Perugia. In 1971 Arnaldo Caprai, a successful textile businessman, bought the Val di Maggio estate to fulfill his dream of producing his own wine. He started with only five hectares but as time went by he believed more and more in the great potential of the local variety Sagrantino and bought more of the surrounding land. Since 1988 his son Marco Caprai has managed the winery and with his passion and determination gives the necessary impetus for the production of top quality wines. Important recognitions include the Super Three stars of Veronelli and the Oscar of Wine as Best Producer of the Year awarded by the Italian Association of Sommelier. Marco Caprai’s estate has been one of the classiest representatives of high quality Umbrian wine in the past decade. Marco is universally acknowledged to be the leading force in Montefalco and the man behind the relaunch of Sagrantino. His work on this difficult variety is one of the factors leading to the ninth Three Glass award.

Italy Heralded by Mauro Battocchi, former Italian Consul General in San Francisco:
Showdown: Gelato vs. Ice Cream

I couldn’t avoid this sensitive diplomatic issue any longer.

I can affirm humanity got mature enough to come to the point where we have to separate the two things: gelato is not an “italian ice cream”, and ice cream cannot be put just as “gelato americano”. To say that gelato is ice-cream, and vice-versa, equals to lose in translation a whole universe of history, culture, calories. And history, culture and calories matter. For Italians and for Americans. Also, both the American Federal Code and Italian legislations have different way of conceiving this matter.

Let’s see…

The origins of gelato fade in the abyss of time. Some say it was something already known in the Roman era, but clear witness of gelato can be found in Sicily at the times of Moor invasion: the Arabs, coming from the desert, were of course flabberghasted tasting an icy delicious sweet made with the snow of Etna…a concoction that is still prepared as “granita” (that is material for another delicious post).

On the record, there’s a vast portion of gelato served during the lavish wedding of Henry the 2nd, King of France, and Florentine aristocrat Caterina De’ Medici (1533): it was brought beyond the Alps by a former fisherman from Sicily, Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, considered the inventor of the first gelato machinery known in history. For some other sources, the traditions of the gelateria began on the snows of the Cadore area, north of the Veneto, a place that is now the main manufacturer of glasses in the world. Anyway, it was not before the 1930’s that a gelato cart was introduced in the human scenario: it was, of course, in Italy…Varese, a city just next to Milan.

As you can see, gelato, like most of italian exquisite products, made its way through the centuries.

Now Italy’s still faithful to her artisan heritage: 55% of gelato consumed in my country is shop-made. Gelato-shops reach the number of 5.000 on Italian soil, and at least 15.000 worldwide: don’t think that the fancy gelato you can have all over Germany, for instance, doesn’t come from an Italian Gelataio (gelato maker).

An Italian rule for gelato - that someone in America seeking for a real translation wants to render “soft ice cream” - is that it doesn’t contain more than 3,5% of butterfat. For ice cream - that was introduced on the New World soil by early Quakers, reportedly obtaining even the attention of Franklin, Washington and Jefferson - things are a little different. U.S. ice cream contains 13 to 16% fat; Gelato is instead  between 5 to 8%. Ice cream has 80 to 100% of overrun. Gelato’s 25 to 50%: which is why it is the more dense ice cream that needs to be served at -10° F. Gelato is served at 5° F.

And, of course there’s the freshness issue: ice cream is stored in 3 gallon containers for several weeks or longer. Gelato is produced and stored in 5 liter stainless steel pans and need to be consumed in few days: that’s the perennial freshness culture of Italian food.

I give credit to this quick and convincing explanation to the website of one of the best gelaterie in San Francisco, La Copa Loca. It’s on the corner of 22nd and Capp street. The owner is named Mauro, like me, and he is from northern Italy as well. His business mission was giving the best gelato of San Francisco. As for now, I must say mission accomplished.

For balancing, I must give my pick for the best ice cream of San Francisco: it is naturally the famous Bi-Rite creamery on 18th and Dolores. You can see the line of people crowding outside at night. Most famous for their salted caramel and roasted banana flavours, Bi-rite is also exploring the modern issue of vegan ice cream.

In case we speak about my Italian picks, well, prepare the pen to take notes. As a brave adventurer in the gelato domain, I can give dozens of hints all over my nation. For example, the gelateria dei Gracchi, in Rome - a name that reminds of the old Roman families of the ancient times - for the most balanced, honest gelato in the capital. In Milan, there’s Gelateria Umberto, on piazza 5 giornate. Only 5 flavours - very basic - served by a Sri Lankan guy working for and old elegant Milanese Lady, often smoking in the seats outside while putting her profound, long-lived glaze all over the moving city. Umberto is the non plus ultra of light gelato, no air at all, filling the golden rule that when a gelato is good you want to eat another one just after the first you had.

In Riccione, queen city of the Adriatic Riviera nightlife, the Gelateria Nuovo Fiore provides an uncanny white gelato called “fiocco”, that can be also served - only for brave people - in a one liter milkshake version. Not far from there, in Bologna, try Stefino. Small gelateria not far from via dell’Indipendenza, incredibly tasty organic gelatos, but last time I tried it was snobbishly seasonal, open only certain times of the year.  Even if it’s not gelato, I beg you, if you are in Turin, just try the Panna (white cream) at Ghigo’s. Then, I’d like to describe the gelato of Pasticceria del Santo in Padova, or the Gelateria in Arco, Garda Lake, not far from my Trento… I told you, I can go on for days and days, overwhelming you with my picks.

I’m stopping, because you can write this long about gelato without  having gluttony growing deep inside yourself.

Giuseppe Verdi • Torgiano

Giuseppe Verdi • Torgiano

Prince Emanuele Filiberto • Roberto Benigni

Prince Emanuele Filiberto • Roberto Benigni