February came and went with a flash and I can hardly believe we are already inching our way towards spring. The weather was mostly cold and wet, but when the sun did shine, oh what vistas it did reveal, especially of Vesuvius, who was col cappello bianco, with its snow cap on for much of the month.
Not only was there snow on the mountain, but we even saw snow in Piazza del Plebiscito and here in Chiaia, a rarity in our part of Italy. How crazy is that? Of course as they say, Marzo è Pazzo – March is Crazy – so who knows what’s in store this month.
March may be a wet, wild and windy month, but the appearance of a certain iconic yellow flower will brighten up even the greyest of days. The flower in question is the Mimosa, and yes, I like it almost as much as I like the drink. It’s symbolism – both here in Italy and in Russia – is International Women’s Day.
This more than 100 year old tradition with its roots in the US has become a worldwide event that is celebrated every year on March 8th. It’s an opportunity to honour women and their accomplishments and celebrate the strides we have made towards equality on all fronts. Having come of age at the tail end of the “women’s movement” in America, or more precisely, Second-wave feminism, I was the benefactor of all those who trod the path before me and I have witnessed first hand (and hopefully have been a part) of the strides we have made in the last 30 years. My past is replete with relationships with strong, independent females who guided and inspired me – bosses, colleagues, teachers, friends and especially my Mother. In recent years, my work life has led to truly rewarding collaborations with a long list of talented females – writers, artists and musicians; scholars, professors and teachers; accountants and lawyers; computer nerds and graphic designers; daughters, sisters, mothers, wives and friends.
I introduced you to some of these women last month – my collaborators on the NU Guide and of course our events manager extraordinaire, Holly. Apparently I missed another anniversary – February marked Holly’s one year anniversary with NU. This month we welcome a new female collaborator to the NU pages, US born and bred Kristin Melia. A Georgetown grad, she’s found a new home with her fiancé Giuseppe at the tippy top of the Amalfi coast. She is keeping herself busy as “an unwitting pizza lady, ingredient forager, mozzarella puller, tomato taster and occasional grape stomper” and writing here website and blog Sauced & Found. Kristen will be joining NU this month with her series, Notes from Agerola.
And now… I’d like to take a moment to talk about another important female in my life, my friend Ann Pizzorusso who writes the NU EarthScape Naples series and who recently published her own book, Tweeting Da Vinci. Our mutual love for Naples, history, art and most importantly wine brought us together and our shared experience of writing and publishing a book has cemented that bond. Ann and I took many “research” trips together for our respective projects and her unwavering support and enduring friendship has kept me afloat through this entire process. Ann is fearless and determined and I am in awe of what she has accomplished in her life: she became a geologist back in the day when women just didn’t become geologists (she was the only woman in her graduating class) and went on to drill for oil and clean up toxic waste; she earned a midlife masters degree in Italian Renaissance Studies; and then, in only the way Ann could have, she brought these two seemingly disparate fields of study together into one stunning piece of work. But don’t take my word for it, meet Ann yourself and learn about her incredible book here:
Ann is my role model, my friend and I can’t thank her enough for taking me along on her journey. I’ve been to places with her I would have never ventured alone and she’s introduced me to a laundry list of amazing and interesting characters only Ann could meet, the least of which is the brilliant conductor, Maestro Zubin Mehta who we met just a few nights ago and another conductor, Stefania Rinaldi, the first woman to ever conduct at the San Carlo.
I wrote about Stefania a few years back and that article became the basis for the final entry in one of the most interesting sections in our upcoming guide. Thanks to Barbara Zaragoza, who by the way is taking the South Bay area by storm as a freelance writer and who is racking up a long list of accomplishments including her recently published photographic history of San Ysidro and The Tijuana River Valley, we have an entire section devoted to the remarkable women, mythical and real, who left a profound mark on Naples history.
Defying the stereotype that Neapolitan women […] remain dedicated to domesticity and motherhood, sublimating their desires to those of a husband or family, the reality is that the public lives of Neapolitan women jump out at every corner. […] So many women played a role in the myth and the making of Naples; this section is a celebration of (just) some of the She-apolitans who shaped the history of this region, from ancient times to the modern era.
To all the women in my life – you ROCK!!!
In the News
- A Local’s Guide to Feisty Naples – The February issue of Simple Things magazine includes a 5-page spread on Naples by your’s truly. You can also purchase the entire beautiful magazine here.
- Aldo Ciccolini, An Italian Pianist With A French Soul, Dies At Age 89– Trained at Naples Conservatory, Aldo Ciccolini’s debut performance was at the Teatro San Carlo
- A new lease of life for Italy’s aqua vitae? – Grappa a gentlemen’s alternative to limoncello
- Singer Giacomo Rondinella dies at 91 – Singer of Neapolitan ballads, Giacomo Rondinella made the first recording of Totò’s Malafemmena in 1951
Naples on the Blogs
- Penny’s Amuse Bouche for the NU Guide – FUNICULÌ, FUNICULÀ! on Italian Notebook
- Family Connections… Alma Tadema’s Imagined Connections
- Visiting Naples Underground never gets old… Napoli Sotterranea, the hidden world beneath Naples
- And you thought you knew what Neapolitan food was… A Family Affair
Naples in Video
A look at Naples obsession with football, This is Napoli features some great images of the city, provides isights into the Neapolitan mindset and touches on the issues of the North/South divide in Italy and the tragic death of Ciro Esposito, the 27 year old Neapolitan who was shot on his way to the Coppa Italia Final in Rome.
The Month Ahead
The big news for March in Napoli town – besides International Women’s Day of course, is Pope Francis’ visit to Naples on March 21st. The Pope has a packed schedule, including an 1100 Mass in Piazza del Plebiscito. In other news, Gourmeet, the first Conad Sapori e Dintorni store in southern Italy opened on Via Albardieri in Chiaia. In art news, the Cultural Association Art 1307 is bringing Californian artist, Laddie John Dill to Naples for their annual “Artist in Residence” program. He arrives March 3rd and will be working out of a beautiful studio in Posillipo and he has several events planned during his time here.
With the opening of NOI’s third salon on the horizon, Giuseppe is still MIA, but here are two recipes sure to please on those crazy March days: Fettuccine alla Re Ferdinando II – creamy ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, sweet tomatoes and basil, and just a hint of savoury prosciutto paired with a long and luxurious pasta; and Carne alla Pizzaiola – like peanut butter and chocolate, it’s a match made in heaven.
For the cold and rainy March days in Napoli town – why not visit any one of Naples many museums. Here are two new museums to try, MAMT – Museo Mediterraneo dell’Arte, della Musica e delle Tradizioni or book yourself a visit at the newly opened Etruscan Archaeological Museum. On the off chance we have a few sunny days this month, why not give Naples Bike Sharing Pilot Program a try. And speaking of spring, its definitely not too early to plan your trip to see the Good Friday Procession on Procida.
For the Napoli Expat – If you are you new to Naples, check out Tim TenClay’s Your Love is my Drug. Catch up with old friends and meet new ones at the monthly Naples International Happy Hour on March 4th or the weekly services every Sunday at Christ Church. Don’t miss the AIWC Benefit Concert on March 6th, their monthly meeting on March 14th and Cinema in Original Language at the Cinema Academy Astra (presented by CLA – Centro Linguistico di Ateneo) and at Multicinema Modernissimo. Find all of Naples English Speaking events.
Buona Festa della Donna a Tutte Voi and have a great March!!!