THE VOICE OF THE SWAN 2007
A Voxé du Cigno (a cura di Joe Gardella, Associazione Liguri nel Mondo - San Francisco Chapter).
Happy New Year!
Something new from Associazione Liguri Nel Mondo – a newsletter that we plan to issue on a quarterly basis with information about our common heritage. We are Liguri, or commonly thought of as Genovesi. Our wish is to provide you with interesting items and tidbits about our extended Genovese family, people who at one time were part of La Republica di Genova and now are in or from the region of Liguria, Il Basso Piemonte, parts of the provinces of Pavia, Piacenza and Parma. We are very proud of our heritage in an understated fashion. Genovesi are not known to be boisterous or ostentatious. We know who we are and are proud of it. We hope that you will enjoy this publication and that it will answer some questions that you may have about our history and accomplishments. Feel free to ask questions or to give us your comments. Please see the last paragraph of the newsletter on how you can contact us.
THE SWAN, il cigno, the symbol of the Liguri Nel Mondo, has always been linked to Liguria. A fable from Greek Mythology tells the story of Cygnus, the King of the Ligurians who, while grieving over the death of his friend, Phaeton, was turned into a swan, Cygnus. The unlucky king in his new form became the emblem of the region over which he reigned, Liguria.
The Encyclopedia Britannica has the following under Ligurian:
Latin Ligus, or Ligur, plural Ligures. Any member of a collection of ancient peoples who inhabited the northwester Mediterranean coast from the mouth of the Ebro River in Spain to the mouth of the Arno River in the 1st millennium B.C.
Wikipedia encyclopedia states:
The Ligures were ancient people who gave their name to Liguria, which once stretched from Northern Italy into Southern Gaul. The Ligures inhabited what now corresponds to Liguria, Northern Tuscany, Piedmont, part of Emilia Romagna, part of Lombardy and parts of southeastern France.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
In the 40’s and 50’s there was a well-known football coach whose name was Jordan Olivar. He started coaching at Villanova, then at Loyola (now Loyola Marymount) and finally, and quite successfully, at that WASPish bastion of higher education by the name of Yale University. In fact, Jordan Olivar’s real name was Giordano Olivari, and he was the son of immigrants from the Ligurian Riviera.
One of the most recognized figures of 20th century art was Pablo Ruiz, a Spanish painter and sculptor. He is best known as one of the founders of Cubism. Pablo eventually moved to Paris from Spain and had a very long and distinguished career in the art world. He may have been the best known and respected artist of the 20th century. Never heard of Pablo Ruiz? The reason you haven’t is because he used the name his mother, Picasso. Picasso is a very common surname in Genova and in the towns on the Golfo Paradiso. His Ligurian roots were in the beautiful seaside town of Sori. Recent research has led to a house where his great grandfather was born. The surnames in his Ligurian heritage, other than Picasso, were Musante and Fasce.
Which brings us to 2007. There are two all-star athletes with Ligurian last names: Baggio and Bruschi. Craig Biggio was born in the NY area and has played baseball for many years with the Houston Astros. Tedy Bruschi was born in San Francisco, grew up in Roseville, and has played football for a number of years with the multiple Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. The question is: are either Biggio or Bruschi of Ligurian ancestry?
Liguria has some very interesting names. Some unique surnames which come to mind (with appropriate translations) are:
Barbagelata frozen beard
Schiappacasse ladle crusher
Vaccamorta dead cow
Gambarotta broken leg
Sciaccaluga grape crusher
Guastavino wine spoiler
THE PATRON SAINT OF GENOVA is neither San Giorgio, who they claim slew a dragon and gave his name to the flag of the Republic of Genova, nor San Lorenzo, to whom the most beautiful cathedral in Genova is dedicated. The Patron Saint of Genova is San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) whose feast day is on June 24th. Colorful celebrations take place on the eve of, with towns competing to have the largest bonfire (falo’). For many centuries, Giovanni Battista was the favorite name for males in Genova. It is hardly ever used anymore. Giovanni Battista was sometimes shortened to Giovan Battista or Giobatta. The classic initials for Ligurians were G.B. The nicknames most commonly associated with the name are Baciccia, Baciccin and Balilla.
VARESE LIGURE, whose population in 1881 was 8,185, had decreased to only 2,358 by 2001 as has happened to most other inland comuni in Liguria. Varese Ligure, in Alta Val di Vara, was moved to the newly created province of La Spezia in 1923. The origins of the current community date back to the thirteenth century with the creation of Borgo Rotondo at the behest of the Fieschi family. Varese Ligure is considered as perhaps Europe’s most ecologically friendly community. It is the first community that received two European environmental certifications and an award for the best rural community of the “Old Continent” in 2004. There are many Varesini in California as well as various South American countries. See above for some of the more common names currently in Varese Ligure.
NOBEL PRIZE - Eugenio Montale was the last Italian winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was a Ligure, born in Genova in 1896. On of his best known works was “Ossi di seppia” (Cuttlefish Bones). Riccardo Giacconi won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002. An expert in astrophysics, Giacconi was born in Genova. He is now an American citizen and for many years was associated with Princeton University. It is interesting to note that Alfred Nobel who was the inventor of dynamite and who funded the awards named in his honor, the Nobel Prizes, was born in Sweden. He lived his final years in Villa Nobel in Liguria, San Remo to be precise. The Villa is now owned by the Province of Imperia, currently contains a museum, and is actively used for conferences and events.
RENZO PIANO is perhaps the best known and most highly regarded living architect. He was born in Pegli, a suburb just west of Genova. He maintains his studio called Punta Nave in the little coastal community of Vesima, near where he was born. The only access to Punta Nave is with a funicolare (a cable railway) or with a helicopter. Piano has been involved in major projects throughout the world. Among them is the rebuilding of Porto Antico in Genova, Maison Hermes in Tokyo, Aurora Place in Sydney, Parco della Musica in Rome, Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, the mile long terminal at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the Potzdamer Platz Reconstruction in Berlin, the Cy Twombly Museum in Houston and the Centre George Pompidou in Paris. In 1998 he won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The prize was presented in a ceremony in the White House hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton.
One of his projects currently under construction here in San Francisco is the new home of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. He is also the lead architect currently in competition to design and build the Transbay Transit Center at First and Mission Streets. His initial design involves several building towers far taller than the Transamerica Building. There have been some very positive articles on his design in the SF Chronicle.
SUMMER STUDY PROGRAMS
The Regione Liguria has summer study programs for students of Italian heritage to enhance their knowledge of the Italian language and culture. The Regione runs the program with the cooperation of the Centro Internazionale di Studi Italiani Dell’Universita di Genova. Last summer the courses ran from August 21 to September 27 at Santa Margherita Ligure. (Not too shabby!!) Admission is open to citizens of any country with or without a diploma who are “maggiorenni” (18 or over) and have a basic knowledge of the Italian language. Last summer the program cost was 550 Euros. A limited number of scholarships, based on need, were available. For more information, go to: www.unige.it/centrint
One of the great treats my mother used to make for me when I was a child in Italy was frisciö. After we came to the United States, it remained one of my favorite foods. It is for me what you might call “comfort food”. She always made it for me on St. Joseph’s Day. In Italy, people celebrated their onomastico (name day) much more so than their birthday. Alas, customs in Italy, along with the advent of Levi’s and Nike’s, have changed, and birthdays have become more commonly celebrated than Saints’ Days. Since St. Joseph’s Day is coming up shortly (March 19th) we are including a recipe for frisciö. This recipe is courtesy of our Recording Secretary/Treasure, Louise Oneto:
FRISCIÖ DA LUISA (Fritelle/Fritters)
2 cups all-purpose flour 4 eggs, well-beaten
1 tablespoon baking powder 2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt oil for frying
Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Beat eggs with milk. Stir flour into the egg mixture and beat until well blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls into hot oil (375 degrees on a frying thermometer) and fry until golden on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot.
Editor’s comments: Allowing the flour mixture to rest for a while before frying is sometimes recommended. Adding apple slices or raisins and sprinkling with sugar make a sweet treat
Spring is here!
Welcome to the second newsletter of the Associazione Liguri Nel Mondo. We would like to thank all the people who had positive comments about our first newsletter. We are looking forward to providing you with more information that will make you proud to be a Ligurian!
PARLÂ ZENEIZE CHE TÛTTO O MONDO O TE INTENDE
“Speak Zeneize and the whole world will understand you.” I had just arrived in New York from my tiny hometown in Italy. My mother and I were walking to the N.Y. Port Authority Bus Station on 42nd Street, close to Times Square, on our way to visit my mother’s aunt in New Jersey. We were speaking Zeneize when a stranger walked over to us and said, “Parlâ Zeneize che tûtto o mondo o te intende.” I was amazed that someone in the middle of Times Square in New York spoke Zeneize and understood the conversation that my mother and I were having. Below are two of many places one can find Ligurians, one close to Genova and one very far away.
TRISTAN DA CUNHA is made up of several uninhabited islands and one that is populated by 270 people. It is the remotest inhabited island in the world. Its nearest neighbor, St. Helena Island (where Napoleon died), is also sparsely populated and is 1,450 miles away. The next closest is Cape Town, South Africa, 1,725 miles away. In 1892, after its cargo spontaneously caught fire, Captain Perasso intentionally ran the ship Italia aground on Tristan da Cunha. The entire crew was saved, and all but two of them returned home to Camogli. Andrea Repetto and Gaetano Lavarello decided to remain on the island and married local girls. The Lavarello and Repetto families still thrive on the island and represent two of the 8 last names there. The local clinic/hospital is called Camogli Hospital. Se parlâ Zeneize a Tristan da Cunha?
GIBRALTAR - In 1704, after a long war between England and Spain over possession of Gibraltar, only a few dozen people remained. Subsequently, it was populated by new arrivals from Liguria and Malta. To this date, the Ligurian influence is ever-present. The national dish is “Calentita”, a combination of farinata and panissa made with ceci/garbanzo flour. Minestra is another popular dish which is basically Ligurian Minestrone – thick and with pesto. Some of the notables in Gibraltar are: Adolfo Canepa, a former Chief Minister, Essayist Mary Chiappe, Poet Leopoldo Sanguinetti and the head of GBC, George Valarino. There are quite a few other names of Ligurian origin. I doubt that we could speak Zeneize with these folks, but then who knows?
SUMMER STUDY PROGRAM
As mentioned in our previous newsletter, the Regione Liguria sponsors a summer study program for students of Ligurian heritage to enhance their knowledge of Italian. The program is coordinated by the University of Genova. This summer’s program will be held between August 20 and September 26, 2007. For further information, check the University’s website at www.unige.it/centrint. We also have some information available if you are interested. It would be great if San Francisco were represented at the courses which are being held in Santa Margherita!
THE MOST COMMON NAMES IN:
CICAGNA is at the center of Val Fontanabuona. In 1871, the population of the Commune di Cicagna was 3,101. The 2001 census showed a population of 2,483. Although the population, like most inland Liguria, has diminished, it has not seen the steep decline most other places have suffered. This is probably due to the fact that there has been a proliferation of small industrial companies on the valley floor. But still, I think that there are more Cicagnesi in California than in Cicagna. It is also the center of the Ardesia community. Ardesia, black slate, is the major export from Val Fontanabuona. The slate is used, among other things, for pool tables, blackboards, durable roofs, and extensively in artistic endeavors. The big festa in Cicagna is La Madonna dei Miracoli (Sept. 15, 16, 17), known far and wide for its fireworks. One of the most famous emigrants from Cicagna was Rosa Maria Segale, who became Sister Blandina Segale, SC. More about her exciting and adventurous missionary work in a future issue. If you happen to be in Cicagna this summer, you can get all the information on Rosa Maria Segale from Dr. Carla Casagrande at the Libreria R. Liveroni, Viale Italia 13A in Cicagna
FRANCO MALERBA was the first Italian in space and, like many explorers before him, is Genovese. He was born in Busalla in the Val Polcevera, graduated cum Laude from the University of Genova as an Electronics Engineer, and received a Doctorate, also from the University of Genova, in Biophysics. Part of his doctoral studies was conducted at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He flew into space on a NASA flight on July 31, 1992 and returned to earth on August 7, 1992.
GIRO D’ITALIA Il Giro is Italy’s classic bicycle road race. The 2007 race is dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi, “Eroe dei due Mondi” (The Hero of the Two Worlds). This year is the 200th anniversary of his birth. Garibaldi was born in Nizza (now Nice, France) of a mother from Loano (SV) and a father from Chiavari. A Ligurian to be proud of! On May 22 the tenth stage (tappa) will cross a good part of Liguria. The stage will start at Lido di Carmaiore and travel for 230 km. It will pass through La Spezia, veer off to the Cinque Terre, then to Levanto. From there it will head to Varese Ligure, climb to Passo della Biscia (890m elevation), then descend into Chiavari through the Val Graveglia, the homeland of many of the Garibaldis. The race will proceed towards Genova, going through Quarto (where I Mille * left for Sicily) to the center of the city. From there, the Giro will head to Bolzaneto, where the steep climb starts up to the Madonna della Guardia, and the end of the stage. The climb will be 8 km long (5 miles) at an average grade of 9%. Quite a strenuous climbing effort!
* “I Mille” was the 1000 person army led by Garibaldi that liberated Sicily and the South from the Bourbons and helped unify Italy. They were mostly Liguri. Comparing our membership roster to the Mille names we find the following names to be in common: Alberti, Beretta, Boschetti, Bracco, Campi, Canepa, Cervetto, Damele, Delucchi, De Martini, De Negri, Galetto, Gatti, Giusto, Nardi, Repetto, Ricci, Rossi, Traverso, and Vanucci. Could these have possibly been your distant relatives?
CUNEO PRESS was at one time the largest printing company in the world. Based in Chicago, John Cuneo took over an existing company and expanded it until it became the world’s largest. Cuneo was the ultimate entrepreneur. He was born is Chicago, went to Yale University, and left after 2 years to go into business. Cuneo was only 21 in 1907 when, with the help of $10,000 given him by his father, he purchased a bankrupt bookbinding company. He changed the name to John F. Cuneo Co., and it eventually controlled Cuneo Press. He was also involved in farming and milk production, as well as supermarkets and other businesses. Un Zeneize con de palanche!
NORTHWESTERN GOLF CO., like Cuneo Press, is located in Chicago. Northwestern was one of the first, if not the first, golf equipment companies to surpass the $100 million mark in annual sales (early 1990’s). The company was founded in 1929 by Nat Rosasco. The founder was succeeded by his son, Nat C. and then by his grandson, Nat G. A review of the Ellis Island web site revealed that a Natale Rosasco arrived in NY, on his way to Chicago, in 1910, at the age of 19. He was from Moconesi (in Val Fontanabuona). Natale became “Nat” and, during the depression, started this very successful golf equipment company.
REAL ESTATE BOOM
Housing costs (condos) in the city of Genova have increased by 45% over the last 8 years. According to statistics, the average cost in Genova runs about $250 per sq. ft. The highest costs are in the Quinto-Nervi-Sant’Ilario area at about $475 and the lowest in Rivarolo at $197 per sq. ft. Of the medium sized cities in Liguria, the highest costs are found in Alassio, while Imperia and LaSpezia have the lowest. Chiavari Centro is on the pricey side with the cost of a used mid-priced unit at about $550,000 for a 1000 sq. ft. unit. Definitely not inexpensive!
1 ½ lbs. of baccala a little flour for dredging
1/2 cup olive oil for frying 3 cloves garlic
2/3 cup olive oil for sauce pinch of salt
½ lbs. of Italian bread pith (no crust), soaked in ½ cup white wine vinegar
Soak baccala for 3 to 4 days in cold water, changing water at least once daily. Cut the soaked baccala into pieces, dry, dredge in flour and fry in the oil. (Time depends on thickness of pieces.)
Sauce: Chop the garlic and bread very finely (like pesto) and mix together. Add a pinch of salt and gradually stir in 2/3 cup of olive oil. The resulting sauce should be semi-liquid, like mayo.
Pour the sauce over the warm fried baccala and serve.
The above recipe is compliments of Marina Capurro of Ristorante Mandilli de Saea, Scoffera, Davagna, Genova. Website:
THE FESTA DEI FIORI was, as usual, a great success thanks to the impeccable planning by our President Joseph Brignole and the Organizing Committee. Mille grazie to Irma and Angelo Ferro of Fantastico for the beautiful fiori, and to Mr. Richard Cuneo for the generous donation of Sebastiani Wines.
TRIVIA QUESTION: What is a “felluca” and its significance to the Liguri in Northern California?
Answer to the previous Trivia Question: Rosario, Argentina is the city with 300,000 residents of Ligurian heritage. Rosario may have as many Liguri as Genova itself. Buenos Aires is probably the city with the most overall. The general population (especially Liguri) of Genova has been on the decline
Hope all of you are having a great summer! Happy birthday wishes go to our board member Ed Bacciocco who just celebrated his 99th birthday on July 22!
TARBARKA is a small island located about 315 yards off Tunisia and was known for the fishing of coral. The Lomellini family from Pegli had purchased a grant for coral fishing from the Ottoman Turks, and they recruited a number of Ligurians to go to Tabarka to fish for coral. In 1741, the Lomellini were forced to cede the island to the Bey (ruler) of Tunisia. The Zeneixi who had immigrated to Tabarka had to leave and find a new home. They went to three places.
Many of these families went to settle on an island off the coast of Sardegna, Isola di San Pietro, and founded a community called Carloforte. Others went to another small island, also off the Sardegna coast, called Sant’Antioco, and created a town called Calasetta. The remainder traveled to the Spanish coast and settled on an uninhabited island off Alicante which was called Isla Nueva Tabarca. This group was gradually integrated into the Spanish community and their identity has been lost. This, however, is not the case with the Tabarkini that settled on the isles off Sardegna. Zeneize is still spoken in both Carloforte and Calasetta. Many, if not most, of the last names there are Ligurian. They earn their living by tourism and tuna fishing. The tuna fishermen still follow the methods, customs and traditions (like the “tonnara”) that were followed centuries ago by the tuna fishermen from Camogli and other Ligurian fishing villages. The Comuni of Carloforte and Calasetta were recently made honorary Comuni of the Regione Liguria. So Zeneize, if a bit archaic, is still flourishing in these two communities.
The Carlofortini fishermen utter this prayer at the start the fishing season: “ S. Antoniu, cu ne desbarasse u camin e cu n’asciste in te nostre operasiun; S. Giorgiu, cu ne libere dai pesci catii; S. Gaitan, cu ne mande da Pruvvidensa (Response: O nu, che u l’ha i pigoeggi); S.Pé, cu ne mande na bugna pesca.
CLOCKS AND BELLS
The Trebino family is the world leader in the production of bells and belltower clocks. The company was founded in 1824 and is still based in Uscio, the beautiful community on the ridge between the Ligurian Sea and Val Fontanabuona. Trebino is the official supplier to the Vatican for clocks and bells. As a matter of fact, they built all the grandiose clocks of St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as those of the other three Vatican churches located in Rome. They have provided bells and clocks for innumerable cathedrals, churches, banks and government buildings in the major cities of Italy and all over the world. Among them are 115 clocks in Genova (one of which is 70 feet in circumference!), clocks for the Torre del Mangia in Siena, the Torre delle Ore in Lucca, the Torre Troiana in Asti and, recently, a stunning 5-bell set for a new church built in Hong Kong. They still cast the bells in the traditional method, like the true craftsmen they are.
THE MOST COMMON NAMES IN:
FAVALE DI MALVARO
Favale is a small town in Val Fontanabuona. The population in 1871 was 2167; in 2001 the population was 480. During the last Sunday in June, there is a large celebration known as the “Giornata dell’Emigrante” which honors the ones that left to find a better life. Many San Franciscans have attended this event in the past. (Edward Galletti, our founder who is from Favale, attends every year!) By far, the most famous person whose roots are in Favale is A.P. Giannini, the founder of Bank of America. His parents were from Favale as were the Pezzolo brothers, known for their accordion music. This small town was also the home of the Cereghinos (called “I Scialin”), the “Cantastorie di Favale”. During the non-farming season, they became minstrals traveling through Northwest Italy singing stories. They became involved with the Valdese sect, a form of Protestantism, which led them into conflict with the Catholic Church. Many emigrated to the U.S. More about the “Cantastorie di Favale” in a future newsletter. Going strictly by name, the following may also have roots going back to Favale:
•Brian Boitano, Olympic Gold Medalist, American and World Champion ice skater.
•Ping Bodie, the first major league baseball player of Italian heritage. Ping Bodie’s real name was Francesco Stefano Pezzolo. His mother was a DeMartini, so maybe he also had some roots in Lorsica. Seventeen Italian players from San Francisco, many of them Liguri, played in the major leagues between 1911 and 1950. There were also several from Oakland.
WHAT IS A “FELUCCA’?
This was the trivia question in the last edition of A Voxé. A felucca is a small fishing boat introduced by the Ligurians who were the first European fishermen in San Francisco. The fishing boats they used were constructed in San Francisco based on the construction methods and shapes as they were in Liguria. The felucca was a lanteen rigged sailboat 16 feet long, pointed at the bow and stern. It is estimated that in 1890 there were 1,000 feluccas at the wharf. They were the main fishing vessels of this area, initially moored at the foot of Vallejo and Green Streets. They subsequently moved to the foot of Union Street and eventually to what we now know as Fishermen’s Wharf. In the 1890’s, the Sicilians wrested control of the industry from the Genovesi, who then moved into the more lucrative business of wholesaling and retailing. When I think of Ligurian fishermen in California. I think of the names Ghio, Castagnola, Stagnaro, Bregante, and Carniglia - names from Riva Trigoso and Sesti Levante. These names can be found in the fishing history and lore of San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Diego.
PASTENE is North America’s oldest importer of premium Italian packaged goods. The company was started by a Ligurian immigrant in Boston’s North End in the 1870’s. Luigi Pastene came from Italy in 1848 and joined many Zeneixi in Boston. Luigi was soon joined by his son, Pietro. I think that Luigi Pastene came from the Riviera del Levante (Rapallo area). The descendents of the founding family, Mark and Chris Tosi still lead the company today. Their advertising slogan is “Chi mangia bene usa prodotti Pastene!” Web site: www.pastene.com
RONZONI MACARONI COMPANY was founded by Emanuel Ronzoni who immigrated from San Fruttuoso in 1881 at the age of 11. San Fruttuoso is a tourist mecca located between Camogli and Portofino which is usually reached by boat and known for the Abbazia dei Doria and for its proximity to the underwater statue known as Il Cristo degli Abissi. Ronzoni is the favorite and best sold pasta in New York, which is the second largest pasta market in the world. It is also sold in San Francisco and nationally. I think their Italian radio (NY) motto was “Ronzoni sono buoni”. Web site: www.ronzoni.com
SISTER BLANDINA SEGALE, 1850-1941
Rosa Maria Segale was born in 1850 in Cicagna. She left Val Fontanabuona with her family at the age of four to travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to join a rather substantial number of Zeneixi in that city. At age 16, she entered the Sisters of Charity and was given the name of Sister Blandina. In 1872, when she only 22, she was sent by herself to the wild western town of Trinidad in the Colorado Territory. There she single-handedly built a school, visited jails, stopped the common practice of lynching, settled disputes among miners and provided nursing care when needed. She prevented “Billy the Kid” from scalping the four doctors of Trinidad who had refused medical care to a friend of his who had been shot, and to whom she had administered care herself. In 1876, she was sent to Santa Fe and later to Albuquerque, both places where she continued to build schools and hospitals with no resources. She often toured railroad workers camps and mines to seek donations. She continued to perform many other worthy deeds, including visiting her old acquaintance, Billy the Kid, and other prisoners in jail. Eventually, she returned to Cincinnati. There she and her sister, Sister Justina, set up an Italian Welfare Center where they worked with Genovesi immigrants and their children. She wrote a book entitled “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail” about her experiences in the Wild West. It is still available today! Sister Blandina died in 1941. It is evident that the spunky young nun met the challenges of the Wild West and came out victorious. Hard work, integrity, and perseverance are trademarks of the Liguri.
The Guinness’s record for the largest frypan in the world (12½ feet. in circumference) is the Padella di Camogli. Every year in Camogli, on the second Sunday in May, they have “La Sagra del Pesce” where they fry in excess of 6,600 pounds of pesce azzurro which is enough to feed 100,000 visitors. It is one of the great events that starts the tourist season in Gulfo Paradiso and Gulfo Tigullio. Afterwards, the gigantic pan goes on tour throughout northern Italy. When not in use or on tour, the pan can be found affixed to a wall in one of Camogli’s piazza’s by its small harbor. Those who are interested and have an internet connection can check out www.sagradelpesce.it, the Sagra del Pesce’s web page.
LASAGNE MATTE (TAGLIATTELLE DI CASTAGNA)
2 1/2 cups chestnut flour* 2 eggs
2 cups of white flour lukewarm water
Mix the 2 kinds of flour and the eggs, and add lukewarm water to make a smooth dough. Mix and knead the dough well. Roll out the dough very thinly, and cut like you would do with tagliattelle. Cook in a pot with plenty of boiling salted water. Drain and dress with pesto, or salsa di noci. (Editor’s note: Cream sauce made with half-and-half and soft meltable cheese, such as teleme, can also be used.)
*Chestnut flour can be purchased online from
• www.claros.com, an LA area deli. It also carries Amaretti Virginia for you Ponentini!
Recipe with compliments of Maria Paula Solari of La Ciappelletta Holiday Rental Apartment in Leivi. For more information. go to Google search and enter: La Ciappelletta Leivi abritel.
Congratulations to the Liguri Nel Mondo scholarship winners: Rita Lombardi Bullwinkel of Menlo Atherton High School who will be attending Brown University, Michelle Casale of Bishop O’Dowd High School, soon to attend UCLA, David Hancock of De La Salle High School heading off to Columbia University, and Christina Poggio of St. Joseph’s Notre Dame High School who will attend UC Berkeley.
Welcome to the following new Liguri nel Mondo members: Sonia & Anthony Alioto, Agnes Molinelli Hambley, Millianne Lehmann, John Scarsella, Jeanne Torre, Cheryl Tufo, Cliff & Diane Vattuone. New members add vitality to our organization! We have surpassed 200 members and are aiming for 250 now! NOTE: We are now able to e-mail Membership Applications. Send requests to email@example.com. Printed copies are also obtainable from the PO Box listed below.
It’s fall, chestnut-picking time in the hills of Liguria! It’s time to roast chestnuts or, in Zeneize, “A lé stagion de röstïe”.
The trivia question from the last issue of “A Voxé” was: How did the Fontana Apartments by Aquatic Park get their name? The answer, as many of you know, is that they were built on the site of what had been the Fontana Warehouse. Marco Fontana was born in 1849 in Genova, most likely in Rezzoaglio in Val D’Aveto. Many of the Ligurian entrepreneurs in California in the late 19th century like Sbarbaro, Badaracco, Cella and Fugazi were from Rezzoaglio or Santo Stefano D’Aveto. Some of the emigrants from Val D’Aveto also settled in Chicago and New York. Marco Fontana, like A.P Giannini and other businessmen of the time, was a “graduate” of the Colombo Produce Market in the City, the “Ivy League” of business education for the Italian community. Fontana created the world’s largest canning operation, California Fruit Packers Association, which eventually became California Fruit Packing Corporation (Cal Pak) and then, in 1916, Del Monte, a brand that still exists today. There are indications that another Ligurian, Antonio Cerruti, was also heavily involved in these enterprises. Fontana used a canning method that he developed over time by experimenting in his own kitchen. In 1907, he built the Cannery Building at the foot of Columbus Avenue. It became the world largest peach cannery and employed 2,500 people during the peak seasons. The canning operation ceased in 1937. The building was converted into a shopping mall and hotel in 1966 and is still a reminder of our proud heritage as personified by Marco Fontana.
As some of you may be aware, the recent America’s Cup competition was won, for the second time in a row, by the Swiss boat, Alinghi which again defeated Team New Zealand. The owner of Alinghi is billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, an Italian born Swiss citizen. Dr. Bertarelli made his money in the family’s biotech firm, Serono, which he recently sold to Merck for $13.3 billion. So why is this big news for “A Voxé”? Well, twelve teams that competed in the preliminaries, semi-finals and finals of the America’s Cup used sails made by North Sails, an American company that constructs its sails in Carasco in Val Fantanabuona. The only team that did not use the Carasco sails was the team from China. The preliminary races are known as the Louis Vuitton Cup. The final of this event was between Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa, an Italian boat which represented the Yacht Club Italiano of Genova. Luna Rossa, after having defeated Larry Ellison’s San Francisco based Oracle/BMW boat, was defeated by Team New Zealand. If there are “farms in Berkeley”, why not sails in landlocked Carasco? Genova rules the sea again!
ROSSI LOSES BY A NOSE
The new SEAT White Pages have just come out in Genova. The historically most common name, Parodi, is still in the lead but is losing ground to the fast-rising name of Rossi. The new pages show 2,657 Parodi listings and 2, 647 Rossi listings. Overall, the names that have made a strong entry are Lopez, Sanchez, Martinez, and Vargas!!
THE MOST COMMON NAMES IN:
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Alfred Drake was an actor and singer. He was the leading man and tenor in the original Broadway productions of Kismet, Kiss Me Kate and Oklahoma. He last appeared in an acting role (as the President of the Exchange) with Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd in the 1983 film success “Changing Places”. Alfred Drake’s real name was Alfred Capurro. His father was from Recco and his mother from Ruta di Camogli. He was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. A Zeneize who achieved fame in the performing arts arena! Giovanni Capurro, who wrote the lyrics of the song ‘O Sole Mio, one of the most famous songs of all time, was Napoletano, not Zeneize.
In the previous newsletter we had an article about Camogli’s huge fish fry. Every small and large community has one or more events during the year to attract visitors – in some cases to practically deserted mountain villages. Not to be outdone by other communities, the ancestral home of the Gardellas, the towns of Corsiglia and Roccatagliata (in the Comune di Neirone), have “La Sagra della Patata”. Yes, you are correct! They celebrate, in a well-manicured chestnut grove, the humble potato! Leave it to the Gardellas to demonstrate the worldliness of that area. They claim that they celebrate the Peruvian tuber because their parish priest, Father Michele Dondero preached that they should not eat the potato raw but rather cook it, either by boiling it or by putting it into the embers of their hearth. Prior to that time, people thought the potato to be poisonous since they ate it raw and became very ill. Poor Father Dondero! What would he say if he knew that, 200 years after his death, the community would celebrate his wise advice on the potato? I am not making fun of the good people of Roccatagliata since part of my family came from there. Just about everyone in the area and the town (which at one time had well over 500 inhabitants) is named Gardella; however, each clan had a nickname to distinguish it from the other clans. Since the population has dwindled tremendously, the nicknames have lost significance and have almost disappeared.
CUCINA _ _ _ _ _ _ _
When walking around North Beach, as well as other areas of San Francisco, one runs across the above words on restaurant signs. So, what is the best of the Italian Cucina? What does an impartial, objective expert have to say on the subject? Waverly Root, an American gourmand, spent much time in Italy and wrote an 800-page book entitled The Food of Italy. Root spends many pages going into the food of each region. On page 269, he quotes a book that states “… the Milanese are undoubtedly the best cooks in Italy.” Root disagrees and states: “This is a debatable statement. One thinks immediately of the Genoese, Venetian and Modenese cooks…” So, Waverly Root placed the Genovesi cooks on top of the list of the best Italian cooks. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in Italian food and its history: Waverly Root, The Food of Italy, Vintage Books, May, 1992. There are no recipes, only historical facts. Great book for anyone who is interested in the nuances of Italian Regional cooking!
In the spring newsletter, we wrote about the escalating prices of residences in Liguria. A recent real estate survey has indicated that Alassio, on the Riviera del Ponente, has become the most expensive location for a vacation home in Italy. It has surpassed Capri. Alassio real estate costs are 15,000 euros per square meter for beach front property. (American translation: a 500 sq. ft. residence near the beach would cost in excess of $900,000.) Of the 10 most expensive vacation communities in Italy, 8 are in Liguria. In addition to Alassio, they are Varazze, Celle Ligure, Sestri Levante, Cinque Terre, Finale Ligure, Lerici and Ospidaletti.
THE NEXT POPE
Will our next Pope be a former Cardinal of Genova? When Pope John Paul died, one of the favorites to replace him was Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi who had served as the Cardinal of Genova for several years and had just been appointed as the Cardinal of Milano. Rumors were that the prior Cardinal of Milano, Cardinal Martini, may have undermined Tettamanzi’s candidacy. Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI was elected, he appointed one of his protégés, Cardinal Bertone, to the position of Secretary of State for the Vatican – the second most powerful position in the Church. Cardinal Bertone was the Cardinal of Genova when he was promoted. The Secretary of State, if not too old, is always a candidate for the Papacy. The current occupant of the top position of the Diocese of Genova, Monsignor Angelo Bagnasco (not yet appointed to the position of Cardinal) has been made the head of the Conference of Italian Bishops, also a powerful position. In essence, he was made the titular head of the Italian Church. (His sister, Anna Maria lives in Moconesi in upper Val Fontanabuona.) Only time will tell if the next Pope will have been a Cardinal from Genova. Perhaps none of the three will win because they will split the “Italian Vote”? The Bishop of Savona, Domenico Calcagno, was appointed, in July, to a very high position in the Vatican. Archbishop Calcagno will be the Secretary of APSA, the Vatican Treasury. Of course, a Zeneize should be in charge of the Vatican Treasury!
LOUISE ONETO HONORED
Congratulations to Louise Oneto who, on June 24, 2007, was very highly honored by the Knights of Malta with a “Cross pro Merito Melitense with Plaque” for her numerous good deeds and generosity in the SF community. The ceremony was held in Favale di Malvaro on the feast day of St. John the Baptist. She was accompanied by her husband, Al Oneto, Comm. Galletti, and friends and relatives from the U.S. and Italy. Mrs. Oneto, our Recording Secretary/Treasurer joins the list of San Francisco Liguri nel Mondo members honored by the sovereign Order of Malta including board member Ed Bacciocco, President Joseph Brignole, Governor Richard Cuneo, Vice President Mario Delucchi, Liguri nel Mondo founder Gr. Uff. Comm. Edward Galletti, and the late Raymond Raggio. Quite an accomplishment for our organization! Congratulations to Louise and to the previous recipients!
In Zeneize: Panèlla, Patùn-a, Fugassa de Castagne (depending on the area)
1 lb. chestnut flour* raisins, pignoli
lukewarm water, milk fennel seeds
salt to taste pieces of Italian sausage
Sift flour, add the salt. Mix with lukewarm water and milk until you have the consistency of pancake batter. Add any optional ingredients. Pour into a well-oiled “tian” or cookie sheet to about ½ inch thickness. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until it has solidified. I prepare my patùn-a with only the flour and no added ingredients. You can always top it with ricotta or whipped cream when serving at room temperature.
*Chestnut flour should soon be available in most Italian food stores as this is the chestnut season. It can be also be purchased on-line from www.claros.com, an LA area deli.
Thank you to our members, Silvano and Carol Achiro, who so graciously hosted our annual picnic at their winery, Terra Rossa Vigna, in Dutch Flat. A wonderful time was had by all who went. The food, the wine and the hospitality of the Achiro family was superb! Mr. Achiro requested that the receipts from the picnic be donated to our Scholarship Fund.
Welcome to the following new Liguri nel Mondo members: Giampietro & Rita Benedetti, Kathy Frendo, Christina Galletti & Scott Howard, The Honorable Philip Moscone, Marilyn Olcese, Fred Solari (from Chicago, IL) and Suzanne Sullivan.
NOTE: We are now able to e-mail Membership Applications. Send requests to e-mail address below.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Two of the four largest largest wineries in the world have CEO’s from what Ligurian family?
Questions, comments and suggestions are welcome. Send E-mails to or to P.O. Box 12126, San Francisco, CA 94112.