lunedì 13 agosto 2012

Medieval Dinners for the Palio

In Palestrina each August two weeks of festivities are dedicated to the Palio of Sant’Agapito. Many of the activities revolve around each quarter’s efforts to prepare their horses and riders for the main competition events. To finance the support of each team, the rioni or neighborhoods organize a week to ten days of outdoor dining called taverne in various places throughout town.

There are four taverne in Palestrina: Porta San Biagio, Porta San Cesareo, Porta San Martino, Porta San Giacomo. Depending on the neighborhood, the outdoor dining experience often means that you are likely to walk into a park where there is a reconstructed castle full of Medieval ambiance where everyone is dressed in costume. Stories are told to illustrate how people lived 500 years ago, songs are sung, games are played and even prizes are won (my personal favorite is Porta San Biagio, as it offers the most entertainment and even a children's play corner for the youngest components of your family). 

The dinner itself usually has a fixed price (this year 15 euros for adults) and includes a full meal (appetizers, two plates of pasta, meat, potatoes, salad, dessert, coffee, wine, water) and the menu changes every evening. Guests typically arrive at 8:30pm and stay past midnight enjoying the music, wine, games, fun and good company that the taverna offers. It’s best to make a reservation, as each taverna fills up quickly! 

For information: Comitato Palio di Sant’Agapito, Tel. 3385823551

A Stitch in Time

A very special tradition in Palestrina has to do with embroidery stitches. Sewing has always been one of the most important and useful handicrafts, and embroidered clothing and linens have been a popular cultural tradition in Italy for centuries.

Around the end of the 1800’s in many schools opened to satisfy the market’s request for embellished and prestigious clothing, wall hangings, home furnishings and linens. As women began to study and work they were no longer obliged to stay at home and prepare their own dowry of linens; they therefore looked to the local schools to have such handmade pieces prepared for them.

One very interesting technique used in embroidery is the Palestrina stitch (called the punto Palestrina in Italian), which is similar to an upraised knot. The stitch is often used on borders and for decorating long lines in the fabric and it adds a special touch to any embroidered work. It was created over one hundred years ago by Marquis Ferdiando Ulivieri who was working at the time in Palestrina.

Today the best examples of embroidered pieces and handiwork are done by Stella Chiapparelli, who not only exhibits and sells her work locally (Palestrina’s “Sagra del Giglietto”, Zagarolo’s fair “Tramando Tessendo”, but also at many important international sewing fairs. Stella Chiapparelli has a cultural association through which she promotes local cultural heritage through sewing and embroidery.
VIDEO: www.

lunedì 6 agosto 2012

Sagra del Giglietto, Food Festival in Palestrina

Italian food festivals, in particular in the Monti Prenestini area, are frequent occasions where locals can enjoy an evening on the town and a chance to enjoy typical food from the area. Every year at the beginning of August, Palestrina celebrates their traditional cookie, the giglietto: it is made of sugar, eggs and flour, carefully shaped into a fleur de lys and baked to perfection. Its light and crispy texture is perfect for snacks accompanied with a glass of milk or for dessert accompanied by a sweet wine.
The last remaining traditional bakery/pasta shop is run by the Salomone family and is located on Corso Pierluigi in the center of Palestrina. They make an array of home made pasta and sweets including the famous giglietto.
This year the Sagra del Giglietto was held from August 3-5 and included free live music concerts, food stands, games and an open-air market all throughout the center of town. To finish off the last evening there was a round of tombola with a money prize for the winners and a firework display at midnight. See you there next year!!