Hey there! A new week has begun and Spring has finally arrived!
How was your weekend? Have you been doing something nice? Mine has been quite good. On Friday night, we had a nice celebration at a local restaurant because my father turned 76 years old. Our family has suffered some big losses recently and since then we decided to celebrate every single time we can. We just celebrate the fact that we are together and that we are lucky to have our little family.
We basically celebrate life and is there a better chance to celebrate than a birthday?
I don’t think so! Moreover, my father celebrates his birthday, his name day and Father’s Day on the same day, so we had a lot of reasons to get together and toast. By the way, do you celebrate name day in your country? Is it just an Italian tradition? We celebrate a day of the year which is associated to one’s given name. But, since it is based on the Christian calendar of saints and my name is not among them, I don’t get to celebrate. That’s a huge bummer!
We also toasted for Father’s Day: here in Italy, we celebrate it on March, 19th.
We do it on such day because it is Saint Joseph’s day, who is the father of Jesus Christ and a symbol of fatherhood. We usually give presents to our fathers and just spend time with them. But we’re in Italy, we can’t celebrate without food. As a matter of fact, we have some special sweets for such day: they are called zeppole di San Giuseppe, pastry cream-filled fritters which are absolutely amazing.
(we actually didn’t eat zeppole on Father’s Day, but some tasty seafood spaghetti)
Speaking of Italian traditions, Easter is around the corner and we have many different ways to celebrate it. Here where I live, we have a tradition called Cantè j’euv, which means something like “sing the eggs”. This is actually a tradition that comes from Piedmont but, even if I live in Liguria, we are just on the border with Piedmont and this is why we share many traditions with our neighbors.
The tradition of “singing the eggs” has its roots deep in the past. Many years ago, in the nights before Easter, young kids used to go from house to house singing songs and asking people to give them food and eggs, which they would keep and eat on the day after Easter. Such tradition used to be very popular until World War II and then it disappeared. Nowadays, many small villages are bringing this habit back to life and groups of people go around the village singing songs and collecting presents, even if eggs have been replaced by money. Last week, it was our turn and got our kind of serenade. Unfortunately, it was pitch dark and I couldn’t take any pictures.
The first weekend of Spring is traditionally the time of the giornate di primavera del Fai, or Fai Spring Days. Fai is the Fondo Ambiente Italiano, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote Italy’s natural and cultural heritage. They do many events throughout the year, but their main event is this two-day series of guided tours to show people places which are usually closed or not available for public viewing.
Each year, they choose different locations to be visited. This year we got to see Villa Zanelli, an abandoned Art Nouveau villa in Savona. For people living in the city, such villa is a common sight because it is located on a heavily trafficked road. It is an amazing villa, which unfortunately has been abandoned almost 20 years ago. Since I have a thing for ghost buildings and towns, I couldn’t miss the opportunity of visiting it and I am glad I did.
The villa has a romantic history. It was commissioned by sea captain Nicolò Zanelli for Rose, a Chilean lady he fell in love with. Built in 1907 by one of the most famous Art Nouveau architects of the time, it had a lush garden and an amazing round balcony facing the sea. After a troubled life, the villa is now completely abandoned and this is incredibly sad because it is one of the best examples of Art Nouveau in Liguria, together with Villa Rosa – the villa where the Altare Glass Museum is hosted.
(this is the back of the villa, with the lovely round balcony facing the sea)
(the view from the balcony)
(another view of the villa)
And you? What have you been doing lately? What does the coming of Spring means in your corner of the world? Let me know!
If you are interested in learning more about Italian culture and lifestyle, I’d suggest you jump on my digital Vespa and join Be Italian For A Month, your 30-day virtual journey to Italy.
You will also learn some Italian words, you’ll receive some typical Italian recipes – ready to be cooked and enjoyed, you’ll get to tour around Italy, and learn about Italian traditions, proverbs, stereotypes, you name it. Plus, some cute surprises along the way!