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PAGE 4 POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 11,2017 t. i L L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore Fun in the Sun for Ferragosto by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz There is no use hiding it any- more: autumn is coming. The signs of the changing season pulsate all around me. The evenings fall earlier, a dusky blue mantel of sky covering the Earth, and the air feels crisper as well. The earliest crop of apples has arrived at markets, and I cannot wait to enjoy this succulent fruit in cakes, breads, crisps and as a simple snack. Even Ha_lloween decorations, smiling pumpkins and arched black cats, begin to wink from store shelves amidst all the notebooks and pencils of back-to-school sales. Although autumn is my favorite season, I am determined to hold on to "the rest of the summer for as long as I can, until the school bell rings in September. After all, the days are still warm and the sun still bakes the Earth. Indeed, in Italy, summer vaca- tion remains in full swing. The biggest summer holiday in Italy occurs on August 15% though Italians extend the celebra- tions for several weeks before or after. For this feast, named F.erragosto, Italians leave the cities en masse to spend time at the beach or in the mountains. Caught between the heat and idleness of summer and the rhythmic nature of fall, Fer- ragosto provides Italy with one last joyous blast of the vacation season. Visiting Italy during August can sometimes resemble walk- ing through the quiet remains of an ancient cixdlization. Tourists abound, of course, but many Italians have already escaped the scorching heat of cities and towns once August began, embarking on their Ferragosto vacations until the holiday culminates on August 15% I remember the slightly eerie sensation of walking through Rome one August eleven years ago, and noticing the boarded- up restaurants and theaters and shops. Meanwhile, the Italian coastline brims with colorful beach umbrellas and chic sunbathers, the sands chockablock with impromptu volleyball games and radios blaring the latest hits. Italians even exchange holiday greeting cards emblazoned with pictures of beach picnics and grinning suns. In small Italian villages, such as my father's home out- side of Sulmona in Abruzzo, people celebrate Ferragosto with shady al fresco dinners featuring the seasonal produce of zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers and herbs. This holiday has been important to Italians since Taste of the North End 14th ANNUAL BOCCE TOURNAMENT To raise funds for scholarships and the North End Community Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 10 AM LANGONE BOCCE COURTS, Commercial Street (North End) Yes, I would like to participate in the Bocce Tournament which includes entry fee, tournament tee shirt, Joe Pace cookout. TEAMS Please indicate the number of: $100.00 per team (2 people per team) or $50.00 per player Spectator and Dinner at $25.00 per person PLAYER NAME PLAYER NAME Address City or Town Phone Email Please circleshirtsize M L XL XXL Make Checks Payable to Taste of the North End and mail to I~ , P.O. Box 130135, Boston, MA 02113 [ For further information please contact I Pam 781-956-7441 I Chairman - Donato Frattaroli, dfrattarofi @ gmail.com ancient times. It hearkens back to the year 18 B.C., when the Emperor Augustus established the Feriae Augustae- Festi- vals of Augustus -- in honor of his reign. Some historians suspect that Augustus' festivals replaced older holidays like the Vinalia rustica, which marked the grape harvest. For all of its modern trappings, therefore, Ferragosto remains a seasonal celebration honoring the fresh- air pleasures of summer and the harvest. August 15th holds another great significance in Italian culture: it is the feast day of the Assumption, or L'Assunzione. This religious holiday observes the Virgin Mary's physi- cal and spiritual ascent into Heaven. Italian villages and towns combine Ferragosto and L'Assunzione festivities by hold- ing parades and processions where the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is held aloft. In the medieval city of Siena, the famous Palio, or Renaissance horse race, occurs around this time. Around Europe, in fact, the Feast of the Assumption also serves as an important seasonal marker, heralding the start of the harvest. Arme- nian farmers bring freshly har- vested grapes to church on the Sunday closest to the Assumption so that the priest may bless the fruit. In Poland, where the Virgin Mary of the Assumption is also known as the Blessed Mother of the Herbs, people gather herbs and have them blessed in church and later display those herbs around their homes for pro- tection. I honor the harvest qualifies of the Assumption by baking cheesy biscuits studded with chives; both the wheat and the herbs symbolize the bounty of Mother Earth. The pungent aroma and simple texture of these small breads remind me that August means far more than the end of summer; rather, it is a time to be thankful for the gifts of nature and to appreci- ate the cyclical changing of the seasons much as our ancestors did. Therefore, August in Italy teaches us to live in the moment. Though we may be worried about the stress of the upcom- ing cold-weather months, the holiday of Ferragosto encour- ages us to seize the last few weeks of summer with fanfare and fun, enjoying the cool waters of the ocean or a picnic under the stars, surrounded by family and friends. Meanwhile, the Feast of the Assumption emphasizes the bountiful har- vest that characterizes the late summer and fall, as well as the beauty of the changing seasons. So let us allow the lessons of these two holidays to permeate our lives and carry the plea- sures of August with us always. P.S. Happy Birthday to my father Rocco Di Censo, who was born the day after Ferragosto. Daddy, I love you always! Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz is a Graduate Student in History at the University of Massachu- setts Boston. She appreciates any comments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folk- lore at adicenso89 @gmail.com. by Sal Giarratani Holy Smokes, the Toilet's Totalled/ I have written newspaper commentaries seemingly every- where and'to many readers seemingly forever. I started getting published when I was 19 years old and the subject was the Vietnam War. Over the years, there have been few subjects I haven't touched upon. However, I never wrote about portable toilets before or the one that got demolished by a motor vehicle. But there is always a first. As I read my copy of the Weymouth News {my column has been in it for years), I came across an interesting news story about an elderly driver who plowed into a portable toilet. I wish I could say news stories about old drivers losing control were a rarity, but they aren't. The specifics of this car crash would be funny if it wasn't so serious. A 90-year- old driver rolling along on Mid- dle Street at an intersection under construction ended up going through plastic barrels and cinder blocks. The driver was reportedly unable to stop his car. The toilet was totally demolished and you know what was flowing in the street, right? When the toilet company was called to the scene, they reportedly refused to clean up the mess. The Town of Wey- mouth was called and hope- fully town workers cleaned up the mess on the road's surface. Getting back to elderly driv- ers. I have always believed that when elderly drivers hit a certain age, they need to get road tested on a regu- lar basis, because the older we get, the more our reflexes change and not for the better -- and don't even talk about eyesight! Whenever, this sub- ject is brought up, groups like AARP go to bat for the right of all elderly drivers to drive. When asked about all these age-related crashes, they say young drivers arebad, too, but do we force them to take addi- tional road testing? Yes, many young drivers aren't great driv- ers, either, but with age they can improve. When it comes to old drivers, we just get worse. Politicians will never act because they fear the senior voting power of a demographic that votes like clockwork. Please don't say I am guilty of ageism. I am an older driver myself but I want the roads safe for everyone, young and old. Society can't just live in denial over this public safety issue. The last thing I wish to do is take away the ability to drive a car because someone is too old to drive. There are many good older drivers still driving out there and, like the rest of us, they remain less safe if bad drivers are left with the keys to their cars. If someone is afraid to get road-tested, doesn't that say something? Don't depend on our elected officials to do the right thing; they know their voters and will never touch this issue: It might be the third rail that brings them to retirement. Oh, and I'm not mean-spir- ited. I hope the driver in this news story escaped serious injury. I am concerned about older drivers on the road and I am not just picking on any of them because of their age. It's their driving ability that's the issue. Public Insurance Adjuster Since 1969 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS AUTO HOMEOWNERS TENANTS COMMERCIAL Experience makes the difference 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Free Parking Adjacent to Building