#ARTMOMENT: Jews Saved in Assisi

Printing Press

Shana Tova! This is the beginning of the Jewish New Year, #RoshHashanah. During the Nazi Occupation of Italy, Assisi established an underground network to protect several hundred Jews who were in danger of being deported by Nazis. Churches, monasteries and convents of Assisi served as a safe haven, while the local printing press was used secretly at night to print papers of transit. Not a single refugee was captured in Assisi.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

 

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#ARTMOMENT: Race around Assisi

Race in Assisi

Every year, a particular type of race is held in Assisi which draws on a medieval tradition. At that time, the entire city was surrounded by fortified walls and had eight entrances secured by large wooden doors. Every night, guards would close each door to secure the city.

The current race, “la Marcia delle 8 Porte,” is an homage to this tradition where the runners mark each entryway before reaching the finish line. The winners receive prizes, live music is played, and food served at the small festival.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Sagra: Local Festivals

Sagra

“Le Sagre” are folk festivals celebrating local culture and food. Throughout Italy and especially in Umbria, you can find wonderful local specialties cooked and served up by local volunteers. These hard workers are very proud of their heritage and tradition, and cheerfully offer their time. My favorites so far have been for both the sagras for duck and snails — not cooked in the French way (which I also love), but in a spicy tomato broth.

Usually there is a live band and dancing as well. Rich in history and culture, these festivals are a beautiful way to engage in #ladolcevita.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Ferragosto = August Vacation

Ferragosto

August 15 marks the Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary and also “Ferragosto,” a national holiday in Italy during which people celebrate the mid-point of their vacation month in August. Feriae Augusti were introduced by the emperor Augustus in 18 BC.

Italy is HOT during August. Hot hot hot. And because of this tradition, many people have the month off. So they go to the beach. THEY. ALL. GO. And Let me tell you, if you live in the middle of Italy, all you want to do is get the hell out of there and GO. TO. THE. BEACH.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Celebrating Spring

Griffen

The Sopra griffin sounds the horn in anticipation of this year’s #calendimaggio, the ancient tournament between the two parts of Assisi — Sopra v Sotto.

The origins of “May Day” go back to medieval times and are linked to pagan customs that celebrated the return of the spring season and the renewal of the cycle of life.

In Assisi, the city was divided into “Parte de Sotto” (Lower City) and “Parte de Sopra” (Upper City), ruled respectively by the rival families of the Fiumi and the Nepis. In Ancient times these rivalries would result in deadly clashes; however, the ceremonies now simply reflect a joyful (though still fiercely competitive) event which lasts for several days. To the victors, many honors. To the losers, another year to plot.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.