The mayor of Sesto Fiorentino near Florence has banned residents from growing broad beans within 300 metres of the home of a child with a rare allergy. The allergy is called Favism and caused by the inhalation of the pollen resulting in anaemia.The local authority initially refused the mother’s request for a ban, but after the child spent a long period in hospital last year, the Mayor was moved to intervene.



You are probably all familiar with the Italian phenomenon of parading statuary through the streets on Saints’ days. However, what is done in the town of Cocullo in the Abruzzo on May 1st each year is remarkable. In the Serpari Festival, the statue of San Domenico di Sori is decorated with live snakes.
The origin is said to date back to the 11th C. when the saint drove the snakes out from the peasants’ fields. Others believe that it dates back much further, to worship of Argita the Roman Goddess of snakes which was prevalent in central Italy.


We are grateful to Rosemary Hebblethwaite for bringing to our attention the Mazzoleni Art Gallery in London. The gallery recently celebrated 30 years of bringing Italian art to London. There is an interesting YouTube video detailing the history of the gallery:


Edyth Myles is a familiar speaker at SAIS. Her subjects have tended to be Italian operas, more recently, however, she has become intrigued by the folk music of Sardinia and she will talk about this in her presentation on 17th of this month (see attached flyer). Sardinia has developed unique folk musical traditions:one such is the polyphonic technique known as Cantu a Tenore. For a flavour go to:


From the precious large white Asparagus typical of northern Italy, to the skinny and super-tasty wild ones grown in the central Italian countryside, spring is definitely the season for this delicious vegetable. It is eaten all over Italy in different ways, but mostly used to make wonderful risottos or omelettes. Eggs and cheese (especially fried eggs with grated Parmesan – asparagus’ best friend). This months recipe is ASPARAGI ALLA MILANESE. See our website recipe corner for the full recipe.




On Friday May 17th Talk by Edyth Myles, see above.

On Saturday May 18th a walk led by Rod Lanning along the western shore of the Hamble River starting at 10 am and stopping for lunch at the King & Queen pub.

On Saturday May 25th at 1900 No.6 Cinema in the Portsmouth Dockyard is showing Loro which concerns the events surrounding Silvio Berlusconi and his torrid life and times. Loro is directed by Paolo Sorrentino who also directed the Oscar-winning The Great Beauty. Being about Berlusconi and his antics the film has an 18 certificate! More details at

On Sunday June 16th a walk led by Mario Gandolfo “From Putney bridge to Kew Bridge along the Thames Path”



A reminder that this year’s holiday destination is Trieste. Plans are being finalised but at present the suggestion is for 5 days in the week beginning 23 September. It is proposed to fly from Gatwick to Venice, bus to the railway station and thence by train to Trieste. Hotel accommodation is being explored and full details will come to you as soon as finalised. Currently there are 15 people interested; should you wish to be added to the list please email

A presto