Monthly Newsletter


Happy New Year to you all and we hope you all had a great Christmas. Hard to believe we are now only a few weeks away from our first meeting at the new venue in Portchester. Here is a reminder of the date/time and address:

Friday 21st January 7pm
Portchester Parish Hall
Assheton Court, Portchester, PO16 9PY



On 28 July 2021, the Porticoes of Bologna officially became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The decision is an extraordinary achievement for the city of Bologna and for the nation, since it brings the total number of Italian sites designated as World Heritage by UNESCO to 58, plus 14 registered in the Intangible Cultural Heritage category, for a total of 72. Bologna has a total of 62 km of porticoes.

Taken as a whole, they constitute “an identifying element of the city of Bologna, both by the community and by visitors, a reference point for a sustainable urban lifestyle, in which religious and civic spaces together with the homes of all social classes are perfectly integrated”, reads the citation for the nomination launched in January 2020. The first porticoes date back to the 11th century, originally conceived to extend the surface area of private buildings in response to the need for expansion of commercial and artisan activities. Over the following centuries, the number of porticos increased exponentially, mainly due to the strong increase in population caused both by the arrival of students and professors at the University of Bologna and by the exodus from the countryside. For over ten centuries now, the porticos have been regarded as a meeting point, a place for aggregation and socialising for both locals and visitors, and it is precisely this social aspect that distinguishes these covered spaces, which were and still are privately owned for public use while being considered the most identifying feature of the city.

Above, an example of a highly decorated portico’s ceiling in Bologna.

LE PANCHINE GIGANTI (The big bench community project)

When US-born Chris Bangle moved from Germany to the tiny Italian village of Clavesana in 2009, he waved goodbye to a 17-year career as Chief of Design for BMW. It was a huge change for him, but his arrival also had an impact on his new neighbours, writes Dany Mitzman. Fed up with designing cars for the elite, Chris Bangle wanted to create something for everyone, and something more in tune with nature.

One idea he hit upon was a bench – a giant one, far bigger than a normal park bench – and together with his wife, Catherine, he set up The Big Bench Community Project. Everything started as a project amongst friends and neighbours, and now it is winning the hearts and passion of many people that otherwise would probably not have imagined looking at the Italian mountains and vineyards sitting on an out-of-scale piece of outdoor furniture.
Over the last years more official benches have been built in the surrounding area, without public funding, solely thanks to private sponsors. Chris Bangle freely provided the bench builders with designs and instructions, asking as the only condition that they be placed in a scenic position, on land accessible to the public, and that they respect the social spirit that gave birth to the original bench: not a private installation, but rather part of a collective experience that anyone coming to this region can share end experience. This project aims to support local enterprise, tourism and craftsmanship in the towns that host these out-of-scale installations.
For more information about the project and the locations click on the link below:

LA CELEBRAZIONE DEL MESE - The event of this month

Sant’Antonio Abate (Sant’Antonio del Maiale)

Saint Anthony Abbot of the Pig – 17th January

Saint Anthony Abbot is considered the protector of animals, so much so that he is usually depicted holding a pig. On the 17th of January traditionally the Church blesses all animals under the divine protection of the saint.
The feastday of Saint Anthony is linked to the time of the year in mid January when the days are starting to lengthen, the sun re-appears above the horizon bringing life and fertility.
It is on this day, dedicated also to light and rebirth, that bonfires are set in the countryside to represent the start of a new year.

LA LOCALITA` DEL MESE - The place of the month


Among all stairways you have ever seen, this is definitely one of the most unusual. You have probably already realised that this is not a real ladder, but a spectacular stretch of coast that thanks to its peculiarity has become an icon of the Sicilian seaside tourism. This white cliff is located along the stretch of the sea between Realmonte and Porto Empedocle (Agrigento) and its rock is made of a soft, limestone and blinding white marl. Nature, as a great artist, has worked this material over time, making it soft and sinuous, with the help of the sea and the salty breeze, creating terraces and smoothing every corner. The sea, taking advantage of this sparkling white, will be showing off his blue. The name Stairs of the Turks seems to derive from the fact that in ancient times the ships of marauding Arabs and Turks found shelter in this bay.

Unfortunately, the cliff has been recently vandalised. A site inspection was carried out by officials from the Agrigento cultural heritage superintendence on Saturday 8th January after the site was stained with red plaster powder the night before. The superintendent’s technicians established that vandals used red iron oxide powder, reports news agency ANSA, and that the damage appears not to be permanent, as confirmed by the fact that waves have partially cleaned the lower part of the cliff.

LETTURA DEL MESE - Long read of the month

Without warning or explanation, an unnamed 13-year-old girl is sent away from the family she has always thought of as hers to live with her birth family: a large, chaotic assortment of individuals whom she has never met and who seem anything but welcoming. Thus begins a new life, one of struggle, tension, and conflict, especially between the young girl and her mother. But in her relationship with Adriana and Vincenzo, two of her newly acquired siblings, she will find the strength to start again and to build a new and enduring sense of self.
Set against the stark, beautiful landscape of Abruzzo in central Italy, this is a compelling story about mothers and daughters, about responsibility, siblings, and caregiving.

La CANZONE/ MUSICA DEL MESE - Song or music of the month

Francesco De Gregori – La donna cannone (testo) – YouTube

Launched in 1983, this was one of De Gregori’s biggest hits when it came out, and it is like a poem with music. In fact the melody alone evokes a sense of playfulness, love, joy and freedom.

L’ARTE DEL MESE - The art of the month

The Mystic Nativity

The Mystic Nativity is a painting in oil on canvas dated c. 1500–1501 by the Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, in the National Gallery in London.

It is his only signed work and has an unusual iconography for a painting of the Nativity. John Ruskin, the 19th century writer and art critic, gave the painting its name after seeing it in London when he referred to Botticelli’s ‘mystic symbolism’.

Listen to the BBC Sounds description from the beautifully told series “Moving pictures”

LA RICETTA DEL MESE - Recipe of the month

Lenticchie e cotechino (Lentils with Italian sausage)

New Year in Italy means lentils. They say those who eat lentils at New Year ‘conta quattrini tutto l’anno’ (count coins all year long). It is the magic of their form. Shaped a bit like coins, lentils are an augury of wealth and happiness: the more you eat, the better your fortune the following year. It is a tradition upheld in much of the country, although different regions have different ways of eating lentils and have different accompaniments – particularly good are the fat cotechino sausages of the north.

Find the full recipe on the recipe corner of the SAIS website.

DATES WITH YOUR …SOFA: (films, videos and documentaries)

TV Serie on Channel 4 Il cacciatore

The Hunter – Fact-based Italian crime thriller from Walter Presents set in the dangerous cauldron of Palermo in 1993.

We hope that you are all well, staying alert and safe!

A presto

The bollettino team thanks all the members that forward articles, we appreciate them and look forward to receiving your findings. Please keep them coming.