Monthly Newsletter


Workers freshening up markings in beach town of Sabaudia painted ‘Sotp’ instead of ‘Stop’ in bold letters

A typo in a road marking has caused amusement among residents of a town near Rome last month, helping to break the monotony of the coronavirus lockdown.
Workers freshening up markings in the beach town of Sabaudia painted “Sotp” instead of “Stop” in bold letters.The mayor of Sabaudia was quick to distance the town hall from the misprint, writing that “the company in charge made a mistake” and promising a quick correction. Sotp will return to Stop,” she wrote. “It’s a small mistake that maybe made you smile!”

‘Exceptionally rare’ sighting of dolphins in Venice’s Grand Canal on March 24th (sent by a member)

‘Women-only’ housework questions on Italian Covid form spark ridicule

The questionnaire, intended to capture the lingering symptoms of coronavirus, was being given recently to patients invited back to hospitals for check-ups.  The questions aimed to assess people’s energy levels by asking them how they were coping with performing simple tasks, such as doing the shopping, using the telephone and whether they drive or use public transport. But three of the questions about preparing food, managing the home and doing the laundry were marked “only for women”. As the controversy unfolded, the health authority withdrew the questionnaire, saying “there was no discriminatory intent”. Its director general, Ida Ramponi, said: “I am very sorry for what happened. At the moment we are reviewing the forms and at the same time have begun an internal inquiry to verify how it was possible to make such a mistake.”

LA CELEBRAZIONE DEL MESE - The event of this month

IL RITO DEI VATTIENTI (Nocera Terinese, Calabria)

This gruesome, secular ritual that takes place during the Holy Week, is a fanatical sadomasochistic performance, macabre and disturbing at times, but capable of attracting people from all over Italy and abroad. The ceremony begins with the procession of the statue of the Pieta’, which depicts the dead Christ laid on the lap of the Virgin Mary. Shortly after, the VATTIENTI prepare for the scourging. The Faithful ones dress with a shirt and dark shorts, covering their heads with a black cloth, held by a crown of thorns. Each Vattiente is accompanied by a young bare-chested local boy, whose legs are covered by a red cloth, his head also surrounded by a holy thorn. He represents the ECCE HOMO (behold the man), the Latin expression used by Pontious Pilate when he presents a scourged Jesus Christ to a hostile crowd just before his Crucifixion. 

The Ecce homo, tied to the Vattiente with a rope, is carrying a wooden cross, covered with a red cloth. The Vattiente will then disinfect the tools of his flagellation: the rose, a small disc of cork, which, once impregnated with blood, will be used to leave a bloody stain on walls and doors, and the “cardo”, with inserted pieces of spiked glass, to beat and bleed the legs with.
The procession then begins through the town’s streets and, in front of the Madonna and the body of Christ, all the penitents renew the ritual of the flagellation, at the end of which they wash the wounds with water and an infusion of rosemary and wine, get dressed and then join the procession.

LA LOCALITA` DEL MESE - The place of the month

Following up from the article we published in the previous issue of this bollettino, on April 4th the prize “BORGO DEI BORGHI” (the best Italian village) was given to the beautiful TROPEA in Calabria which has beaten off the competition from 19 other borghi, one for each Italian region.
Fortunately, Calabria is not only renowned for their macabre performances as described above! The resort, nicknamed ‘The Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea’, is the jewel in the crown of Calabria’s Coast of the Gods. Tropea won the coveted prize for “the heady combination of its sea, sun, art, culture, architecture, gastronomy and hospitality”.

LIBRO DEL MESE - Book of the month

This year we celebrate the 700th anniversary of the death of our much-revered poet DANTE ALIGHIERI (Firenze, 1265- Ravenna, 1321), father of the ITALIAN LANGUAGE.
His DIVINA COMMEDIA (DIVINE COMEDY), completed in 1320, is an epic poem, which is split into three parts and traces a pilgrim’s journey through hell, purgatory and heaven. It was written in the vernacular tuscan dialect to make it accessible to the masses, instead of Latin. His choice had such a great impact on writers at the time that the Tuscan dialect formed the basis for modern italian.

The book is available in English and also as an audiobook.

L’ARTE DEL MESE - The art of the month

DAZZLE + DISRUPT – Jeannie Driver & Lisa Traxler

(sent by a member)

Lisa Traxler, one the artists mentioned in Myrtle’s fascinating talk to the SAIS in March, is exhibiting at the Quay Arts in Newport, Isle of Wight (Sat 27th March – Sun 13th June).
Wouldn’t it be great to think that one could visit in person soon? In the meantime an online virtual tour is available at the address below:

LA RICETTA DEL MESE - Recipe of the month

Biscotti al limone (Lemon biscuits)

A SAIS member who has already tasted them says:
These biscuits are light as a feather with a lemon flavour and delicate crisp topping.

Check the online recipe corner for the ingredients and method.


… and a special mention about the recipe published on our previous bollettino no. 175

Several members wrote to us to say that they had baked the “Torta di San Biagio”, thank you for your comments and pictures sent!

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

This month we want to pay a tribute to RAOUL CASADEI, il Re del Liscio (the king of the smooth), who died in March after contracting COVID.
A life lived in the name of music, Raoul Casadei’s passion for music started when he was only sixteen and was given a guitar by his uncle Secondo, director of the most famous Romagna (the south east part of Emilia-Romagna) Smooth Orchestra, founded by Secondo in 1928.
With his own orchestra, Raoul exported his lively music all over the world, making people want to sing and dance.

Raoul Casadei – Romagna mia (OMAGGIO A RAOUL CASADEI IL RE DEL LISCIO ) – YouTube

ROMAGNA MIA”, a typical “liscio” ballad, was written by Secondo Casadei and recorded in Milan in 1954. The waltz rhythm, accompanied by violins, tells of a man’s nostalgia for his homeland, Romagna. It has become almost a national anthem for the region.


Saturday 1st May at 18:00 – An Anglo Italian Quiz evening

Friday 21st May at 18:00 – Leon Battista Alberti the first “Renaissance Man”. A Zoom talk by Dr. Jenifer Nicholson.

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

Three BBC Sounds radio programmes recommended by a member

The Essay – A portrait of the Artist – A fresh look at the Italian Renaissance through Benvenuto Cellini, one of its most controversial artists.

Dante 2021 – Dante’s Divine Comedy reveals its 21st-century meanings to Katya Adler as she travels through the regions of the afterlife with three expert guides. With Michael Sheen as Dante.

Lev’s Violin by Helena Attlee – An Italian adventure by Helena Attlee

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

A presto