Category Archives Italian News

As many of us celebrate this Memorial Day by chilling out with friends or family, I think it is a good idea for us all to take a moment to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom.  Not far from Podere Erica is the Florence American Cemetery.  It is a beautiful, peaceful, well-maintained spot which you can see from this photo.  During the Winter when there are fewer trees in leaf,  I can see it on my right as I travel down the FI-SI to go to Podere Erica.  I always admire the beauty and say a little thank you.

On this Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 there will be a ceremony.  It is free and open to the public.  A special time to visit the cemetery, but, of course you can visit any time during their opening hours.

You can visit the cemetery daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except December 25 and January 1. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty in the visitor building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.  More than 4,000 military fallen are buried on this 70 acre site of American soil in Italy.  Most of them died in the battles after the June 1944 capture of Rome.  Families had the choice of having their loved one buried at the Florence American Cemetery or sent home for internment in the U.S.

Each grave is marked by a headstone of white marble and is engraved with the decendent’s full name, rank, date of death, unit and state of entry into military service.  Those of Jewish faith have tapered marble shafts surmounted by a Star of David.  For those who could not be identified their headstone reflects the words:  “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.”

Past the graves on a broad terrace stands the memorial marked by a tall pylon surmounted by a large sculptured figure.  Here you will find the Tablets of the Missing upon which are inscribed 1,409 names of those missing in action.  There is also a chapel of marble and mosaic.  Besides escorting family to gravesite locations, and guided tour of the site, the ABMC office there offers other services like providing a photograph or lithograph of a headstone.  All of their services are listed on their website.  At this website you will also find many lovely photos of the cemetery as well as an option to search their database for burial and memorialization information on 200,000+ Americans honored at their 14 permanent American military cemeteries on foreign soil.

Florence American Cemetery is located on the west side of Via Cassia, south of Florence, just off the FI-SI.





The 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck at time when many visitors were arriving in Amatrice for an annual festival honoring the famous pasta dish created in this town. It is called Pasta Amatriciana — a dish made with pork jowl, tomatoes, white wine, chili pepper and pecorino cheese. It is so popular it has been enshrined on an Italian stamp. The festival that honors Amatriciana has traditionally been held in the final Sunday of each August. This would have been their 50th annual celebration this coming weekend.

Amatrice is a small village inhabited mostly by older people – the youth having left the isolated village to find work in the cities.   But during the summer and especially at the time of this festival, many relatives come to spend time with their nonni. Often parents leave their children there with their grandparents for the summer. So, it is especially harsh that this disaster has happened now.

Amatrice before the earthquake: Photo by TripAdvisor
Amatrice before the earthquake: Photo by TripAdviso

Due to the influx of visitors arriving in Amatrice for Sunday’s food festival, authorities are not yet sure how many people were in Amatrice when the quake struck. About 70 were believed to be staying in the Hotel Roma, a town landmark that serves the famous pasta dish. Rescue crews pulled five bodies from the rubble of the hotel but had to halt rescue operations at night when conditions became too dangerous in the dark.

 Also the nearby hilltop towns of Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto were left in ruins by the earthquake, which could be felt 140km away in Rome. In some places, there are only large stones where buildings once stood. In others, there is only sky. You can see in the photo that the clock tower is still standing, but frozen at 3:36 when the quake hit.

Before and After Amatrice:
Before and After Amatrice:

Italian Red Cross rescue teams have been supporting the search and rescue effort.  So far, 247 people are known to have been killed and 368 injured as homes and buildings collapsed.  Several people, including children, have been pulled alive from the rubble.  They also sent search and rescue teams, search and rescue dogs and 20 ambulances out to look for people.  Volunteers have been providing first aid and emotional support to survivors in the region, which has been struck by more than 80 aftershocks.  With heavy lifting equipment just starting to reach the isolated villages, people used tractors, farm equipment and simple hand tools to break through what was left of old stone villas.  More than 1,000 people have been displaced by the quake. 

Meanwhile, chefs in Italy and around the world have rallied together, using their talents and Amatrice’s signature pasta dish, to help raise money for victims.  Food blogger Paolo Campana has launched the campaign #AMAtriciana in coordination with restaurants around Italy who will match 1 euro donations by clients ordering this dish; funds will be sent to the Red Cross.amatriciana

The Ministry of Arts in Italy has announced that entrance fees to state museums on Sunday August 28, 2016, will be donated to the affected areas. Also, the Antinori family will be donating all entrance fees from visitors to its winery in Chianti on Sunday August 28, 2016, the day when there would have been the pasta festival.

If you would like to donate, you can easily do so at this web address for the International Red Cross. The amount will be in British pounds, but will be converted to USD when it is taken from your PayPal account.

If you would like to prepare Pasta Amatriciana in memory of the lost lives, the injured and those who have lost their homes, click here for a recipe of this famous dish.