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1/30/2012

TRANI. VAMPIRES AND ANCIENT APULIAN TOMBS

In 1740 the Archbishop of Trani, Giuseppe Davanzati, wrote his "Treatise on Vampires", a famous script in which an important man of the church analyzes in depth the phenomenon of vampirism and all the mysterious legends, that have always been told about 
these nocturnal creatures.



It’s still do not clrear why the archbishop of Puglia has decided to engage in the study of a subject so obscure, examining it in its deeper meanings. His work is still one of the most comprehensive on the vampirism in all its forms and digression.


In 2000, about three centuries after the publication of Davanzati opera, a group of Italian archaeologists and researchers, committed to dig in Trani, in Capo Colonna, near the imposing monastery, made a startling discovery: the remains of unusual burials , which seemed attributable to vampires.



Already in the seventies, this area had been carried out and excavations had unearthed remains of Mycenaean and Hellenic. Despite all this, what were the results of the research and what has been extracted from the earth we can not know, because the testimony related to the work seems to have vanished.


The most recent excavations, 
conducted by Dr. Ada Ricciardi, have revealed new structures and environments with a paved courtyard.


The archaeologists whom led excavations in 2001, had long silenced his findings.
Only in March 2002, what was found has become in the public domain.
But why the delay?
In addition to the usual bureaucratic issues, it is clear that what the territory of Trani has revealed to the eyes of researchers is really something to the “Twilight Zone”.


Archaeologists have found the walls of the building, arranged in a manner quite unusual: the exterior walls are made of slabs vertically planted into the ground. 
Construction technique, this, never attested in ancient Peucetia and even in nearby Daunia.
They have also been finding pottery shards decorated with bizarre images, among which stands the figure of a biped with a large crest and a long tail of the reptile.


It seems that the whole structure dates from the late ninth or early eighth century before Christ.

 
Studies done on the building and the recovered materials have led archaeologists and anthropologists to think that the place was used in ceremonies and rituals, since the orientation of the building to the east, where the sun rises.


But the most shocking discovery was made with a series of unusual graves. Three graves, two inside and one outside the building, which remain even today a mystery.
What we know for certain is that the burial was found outside a man in a kneeling position, with over a slab of stone, as to prevent him from getting up. The two tombs are also within a stone slab, placed on three men lying on their backs.



According to anthropologists the subject's age buried outside is about 40 years while, as regards the three buried inside, they seems to be two adult men between twenty and forty years and a boy about 15 years .
Inside the tomb were not found ornaments of any kind, or furnishings, or funerals, so the researchers believe that these men were excluded from society.


Really unusual is the fact that the bodies were buried and not thrown unburied elsewhere, as was the custom in those days for the outcasts.
Moreover, the presence of a stone on the back of all four the men, the fact that they were buried underground and above every grave was placed another large slab of stone let us hypothesize that the intent of such a burial would be that the four men won’t return in life, that they does not come out from their graves.


The first hypothesis emerged has been about vampirism, but according to the researchers, we must not think of the horror movies, rather than to people suffering from diseases that often occur with the blood, such as photophobia, porphyria or tuberculosis. Diseases unknown to the ancients.
For this reason, whoever was struck was often regarded with suspicion and considered an outcast, a monster, just like vampires.



The burial of Trani is something unique in Italy, but find, comparison in some archaeological discoveries in northern Greece, where, say anthropologists, funeral rites of this kind have been handed down from the Neolithic to the present days.
It's worth a trip in Puglia, in search of ancient tombs and mysterious vampires.



FOCACCIA PUGLIESE
Typical bun of Puglia



Ingredients
250 g flour "00"
250 g durum wheat semolina
150 g boiled potatoes
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cube of yeast
1 heaped teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
300 ml of lukewarm water
20 cherry tomatoes
20 olives in brine
Oregano
Salt



Preparation
Mix the two flours in a bowl.
Add the mashed potatoes, 6 tablespoons of olive oil, yeast dissolved in 100 ml of warm water, salt and sugar.
Continue adding the remaining water a little at a time, until the dough will be soft.
Sprinkle a tablespoon of oil in a baking tin 30 cm x 40 cm.
Place the mixture in the baking tin, and spread on it the remaining tablespoon of oil, crushing the bun with your hands.
Garnish the bun with halved cherry tomatoes, olives, oregano and salt.
Cover the baking tin with aluminum foil, wrap it in a cloth so as to preserve the warmth of the ground and let the cake to rise in a warm place for at least an hour.
Bake at 200 ° C for 25-30 minutes.
The Apulian focaccia can be served hot or cold, even stuffed with ham, mortadella or something other.






1/15/2012

VAL DI STAVA. THE IMPORTANCE OF MEMORY

On July 19, 1985 was a hot summer day in the Val di Fiemme (South Tyrol).
The mountain was animated, as always, 
with many tourists all around the woods and trails.


Suddenly a mighty roar went through the green valleys.
Everyone stopped for a moment, 
the time to understand what 
was the origin of that thunder.
Some thought the arrival of a summer storm, 
as usually happens in mountain.


No one could imagine what was happening.



At 12 o'clock and 22 minutes and 55 seconds the collapse of the mine dumps of Prestavel caused a gigantic landslide that literally wiped out the valley of the Rio Stava, where there was the small town of Tesero.



The mudflow began his race so devastating, with a dreadful noise, dark and long. So a huge avalanche of mud, water and debris covered the valley at a speed of 90 km / h, sweeping away everything that went along its path.



The locals did not even have the time to understand 
where it came from that awful roar, 
before joining submerged in a sea of mud.
But what really happened?


The upper basin of the sludge filtration of Prestavel mine collapsed on the lower one, which in turn gave way, pouring downstream 180 000 cubic meters of mud, which were joined by another 40-50 thousand cubic yards of material drawn from the devastating force of impact.


In just three minutes that river of slime killed 268 people, destroyed 53 houses, 3 hotels, 6 sheds, swept 8 bridges and severely damaged 9 buildings.




Its deadly race ended four Km further downstream when it flowed in the river Avisio.



A few minutes after the tragedy a top layer of mud between 20 and 40 cm covered an area of 435,000 square meters.


That of July 19, 1985 in Val di Stava was probably the worst disaster ever occurred in the world because of the collapse of landfill mining and remains, even today, with 268 dead and almost 300 billion of damage to property, one of the most serious industrial disasters never happened in the world, second only, in Italy, to the disaster of Vajont.
Of the 268 deaths, 28 were children under 10 years, 31 kids under 18 years, 89 men and 120 women.

But the community did not give up.
From all over Italy, as always, came the relief, which continued for days and days, to free up the mountain 
from all that sea of mud.


Today, Val di Stava has become again a quiet vacation spot, crowded with tourists in every season. 



There you can find, to remember the tragedy of 1985, a museum and some mountain trails that lead right where once stood the sludge settling tanks.


Only by looking carefully to the woods, in the distance, we notice the varying green of the pines: more clear for those younger, more intense for the survivors of the massive destructive landslide.


It’s good to clarify that the disaster was not determined by a fatality, or natural disaster. It is the result of a series of human errors and negligence, omitted controls and a flawed law that allowed too much freedom of choice in the management of the concessionaire companies of mining.
The criminal proceedings to determine the responsibilities ended in June 1992 with the conviction of 10 defendants of crimes of culpable disaster and multiple manslaughter, namely: those responsible for the construction and operation of the upper basin, which collapsed first, the directors of the mine and responsible for some of the companies that intervened in the assessments about the construction and growth of the upper basin, from 1969 to 1985.
The number of companies that were found guilty: Montedison, marble and granite industry, Imeg Spa on behalf  of Fluormine, Snam Spa on behalf of Solmine Spa, Prealpi Mineraria Spa.
Finally were condemned the responsibles of mining district of the Autonomous Province of Trento, which omitted every control on landfills.



Unfortunately this is just one of many Italian stories (but not only) in which many (too many) innocent citizens pay the disastrous consequences of the greed of a few unscrupulous speculators.


STAVA 1985

 Established after the Val di Stava disaster, by the Community of Fiemme, the municipalities of Tesero, Longarone and Cavalese, the "Stava 1985 Foundation" has set itself the goal of  "active memory".


A memory which has not an end in itself, but whose main purpose is to ensure that the 268 deads they did not die in vain.
For this, knowledge and information are fundamental to understanding what is the origin of such disasters, and how they can be avoided.

The emotional museum "STAVA 1985", the touching documentary, directed by Gabriel Cipollitti and the boys and girls of the town of Tesero, have a very specific purpose: to alert the responsibility of everyone, from the smallest to the largest, so that similar tragedies do not have to happen again in the world.




KAISERSCHMARRN




Ingredients
(serves 4)
5 eggs
250 g flour 00
50 g of granulated sugar
50 g of raisins
40 g of butter
icing sugar
salt

Preparation
Put the raisins to soak in warm water for at least 30 minutes.
Whip the egg yolks in a bowl together with the granulated sugar, then add, while stirring, to sifted flour, a pinch of salt, milk and raisins well drained.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and incorporate the batter gently, stirring from the bottom up not to dismantle them.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan, then pour the mixture, which should have a thickness of about 1 cm, and let it brown.
With the help of two forks, cut the frittata into small pieces, and then turn and let them brown on the other side.
Serve the Schmarrn immediately, piping hot, sprinkled with icing sugar to taste, and accompanying it with a cranberry sauce.



1/03/2012

SATURNIA. A DIVINE GIFT TO MEN


According to an ancient legend the god of the underworld, Saturn, once became angry with men because they were always at war with each other.


To be heard he grabbed a thunderbolt and hurled it on the ground, so he brought forth, from the crater of a volcano, a sulphurous water from which emanated a warm fog that enveloped everyone and brought them to peace.


 
From that day men born near the source of Saturn water came into the world wiser and happier.
The protagonist of the legend is Saturnia, where the water flows, to 800 liters per second at a temperature of 37 ° C.



The myth says that this was the oldest Italic city.
What we know for sure is that, as Aurinia, this place already existed in Etruscan times and has been renamed Saturnia by the Romans.


The town is a small hamlet of Manciano, in the Tuscan Maremma, situated on the fertile hills bordering the river Albegna.

It is located not far from the sea (on the Argentario’s coast) and the mountains (near the famous Mount Amiata), both within at almost a half hour drive.



Saturnia is located in an area inhabited since the twelfth century BC. They are in fact attributable at  that time the ancient city walls and necropolis “del Puntone” found in the area.



Situated along the Via Clodia, Saturnia was also a Roman town from which we have some ashes: the walls, the foundations of some buildings and the remains of a bath complex known as "Dry Bath" (“Bagno Secco”).

Ancient via Clodia
In the valley below, to Montemerano, there are the Terme di Saturnia with their sulphurous water, which has always been known for its healthiness.

The small village of Saturnia is located atop a hill, overlooking two valleys: the Terme di Saturnia and the Albegna valleys.





A PLEASURE WITHOUT PRICE:
THE WATERFALLS OF THE MILL


The waterfalls of the mill are located about 2 km from the center of Saturnia, not far from the entrance of the modern spa, built around 1837, as a result of the drainage of the land around the source, which flows from the ancient volcanic crater right below the pool.




From here you can reach the "Gorello" creek, where a drop creates a waterfall that flows around an old mill and in turn form a series of natural pools carved into the rock.
The Mulino Falls are the most beautiful and well-liked place of Saturnia; increasingly popular, both day and night, for many tourists and bathers.


They're located in open countryside, but they are easy to spot.

On the left side of the road opens up a view that allows you to see, from afar, the waterfalls in all their picturesque beauty, shrouded by clouds of steam that has always characterized this mythical place.
 
Everyone can always take a bath in the warm water of the pools, even in the coldest months of the year.
If you want to experience the magic of a night swim it will be useful having torch.
And remember that these are absolutely natural thermal pools, in the open countryside. 
You won’t find bathrooms or locker rooms, just peace and a beautiful landscape to enjoy.
A truly priceless experience.



CASTAGNACCIO OF AMIATA MOUNTAIN
Old typical cake made with chestnut flour


 
Ingredients
400 g of Chestnuts flour
100 g of honey
about 100g of water
50 g of extra virgin olive oil
50 g of pine nuts
50 g of raisins
rosemary leaves
Vin santo from Turcany (or a sweet white wine)

Process
Mix the flour, honey, water, oil, pine nuts and raisins previously made ​​soaked in vin santo.
Adjust the amount of water to obtain a smooth and soft mixture.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3 cm and place it in a baking dish prepared with olive oil and rosemary leaves.
Complete with a generous round of olive oil and garnish with abundant pine nuts and raisins.
Place in a preheated oven at 170 ° C.
When the surface of the chestnut has acquired a dark color, remove from oven and let it cool.

A romantic legend has it that the leaves of rosemary used to flavor chestnut, constitute a powerful love potion. The young man who had eaten the cake offered by a girl, would fell in love with her ​​and he asked for her hand in marriage.