Posts filed under ‘.Italy’

The derbé of Cogne

Winter legends for an Italian 2020

Legends say that in the area between Crétaz and the Valtoney woods, in Valle d’Aosta, not all fir trees are the same. Majestic and beautiful, they all are, but there was one that…was able to walk around and follow passersby. Nighttime travelers used to talk about a derbé — a leafy fir tree, in dialect — born without roots and able to go after them in the woods. The derbé didn’t want to harm anyone: actually, it wanted to protect travelers who seemed to fear the dark and the cold of winter nights the most. Apparently, it also had a penchant for gossip, and liked to listen to people’s conversations a lot.

It would follow wanderers all the way to the village of Cogne, a bit protective and a bit nosy, just like an old friend. But not everyone appreciated its presence. One night, a particularly upset man, tired of having the old derbé around, picked up his rifle and shot at it in the dark, hurting its centuries-old trunk: sore and humiliated, the derbé retreated into darkness and was never seen again. The people of Cogne remember it every year at Christmas when they decorate a large fir tree in the village’s main square. And, I bet, every time they take a winter walk in the woods and a snow covered derbé seems to look at them benevolently.

December 20, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

“All My Mothers” -The Story of Yehudith Kleinman

April 21, 2020 at 4:21 am Leave a comment


Quanno viè la Candelora
da l’inverno sémo fóra,
ma se piove o tira vènto,
ne l’inverno semo dentro.

Madonna della Candelora
dall’inverno siamo fuori
Se piove o tira vento
nell’inverno siamo dentro

Se la vien con sol e bora
de l’inverno semo fora.
Se la vien con piova e vento,
de l’inverno semo drento.

Se a Candelora non piove, siamo fuori dall’Inverno;
Ma se piove e tira vento, son altri 40 dì di brutto tempo.

If on the day of Candelora it doesn’t rain, winter is almost over;
If, on the opposite, it’s windy and it rains, 40 more days of bad weather will follow.


February 2, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

I giorni della Merla

Winter legends for an Italian 2020

Traditionally, January is considered the coldest month of the year in Italy, especially its last three days, the 29th, 30th and 31st, which we call Giorni della Merla, or the “female blackbird days.” Weather experts debunked this myth, but Italians still love the legend, without a doubt tied for many of them to beautiful childhood memories.

You see, blackbirds, or so the story goes, used to be as white and snow and used to collect food to keep in their nest during the early weeks of winter, so that they could survive the icy days of January without leaving it: their aim was to finally peak out of their home only when the sun was back high in the sky. And so did they, a long time ago, finally flying out of their tree on the 28th of January, mocking the winter with their chirping: the cold season did no longer frighten them!

But Winter didn’t appreciate all that joy and chit-chat, nor the birds’ benevolent mocking, so it sent out the coldest, iciest of winds, that froze the earth over and destroyed all of the blackbirds’ nests. Left without shelter, they found refuge in chimneys, comforted by their warmth. But when the storm ended in February and they flew out in the sky again, their feathers had turned black because of the sooth they had lived in for the past three days.

This is why, we all learned as children, blackbirds are black.


January 29, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

A morra

by Anne Viel

A Morra ( Corsican name for mourre ) is a traditional very old game, present in the Mediterranean. As intangible heritage of Corsica, it is presented in a 4 minutes film for young audience at Museum of Corsica in Corte, in the exhibition “Living heritage. Being and pass .”
Commissioned by Ann Bilger, head of cultural mediation, it was designed and directed by Anne Viel, animated by Benjamin Gibeaux, sound designed by Thierry Viel, and produced by C’est magnifique.

July 28, 2019 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Italian tradition: The Mimosa for Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8, 2017 at 3:25 pm 1 comment

Strega Nona


June 17, 2016 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

King Laurin

The Legend of King Laurin

The legend takes us back to times past. According to the legend, Laurin reigned over a diligent nation of dwarves. Deep in the Dolomites, they searched and dug for crystals, silver and gold. But not only treasures, also magic from another world came to the fore. A belt which bestowed the strength of 12 men upon its wearer, and a magic cap which made its wearer invisible.

Soon, fate would give our little King the opportunity to utilize both. Similde, the beautiful daughter of the King on the Etsch, is to be married. Her father invites all suitors to his court, only Laurin is left uninformed. Insulted and hurt, he vows to attend the party as an invisible guest. Gripped by the beauty of the King’s daughter, he kidnaps her to his craggy empire at the Rose Garden.

Dietrich von Bern, honorable Prince of Langobard, and other courageous soldiers suspected what happened. They followed Laurin and confronted him. Despite his magic belt, the little dwarf is threatened with defeat. But then he puts on his magic cap and disappears toward the Rose Garden – and into his own doom, for, although invisible, he comes into contact with the beautiful roses. The noblemen capture him and destroy his magic. Enraged, the Dwarf King curses the beautiful, thorny flowers. No one is to ever see the Rose Garden again, whether by day or night. But dusk ignores the little ruler. And to this day, the Rose Garden blossoms in all its glory everyday at sunset.


August 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Orani: My Father’s Village

Orani My Father's VillageOrani: My Father’s Village by Claire A. Nivola

Intriguing pictures full of small details bring alive the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures of a small Sardinian town in the 1950s.


March 13, 2014 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

I Wish, I Wish


December 3, 2013 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

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