Thursday, December 1, 2011

Auguri di buon Natale/Merry Christmas

Charles Poerson

Ancient Echoes

Hear the echoes
of December
found as moments
you remember.
Ancient echoes
held so dear
from a time
of yesteryear.
Hear the voices
love recalls
bouncing down
remembered walls.
Ancient echoes
scenic signs
found within
some Christmastimes.
Certain moments
none compete
that still live
so tasty sweet.
Take those echoes
that you hear
and remember
ones so dear.
Ancient echoes
can bring smiles
to now today.

©By Bill Pearce
May 28, 2011


E' Natale ogni volta che sorridi
a un fratello e gli tendi una mano.

E' Natale ogni volta che rimani
in silenzio per ascoltare l'altro.

E' Natale ogni volta che non accetti
quei principi che relegano gli oppressi
ai margini della società.

E' Natale ogni volta che speri
con quelli che disperano
nella povertà fisica e spirituale.

E' Natale ogni volta che riconosci con umiltà i tuoi limiti e la tua debolezza.

E' Natale ogni volta che permetti al Signore di rinascere per donarlo agli altri."

Madre Teresa di Calcutta

Christmas in Librizzi during the war and post-war.

A friend asked me to write for her blog something about Christmas in my home, this is what I posted on her blog:
".... here is a little info about when I was growing up, I copied this from my unofficial 'remembrances' that I wrote for my children and grandchildren.

- Christmas celebrations were memorable. Mom along with the rest of the Librizzesi prepared special cookies and other foods. Christmas specialties were the torrone, the panuzzi, and the crispeddi. The torrone was a concoction of sugar and nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts. The panuzzi were made of sweet dough in the form of elongated ovals studded with toasted hazelnuts. The panuzzi were prepared for us children and for the cousins. The tradition was for the children to go from relative to relative and “collect” the gifts of the panuzzi.
The crispeddi were the result of a complicated procedure which started with flour, yeast, and water. The three items were mixed together and stirred for a long time until it became a soft dough, then the mixture was allowed to rise. When the dough grew to the desired stage spoonfuls of the dough were deep fried. Some of the dough was deep fried plain and some with a piece of anchovy inside. The plain crispeddi were covered with honey and sugar. Delicious!
The cookies were shaped into crescents, circles, pretzels, the letter S, spirals, etc. then they were covered with colorful sugars, and other decorations.

The Christmas food specialties were just an aside to the religious celebrations. For many days before Christmas the town was awakened by the sounds of the cornamusa, a folk musical instrument. Mountain men would come down to Librizzi in the wee hours of the morning and play their instrument while walking through the many streets. Christmas Eve Mass was a big event. The church was decorated with oranges, tangerines, and lemons and the scent of these fruits still lingers in my mind. The Presepio was a highlight of the church decorations and all of the children used to march to the Presepio to see the new born baby Jesus. Librizzesi specialized in putting up a Presepio in their homes. They were recreations of imaginary towns, waterfalls, snowy scenes, stars, shepherds, etc. It really was a work of art. A few homes put up Christmas trees and they were “odd” but interesting to the eyes of a Librizzese. The few people who put up the trees had been in America and had brought back this new tradition. Today all of Librizzi celebrates Christmas with both the Presepio and the Christmas trees.-"

Recipe by Mary Rappich

8 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages of yeast dissolved in 3/4 cup warm water (8 minutes)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups warm water

Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a large pan. Form a well and drop in the dissolved yeast. Mix thoroughly. Add lukewarm water a little at a time and keep beating with hand until bubbles begin to form in 'soft dough' (about 15-20 minutes). Grease top of dough and sides of pan with olive oil, cover and let rise until it doubles in size.

To deep fry: Heat Wesson oil (350 degrees in a deep fryer) which is about 3-4 inches deep in large pan. (I use a Dutch oven, also deep fryer at 350 degrees). Grease hands and drop pieces of dough into the hot oil a few at a time. Don't crowd as they will turn over when done. Place on a large platter and spoon honey on each. You can also place anchovies inside the dough before deep frying.

LinkIf you live in ROME where do you bring your children for Christmas fun and purchases? Why, Piazza Navona of course!

More photos of the Christmas market in Piazza Navona can be found here: -piazza-navona

Since there are no chimneys in Italy the children buy Santas on a rope ladder. Because there are no chimneys Santa doesn't need a sled and reindeer. Instead Santa scales the walls to reach a window where he can enter the house to leave the presents. Yes, in Italy Santa is an expert wall climber!

Photo from Italian Notebook

Rope ladders are hung by children outside a window while awaiting Santa's arrival.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beautiful Librizzi

Do you want to see the real beauty of Librizzi? On your next trip to Italy please include a visit to Librizzi.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A photo by a Librizzese, Carmelo Rifici

La mia terra ha ancora il profumo antico, ma non più la saggezza contadina

Carmelo Rifici

The photo above was accepted and published by the newspaper Repubblica, the photographer Carmelo Rifici is a Librizzese and my cousin. The cyclamen is an example of Librizzi wildflowers.

If you want to see more photos published in Repubblica please go to the following site:

To see more of Carmelo's photos, please go to:


Wednesday, January 12, 2011



Photo by Carmelo Rifici

I have had a lifelong interest in angels, they fascinate me, and they make me happy. I do not mean the spiritual presence of Angels but the iconography of angels, statues, paintings, Christmas ornaments that feature angels, anything with the form of angels. Do I worship Angels? Not really. I just like the idea of angels, and man’s interpretations of what an angel looks like.

How did this interest in angels begin? I grew up in an area of Italy that reveres the Archangel Michael. Many churches in Sicily feature a beautiful statue of the Archangel Michael, the patron Saint of many cities and towns is the Archangel Michael, and there are many feasts and celebrations in honor of the Archangel Michael. The town of Librizzi is one of many that have a special reverence for San Michele Archangelo.

Photo by Maria Muscara'

The Chiesa Matrice, located at the highest point of Librizzi is dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo and it is in this church where the beautiful statue of the Archangel is kept. The statue sculpted from wood, has a historical story associated with it. Interestingly the story connects the statue with my ancestors, particularly with Don Rocco Muscara’ and il dott. Pietro Muscara’. Perhaps my interest in angels was born in the lives of my ancestors and passed on to me through generations of ‘angels loving genes’.

The following is a synopsis of the story associated with the statue of San Michele:

Photo by Carmelo Rifici

In 1654 the Reverend Father Claudio di Todaro from Librizzi decided to commission from Naples a statue of San Michele Arcangelo, the protector of the town. It took a year to complete the statue and finally in 1656 the statue was transported to Messina. Unfortunately the plague was raging in Naples and the captain of the ship that carried the statue was ordered to burn all of its contents including silks, precious fabrics, money, and the statue. The captain fought to have the statue quarantined together with himself and all of the sailors. The Senators of Messina and the Public Health Officials, having seen the beauty of the statue, agreed to a quarantine of three months.

At the end of the quarantine Father Claudio gave permission to the Senate of Messina to have the statue displayed at a church in Messina and then it was to be brought to the rightful church in Librizzi. The 24th of September of 1656 a huge number of people went to see the statue and having seen its beauty petitioned the Senate to keep the statue in Messina and never allow it to leave Messina. The next day Father Claudio found out of the plan and for three days begged the Senate to allow the statue to be brought to the rightful owner, the town of Librizzi. Other important people also requested that the statue be allowed to leave Messina. The Senate refused to do so and Father Claudio was about to give up when he made one last effort. Finally the Senate decided to allow the statue to leave Messina and ordered the Messinesi not to interfere with the transport of the statue. Finally the statue arrived at the port of Patti and from there it was transported to Librizzi and placed in the church of a Convent.

That same evening, after the Angelus was completed, the townspeople “displaying great devotion”arrived at the Convent to greet the statue. The same night the Archpriest Don Rocco Muscara’ and the town’s officials, ordered bonfires to be lit throughout the town, fireworks were set off, drums were played, etc. The welcoming celebration was continued the following Sunday (October First), with a procession which included all of the officials of the town, religious groups, and the townspeople. The statue was carried to her permanent location in the Chiesa Matrice and placed on the altar. A Mass was sung by il dott. Pietro Mucara’, and Father Claudio gave a laudatory sermon in honor of San Michele. Finally San Michele Archangelo was declared the Patron Saint of Librizzi.
(The document from which this information was obtained is found in the parochial archives of Librizzi. The whole document is cited in the book “Librizzi” by Antonino D’Amico)

Photos by Carmelo Rifici

The story of the statue continues, after 345 years the statue of San Michele Arcangelo has returned to Messina to be part of an exhibit titled ‘Angeli Senza Tempo’! It arrived in Messina in December and will remain there until the end of the exhibit (January 23, 2011). Let’s hope that the Messinesi will not try to ‘kidnap’ the beautiful statue once again!


The exhibit ‘Angeli senza tempo’ covers the period from the XVI to the XX century. The 34 works of art shown in the exhibit, demonstrate the role of Angels in sacred representations. Included are guardian angels, revelatory angels, warrior angels, spiritual angels, musical angels, adoring angels, cherubs and putti angels. The exhibit includes paintings, sculptures, cloth and silver artifacts. The works of art are set up to show the progression of artistic interpretation of angels, from the ethereal angels to the humanized physical form.

The statue of the Librizzi Archangel is sculpted from wood, painted, and gold plated. It is a winged angel holding a sword. (An Archangel is an Angel of high rank.)

Photo by Carmelo Rifici

On the 8th of January a large delegation of Librizzesi went to see the exhibit and to visit their beloved San Michele.

Photo by Carmelo Rifici