The Beast

Yesterday something very interesting happened involving the Mafia in Sicily. Toto Riina who has lived his life behind bars for murder and other crimes reached out and threatened a prosecutor. Toto Riina aka the “Beast” is still even though he is behind bars to be very dangerous. Toto Riina at the height of his power was considered the “boss of bosses” of Sicily, Italian and all of the mafia ties throughout that part of the world. While watching the a trial, Riina said that he would kill Nino Di Matteo like a “tuna” referring to “mattanza” where tuna are driven into big nets and slaughtered. . It is believed that Riina has killed at least 40 people and ordered the death of many more. Over the past decade many operations and joint task forces have hit the Mafia hard and have diminished their power throughout the country significantly due to major arrests and the confiscation of many assets.  Even so the Italian government is taking the necessary precautions to protect the people that could be endanger. This to me is very interesting. This story shows how powerful the Mafia still is and how it may never disappear. As a lover of history nothing is more interesting than the Mafia and the rumors and facts surrounding it. Even though this is very interesting this stereotype affects peoples outlook on many Italians and has not gone away. I also hope that even though interesting no one loses their life over trying to do the right thing.

North and South Italy

Divided Country

The difference between Southern and Northern Italy is strong which include: accent, attitude and traditions. In the south of Italy people work differently from northerners. Since southerners have a break between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. in a workday. They call this break “siesta.” They see the “siesta” time as something holly. The northern Italians work very hard. They work for long hours and people say they are the “power” of Italy.

If you are in the south of Italy, you can never arrive at your destination on time. The trains are a huge problem in all parts of Italy; you will always be late. If you have any flights it’s better leave one day ahead of time in the south, but in the north it’s easy to find another option. If southern Italians cross their friends or relatives, it takes such a long time to say “ciao.” Italy is known as a country of people who can’t say “goodbye”. Southern Italians cannot stop talking and they talk really loudly but northern Italians have no time to stop to talk. They are warm-blooded people; they love talking, they love sharing memories, they love drinking, they love eating, they love teaching, they love learning. In other words, they love living. They never mind anything. They get angry easily but after some minutes also they forget it easily. Northern Italians seem more stressful, tired and preoccupied then the southerners.

Another difference is language. Yes, it is really important especially in the south of Italy. Southern Italians use body language and their hands to talk. But if we’re talking about northerners, almost all the people can speak English or another language.

I decided to talk about this because it reminds me a lot of my home (Puerto Rico). I can say we are all crazy and there’s no difference like in Italy but yes, we are very home welcoming when it comes to other people. We are very caring, loving, and we do enjoy conversing with people for long hours. We talk very loud and do too many hand signs. It’s always important to be nice and kind. So yes, we have some characteristics in common.

 

Befana

With Christmas coming up very soon, I decided to write this blog about Befana.  Befana is the italian tradition of Santa Claus, and her tradition stands out among all nationalities. First of all, she’s a women.  She is an old witch that delivers presents to children on the the eve of the feast of the Epiphany ( the night of January 5th).  She can be scene wearing a black shawl and riding a broomstick.  She also carries a bag filled with presents and baked goods.  The presents and baked good are for children throughout the world, including the newborn baby Jesus.

Her traditional story is that days before the 3 Wise Men visited the newborn Jesus Christ in a manager, they met Befana.  Befana gave them a place to stay in a local village.  The men asked Befana to join them on their journey to find Chirst, but she denied.  After they left she had a change of heart, and went out searching for baby Jesus, but she couldn’t find Him.  To this day she is still searching throughout centuries for baby Jesus, and on her journey she flies into chimneys leaving presents for good boys and girls and coal for the bad children.

Much like the American Santa Claus, Befana’s image and tradition is highly celebrated throughout Italy at Christmas time, and is even incorporated in Italian Christmas carols.

La Befana

It’s almost Christmas and you know what that means,presents, I mean Jesus and being nice to one another. All the American children will be waiting (un)patiently for Santa Clause. In Italy they will be waiting for La Befana. The legend goes that La Befana was a normal person until her son died and then she lost it. Which seems entirely reasonable. When she heard about the birth of Jesus she set out to find him believing he was her son, so I wasn’t kidding when I said she lost it. She found Jesus and gave him presents and he told her she was hence forth the mother of all the children in Italy. Since then she has made habit of putting candy in the socks of all the good Italian children and the bad ones get coal. So she is not much different from old St. Nick there. Here we leave Santa cookies and milk. In Italy La Befana get wine and “the regional specialty”, so I guess Italians have better palates than we do. A final part of the La Befana tradition involves La Befana sweeping the floors of the homes she visits, it’s here way of sweeping away the years problems.

Pope Francis v. The Mafia

In a recent news article, a leading anti-mob prosecutor warned that Pope Francis may be at risk from the Italian mafia. The recently new Pope is well-known for his unusual leadership that he is bringing to the Catholic Church. He has been speaking differently about controversial topics and has handed down sanctions on bishops who extravagantly spend money. Now he is setting his sights on removing corruption from the Church. Those in the past who had “connection” to the Vatican are losing their economic power. Mafia members have benefited in many ways in the past form the Church. Some were given papal blessings and others enjoyed coffee with Bishops who were aware of the members killings and drug trafficking. Pope Francis stated in a sermon  that corruption should be “tied to a rock and thrown in the sea” in reference to a passage from Jesus about sinners. The Pope has cited the destruction of the mafia in the past and is calling on them to repent. The mafia however, doesn’t like the new direction and is believed to be considering a “message” to the pope, according to the prosecutor. The prosecutors states, “if the godfathers can trip him up, they wold not hesitate to do so.” 

The reason I chose this news article was because of how surprising this is to me. The Catholic Church is the last place I would think to be targeted by the mafia and especially the Pope. Given that the presence of the mafia isn’t as large or known in the U.S. this is something that is very shocking to me. I can’t say that I am surprised about the corruption in the Vatican, but this is something that we rarely hear about as Catholic in America. Im sure that Italian Catholics and everyday citizens of Italy are very aware of the corruption inside the Vatican. Maybe this is one reason why the number of practicing Catholics isn’t as large in Italy. The Church is put on a pedestal and is supposed to be clear of all evil, but this undermines the teaching of the Church. The presence and significants of the mafia in Italy is shocking to me because we are not used to that here. Im very concerned about the Vatican and their involvement or relationships to the mafia. This isn’t a good thing for the Catholic Church. 

 

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/10447007/Pope-Francis-may-be-at-risk-from-Italian-mafia.html

 

Expresso

Expresso is a favorite coffee drink in Italy, as well as it is one of my favorites.  Expresso is concentrated, thick coffee beverage.  In order to make expresso, you must have a special machine that forces hot water through a basket of tightly packed, finely ground coffee beans at a high pressure point.  Expresso is not its own type of bean. The term “expresso” comes from the root word of the term that the process of making the beverage comes from.  People often think a dark roast coffee bean is called an expresso bean, but this is just the preferred coffee bean among expresso makers because it is the roast with the strongest flavor.  What makes expresso stand out is the temperature, pressure, choice of bean, and time.  Expresso is an extremely intense way to experience coffee, and is usually only drunk in small amounts.  Coffee shops, such as Starbucks, usually only put in a shot of expresso in their coffee drinks to give it a little extra kick.  Unless you want to spend over $1,000 dollars on a proper expresso machine, you must go to a barista to get the full expresso experience.   

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-06/fyi-what-espresso

Jessica Hessom: Post #6 (Italian Drinks)

Italians have their own favorite alcoholic drinks just like many other cultures in the world.  First of all, as in many other cultures, Italians believe that one glass of wine or one beer a day keeps your heart healthy and your body strong.  For example, my pap was from Italy and he had a very similar take on one alcoholic drink per day.  Often times, he would drink a glass of red wine at dinner if we ate a heavy meal, like steak or spaghetti.  If we ate a lighter meal, like chicken or salads, he would drink a glass of some type of white wine.  He seemed to have a type of wine that he would drink with certain meals all of the time.  However, my pap knew to drink in moderation.  I don’t believe that I ever saw him have more than one drink in a given day.  Also, my grandma was from Italy as well.  She did not really like wine, but she really enjoyed drinking a little bit of Frangelico or Godiva once in a while.  I remember that she would sometimes mix either of those with her coffee or drink them by themselves with desserts.  My grandma was a very good cook and baker whom sometimes would add a little bit of Amaretto to a cake or a batch of cookies just to add some extra flavor.  Amaretto has an almond taste that compliments desserts very well.  Limoncello is also a very popular Italian liquor.  I was on a cruise this past summer and the waiters would come around to my table after I had finished my dinner and offer my family and I some Limoncello.  They bragged that Limoncello is one of the best Italian liquors and that it goes great with any dessert.