Saturday, June 20, 2015

Olivia "Grandma" Rolleri - Part II

The Calaveras Hotel, circa 1890.
‘Grandma’ Rolleri: the Angel of Angels Camp

By Judy Georgiou - Calaveras Enterprise - June 11, 2013 

The story has all the key elements of a thrilling Wild West movie with John Wayne in the cast. It includes, as with so many Westerns, the lure of riches in the Gold Rush, a spark of true love, even the capture of a dangerous outlaw. But what kind of story would it be without a fearless hero in the leading role?

The twist in this tale is that our hero is a woman. Her name: Olivia Antonini Rolleri.

The Rolleri name is certainly not foreign to Calaveras County; in fact, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard it. Rusty Rolleri of Angels Camp, wife of the late Dick Rolleri, sat at her kitchen table, a small cardboard box balanced on her lap. She opened the flaps and pulled out an old, faded photograph: a porthole into a story that is as intrinsic to Angels Camp as the gold that runs in its hills.

The black-and-white photo is of Olivia Antonini, born Aug. 1, 1844, in San Antonia de Castiglione, a small village high in the hills above the Italian Riviera. When Olivia was 16, she traveled with her mother and sister to the California foothills. They joined her father who had preceded them to Sonora, working in the mines until he had saved enough money to send for them.

Shortly after Olivia arrived, she discovered her life was about to change again. Following a traditional Italian custom, her father had already chosen a young man for her to marry. Olivia shook her head. This was a new world; she had someone else in mind. A year later, she married the dashing Italian miner Gerolamo Rolleri, whose family had lived not far from hers in Italy, although they had never met before Sonora.

Over the next 27 years, Gerolamo mined, ran cattle and operated a ferry. With Olivia by his side, they ran a general store and raised a family. They had 13 children: five girls and eight boys, although two died in infancy.

The family was happy and prospering. In fact, in 1883 their eldest son, James Jr., brought fame to the Rolleri name by helping to capture the notorious gentleman bandit, Black Bart. James Jr. was presented with an engraved rifle by Wells Fargo for his bravery.

But the story took a turn in 1888; Gerolamo died from pneumonia, leaving Olivia with 10 children to care for. The youngest child was only 1.

Olivia knew she had to find a way to provide for her family. In 1889, she purchased a small hotel in downtown Angels Camp. Although Calaveras had lost half its population between 1850-1860, like most gold mining areas in California, Angels Camp was hardly a ghost town. Its gold mines, the basis of its economy, were still going strong.

“Running the hotel was a family operation,” explained Rusty. “The girls would sweep and make beds; the boys would scrub and run errands, and later run the cattle business. She counted on her children to help. That’s how it was back then.”

Rusty dusted off another small photo and smiled at the scene: The Hotel Calaveras in 1890, Olivia at the entrance, her sons and daughters on the upstairs porch, in front of the hotel and in the horse-drawn wagon. All the girls wore long dresses and aprons; the men suspenders and hats.

Through hard work, Olivia and her family transformed the Hotel Calaveras into a thriving enterprise. The saloon had bartenders in immaculate pearl-buttoned vests; local women sipped a discreet sherry in the private parlor after shopping. The dining room – complete with crisp white tablecloths, real napkins and fresh flowers – overflowed with regulars who enjoyed a sensational Italian feast prepared by well-trained Chinese cooks using Olivia’s recipes. “Drummers” (traveling salesmen) wrote orders on wooden desks in the parlor; single men who worked the gold mines called it home.

Olivia proved to be a born entrepreneur. Over the next 20 years she expanded, purchasing three buildings, increasing the hotel capacity to 50 rooms. The rooms weren’t grand, but they were as good as might be found anywhere in the Gold Country. Although the bedrooms didn’t have heat or private baths, each room had a bowl, a pitcher of water and clean beds. Before entering the dining room, miners could shower and change on the ground floor. Room and board fees were $25 a month in the early days, and it was all-you-can eat Italian style. Olivia would even pack as many as 75 lunch pails for miners every morning.

Amador County, California
In order to provide a supply of fresh meat for the restaurant, Grandma Rolleri purchased ranches, ran cattle, and opened a butcher shop. The fruit, vegetables, eggs, hens, milk and butter from the ranches went to her kitchen, where she baked bread, churned ice cream, and made fresh mayonnaise daily. On Sunday evenings, townspeople brought their 5-pound lard pails to the kitchen door to be filled with Grandma Rolleri’s fresh, hot ravioli for their own dinner tables.

Over time, the hotel became the center of life in Angels Camp and Olivia became affectionately known as “Grandma” Rolleri. “She was full of love,” Rusty said, “and love meant sharing.”

Grandma Rolleri was a generous humanitarian, befriending those less fortunate. If there was an empty bed or food in the kitchen, she simply couldn’t turn anyone away even if they couldn’t afford to pay. “She took everyone under her wing and everyone loved her,” Rusty added. “She was an inspiration. She never met anyone she didn’t like.”

“She always wore a long white apron with pockets. She put any tips she received in the pockets and gave them to the church for the poor. Dick, who lived in the hotel as a young boy, adored her,” Rusty recalled. “He remembered rocking with her on the second story porch that ran the length of the hotel. She’d talk to him in Italian. I’m not sure he even understood anything she said, but it didn’t matter. He loved her.”

Her reputation for kindness spread across Calaveras, California and even around the world. Her Chinese cooks returned home to retire and spread stories of the Italian woman who cared for them in a strange country.

On June 10, 1927, Grandma Rolleri died at the age of 83. She’s buried, alongside members of her family, in the Altaville family cemetery.

Between 1930-1945, a Madison Avenue company produced a radio and television anthology called “Death Valley Days,” featuring true stories of the American West. An episode that ran July 1, 1938, was titled “Grandma Rolleri.” The announcer asked the Old Ranger where Angels Camp got its name. He replied, “Well, there’s been angels that’s lived there… an’ my story tonight is about one of ’em.”

Rusty replaced the worn photos in the cardboard box and closed the flaps. “No one was ever turned away from Grandma’s door; color or creed meant nothing to her,” she said. “All people were her friends, and she was a friend to all people.”

Judy Georgiou is a freelance writer from West Point. She can be reached at


Friday, June 19, 2015

Olivia "Grandma" Rolleri - Part I

Taken from

In the rural settlements of the foothills, miners and single men often lived in boarding houses owned and operated by fellow Italians. Some of the well-known Italian boarding houses of the past were Calaveras Hotel in Angels Camp; Bisordi's Itala Hotel in Sonora; the Torino Hotel in Nevada City; the Trabucco Hotel in Mt. Bullion; the Colombo Hotel in San Andreas and the Europa Hotel in Sonora.

Olivia "Grandma" Rolleri came to Sonora from Genoa in 1860 at age 16. Left with 11 children after her husband died in 1884, she became a prominent businesswoman who established the Calaveras Hotel in 1887 and owned several cattle ranches and mining interests. The Calaveras Hotel contained more than 50 rooms, a butcher shop, saloon and barber shop under one roof. Sunday dinners were famous and people came from across the county for family homestyle dinners and to take home "ravioli," She operated the hotel for 40 years until 1927.


Taken from

Olivia Elena Antonini Rolleri
Birth: Aug. 1, 1843, Italy
Death: Jun. 10, 1927
Angels Camp
Calaveras County
California, USA

Olivia Rolleri was a much beloved, early pioneer businesswoman of Calaveras & Tuolumne Counties. She had many nicknames: "Little Olivia"; "Little Oliviette" and "Grandma" Rolleri.

In the late 1850s, she and her mother and sister sailed from Genoa, Italy around Cape Horn to San Francisco and then made their way to Sonora to join Olivia's father who was working there. Soon after, she met and married Gerolamo Rolleri (aka Jerome & James.) They were involved in mining, farming, cattle ranching, operated a ferry and opened a general store.

When her husband died in 1888, Olivia was left with 10 children to care for. In 1889 she purchased a rooming house, one of the buildings on the Calaveras Hotel site. During the next 20 years, Mrs. Rolleri purchased three adjacent buildings that made up the Calaveras Hotel. Rooms were 25-50 cents.

The restaurant was known for it's outstanding food (especially her ravioli dinners) and became famous throughout the area. Dinners were "all you can eat" including dessert and all the wine you can drink for 25 cents.

The consummate entrepreneur, she purchased local ranches to grow fruit, vegetables, raise hogs and chickens, run cattle and opened a butcher shop. The children helped on the ranches and in the hotel.

Advertisement in the 1923 Bret Harte yearbook.
Known as a generous humanitarian, she befriended those less fortunate. "Grandma" Rolleri held out a helping hand for those in need.

She died in Angels Camp on June 10, 1927.

A special thank you to Mozelle "Rusty" Rolleri who kindly verified the above information.
Altaville Protestant Cemetery
Angels Camp
Calaveras County
California, USA
Plot: Sec B1 - Plot 79


Rolleri Landscaping Products

Rolleri Vineyard


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bernardo Bertolucci



An inevitable name in the worldwide movie scene and impossible not to mention when talking about the so called modern cinema.

Versatile in his style, but always true to himself and his vision, Bernardo Bertolucci has left his mark with one of the most provocative erotic movies ever, Last Tango in Paris; passing through risky social-political pictures such as the epic Novecento; Hollywood kind of projects like The Last Emperor, winner of 9 Academy Awards; and recently returning to more personal movies like The Dreamers.


Bernardo Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci; born 16 March 1940) is an Italian film director and screenwriter, whose films include The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky and The Dreamers. In recognition of his work, he was presented with the inaugural Honorary Palme d'Or Award at the opening ceremony of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.


Bertolucci is well-known to American audiences. He started out as a protege of Pier Paolo Pasolini. He is of Parmesan paternal descent, and his half-Irish mother was born in Australia.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Federico Fellini on 'Biography'

Biography: Federico Fellini



Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini (Italian: January 20, 1920 – October 31, 1993) was an Italian film director and scriptwriter. Known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness, he is considered one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of the 20th century.

In a career spanning almost fifty years, Fellini won the Palme d'Or for La Dolce Vita, was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and directed four motion pictures that won Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. In 1993, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 65th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles.


Federico Fellini was of Romagnol ancestry.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

'The World Of Enrico Fermi' - 1970 Documentary

The World Of Enrico Fermi (1970)


"A documentary which portrays the life and work of the nearly contemporary physicist, Enrico Fermi, whose work helped to transform not only physics and the style of doing research, but even the course of history itself.

This movie is part of the collection: Academic Film Archive of North America

Producer: Harvard Project Physics.; Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, inc."


Enrico Fermi was one of the greatest scientists of all time. Born in Rome to a family originally from Piedmont. There's a big difference, I think, between certain "famous scientists" today who are all talk, and often make surprisingly stupid remarks regarding other issues, and ones like Tesla or Fermi who were real doers!


Enrico Fermi (Wikipedia)

Enrico Fermi; 29 September 1901 – 28 November 1954) was an Italian physicist, best known for his work on Chicago Pile-1 (the first nuclear reactor), and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics. He is one of the men referred to as the "father of the atomic bomb". Fermi held several patents related to the use of nuclear power, and was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity by neutron bombardment and the discovery of transuranic elements. He was widely regarded as one of the very few physicists to excel both theoretically and experimentally.

Fermi's first major contribution was to statistical mechanics. After Wolfgang Pauli announced his exclusion principle in 1925, Fermi followed with a paper in which he applied the principle to an ideal gas, employing a statistical formulation now known as Fermi–Dirac statistics. Today, particles that obey the exclusion principle are called "fermions". Later Pauli postulated the existence of an uncharged invisible particle emitted along with an electron during beta decay, to satisfy the law of conservation of energy. Fermi took up this idea, developing a model that incorporated the postulated particle, which he named the "neutrino". His theory, later referred to as Fermi's interaction and still later as weak interaction, described one of the four fundamental forces of nature. Through experiments inducing radioactivity with recently discovered neutrons, Fermi discovered that slow neutrons were more easily captured than fast ones, and developed the Fermi age equation to describe this. After bombarding thorium and uranium with slow neutrons, he concluded that he had created new elements; although he was awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery, the new elements were subsequently revealed to be fission products.

Fermi left Italy in 1938 to escape new Italian Racial Laws that affected his Jewish wife Laura. He emigrated to the United States where he worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Fermi led the team that designed and built Chicago Pile-1, which went critical on 2 December 1942, demonstrating the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. He was on hand when the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge, Tennessee went critical in 1943, and when the B Reactor at the Hanford Site did so the next year. At Los Alamos he headed F Division, part of which worked on Edward Teller's thermonuclear "Super" bomb. He was present at the Trinity test on 16 July 1945, where he used his Fermi method to estimate the bomb's yield.

After the war, Fermi served under J. Robert Oppenheimer on the influential General Advisory Committee, which advised the Atomic Energy Commission on nuclear matters and policy. Following the detonation of the first Soviet fission bomb in August 1949, he strongly opposed the development of a hydrogen bomb on both moral and technical grounds. He was among the scientists who testified on Oppenheimer's behalf at the 1954 hearing that resulted in the denial of the latter's security clearance. Fermi did important work in particle physics, especially related to pions and muons, and he speculated that cosmic rays arose through material being accelerated by magnetic fields in interstellar space. Many awards, concepts, and institutions are named after Fermi, including the Enrico Fermi Award, the Enrico Fermi Institute, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station, and the synthetic element fermium.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Documentary 'Barbarians' series - 'The Lombards'

The Lombards


At the end of the sixth century, he Roman Empire, rocked by relentless waves of violent barbarians -- Goths, Huns, Vandals -- civilization on the Italian penisula teeters on the brink of collapse. As famine, war, plague leave death devastation in their wake, out of north bursts the last of the barbarian hordes. Fiercely pagan, famous for their cruelty, the Lombards strike the final blow to the Roman Empire.
In 488 the Lombards are a small but particularly savage group of warriors on the move, surviving by viciously raiding other tribes Originating in Scandinavia and migrating south, into Roman regions, they eventually inhabit what became modern day Austria and Hungary At the turn of the 6th century only the eastern half of the empire remains, ruled by the Byzantine emperor from Constantinople.

Alboin, king of the Lombards, was celebrated as a man fitted for wars, with noble bearing and courage. The emperor Justinian recruited Alboin and the Vandals to aid in the reconquest of Italy which was controlled by the Goths. The Roman military leaders disgusted by the uncontrolled Lombard warriors, relegated them to a new homeland along the banks of the Danube River. In 568, the Lombards, well familiar with Italy from earlier days as Roman mercenaries, invade Rome, inviting Saxons, Bulgars and other barbarian tribes to join.

Much of our information regarding the Lombards is found in the 8th century chronicler Paul the Deacon's work, HISTORY OF THE LOMBARDS, translated by William Dudley Foulke, LL.D., edited with introduction by Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1907

This History Channel documentary series, Barbarians 2, tells the fascinating stories of four of the most fabled groups of fighters in history, the Saxons, the Lombards, the Franks, the Vandals, tracing 1,000 years of conquest and adventure through inspired scholarship and some of the most extensive reenactments ever filmed.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

More famous Cisalpines..

Richard Crenna
..or likely Cisalpines. These are not necessarily the most famous, but just a few familiar names, mostly from more modern times.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - English poet, illustrator, and painter.

Téa Leoni - Well-known American actress.

Richard Crenna - Famous American actor. To me, his powerful role as Colonel Sam Trautman in 'First Blood' most comes to mind.

Christopher Lee - Famous English actor. Just passed away this week. He was in one of my favorite movies, the original 'The Wicker Man'.

Fred Ascani - American Air Force Major General.

Amanda Richetti
Amanda Righetti - Emerging American actress.

Fabio Viviani - Famous chef from Florence.

Giovanni Domenico Cassini -Famous Genoese mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and engineer. The "Cassini-Huygen Mission to Saturn and Titan" was co-named in his honor.

Joseph Rocchietti - Well-known American novelist, born in Piedmont.

Francis B. Spinola - Union Army Brigadier General during the Civil War; New York Representative in the House 1887-91.

Laura Pausini - Famous pop singer from Emilia-Romagna.

Daryle Lamonica - Won four straight Western Division titles (three AFL and one AFC) and one American Football League Championship with the Oakland Raiders. Lost to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II.

Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli - Famous architect of Russian nationality and Tuscan ancestry.

Primo Carnera - Heavyweight Champion of the World 1933-34; from Fruili.

"Veronica Veronese" by Rossetti 1872
Renée Jeanne Falconetti - Well-known French stage and film actress of Cisalpine descent. Played Joan of Arc in silent movie in 1928; 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' is considered one of the greatest early films.

Matteo Ricci - From Marche, he was an Italian Jesuit priest and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China missions. His 1602 map of the world in Chinese characters introduced the findings of European exploration to East Asia. Within Roman Catholicism, he is considered a Servant of God.

Tina Modotti - From Udine, she was an Italian photographer, model, actress, and revolutionary political activist for the Komintern (Communist International). Later joined family in San Francisco.

Merle Pertile - From California, she was the Playboy centerfold of January 1962.

Adam Vinatieri - Current American football placekicker, 20 year NFL veteran, and has played on 4 Super Bowl Championship teams.

Patricia Zentilli -Well-known Canadian actress from Ontario.

Lisa Rinna - Long time popular American actress.

Lidia Bastianich -Well-known American celebrity chef, television host, author, and restaurateur. Current tv host of "Lidia's Kitchen."

Sonny Barger - Founder of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Joe Arpaio -Well-known Arizona sheriff.

Timothy Dalton -Famous British actor.

Beverly D'Angelo - Popular American actress. She was in one of my favorite movies, 'National Lampoon's Vacation'.

Lita Ford - Well-known British and American rock guitarist.

Jenna Jameson - Former adult film star, once called "the world's most famous adult-entertainment performer."

Charles Poletti - The 46th Governor of New York. From Barre, Vermont, a city with many people of Lombard descent; although his family was from Piedmont.

Cassini-Huygens, named after Giovanni Domenico Cassini
Steve Bisciotti - Owner of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

Prince Rainier - High profile Prince of Monaco, ruled for 56 years.

Rick Santorum - American Senator from Pennsylvania. Republican candidate for president in 2012 and in 2016.

Gwen Stefani - American singer, songwriter, fashion designer, and actress. She is the co-founder and lead vocalist of the rock band No Doubt.

Tom Tancredo - American Congressman from Colorado 1999 to 2009. Ran for President in 2008, and Governor in 2010.

Susan Sarandon - Academy award winning actress.

Christina Ricci - Popular American actress.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Confessions of a bookmark junkie 1

Lucrezia Borgia
For longer than I care to say, like probably a lot of people, I've gone bookmark crazy. It's like on those late evenings, you're feeling tired but still conscious enough to follow some areas of interest. You then just go bookmarking with the intention of "getting back to it later"... which you don't because the subjects are so muddled. Well, maybe it's still possible. I wanted to begin a process of catching up with a series of ideas that will not follow any consistent pattern. Sometimes there should probably be much more to say about them; sometimes not. I may get back to a few of them; maybe not.

Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia (18 April 1480 – 24 June 1519) was the daughter of Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei. Her brothers included Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, and Gioffre Borgia.

Lucrezia's family politics became subject matter for The Prince where well implemented ruthlessness represents a practical component of Machiavellian politics.

Her family had arranged several marriages for her which advanced their own political position including Giovanni Sforza (Lord of Pesaro), Alfonso of Aragon (Duke of Bisceglie), and Alfonso I d'Este (Duke of Ferrara).

Tradition has it that Alfonso of Aragon was an illegitimate son of the King of Naples and that her brother Cesare may have had him murdered after his political value waned.

Lucrezia was cast as a femme fatale, a role she has been portrayed as in many artworks, novels, and films.

Not being someone easily taken in by "royalty," which is so often dysgenic, I have nevertheless been intrigued by Lucrezia's image in art. She must have been very beautiful. Somewhat docile, grand in style, prominent hazel eyes, long thick blondish hair. Of course her being young and beautiful, the daughter of a Pope, as well as a member of the House of Borgia... all adds much intrigue to her life. There is a play, an opera, five movies, and a portrayal in three television series; including 'The Borgias' on Showtime. If anyone wants to review 'The Borgias', send an e-mail to I can recall reading a comic book when I was very young... one of those old mystery comics. Some young woman was possessed by "the spirit of Lucrezia Borgia," took on an evil appearance, and poisoned her boyfriend... something along those lines. Apparently most historians don't believe her to have been a murderer, but it all adds to the legend.


She is described as having heavy blonde hair which fell past her knees; a beautiful complexion; hazel eyes which changed color; a full, high bosom; and a natural grace which made her appear to "walk on air." These physical attributes were highly appreciated in Italy during that period. Another description said that "her mouth is rather large, the teeth brilliantly white, her neck is slender and fair, and the bust is admirably proportioned".

One painting, Portrait of a Youth by Dosso Dossi at the National Gallery of Victoria, was identified as a portrait of Lucrezia in November 2008. This painting may be the only surviving formal portrait of Lucrezia Borgia; however, doubts have been cast on that claim.[10] Several other paintings, such as Veneto's fanciful portrait, have also been said to depict her, but none have been accepted by scholars at present.

Rossi Firearms USA

Rossi Firearms was founded in 1889 by Amadeo Rossi, a Venetian immigrant to Brazil. Frequently, Cisalpines could be described more as "pioneers" more than immigrants... a term which subtly suggests mediocrity. Wherever Cisalpine people go, everything rises up around them. Rossi USA is based in Miami Lakes, Florida.


The Rossi revolution of firearm design and manufacture started with the founding of the company in 1889 by Amadeo Rossi.  Over the last 115 years, that tradition has grown along with the company and the Rossi Family.  The Rossi name represents a piece of firearm history and a tradition of excellence.

Over the years, Rossi firearms has led the way in design and engineering.  At the same time, it has always been important to produce an affordable product without sacrificing any quality or accuracy.

In December of 1997 BrazTech International L.C. was created as the exclusive importer of Rossi firearms in North America.

Previously, Rossi firearms were distributed by Interarms of Alexandria, Virginia. Rossi manufactures its classic rifles in a plant in San Leopoldo, Brazil and will continue operations there, selling many firearms outside the United States and North America.

At the same time, Forjas Taurus, S.A. purchased the rights and the equipment to manufacture Rossi handguns.  Taurus manufactures three models of .38 Special revolvers and four models of .357 Magnum revolvers under contract with Rossi.  Revolvers sold by BrazTech with the Rossi name are manufactured in a brand new facility owned by Taurus in SaoLeopoldo, Brazil.  Much of the tooling and many of the machines were acquired from Rossi during negotiations between the companies.

Today's Rossi is still run by the same family and they put the same dedication and innovation into every firearm.  At Rossi, it is more than just building is a family's history and tradition.

Caffe Trieste

Caffè Trieste is an internationally known chain of four Italian-themed coffeehouses plus one retail store in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas California.

Caffè Trieste was opened in 1956 by Giovanni Giotta (aka "Papa Gianni"), who in 1951 had emigrated to the United States from the small fishing town of Rovigno D'Istria, Italy (now part of Croatia). Missing the espresso houses of Trieste, Italy, Giotta opened his own cafe. Caffè Trieste is said to be the first espresso house on the West Coast.

I remember there used to be families with origins from Trieste in San Francisco.. North Beach.. not very long ago either. It's interesting that the city has also long had Croation and Slovenian communities, two of the cultures which had off-and-on struggled for Trieste over the centuries. San Francisco has about as much continuity as Disneyland now. Recently I heard a lecture where the speaker made mention of the strange behavior of rootless Americans, and he was American.. moving every five years... as he said "living like Gypsies." I think we could at least say that a city shouldn't be as unsettled as an airport. I have been to Caffe Trieste, and it was relaxed enough to play a game of unhurried chess on one of their tables. 

Forst Beer

Although I have never tried it, Forst seems interesting to me just because it's from the culturally-linguistically German South Tyrol region. Partly because as the Cisalpines are more the wine makers; the Transalpines have been more the beer makers, and Forst being founded in 1857. You can order it online at a good price.. except that it will cost about fifty bucks for shipping.

Forst is an Italian brewing company, based in Forst, a frazione (municipal subdivision) of Algund, South Tyrol. The brewery was founded in 1857 by the two entrepreneurs Johann Wallnöfer and Franz Tappeiner from Merano. Later in 1863, the company passed to the entrepreneur Josef Fuchs, who enlarged the plant in Forst. (English) 

Forst Beer Garden (English)

Birra Forst (YouTube)

It can be funny how beer labels come and go. For example, Pabst Blue Ribbon was very popular in the 50s.. all over the country. In California, Primo Beer from Hawaii was rather popular in the 70s, but is difficult to even find now. Still, it can be interesting to try to get your hands on a regionally scarce beer.

National Alpine Association

Years ago, I became aware of this organization by name. There were branches all over the world (Argentina, Australia, South Africa, etc.). In fact, there was a listing in San Francisco. When I inquired about it, I received a postcard in Italian, with some reference to Cesare Battisti. I had thought it might be an association for people of Alpine Italian ancestry; although it seemed odd that a group in San Francisco would send something in Italian when local Italian immigration largely fizzled out in the 30s. 

Actually it appears that it's tied to the Alpini Italian special forces, which recruits out of the mountain regions, mostly the Alps. Contrary to the common perception, they're a very proud military tradition going back to World War I. During the Battle of Stalingrad, they distinguished themselves in the brutal Battle of Nikolayevka. A book about this battle was published, which was entitled 'Sacrifice on the Steppe' (Hamilton; 2011). I think I will save that for another posting. The Alpini traditionally wear those particular Alpine mountain hats that you may have seen before (see above image). Apparently, the Associazione Nazionale Alpini is an association made up of veterans of the Alpini Corps.

Miscellaneous Links

Gaulish Deities - A rundown of the deities of Gaulish polytheism, of which Cisalpine Gaul was a part. Cernunnos was to the Gauls, what Odin was to the Norse.

Walking tours in Northern Italy Good travel site for the northern regions.

Torani coffee and beverage flavoring - Excellent flavoring for coffee. 

Italians in the United Kingdom - Cisalpine migration to northern California, the Great Lakes region, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, or Johannesburg are what I call "GOOD migrations"; while I'm much less enthusiastic about migration to or from other European Nations. However, we should know about any of our people anywhere in the world.

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol wine - Unique and different highland wines.

Italians in France - Our people in the past definitely had an impact on France. Of course, this would go back to Roman times. On a side note, contrary to common perceptions, the South of France was much more impacted long ago by Greek influence than the Cisalpine region. There was a "Magna Graecia" of France at one time.

The Lost Colony of the Templars: Verrazano's Secret Mission to America - The Vatican, the Freemasonic leadership, and other powerful forces definitely knew that the "New World" was here long before 1492.

Historical Reenactment - Taurini Celtic tribe meets Roman Legion at Turin - Interesting photographs of long ago intra-Cisalpine cultural conflict.

St. Bernardino of Siena - St. Bernadino, a Catholic Saint and a Tuscan, is the namesake of the city and large county of San Bernadino, California; as well as the San Bernadino Mountains.

Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America - The name "America" was named after the Tuscan explorer Amerigo Vespucci. On a side note, to people in north and south America, the name "America" refers to the USA. However to Europeans, the name "America" refers to the entire "New World." I have always thought of North America and South America as two separate continents, with the only common reference as "the Americas".. and the Panama Canal sort've officially separated them anyway. Also, the USA actually uses "America" within it's name, so it's logical to refer only to its citizens as "Americans."

The Pyrgi Tablets Three beautiful golden tablets from BCE; two written in Etruscan, and one in Phoenician.

Savoy - Cisalpine roots? The Savoy region was very much part of the Cisalpine cultural world in 1860. There has long been a separatist movement there. I really don't know as to whether or not they had been speakers of Piedmontese. Perhaps someone can help us out here?

Veronese Easter - Veronese vs. occupying Nepoleonic army - Little-known revolt, similar to the Sicilian Vespers.

Mysteries written in blood - Roman remnants in China - From a Chinese news source, so there must be something to it; because they always promote Chinese historical uniformity.

Antonio Pigafetta explorer - Little-known Venetian explorer who sailed with Magellan.

Ostrogothic Ravenna - The city was the capitol of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. Although this period was short, it might be interesting to look up on the Gothic architecture there.

Matteo Colombo Photography - Colorful sunrise over the Dolomites - Beautiful photography of the Dolomite Mountains.

Top Ten Jesus Movies - Easter came and went so fast, but during Easter many movies from over the years about Jesus were telecast. Some of them you probably remember, and were memorable.

Edward Ross: The Italians - Here are some north-south issues that I had wanted to comment on. Perhaps it's best to just stay with simple issues and data.

Padanian Etruria - Etruscan civilization in Lombardy - The term "Padane" is not new, and there are many centuries old references to it. Also, there were Etruscans in the Alpine stretches; as there were Gauls in Tuscany. Gallo-Etruscan heritage is one that is as legitimate as other ancient cultures which produced modern European nations, such as Britain, France, Germany, etc. There is no real geographical Celt/Gaul-Etruscan/Roman divide in modern times.

Friday, June 5, 2015

'Ghaetta' by Ensemble Micrologus (Italian Medieval Music)

Ensemble Micrologus - Ghaetta (Italian Medieval Music)

Giosuè Tacconi - Umbrian Langobard

10# track from the album "Alla Festa Leggiadra", Italian Medieval Music by Ensemble Micrologus.

The image is by an Italian illustrator, Giosuè Tacconi (© GT - Illustrator), is based on the reconstruction of Terni, a glimpse of the medieval walls.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Laura Bassi - The first woman in the world to earn a university chair in science

Laura Bassi

Laura Maria Caterina Bassi (31 October 1711 – 20 February 1778) was the first woman in the world to earn a university chair in a scientific field of studies. She received a doctoral degree from the University of Bologna in May 1732, only the third academic qualification ever bestowed on a woman by a European university, and the first woman to earn a professorship in physics at a university in Europe. She was the first woman to be offered an official teaching position at a university in Europe.


Born in Bologna into the wealthy family of a lawyer, she was privately educated and tutored for seven years in her teens by Gaetano Tacconi, a University teacher of Biology, Natural History and Medicine. She came to the attention of Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, who encouraged her scientific work.

In 1732, at the age of 21, she was appointed professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, was elected to the Academy of the Institute for Sciences, and in the following year was given the chair of philosophy. Thus, Bassi became the second woman in Europe to receive a degree from a university, after Elena Cornaro Piscopia in 1678, fifty-four years prior. In her early years, her teaching opportunities were restricted to occasional lectures.

The defence of her degree, awarding ceremony, and first lecture in 1732 were significant as they took place in the Palazzo Pubblico, one of the most important government buildings in Bologna. These events were attended by "not only the university faculty and students, but also by principal political and religious figures of the city - the Papal Legate and Vice-Legate, the Archbishop of Bologna, the Gonfaloniere, the Elders, senators and magistrates. Additionally, 'all the ladies of Bologna and all the nobility'." The Bologna community came to recognize the achievements of Bassi earning and receiving her degree.

As a political figure, the Senate expected Bassi to attend various events. The Carnival Anatomy, a public dissection with tickets open to anyone, was an event she was expected to attend because it was a central feature of public life at the University which attracted the attention of many foreigners and important community members. She began attending this event annually in 1734.

In 1738, she married Giuseppe Veratti, a fellow academic with whom she had twelve children. After this, she was able to lecture from home on a regular basis and successfully petitioned the University for more responsibility and a higher salary to allow her to purchase her own equipment.

One of her principal patrons was Pope Benedict XIV. He supported less censorship of scholarly work, such as happened with Galileo, and he supported women figures in learning, including Agnesi.

She was mainly interested in Newtonian physics and taught courses on the subject for 28 years. She was one of the key figures in introducing Newton's ideas of physics and natural philosophy to Italy. She also carried out experiments of her own in all aspects of physics. In order to teach Newtonian physics and Franklinian electricity, topics that were not focused in the university curriculum, Bassi gave private lessons. In her lifetime, she authored 28 papers, the vast majority of these on physics and hydraulics, though she did not write any books. She published only four of her papers. Although only a limited number of her scientific works were left behind, much of her scientific impact is evident through her many correspondents including Voltaire, Francesco Algarotti, Roger Boscovich, Charles Bonnet, Jean Antoine Nollet, Giambattista Beccaria, Paolo Frisi, Alessandro Volta. Voltaire once wrote to her saying "There is no Bassi in London, and I would be much happier to be added to your Academy of Bologna than that of the English, even though it has produced a Newton." Francesco Algarotti wrote several poems regarding her degree ceremonies.

In 1745, Lambertini (now Pope Benedict XIV) established an elite group of 25 scholars known as the Benedettini ("Benedictines", named after himself.) Bassi pressed hard to be appointed to this group, but there was a mixed reaction from the other academics. Ultimately, Benedict did appoint her, the only woman in the group.
From 1746 to 1777 she gave one formal dissertation per year.

In 1749, she presented a dissertation on the problem of gravity.

During the 1760s, Bassi and her husband worked together on experimental research in electricity. This attracted talent of Abbe Nollet and others to Bologna to study electricity.

In 1776, at the age of 65, she was appointed to the chair in experimental physics by the Bologna Institute of Sciences, with her husband as a teaching assistant. Two years later, she died, having made physics into a lifelong career and broken a huge amount of ground for women in academic circles.

After her death, a marble statue was made in her memory and placed above the Nautical room in the institute.

She was elected member of many literary societies and carried on an extensive correspondence with the most eminent European men of letters. She was well acquainted with classical literature, as well as with that of France and Italy.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The super-gentrification from San Francisco to the South Bay

This is a difficult subject to delve into because it’s tied to so many other issues—past and present—each with its own legitimate “bottom line.” Many people are simply incapable of compartmentalizing each sub-issue for critical review… after which all of the parts need to be put back together for a final conclusion. The only overwhelming “bottom line” that I can think of is that if we look at our particular local gentrification from 1990 to 2030, literally millions of local residents will have been forced to relocate out of necessity. Some have been referring to this as the issue of “the right to replace.”

We’re not talking about someone taking over a neighborhood or even a city, but of an area of at least 2,000 square miles as the epicenter of a particularly ruthless gentrification. This isn’t “urban renewal,” as it very dramatically affects a large diverse area and every citizen in it. Even the despotic robber barons of history at least allowed their subjects a place to dwell. The newly formed economic-establishment simply want local residents out... period! A portion of the highest socio-economic classes of the old order have even issued complaints for various reasons. We’re living amid a massive social and economic upheaval; and also political, as we witness even San Francisco politicians welcoming the extreme replacement and change over their own long-time constituency.

Like any well-organized colonization, this region has even been renamed… “Silicon Valley”… after what had long been merely a nickname for the technology industry in the South Bay. HBO even produces a series called ‘Silicon Valley’, which I am not familiar with, but what appears to be about IT hipsters; Fabian capitalists in sandals, urban cowboys conquering a new frontier. So, what does that make us? Indians? For every action (mass migration), there’s an opposite re-action (replacement). In many ways, this harsh fact is how humans have interacted for thousands of years; but at least then the aggressors were open about their intentions… such as ‘The Indian Removal Act’. With us, there is neither a name for our ouster or even much complaint from us; just a slow moving push out the door.

The first that I ever really pondered this subject was in the late 90s, when a company which I was working for was closing down the location due to a buyout. One couple, in their late forties, had worked there as well. He worked in the warehouse, while she worked in the office. On the final day, as I spoke to the very down-to-earth couple in the parking lot on that warm late summer evening, they told me that they were moving to Georgia where he had family. San Mateo County had gotten too expensive, and the surrounding area was going the same way. They left, and in some small way, we became metaphorically poorer as a result. I can recall back in the 70s and 80s when the South Bay was booming. New residents migrated in from many places. It was an exciting time then. The growth seemed large, but was not overwhelming. It didn’t hurt the agricultural industry, which has much room to fan out. The new residents were a positive influence.

The only real plus for the locals is if they happen to own a real estate. In the town of Burlingame, for example, a small two-bedroom home is now worth about 200 times what it probably was worth in the 50s… where a barber or a warehouseman could purchase it on one-income. This home equity serves as our only symbolic severance pay for our collective eviction. According to HUD, you should not pay any more than 30% of your net income on rent; which would mean that in order to pay even the bare minimum rent anywhere in San Mateo County and maintain that 30%, a person would need to net about $5,700 a month. Even if a local wished to stay anyway because they can afford it, do you really want to live in a rootless place where you’re the dinosaur? Where are YOU from?

I say this also for people in New York City or any place where a local population has been given their subtle “walking papers” by out-of-towners who want them out… starting yesterday. There’s no comparison between someone simply moving to a new location, and a person with one particular skill set who believes that everything in the world… belongs to them. You can’t resist the whole country when word has gotten out that your backyard is “the place to be!” Nobody can. Of course, they wouldn’t like it if it happened where they're from. It’s like abortion; it’s okay as long as it’s not YOU. I’m not a fan of Spike Lee, but he’s correct about gentrification, such as in regards to a place like Harlem… which is a new hipster paradise. Of course, an entire component to all of this—which is best looked upon as a separate issue—is that many now doing the complaining, sprang from people who got where they are through large-scale demographic change aka “replacement.” Still, that’s a separate issue, and doesn’t make them wrong.

Some individuals of great wealth who have relocated here, then have become “zero-growth” advocates and “open-space" proponents the moment they get here! Before we pat them on the back “at least for that,” many of them are the types who buy up land along the coast or in the many unspoiled areas of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and then block off access to the general public. In other words, under normal conditions, those locations would have largely remained public property in the first place. Still, the great majority are pro-urban sprawl via gentrification. The South Bay will then go into a mode of “ever-expansion outward!”; such as with the Los Angeles Basin. The only reason that the Bay Area has so many open spaces is through the work of a lot of good people over the decades. That is about to change.

Many newcomers of this new-guard will make their buck and then go back “home” again… having forever changed our world. This whole “happening” is the biggest joke… because its foundation rests upon an open secret: They need us out. There’s no way around that fact. Even local retired homeowners, who normally would have remained here, are now given this very lucrative option of selling high and buying low somewhere else. Although this is a great opportunity for them, it further dismantles local roots by breaking down its organic pillars.

What can one say when even upper middle class neighborhoods are being gentrified? San Mateo County was one of the wealthiest counties in the whole country before 1990! Some years ago, a South Bay student who had been away to college, came home to discover the tremendous changes which had taken place in just several years. He produced a documentary about it, of which the name escapes me. However, somehow this all seems so contrived; beyond the typical “change and progress” line that is always fed to society. It’s a feeding frenzy… on our watch. I know of what was once a very beautiful open-space area, amid a nice tree-filled South Bay neighborhood, with wonderful views of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Nothing over three stories high. In the course of about five years, all of it was gone except the official park itself. Skyscrapers now block out the view of the mountains, the once open area along the creek is lost amid a new concrete jungle, and when walking through you always have that feeling of "being watched" with thousands of windows peering down at you. Contrived over-development can sometimes be a downright backward and primitive thing to do. This development is entirely out-of-scale in relation to the surrounding area. Total ruination.

Strangely, local police often favor the newcomers; usually by picking on automobiles which aren’t consistent with the new-guard, and asking “what are you doing down here?”… and followed by “why can’t you do those things up there?”… even if you’re three miles away in the next town over where you live, and you grew up in the area anyway. This is based on the experiences of many individuals, including myself. I was pulled over for no reason on one occasion, and they asked to search my car. Usually they don’t bother asking, so I agreed. This particular officer opened my trunk where I had tools and debris from building a fence for someone. I observed the officer with amusement as he was looking very closely at simple tools, such as a wrench, as though he were examining ancient artifacts. WOW!! If that isn’t a perfect metaphor for what’s been happening, I don’t know what is! Just for the record, as we should acknowledge, police departments vary vastly from city to city. The police are simply a reflection of their superiors. I learned this when a few years ago I went into a building on a local community college campus where there was a police training academy. As I walked in dressed in a coat and tie from a job interview I just had… the cadets walking in the hallway immediately lined up against the walls and saluted me. That… kind’ve says it all.

There are numerous once-major cultural groupings long predating World War II, whom contributed greatly to the local area, which have been massively pushed aside for at least thirty years even before this super-gentrification period. Cisalpines/Italians, Japanese, Irish, Scottish, Croatians, Slovenians, Russians/Ukrainians, Maltese, Portuguese, Germans, Oklahoma-north Texas migratory descendants, etc. This often difficult-to-define umbrella-grouping contributed more overall to local history, culture, free market, self-determinism, and in terms of spirituality--much more-so than those who followed; yet they’re never discussed, spoken of, or referred to in any way in public affairs. They exist only in the abstract: “North Beach” or “Japanese Gardens.” It’s just a perception that there are “Italians in North Beach.” If you don’t officially exist, then any concerns which you may have probably aren’t likely to exist either.

I know so many of you feel the same way, because you’ve told me so time and time again. I’m just defining the entire scope of what you have collectively told me. There are endless examples of where the rootless have defeated local cultures over the years. These socio-economic interests are just the latest in a long line. There was an equally disturbing socio-political migration that was endured for such a long time. Again, these examples are not the same as someone merely moving to a new location. What I’m referring to are people who come in for practically the expressed purpose of taking over, and they need and fully expect us to get out of the way for them. There are many huge corporations which have entire departments dedicated to “finding housing” for incoming employees; including purchasing real estate. Although it sounds almost innocent, this places further stress on the limited opportunities on real estate and housing for locals. They need us out, plain and simple. They know this, we know this, and they know that we know this.

6-10-15 ADDITION:

I wanted to add this thoughtful article from the American Sociological Association, entitled 'Understanding Super-Gentrification in San Francisco' (John Stover - University of San Francisco - April 2014). Actually, I didn't get the term "super-gentrification," from this piece, but maybe I heard of it somewhere.