Funeral_posters_MSStep back in time with a visit to a small town in Molise. On our journey to Mirabello Sannitico we encountered this notice board, a small town tradition that dates back decades, if not centuries.

Pre-dating electronic communications, this is a lovely way to tell the community of a death so that all may know of the details and arrangements. Italian funerals are traditionally open to the community, and all in the village or town are welcome to attend.

We are highlighting two of the posters as examples.

Luciano D’Imperio’s funeral Mass was to be held at 1700 hours (5:00 pm) on Martedi (Tuesday) the 26th at the Chapel of San Rocco.

In the lower position on the right, the notice is one of sympathy rather than a notice of the funeral service. The co-workers of Emilia posted this notice to express sympathy to Emilia on the occasion of the the death of her Padre.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this bit of Italian culture as another look at life in the small towns of Italy. While we were touring this small town near Campobasso, at 4:45 in the afternoon, we noticed a quiet gathering emerging from a nearby building. We were told there was a chapel in that building and that all had just come from a funeral. The town had been very quiet and a gentle hum returned after the funeral service.

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We are often asked how often we travel to Italy on buying trips (usually twice a year) but there’s one event in the U.S. that brings amazing choices to our shores.

The Fancy Food Show just concluded in New York. As always, we found a phenomenal range of food (olive oil from China?), ice pops made with kale, and more cheese than you can imagine. We stayed true to our mission to find the best selections from Italy!

We met with favorite producers such as Salvatore Cutrera from Frantoi Cutrera, and planned the fall purchases, starting with the zesty Frescolio. We also learned the the flavorful Cutrera Gran Cru Cerasuola has the highest polyphenol level of any of the Cutrera monocultivars. It is over 600!

The most unusual selections were those from Pantelleria, a tiny island far south of Sicily, and very close to Africa, known for the production of capers. Look for these in a few months!

In 2012 our big discovery was pistachio cream from Sicily, an item that has sold out quickly. Sometimes we don’t know just how good our good ideas are. We didn’t find any pistachio cream this year, so we are glad that connection has already been made for our discerning customers. We should be well stocked again by September.

We had a fortuitous moment when we met with a very experienced importer who is bringing in a very exclusive line of hard to buy olive oils. (Those wine producers can be tough negotiators). Look for new selections from Tuscan wine producers after the next harvest.

The Rogers Collection, known to us as an olive oil importer, is also a big mover in the cheese world. We scheduled our visit to their booth to attend this special and ceremonial opening of a new wheel of Parmiggiano-Reggiano DOP. This is a 36-month aged cheese, and even more special in that it is from brown cows. There are only four producers who craft DOP Parmiggiano-Reggiano from brown cows’ milk. Fabulous.

Other photos show our friends from Italian Products, Compagnia del Montale of Modena, pasta and rice selections, and the grand show floor, in the Italy Pavillion.

Dario Cecchini's Perfect Seasoning SaltWe love our customers and this is a special shout out to Kevin who gave us the great idea to import Profumo del Chianti for our customers. This is a remarkable steak salt crafted by a master of Tuscan steaks. This salt comes with a story, just like so many of the artisanal products we carry.

Dario Cecchini has built a cadre of small businesses in Panzano, located on the Chianti road between Florence and Siena. The story begins with Antica Macelleria Cecchini (the famous butcher shop), and his steak journey continues with “Mac Dario” (for burgers!),  the upper-end Officina della Bistecca, and SoloCiccia (featuring unusual cuts of grass-fed beef).

Dario Cecchini is referred to as a Dante-quoting butcher in Panzano, Tuscany, and there have been several articles on Dario in the past few years. A treasure trove of videos can be found on YouTube, and a sampling of articles can be found through these links:

Gourmet Magazine (plan your trip now!)

Travel+Leisure

The New Yorker (a great story!)

FoodWoolf.com

Zester Daily

Italian Food Forever

Bytes of Italy

The Pink Peppercorn Blog

Concierge.com

And, if you’d like to read up on Dario Cecchini and practice your Italian, then you’d best visit his blog. Feeling adventurous? Try this Inside Tuscany Tour with Il Chiostro.

It must be Italy!Congrats and Kudos to the Italian Language Foundation for their work in reinstating the course and exam for AP Italian. We love to see the study of Italian culture by students in the U.S. Take at look at the articles that ran in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Thanks to significant cooperation among the College Board, Italian government, Italian Language Foundation, and Italian-American groups, funding is in place to resume AP Italian Language and Culture.

Please encourage your schools and the students you know to request this high school course.