VISIT ITALY: THE CASATIELLO OF NAPLES

Casatiello is a Easter cake, ride and savoury enriched with tasty ingredients; the slow leavening make it soft, the oven cooking make it fragrant and the filling made of cold cut, lard and cheese make it nourish with a strong flavour. Casatiello has a strong traditional value, given that it is typically eaten, during the Easter period with the family and the relatives, in fact it plays an important role in the Neapolitan tradition to be handed down from a generation to another.

The casatiello is also excellent for a picnic on the grass, on a trip out of town. It can be easily carried in a container. It has no flying parts and can be placed in a picnic basket wrapped only with paper or cloth.
Some put provolone, salami, grated pecorino, hard-boiled eggs inside. Others hard-boiled eggs put them on the outside. But in both versions it is really tasty. You can drink red wine and be together outdoors and enjoy a nice day.

NATIVITY

The nativity scene in my family was a ritual. My grandparents had handmade wax figurines, which are nowhere to be found. They were very ancient, delicate, fragile. It was beautiful to make the crib. My father went around looking for real moss and brought it home still damp. Then everything else, stones, branches, leaves, everything was gathered around in the countryside. There was a different magic when my father was alive. He took care of the lights, he had a lot of patience to illuminate the right spots. Now, on the other hand, everything is done quickly, in a hurry, with tiredness and stress. The best time of Christmas for me was when I was a child and my grandparents were all alive. Now I don't feel that magic anymore and I would love to feel it but I know it's impossible.
Etymologically, the word itself means "manger" which is actually the place where the baby Jesus is placed at his birth, with Joseph and Mary who look after him with the help of the ox's breath and the donkey that allowed him to give some warmth in the cold cave they were in.
And this is precisely what the nativity scene that many of us have at home at Christmas depicts: the reproduction of the sacred grotto with the baby Jesus and his family.

There are few and confused elements that foreshadow a precise origin and before 1200 it was depicted by unknown artists (The Virgin with Jesus at the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome) or even by Giotto.

The first real exhibition of a nativity scene in Italy is obtained in 1220 in Greccio, thanks to Saint Francis of Assisi who, on a trip to Bethlehem, where he saw the nativity scene recalled, wanted to reproduce it in Italy.

So he celebrated a mass in a wood, in the presence of an ox and a donkey and the saint sang some verses of the Gospel over the manger.

Thus there was the first representation of a living nativity scene in Italy. From here on, the crib had a slow and inexorable diffusion and from a purely artistic element, it began to be popular.
From the fifteenth century it spread to central Italy, arrived in the Kingdom of Naples, began to spread in homes and be part of the popular sentiment.

In Naples, in the houses of the nobles, they even began to make sumptuous, large, refined versions, with precious materials and each house pursued its own spectacular version of it, as in a competition.

The Neapolitan nativity scene is still a great classic today, one of its characteristics is that of uniting the cave of Jesus with various other shepherds, intent on their daily life, each in its own occupation.

Via San Gregorio Armeno is very famous, where even today master craftsmen compose cribs, build shepherds also depicting current figures that can be politicians, cinema characters and various others.

An art that every year, during the Christmas holidays, attracts many people to visit and attend the birth of the shepherds in the Neapolitan city.

Obviously there are also other types of cribs in other areas of Italy, among these we remember the Genoese, the Bolognese (among the oldest), the Sicilian and others, each with its own differences in materials used, characters, among the many.

A type of craftsmanship that besides our country has also conquered other nations in Europe and in the world where everyone creates a version with their own characteristics.

%d bloggers like this: