Thursday, 28 May 2015

The biodiversity banking of "Giardini di Pomona"

I giardini di Pomona is a biodiversity banking located in Cisternino, in valle d’Itria (Apulia).

I was so curious to find out more about this project. So, I kept in touch with Paolo Belloni, its founder.

I went to visit him few days ago.

I reached him at 10.30.

We shake hands and sit down under tall pine-trees.

I’m struck by his gentle smile.

“I have established the association i giardini di Pomona in 1993.

We have created an informal network to exchange information about biodiversity. 

We have travelled a lot around Italy, coveringaround 20.000 km”. Paolo says.

“In 1950 take place the introduction of chemistry in agriculture. That’s the begin of the end”. He adds.

Paolo continues: “The first great event promoted by I giardini di Pomona is held in the monastery of Torba (Lombardia), where around  200 kind of fruits are displayed. 

Unexpectedly, 3000 people come to visit us during the week end”.

“We saw people, especially elderly one, being touched at the sight of fruits which they thought was disappeared. Fruits which reminded them the old times, when they were kids.” He says.

“The richness of biodiversity belongs not to me or to Pomona but to anyone”. Especially, the next generations.

Paolo was looking for a place to settle down and continue his experience.

“After having visited so many places in the South of Italy, he fell in love with Cisternino and its inhabitants. In other words, Paolo had appreciated the attachment to the land of the local peasants”. He says.

Paolo adds: “Last but not least, the new things happen always in what can be considered the border of an area. Apulia is a border region, the most Eastern Italian region”.

Since he is in Cisternino, Paolo is working on figs and pomegranates.

I giardini di Pomona hosts one of the biggest Mediterranean figs collection.

Paolo says that figs will be the fruit of future.

Indeed, figs (like banana and persimmon) do not require pollination by bees. As you are aware, the risk that bees disappear from the planet is real.

“We have lost the pleasure of taste”. Paolo says.

Fruits imply social relations, technique of manufacturing and storing.

In June 2006, Science has published a research carried out by three archaeologists, who had discovered dehydrated figs of 11.000 years ago.

Therefore, this would mean that are older than green peas and grain.

Paolo suggests me to read a book which has had a great impact on his life Guns, Germs and Steel written by Jared Diamond.

Paolo has travelled a lot across India.

India has changed his life.

He shows with pride his botanic conservatory.

It’s huge.

For those who are interested, a permaculture course has been scheduled the 19th and 22th of June.

That could be an opportunity to discover I giardini di Pomona and shake hand with Paolo.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Il Maggio di Accettura, an ancestral rite

On Sunday, I went to Accettura to take part to the celebration of il Maggio di Accettura, an ancestral rite held since centuries, where a holly is grafted into a turkey oak.

The holly symbolizes a female, the turkey oak a male.

According to historians, this rite seems to be introduced by the Longobards.

Accettura is a small village located on the top of a mountain, between Matera and Potenza, in Basilicata.

As per tradition, the natives have split themselves in two teams: cimaioli and maggiaioli.

In other words, cimaioli went to the Gallipoli forest to cut down the top of a holly.

The second team, maggiaioli, moved to the Montepiano bush to uproot the most beautiful example of turkey oak.

I joined to the cimaioli, though.

I was with Lucia and some friends from Altamura.

We arrived at the main square of Accettura at around 2 pm.

We got on the shuttle after having been wating for 1 hour.

However, who cares? We have had chance to talk with some natives who infected us their joy.

Il Maggio di Accettura is so deeply felt by the community, that even emigrants from UK and Germany come back every year to celebrate it.

So, after having got out the shuttle, we joined the crowd who was carrying on the holly.

It was amazing to see people gathering around the tree, drinking and singing.

And what about those men and women (mostly men) who’ll be carrying on the holly for around 15 kilometers?

Of course, good wine was being offered to anyone.

A shepherd has offered some grappa.

He was equipped with wine and grappa. “Wine is male, grappa female” he said, with an amused smile on his face.

We have reached Accettura at 8 pm.

Therefore, we have been walking for almost 4 hours.

We have stopped every hour to let the men take a rest.

I won’t never forget il Maggio di Accettura, because people is so friendly.

And then, because this rite tells us that the environment it’s the most important thing.

We civilized as well as educated men have forgotten it.

Thank you Accettura.

the graft will be done on Tuesday, therefore you are plenty of time to arrange a last minute trip to Accettura.

Friday, 22 May 2015

God bless the bees

Last weekend I have completed a basic course on beekeeping.

The world of bees is so fascinating as well as sophisticated.

The course has been held by an enlightened beekeeper based in Mesagne. Stanislao is his name.

“The Italian bees are named ligustica. In terms of production of honey, they are considered the best”. He says.

Bees are divided in queen bee, workers and drones.

 “Bees follow the queen bee when it undertakes, once in its life, the nuptial flight, which lasts 15 days”. Stanislao continues.

Then, there are bee workers, which produce honey, propolis, pollen, and last but not least, royal food.

Finally, there are drones, male bees whom main task is to fertilise the queen bee.drones

“Bees are the guardians of ecosystem. Trees and flowers need them so much”.

Bees arrived on earth 5 millions of years before human beings.

Queen bee lives 5 years and its role is to procreate.

On the other hand, worker bees live just 45 days.

Bees have arranged a complex social structure, where worker bees take the most important decisions.

In other words, worker bees decide if a new queen bee is required. Or alternatively, if more drones are needed.

Unfortunately, a scourge is tremendously affecting bees.

Pollution and pesticide have killed, on worldwide basis, the 70/80% of them.

In order to produce honey, bees eat nectar, then, throw it out, then, other bees eat it again, then, throw it out. The longer the chain is, the better honey is.

Honey needs to be dehydrated in order to last long. Bees perform this task by beating wings. When honey contains just 18% of water, then it may be considered ripe.

Apitherapy is a natural medicine approach. Even the poison of bees is considered healthy for humans.

Bees prefer to drink stagnant water because it’s more alkaline.

When bees realise that they are going to die, they leave the beehive, avoiding so to jeopardise life within it.

Stanislao warns about the varroa, a parassite which makes bees weak.

In order to get rid of varroa, Stanislao feeds bees with a homemade syrup which contains lemon juice, sugar and salt.

Lemon juice make bees stronger, so that they are capable of fighting the mite.

The beekeeping course has been attended by around 20 people.

Few of them already carry out beekeeping.

Many others see in beekeeping an opportunity to run a new business.

Donato from Taranto is looking for some land to cultivate, and eventually carry out beekeeping. 

“Have you heard about genuino clandestino?” he asks. “this is a movement of people whom aim is to cultivate soil in a sustainable way, without using pesticide and so on. In Taranto, this movement is growing fastly”.

Then, there is Alessandro. He comes from Milan, however his parents were born in Polignano, then, moved to Milan.

“I want to quit Milan. I don’t bear cities anymore. I’d love to come back in Apulia and run a business in beekeeping” He says.

Finally, there is Maurizio from Lecce. He says: “It’s hard to be 57 years, and realise that you have to start again.” As far as I understood, he has lost his job.

Crisis is making people realising that another world is possible.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A pregnant woman of 28000 years ago...

On Tuesday 12th May, I moved to Ostuni to attend an event concerning the discoveries made in Grotta di Agnano in Ostuni (Apulia).

The happening ended up with the exhibition of skeleton of a pregnant woman. Beside that, were displayed the tiny bones of her fetus as well.

The incredible thing is that they date back to 28.000 years ago (Paleolithic).

For this special occasion, have convened Prof. Donato Coppola and Prof. Eligio Vacca, two of the main researchers of Grotta di Agnano.

Both of them teach at Università degli studi di Bari.

The event is held within Chiesa di San Vito Martire.

I come in, and after a quick look around, I realise that there are no seats available.

“I am glad for the renewed interest about the cultural heritage.” Prof Coppola begins.

“Preserving cultural heritage is important. Nevertheless, it’s even more important to let the citizens enjoy it. From this perspective, Apulia has a great potential.” He adds.

Prof. Coppola recognizes among the audience one of his former students, who actually works as archaeologist in Oman. 

The professor continues saying that it would have been great if his former student could have worked in Italy.

Unfortunately, the Belpaese spends little money for culture, and that is a shame.

“We have started working in the Agnano cave in 1991. After just one month, I discovered two consanguineous of 28.000 years ago. 

According to recent discoveries in grotta del Cavallo (Lecce), the oldest homo sapiens in Europe are Apulians,

The Agnano cave is located on the promontory of Murgia, from which the prehistoric man used to scrutinize game.

The body of the woman has been found on the roof of the cave. 

The skull was covered by 650 tiny shells, covered by ochre.

“I believe that the woman of Ostuni was venerated like the grande madre

There’re many signs which make me thinking in this way: the crown of shells, canines of deer, hands of hers joined on the womb".

"Last but not least, traces of reddish ochre discovered around her body. All of this is a clear evidence of burial rite”. Professor Coppola states.

It seems clear that Grotta di Agnano hosted a Paleolithic sanctuary.

This thesis is supported by an additional proof: stones in the cave are covered by signs, similar to those detected in Paleolithic sites such as Grotta Paglicci (Apulia) and others spread around Europe.

This means that homo sapiens sapiens shared in Europe the same graphic language.
During the whole paleolithic, the artistic language, made of paintings of animals, gradually mutates to symbols and graffiti.

 “We strongly suspect that Dionysiac rites were held in the cave of Agnano. However, the next diggings will tell us more about it”. He says.

Prof. Coppola ends up his lesson mentioning Henry de Lumley, a French scientist who has made a Paleolithic laboratory, which actually magnetizes thousands and thousands of tourists every year. 

Ostuni could rightly became an attraction for researchers and tourists as well.

Now, It is the round of Professor Eligio Vacca: “Studying this woman and her foetus has represented a great opportunity for me”.

The incredible thing is that they have been found in the same place where they have been for 28.000 years.

According to Prof. Vacca, this woman has a Cro-Magnon skeleton. 

The woman was approximately 20 years and 1.70 mt. high. She is supposed to have come from North Africa.

Prof. Vacca wishes to thank all the archaeologists who have come from abroad (France, UK, USA, Czech Republic) to work on this project.

Alessandra Lofino, moderator of this wonderful evening, is given a bunch of flowers.

Finally, it has come the moment to visualise the skeleton of the pregnant and her fetus.

Beside the church of S. Vito Martire, there is a museum which hosts a permanent exhibition, included the discoveries of grotta di Agnano

Therefore, we quickly leave the church through a door set beside the altar.

After few steps, we approach a bright room.

Right in the middle of it, there  is a glasses case.

After having approached it, I am touched by seeing beside the long skeleton, the tiny structure of the fetus.

They look great. Very well preserved. Awesome!

I strongly recommend you to come to Ostuni.

Once here, don't be surprised if you’ll feel the shivers at your back.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Ostuni, the white city

Ostuni is one of the most beautiful Apulian city.

The main trait of Ostuni is the white of its old buildings.

Therefore, on Sunday morning, Erika, my sister, Lucia and I decide to visit Ostuni, la città bianca.

We pass by S. Vito dei Normanni, which hosts the astonishing crypt of St. Biagio (12th century).

We agree that it is worth to have a look at it before carrying on.

This crypt was funded by Basilian monks.

Unfortunately, the crypt is not accessible.

An advice hanging on the gate, informs turists to call either the public library (+39 0831 951368) or the tourist office of S. Vito dei Normanni (+39 0831 955236) in order to be allowed to visit it.

We see two more additional tourists hanging around the crypt.

“Good morning” I say “did you schedule a visit to the crypt?” I ask. “No, we did’nt.”. He replies.

He is an architect, who will later confirm the beauty of the frescos painted inside the crypt.

“Unfortunately” the architect adds “the colors are quickly deteriorating due to atmospherical agents.”
So, I schedule a visit to the crypt pretty soon. 

After having talked one hour or even more, we shake hands with the architect and his wife. 

Therefore, we resume our journey to Ostuni.

Ostuni is elegant and plenty of tourists.

I stare after some German tourists lined up walking though narrow streets.

In Ostuni there are many shops which sell sandals.

We end up in a shop named, which manufactures sandals and bags.

Each of us buy a pair of sandals.

They are not that expensive, though. With less than 30 euros you get a homemade pair of sandals.

The owners, wife-and-husband, are happy of their business: “we sell mainly by internet. Our sandals
are very much appreciated in Israel, USA and Russia”.

They well represent the “made in Italy”.

We walk around the town admiring the artistic city centre.

I’d like to live in one of these narrow streets, where no cars pass by.

I’d like to live in such environment, where I can breath an atmosphere which takes me back centuries ago.

However, we do not find so many people around because it is the controra

controra is the hottest time of the day, soon after lunch.

It is time to rest.

Therefore, we go back home. Ciao

please click here to view more pics

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Labour day 2015 in Taranto

To celebrate yesterday the labour day, Lucia and I went to Taranto.

We have joined some friends from Altamura, who have come to Taranto as well.

Thanks to Michele Riondino, an Italian actor, Taranto hosts since a couple of years a whole day of music.

According to what I saw yesterday, I confirm that the event has been fully successful.

Let’s remember that Taranto hosts ILVA, the largest steel factory of Europe.

The factory is poisoning the entire city, though. Particularly, among the people who live in Tamburi, area attached to the factory, the average of those who suffer of cancer is higher than any other Apulia city. 

Some ILVA workers, fed up of seeing colleagues and relatives dying of cancer, have established the Comitato lavoratori e cittadini liberi e pensanti.  

The 2nd of August 2012, during a public meeting held in Taranto, the Comitato was denied the chance to deliver a speech.

As outcome, the Comitato broke through the assembly stopping the Union leaders’ speech, blamed of betraying the citizens and working class’s interests.

Actually,Taranto is going through difficult times: high unemployment, pollution and so on.

This is the reason for which so many Italian artists such as Caparezza, Marlene Kuntz, Mannarino, Subsonica and many others have accepted to come to Taranto and sing for free.

I pay huge respect to them.

The atmosphere yesterday was just great.

So many young people coming from not only Apulia, but from the rest of the country convened here to address a message: Taranto can change in better.

Taranto, a city founded by the Spartans, has an immense archaeological heritage.

Moreover, Taranto vecchia is just so beautiful and picturesque. 

Additionally, let’s not forget that Taranto is currently hosting hundreds of African people who have just crossed the Mediterranean.

Indeed, yesterday an asylum seeker from Gambia, invited by Mietta and Andrea Rivera on stage revealed: “I had a good life in my country. I was an English teacher. Then, I begun to be persecuted due to my opposition to the President of my country, who is a dictator. I teach English now, and play football with Hellas Taranto. I love you Taranto”.

The audience applauded enthusiastically.

I do not know how many people there were yesterday. 

However, I guarantee you that there we were a lot.

Riconversione mentale. Giustiza per Taranto      

Who rules Lecce?

Who rules Lecce?

This thorny question has been widely discussed on Thursday 30th April in Palazzo Nervegna, Brindisi.

The event is organised by the association SinP (Sociologia in Progress).

The opportunity is given by the recent book Il salotto invisibile. Chi ha il potere a Lecce? written by Valentina Cremonesini, Stefano Cristante and Mariano Longo, sociologists who teach at Università del Salento.

Beside the authors, it is invited the deputy mayor of Brindisi, Giuseppe Marchionna.

The moderator is Francesco Gioffredi, a young but sharp journalist who works for Nuovo Quotidiano di Puglia.

The mentioned book is the result of three years of work, where the researchers have used the typical methods of social research such as the interview.

In other words, this book portrays the perception of power of people who live in Lecce.

Valentina Cremonesini begins saying: “this work has been done by a team of researchers named <<smallville>>, which echoes the cult book Middletown, written bRobert Staughton Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, husband-and-wife sociologists".

She continues: “Lecce is a conservative city, which does not acknowledge different ways of doing things.

Let us see how Roberto Cingolani, innovative researcher in nanotechnology, has been treated in Lecce. He had to leave Lecce. Actually, Cingolany leads the CNR of Genoa.

“Of course” the sociologist adds: “this doesn’t imply just a bad connotation. Indeed, whereas Taranto and Brindisi have almost jeopardised their land due to the steel industry (Taranto) and chemical one (Brindisi), Lecce has preserved its territory by refusing any big and polluting factory”.

According to Stefano Cristante, this book is sparking debate in Lecce. Indeed, 10 articles of
newspapers have already been published because of the extreme importance of the topic.

He says: “In Lecce the warfare class has never taken place. Because of the lack of both working class and entrepreneurial bourgeoisie.”

Mariano Longo adds: “the law replaced the medieval relation between Lord and serfs. However, nowadays the patronage system is endemic in the south as well as in the whole country”.

Since after the II world war, the key sector of Lecce has been building industry.

Nevertheless, from the beginning of 2000, the local politicians devise a touristic future for Lecce, of which have benefit mainly the middle class by opening B&Bs.

The deputy mayor of Brindisi recalls the old times in which people of Lecce used to envy Brindisi due to its sparkling life. Now it is the opposite. Brindisi seems suffering of identity crisis.

Therefore, it’s needed a ruling class with a new vision for Brindisi.

For instance, I propose to stop car traffic in the city centre, leaving it to pedestrians and cyclists.

This would definitely enhance the appeal of Brindisi.