Sunday, October 30, 2011

Italian visit - part 2 - 'the old village'

The small community of Ghemme (current population: 4100) where I grew up during WWII, is famous since the 1300’s for his excellent red wine, which was served even to a few Popes. It’s a quiet little village located, in Italy’s north-west region of Piedmont, along the hills that are at the foot of the Italian Alps, on the other side of which is Switzerland.
[on main street, these buildings belonged to my ancestors]

Among its natives are my Mother and most of my maternal ancestors. A few of them were notable people, such a high level clergyman, a prominent medical doctor (my great-grandfather), and an English woman of noble descent (my grandmother’s aunt), who was ‘lady in waiting’ to Queen Victoria in London, and owner of the Isle of Caprera.

Ghemme is also the birthplace of a renowned architect: Alessandro Antonelli, who in the mid 1800’s planned the famous large cupola of the city of Turin, a landmark known as “La Mole Antonelliana”.
[the commemorative inscription at his birthplace]

[Turin's 'Mole']

He also designed the steeple of the main church in Ghemme, the size of which is equivalent to the one of a cathedral.
It’s a beautiful house of worship that dates back to the 1600’s, to which a crypt was added in memory of a teenager "Beata Panacea" that lived in the 1300’s. She was a pious shepherdess who was killed by her jealous stepmother, and was beatified for her miracles.
The traditional excellent wine of Ghemme is produced in the wine cellars ('cantine') located in the ancient, historical quarters of the village, dating back to medieval times. Here, each local wine producer (like it was my maternal grandfather) owns his own‘cantina’ where his product is stored.
This area, during harvest and production time is engulfed by the strong smell of crushed grapes, and the cantinas are open to visitors that can taste the varieties of wines, and enjoy some local cheese and breads for which Ghemme is also known, in addition to its production of honey.

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