Saturday, December 5, 2009

The flags that we use

We use the Canadian flag for a number of reasons. First, we see it as a symbol of the entire continent. Because we are so small in number, and are so spread out, localization is not practical as it is with some of the Camunian Folk Association (Associazione Gente Camuna) groups in a few European cities. In this way, people of Camunian descent, whether in Pennsylvania, Florida, California, or Quebec, can feel connected to our unique folk family concept. Other reasons include a symbol of Canada and it's huge land mass, which along with Alaska, make up most of the continent. Also, when looking at a the earth, it symbolizes the great white north in a sense.

We can view ourselves, beyond a regional or ethnic group, as a large family spread out over a vast land mass. We would like someone in Anchorage to feel just as connected to us as someone in Chicago. Let us think of the entire continent, from the Aleutian Islands to the Panama Canal, as possibly where our Euro-Camunian kindred may be living or working

The other flag over on the top left, is a modern colorized flag based on the symbol of the ancient city of "Cividate Camuna" from Roman times. The Romans, after conquering the region, formed administrative cities like this to tie them into the empire. It showed that the Romans clearly saw the Camonica Valley as a distinct region.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Camonica Club of North America

After a long, somewhat embarrassing, series of attempts at organizations and councils to facilitate something in the area of Lombardian/Brescian heritage in this part of the world, we have finally settled on the Camonica Club. Although we have stated this before, time will probably show that this was the one.

Our focus will be on, first Camunian heritage; and second on Brescian, Orobic (East Lombardian), Lombardian/Ticinese, original Austrian (the Langobard province of the Lombardy/Tri-Veneto/Trento region), Padanian, Alpine, and European heritage. This should also include our spiritual heritage: from the ancient Cernic tradition to the Ambrosian Rite.

It should be noted that Lombardi nel Mondo seems to have a regional council in North America, which is devoid of any type of outreach, or even an attempt at creating any interest in Lombardian heritage. There are also a few chapters of Pro Ticino (Ticinesi nel Mondo) in California, and Bergamaschi nel Mondo around the Toronto and Montreal areas, and perhaps a few others.

We would also like to make contact with Camunian cultural organizations and associations in Lombardia. We have have had some contact in the past, but we have probably confused them with our frequent organizational name changes. Hopefully that will clear up in short order.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Val Camonica Witch Trials

Val Camonica Witch Trials

The Val Camonica witch trials were two large witch trials which took place in Val Camonica in Italy, in 1505-1510 and 1518-1521. They were among the biggest Italian witch trials, and caused the deaths of about 60 persons, in each trial: 110 in total.

The best source for the trials is considered to be the Venetian Marin Sanudo, who was the chronicler to the Council of Ten from 1496 to 1536. The documentary evidence was destroyed by order of Giacinto Gaggia, the bishop of Brescia, to prevent it from being used by the anticlerical opposition.


Cernunnos (also Cernenus and Cern) is a pagan Celtic god whose representations were widespread in the ancient Celtic lands of western Europe. As a horned god, Cernunnos is associated with horned male animals, especially stags and the ram-horned snake; this and other attributes associate him with produce and fertility. Cernunnos is also associated mainly as the God of the Underworld.

Everything that we know about this deity comes from two inscriptions from France and one from Germany.

[Music: 'Butterfly' by Tapping the Vein; 'I Walk Alone' by Tarja Turunen; '(Theme From) Midnight Express' by Giorgio Moroder]

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The "Real Austria"

Today, the word "Austria" is used in the English-speaking world to more easily refer to the German-speaking country of Österreich. In fact, this term was first used, in the former nation of Langbard, as the name of the eastern sector of the nation.

From 'History of the Lombards', page 245, footnote 1 in regards to an Austria reference (Edward Peters): "This name was used to designate the eastern part of the Langobard kingdom, and was often mentioned in the laws of king Liutprand (Waitz). Its western boundary was the Adda, and the land west of that stream was called Neustria, which, with the third division, Tuscia, constituted the main kingdom immediately subject to the king, as distinguished from the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento."

All this is further confused as Österreich had it's heel firmly planted on "Austria" (Lombardy, Trentino, and the Veneto) many centuries later. The above flag is either the flag of the "Langobard Austria" or a flag of the Österreich occupation. It's likely the original, since the official flag for the occupied "Lombardo-Venetia" puppet state was a tan flag with an arms of both Lombardy and the Veneto on it. The double-headed eagle was used by many European cultures over the centuries.

[Above: The three states in Langbard proper. Neustria, Austria, and Tuscia. Yes, Tuscany was part of Langbard.]

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Lost Connection: California Ticinese and the Trentinese Resistance

One historical period, which literally ties many of us together on both sides of the ocean, was the Austrian occupation of the northeast Italian peninsula. This occupation did not end in 1860, but continued on in the Trentino through World War I. The Lombardian resistance, and later the Trentinese resistance, hid out in Ticino. It was naturally an ideal location for many reasons. First, it was the same culture and even the same Lombard dialect. Also, when you view history, "nobody messes with the bank." Nobody interferes with Switzerland, as history shows us. Not Napoleon, not the Hapsburgs, not the National Socialists, nobody.

In response, the Austrian army blockaded the southern borders of Ticino. This cut off many people from employment, supplies, trade, produce, etc. Back then, it was just heavy Alpine mountains to the north. No express trains. I don't know how long or how many times this blockade may have been in place between 1850 and 1930, the years of Ticinese emigration. It must have been a long time since the resistance movements were operating between 1848 and 1918.

[Above: Cesare Battisti, probably the most important figure of the Trentinese resistance]

This time period, although socially and politically long past, is only a blip on the historical scale. Some of us were alive when Cesare Battisti was hanged in Trento in 1916. For a few of us, our grandparents may have been alive during the Cinque Giornate Revolt in Milano in 1848. It's even possible that they were even living in those cities and witnessed it. The Trentinese, the Lombardians, the Venetians, and the Ticinese, are all one people at the end of the day. The following in an article from May, from the 'Sonoma Valley Sun' newspaper, which ties into this subject.

Swiss in Sonoma

George McKale - 'Sonoma Valley Sun' - May 22, 2009

There are two kinds of assumptions. In science, a theory is an assumption, and it is the basis for how one interprets data collected during a scientific study. With this kind of assumption, it is necessary to explicitly describe and declare the underlying assumption (theory) for the investigation. The other assumption is a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true without preponderance of the facts. It is this type of assumption one looks to avoid. In last weeks segment I made the second type of assumption stating that Fernando Nichelini was Italian, when in fact, as Walt Picchi, Nichelini’s great nephew has pointed out, he is Swiss. According to Picchi, Nichelini was extremely proud of his Swiss heritage. In restitution, I dedicate this segment to Florindo’s homeland.

Florindo’s father, Francisco, immigrated from Verscio, Switzerland, located in the Italian-speaking Canton Ticino, in 1870. The Swiss nation is a confederation of 26 states called cantons. Francisco settled just north of Sonoma at what is now the Moon Mountain Christmas Tree Farm. Once established, his son Florindo arrived in Sonoma County in 1880 at the age of twelve. The rugged Moon Mountain property reminded Francisco of his homeland. A deed dated September 4, 1920 indicates that the Nichelinis sold the Moon Mountain property in 1920. Two other deeds dating to 1906 and 1908 show Florindo purchasing land from both Joshua and Henry Chauvet in Glen Ellen. In the early 19th century, Switzerland was troubled with political and economic turmoil. Just to the south of Ticino was Italy, and Northern Italian nationalists operated out of Switzerland in their war for independence from Austria. Austria reacted by blocking the Italian-Swiss border, which curtailed commerce between the two nations. Ticinesi families residing in both Switzerland and Italy were no longer able to support their families, and many made the difficult decision to leave their homeland for the United States.

In the first half of the nineteenth century large numbers of Swiss settled in the mid-West. The gold rush brought thousands of Swiss immigrants to California. One of California’s most notable Swiss immigrants was Johann August Sutter (John Sutter), who founded Sutter’s Fort. He referred to the fort as Nueva Helvetia, meaning New Switzerland. Migration out of Ticino and into California began in earnest by the mid-nineteenth century. Of all Swiss immigrants to California, the greatest number came from Ticino. Between 1820 and 1930, 290,000 Swiss migrated to California.

Many of the Ticinesi rebuilt their family life known back in the old country. In northern California, Ticinesi settled on ranches in the Salinas Valley, West Marin, and throughout Sonoma County, forming full-scale colonies. Ticinesi women often married Ticinesi men. Prior to 1869, Swiss immigrants to California had to make a long and grueling journey by boat around the southern tip of South America. With the transcontinental railroad completed in 1869, it took around ten days to travel from the East Coast to the West. This also enabled Swiss immigrants to return for extended visits to the home land, with a ten-day trip by train and a three-week trip across the Atlantic by boat.

The Swiss immigrants did very well in California and were exceptional vintners and ranchers. They were able to send or bring money back to the home land, building larger houses and spurring the economy. In one Ticinesi town, they built a new cemetery with large stone monuments dedicated for those who had returned from California. Ira Cross in his 1927 “History of Banking in California” states, “Among the people of foreign nations who have settled in this country, none have been more worthy of success than those from Switzerland … They possess to a marked degree the innate qualities that go to make a people great in the truest sense.” Picchi stated that Florindo was still climbing windmills well into his eighties. A picture of Florindo at Nichelini’s Hardware on First Street West can be seen hanging at one of our local bars and eatery. Where? None other than the Swiss Hotel. Go have a drink and peruse the wonderful collection of old Sonoma photographs hanging on the walls.


This article has the quote that I had been looking for, which I had lost, regarding predominently the Ticinese immigrants. I suppose it reflected also the German-Swiss in California as well, whose history is also remarkable. The 290,000 number for immigrants from Ticino sounded very high. If that's true, then it changes my perception of their significance. Lastly, the Ticinse and the culture of southernmost part of the Graubünden canton (Grigioni) are Lombardian, as they speak the Lombard dialect.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Iron Crown to Ironwood II

As stated in the previous article (Iron Crown to Ironwood), the town of Hurley is on the west side of the Montreal River (Wisconsin), and bigger town of Ironwood is on the east side of the Montreal River (Northern Michigan). About 20% of Hurley's residents are "Italian," largely Lombardian. Although small, Hurley has had quite a reputation as a very rough town at the height of it's iron mining and lumberjack past.

[Above, left: A portion of the stripper joints along Hurley's main drag. The town is a pale shadow of the days in the 1920s and 1930s when Hurley was one of the most raucous places in the country.]

The following is an article from

Region: Ironwood & the Gogebic Range

Hurley Area

Today Hurley, Wisconsin, is a fairly placid place with a tourism-based economy. But it has nearly 30 bars, a rather unusual number for a town of 2,000. That's the only tip-off to Hurley's notorious past, unequaled in all the north woods. "Hurley, Hayward, and Hell," the saying went- though some people wonder if Cumberland shouldn't have been added to the list of lawless lumber towns. Three Hurley taverns at the bottom of Silver Street still have strippers.

Snowmobilers love Hurley because it's so snowy, so friendly, and so handy. Snowgoer magazine consistently rates it "best nightlife in the Midwest." The entire downtown is virtually on trail because the snowmobile trail is on the old railroad right of way. The railroad made Hurley boom in 1885 by connecting it with Ashland, Wisconsin, and its ore docks. The tracks ran right behind the north side of Silver Street.

"Throughout the Middle West, wherever lumberjacks and miners congregated, Hurley was known as the hell-hole of the range," stated Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State, the 1941 W.P.A. guide. "Even Seney, at its worst and liveliest, could not compete with the sin, suffering, and saloons that gave Hurley a reputation unrivaled from Detroit to Duluth."

From the beginning, Hurley was the wild, wide-open frontier town, in contrast to Ironwood just across the river, where mining companies based in Michigan reflected the more sober values of the eastern and Marquette interests that developed the Gogebic Range. The fledgling community of Hurley fought to preserve its autonomy by separating itself from more powerful and staid Ashland County, which it did in 1893. Hurley's elaborate courthouse with its impressive tower had already been built, in a prearranged deal.

Hurley's rough, crude past was the subject of Come and Get It (1934), a popular novel by Edna Ferber, the author of Show Boat, Giant, and Stage Door. She set it during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ferber stayed in town at the celebrated Burton House hotel, then in decline, and talked to many local people. She based the novel on fictionalized composite versions of an expansive lumber baron (said to reflect aspects of Escanaba lumber titan Bill Bonifas) and the celebrated Lotte Moore. Moore was "a well loved entertainer and lady of the evening," in the words of local historian Gene Cisewski. "In her day, the profession of high-class escort was not illegal. And when a woman carried herself with the proper comportment and discretion, the profession wasn't even frowned upon too seriously." Lotte was murdered in 1890, perhaps because she had witnessed a bank robbery.

In the sanitized but still enjoyable 1936 film version of Come and Get It, Lotta (played by Frances Farmer, now a cult figure, in her most noted role) reforms, marries, and has a daughter who marries the son of the lumberman who deserted her.

Ferber described the fictionalized Hurley as "a sordid enough town. . . , with all the vices and crudeness of the mining camps of an earlier day, but with few of their romantic qualities. Lumber and iron were hard masters to serve. A cold, hard country of timber and ore. . . . A rich and wildly beautiful country, already seared and ravaged. . . . Encircling the town were the hills and ridges that had once been green velvety slopes, tree shaded. Now the rigs and shafts of the iron mines stalked upon them with never a tree or blade of grass to be seen." Local people say that Come and Get It has little to do with the truth, but it's a good read and a memorable movie, often available through inter-library loan. Ferber, who was Jewish, did her research in Hurley but took offense to perceived local anti-Semitism, left town, and finished the novel at Bill Bonifas's cottage on Lake Gogebic.

A colorful true story from more recent times concerns a judge who ran a strip joint in which the stripper used a boa constrictor in her act. One fateful time she battered a heckling customer with it. Not long after that, the fire department got a call about a fire there, but arrived to find no smoke. Four or so hours later the place burned.

Hurley ignored all limitations on the sale of alcohol, up to and including Prohibition, passed in 1919. Stories of protracted conflicts between federal agents and local people are told during the Living History tour of Hurley taverns held during the Iron County Heritage Festival in late July and early August. For times, call (715) 561-5310 or look in at

The lower block of Silver Street dates from the Prohibition years, when a mining company decided to subdivide it and sell it off. Nearly 200 saloons, disguised as soda shoppes, lined downtown's streets. When Chicago gangsters established resorts and gambling rackets in northern Wisconsin mining and lumber towns, Hurley was a favorite place to relax and recreate. Al Capone never could figure out how to make inroads into Hurley's well-established business in illegal booze. He is said to have been a regular visitor; his brother Ralph ran several businesses in nearby Mercer and died in a Hurley nursing home.

Strip clubs are less artistically erotic and more crudely sexual than 50 years ago, and a small place like Hurley can't pay big-time performers. Compared to metro areas, local strip clubs are said to be tame. And patrons can't break the rules about physical contact, or the police will be called.

These Hurley bars stand out in terms of general interest:

• FREDDIE'S OLD-TIME SALOON and HALL OF FAME is full of sports memorabilia. The thick, bulletproof walls from Prohibition days aren't evident to visitors. 411 Silver St. (715) 561-5020.

• THE IRON NUGGET CASUAL FOOD & DRINK has a dining area that's a virtual museum of local iron mining. 404 Silver St. (715) 561-9800.

• MAHOGANY RIDGE feels like it's an original tavern from the 1890s, but it really dates from the early 1920s. Visually it's far and away the most striking of Hurley's taverns. The heavy, ornate back bar is said to have been carved by Scandinavians from the Keweenaw Peninsula. Said to get rowdy as the evening goes on, but it's a placid place in the daytime. (It opens at 9 a.m.) 29 Silver St. (715) 561-4414.

• Daytime pedestrians and sightseers may find more of interest at the HURLEY COFFEE COMPANY, a cheerful, light-filled coffeehouse and internet cafe with ice cream cones, soup and sandwiches, coffees and mugs, teas and teapots, cards and gifts. 122 Silver St. at Second/U.S. 1. (715)561-5500. Open 7 days from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Handicap accessible.


Actually, there are quite a few articles online about the Ironwood area, which, although small in population, is part of our history in America. It's also notable that the area is one of the chief centers of Finnish ancestry in America. Some of the names of the local towns in the Montreal River area strike me as interesting, like Rhinelander, Germania, or Tomahawk. Of course there are also all the regional names with "iron." I was thinking also of another remote connection, as our culture was a chief center of the "Iron Age," called the "Villanovan culture," which was based in Tuscany, Lombardy, and a little bit in the Veneto. The book 'Creed of Iron' is about Wotanism, and the old ways of our ancestors in that era. The Langobards called Wotan... "Godan," and that's a whole new subject. As you can see, there are so many connections here, literal, and spiritual. When you dive into a simple subject like this, it's amazing just how far you can go.

A few YouTube videos about the region:

Old family photographs in Ironwood

The Hiawatha of Ironwood

The Beauty of Lake Superior

Kayaking Montreal River canyon

Amazing Snowboarding at Big Powderhorn Mountain

Bad River Casino National Snocross Race - Ironwood, MI - Pt. 1

Finnish American Lives

The Finnish American Lives video is part of a documentary from 1982, which can be found here. Although we hear it probably too often about the Midwest, the Ironwood area is a very pure part of America. It did have a very rough reputation at one time however. Maybe a little bit like Deadwood, South Dakota.


8-23-09 Addition: I could almost make a third part to this series. I just wanted to note a few items and thoughts. When looking at a map of the region, I saw Green Bay, which is not all that far away. I have never been there, but it appears to me that it possesses the rugged charm of a small town, and a way of life probably not even much different than in the Ironwood area. There's so much history there, and I would like to look into further connections, past and present, in relation to what we're looking at here. There are just over 100,000 people in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It's probably best known for it's NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, named after the meat packing industry there. There is also a timeless element to the team, as one can easily vision the old Packer teams playing in the frost of winter, and images of Vince Lombardi on the sidelines, and all the other famous Packer players of the 60s. Vince Lombardi wasn't Lombardian, but was Neapolitan. On top of winning games, Lombardi was known for all those thought-provoking and challenging ideas about "life and winning."

Also noteworthy is the historical relationship between mining in the Montreal River area of Northern Michigan and Wisconsin, and the automotive industry in Detroit or Pontiac, Michigan. The mined metallic product is loaded onto ships and shipped east across Lake Superior and then south along Lake Huron to the various shipping ports. To show that these ocean-like lakes are not anything to be taken lightly, in 1975, one of these cargo freighters actually sank during a storm upon Lake Superior. It was called the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. It more than just sank, it was wrecked and the entire crew was lost.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chalet Ticino in Foster City

From the Chalet Ticino website:

Chalet Ticino - Swiss-Italian Restaurant

Established in the 1500's, Canton Ticino is located on the southeast border of Switzerland. Ticino brings the Mediterranean to the mountains and represents an enduring marriage between the competence of Switzerland and the culture of Italy. Italy manifests itself in Ticino's charm, architecture, and cuisine. Canton Ticino is part of the renowned 'Swiss Riviera'.

At Chalet Ticino we offer traditional and also innovated recipes inspired from the Italian, French and German regions of Switzerland. The blending of these influences is what gives the unique flavors found in Canton Ticino.

It is our mission to offer you delicious food, warm and friendly service and charming European ambiance. We are committed to having you, our guest, feel genuinely welcomed while you enjoy a rewarding dining experience. We look forward to getting to know you, and hope you enjoy our food and our company as well.

Owners: Nina and Alexander de Toth


I just wanted to add an interesting trivia fact. The word "canton" is from the Lombard dialect, and means region, territory, state, province, etc., and was adopted by the Swiss nation in reference to their distinct provinces.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Iron Crown to Ironwood

Lombardia, historically the land of the Iron Crown of the Langobards (and later Napoleon), and also known for iron mining in the Valle Camonica. For centuries the valley produced both the raw materials for armaments of war and their design. They did this for whichever government ruled over them, not the least of which was the thousand-year Venetian Empire.

Northern Michigan, also known for iron mining. Lots of it. Although the mining has waned, the place names remain. Iron Mountain, Ironwood, Ironwood Township, Iron River, Iron Belt, Iron Exchange Bank, Ironwood Ridge, and bordering Iron County, Wisconsin, just to give a few examples.

Lost in the history of this region is the fact that it attracted a somewhat sizable number of immigrants from Lombardia. Sizable at least in the percentage of the overall population in this rural region. I had always heard about "Northern Michigan," but the name didn't mean anything to me until I looked closely at a map, and could see that it was almost like a state onto itself, separated from the rest of Michigan by the great lakes. It's a rural area, much of it flatlands, heavily forested, and with a distinct pure northern feel to it. I think when people say the "north woods," they're probably talking about Northern Michigan. I recall looking at an old National Geographic magazine once, and seeing at least a part of this area which was extremely heavily wooded, with the huge tree trunks, mixed with rocky and lush mossy ground cover, and which reminded me of some parts of the wooded Sierra Nevada areas more than the Minnesota or Wisconsin-style wooded flatlands.

I can recall one time, on television, two Italian-Americans, both from one of the major northeast urban areas, referring to "Italians in Northern Michigan," jokingly as being "kind've different." As they laughed, this went right over my head at the time, and I thought that it merely meant that they were "rural people," as opposed to "city people." I suspect that they actually meant that they had visited the area, and found that those "Italians" struck them as being very different. More than mere "city versus country" would suggest. Different faces, different mannerisms. In fact, a different ethnic group.

One center of Lombardian settlement, in and around a century ago, was in
Ironwood, Michigan. Ironwood was a mining town founded in 1889. Its population today is only 6,293 (down from 10,000 in 1900), but it is the chief city in that particular part of Northern Michigan. I'm not going to do a profile on this city, as it would get me too much off track, but do take a look at the link, and of nearby "suburbs" like Hurley, Wisconsin, which is directly across the Montreal River from Ironwood in Iron County. The main business strips of these cities remind me of Calistoga, California, or even Petaluma, as far as architecture and old simple beauty. Of course, with a northern flavor to them.

"Ironwood" is also a forest in Norse mythology, from the Poetic Edda, and likely named this due to the large Scandinavian-American population. This also is a remote connection with Lombardia. Another connection is the St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Ironwood, founded in the 1890s, and of the distinctly Lombardian "Ambrosian Rite" of Catholicism, and which is also referred to as the "Milanese Rite."

A excerpt from the Ironwood Wikipedia page under History: "Iron ore was found in the area in the 1870s but it wasn't until the mid 1880s when the arrival of the railroad to the area opened it for more extensive exploration of the vast iron ore deposits. Soon several mines were discovered and opened such as the Norrie mine, Aurora mine, Ashland mine, Newport mine, and Pabst mine. The opening of the mines and the lumber works in the area led to a rapid influx of immigrants both from other parts of the USA and directly from Europe (mainly Sweden, Germany, England, Italy, Poland, Finland)."

Another excerpt from this page under Demographics: "The ancestral makeup of the population were 24.7% Finnish, 17.0% German, 14.8% Italian, 12.6% Polish, 10.4% English and 9.5% Swedish." Anything here under the title of "Italian" is largely Lombardian or similar cultures. A region populated by Germanic or Germanic-influenced peoples, and in a landscape and climate which is very "northern."

The following is from an article entitled 'Ethnic Life in the South Shore Region', which is the region south of the massive Lake Superior. Take a peek at the above link, at the gallery. Like with so many subjects, I wish I could do this more justice, so to speak. There's so much history here. Those Great Lakes are accessable to the Atlantic Ocean, I think, as we can see photographs of ship traffic in them. While poking around Wikipedia in preparation of this article, I looked at the page for Duluth, Minnesota, which is right on the eastern shore of Lake Superior, and in the images there was one beautiful old image of one of those old passenger ships, like the Titanic, coming into the Duluth harbor at twilight. If you didn't know where it was, you would swear it was any ocean port. The immigrants may have even made their way to Northern Michigan mining communities, like Ironwood, by ship.

"Ethnic Life in the South Shore Region

By Greta Swenson

The term “ethnic identity” is used today to describe a feeling of shared heritage and cultural expression found among groups who have migrated and resettled in a “New Land.” In northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Croatian, Slovakian, Czech, Polish, Russian, Italian, Cornish, Irish, German, Lithuanian, and other peoples came to the area to reestablish their families, communities, and churches just before and after the turn of the century. Settlement days along the South Shore of Lake Superior were like a bustling League of Nations, freshly organized and economically booming.

The settlers brought with them and developed a rich ethnic history in the region. But the rich, diverse cultural life brought by the early settlers did not end with that history. Those cultures interacted, intermarried, and adapted to the economic and climatic necessities of the northern winters. They transmitted their traditions to the succeeding generations. Today in the South Shore region, ethnic expression is a part of everyday life. We can see indications of that life on the streets, in the grocery stores, and in other public forums. Private means of expressing who we are, are also part of ethnic life in the South Shore region. This life is expressed in a variety of ways. In order to explore the ethnic life of the region, we will first take a look at the settlement days.


European presence along the South Shore of Lake Superior began with the voyageurs and missionaries as early as 1659. Settlement of the land and towns in this region, however, did not occur until a period from 1840 to 1920, during the second large wave of immigration to the United States. People migrated to the South Shore region, as to other parts of the country, because of the need for labor and raw materials to support the rapid industrial expansion taking place in the United States. They left their old homes because of a lack of land, work, or idealogic freedom in many of the European countries.

These two urges opened wide the gates of passage from Scandinavia and Eastern and Southern Europe to “New Worlds.” The first large group of new immigrants to come to the region were the Cornish. They were recruited to work in the mines of the Copper Country in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When those mines opened in the 1850s and ‘60s, experienced Finnish copper miners working in Norway were also recruited and imported by the mining companies. Following company recruitment, immigration to the mines increased rapidly. Building of the railroad for shipment of the ore was one reason for the increased migration.

In addition, immigrants wrote “American letters” to family and friends in the Old Country and other parts of North America, telling them work was available and providing an address to which to come. The Cornish and Finns ere followed by Scandinavians, Italians, Slavic groups from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germans, and several other groups seeking work. Many of these immigrants to the region had already migrated to North America and were working elsewhere. Twenty years later, the Gogebic Iron Range mines opened up, beginning full production when the railroad was completed to the Ashland, Wisconsin docks in 1884.

At the same time, lumber companies were cutting northern Wisconsin’s an the Upper Peninsula’s white pine forests in order to supply building material to the mining operations and to the rest of the rapidly expanding young nation. In the 1890s, brownstone quarries opened along the South Shore. Work was abundant; the region was booming. Ashland, Wisconsin, in 1900, had a population of 13,000, its waterfront included approximately 11 ore docks, 13 to 18 sawmills, a pulp mill, and a blast furnace. By World War I, the timber had been “cutover” – nothing but stump acreage remained of the giant white pine forests.

Agricultural settlement in the area was then actively encouraged by several agencies, including lumber companies, the state governments, and private land investors. New groups of migrants came to the region to work the land. Advertisements, such as this one of the James Good Land Company in Ashland, Wisconsin, were published in ethnic language newspapers printed in the United States. This particular advertisement was published in the Czech language and widely circulated throughout the United States. Slovaks and Czech-speaking Bohemians who were working in the coal mines in Oklahoma, or slaughterhouses in Iowa, saw an opportunity to own their own land and headed north.

They settled the community of Moquah, Wisconsin, southwest of Ashland. Others did the same: advertisements were also circulated in Polish, Hungarians, Croatian, Finnish, and the Scandinavian languages. The boom continued. After strikes in the Minnesota and Michigan iron mines in 1907, 1913, and 1917, Finns, Croatians, and others left the mines and moved out to the stump acreage to settle the land of the South Shore region. This sign from one of Ashland, Wisconsin’s early banks reflects the rich ethnic diversity of those early boom years along the South Shore. It also reflects the major motivation for migration to the area: opportunity to economically better ones and one’s family’s condition.

“We can send money to the Old Country” the sign proclaims in Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Slovak, German, Hungarian, and Russian. Life in the booming frontier area was multicultural. The settlers brought with them their diverse languages, religions, foods, and customs. People bonded together for mutual support, mingling with their neighbors. Societies like this Italian group were formed or mutual benefit and to supply social interaction. Most groups soon established a church, organized according to language and culture. In 1907 in Calumet, Michigan, for instance, six Catholic churches were active: Polish, Italian, Slovenian, Croatian, French, and one general.

In Ashland, Wisconsin, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Swede-Finnish, and English Lutheran churches has also been organized. Several ethnic language newspapers were published in the region during those early years, providing the settlers a contact with others of their group throughout the world. In the public arena, the rich cultural diversity of the region’s settlement days contributed to entertainment. Members of the Swedish Glee Club celebrated Midsummer’s Day with a picnic, while Moquah residents formed a Slovak Dance group, and members of the Croatian Fraternal Union played tamburitza music.

At home, more private expressions of ethnic identity can be traced through the words of settlers. Oral histories, diaries, songbooks, and newspaper articles reveal active ethnic identities among the settlers. Evidence of home-centered expressions of cultural roots can also be found in museums – a krumkake iron from a Norwegian woman’s kitchen, or a collection of Swedish wood carvings from someone’s living room. Family celebrations, such as weddings and funerals, varied from group to group, but were also mixed, as people began to marry into different cultures.

Regional Mixture

Ethnic groups settled often in enclaves – a large Finnish population, for instance, in the township of Oulu, Wisconsin, or Italian families in “The Flats” between Ironwood, Michigan and Hurley, Wisconsin. Both at work and at play, however, people did rub elbows with their neighbors. Musicians in the various communities, for instance, traded tunes and instruments. Folklorist Jim Leary described the life of one musician as “How a Pole learned a German tune from a Norwegian accordionist while playing an Italian instrument at a Swede’s tavern.” Ethnic expression along the South Shore was a part of everyday life for the settlers. They practiced their own traditions, and learned new ones from their neighbors. This diverse mixture of ethnic traditions is visible in the region today.

Current Life-Public

Some very public indicators of the current ethnic life along the South Shore exist today. Signs such as that for Koski Korners outside of Marquette, Michigan, or the several public saunas in the city, indicate immediately to the causal observer that segments of a Finnish heritage are still active in the community. The churches remain as landmarks to the ethnic neighborhoods, and in some cases indicate the unique mixture of ethnic religion with regional economy, as does this copper-domed synagogue in the Upper Peninsula’s copper country. Some ethnic halls and societies are yet active, other, as one Swedish-Finn put it, are no longer necessary, since insurance companies have replaced them.

Musicians, older and younger, are still active in the region. Art Moilanen still plays Finnish polkas and schottisches in Mass City, Michigan every Saturday night. In the Bohemian and Slovak settlement of Moquah, Wisconsin, entertainment at an annual hunters’ ball is provided by a local band, the Polka-Teers. Members of this band are of Slovak, Croatian, and Polish descent. They play music from each of those cultures, as well as more modern pieces from artists like Johnny Cash, and a Finnish schottische now and then. Records stores carry current ethnic artists, and local jukeboxes may feature Croatian, Finnish, or Italian numbers.

If you walk into a grocery store in Ashland or Hurley, Wisocnsin; Ironwood, Hancock, or Marquette, Michigan, just before Christman, you will be greeted with a sign such as this in Ironwood’s Jack’s Food Store. Holidays are a special time for many ethnic groups, and no Swede, Norwegian, or Finn would be caught celebrating Christmas Eve without lutfisk. Other items in the grocery store are surprising to the casual observer only because they are not in specialty sections. Swedish headcheese, or sylta, is next to the bologna. In the Italian area of Ironwood-Hurley, shelves are lined with pasta. Bakeries feature such items as Scandinavian “toast,” or rusks, and Finnish breads.

Finnish restaurants feature Cornish pasties, a regional symbol of the settlement mixture. As one resident of the Upper Peninsula once commented about the pasty, “They were brought by the Cornish, made edible by the Finnish, but the best ones made around here now are made by an Italian.” Down the road, Billy Trolla, a second-generation Italian grocer, caters to the special needs of second-, third-, and fourth-generation Italian families. Community events nearly always involve some sort of ethnic expression in the South Shore region, whether Croatian cabbage rolls are served at a wedding, or Italian-American communities. The Swedish Lutheran Church in Ashland, Wisconsin each year celebrates St. Lucia Day before Christmas, and Finnish communities in the region stage annual Johannus, or Midsummer’s, celebrations.

Current Life-Private

While there are visible landmarks and customs which tell us about an active ethnic life along the South Shore, it is inside people’s homes – in their kitchens, attics, daily rituals – that the ethnicity of the region is most expressed. Private expressions in the daily lives of area residents have been passed along, sifted out, and chosen as favorites symbols of ethnic identity. No tradition is so strongly continued in the ethnic homes as are those of food. If we peek into the kitchen of Irene Lunda Novak, a Czech-speaking Moravian from the Moquah, Wisconsin community, we will likely find her baking special sweet breads and kolache to have on hand for coffee time. Irene learned to make kolache from her mother, as did her sister, Agnes.

They now make them differently from each other, but, as Agnes says, “They taste the same.” Rose Tody Kriskovich, who lives only a few miles from the Novaks, is of Croatian descent. What Rose pulls out of the freezer when visitors stop in at coffeee time is strudel made from a distinctive “stretch dough” her mother used. Here her niece, Marilyn McKay, learns to prepare the strudel the way Rose did – by helping. Rose Stella Longhini’s parents migrated to Ironwood, Michigan from the Abruzzi region of Italy. From her mother, Rose learned to prepare varieties of Italian pastries and “cookies,” items she prepares and stores in her freezer, so they are always “on hand.”

Agnes Raspotnik Oreskovich, of Slovenian descent, cuts a different pastry for the coffee plate: a rolled walnut bread called “potica.” Scandinavian-Americans in Hancock, Michigan may prepare rosettes, while Polish-Americans in Ashland, Wisconsin spend a great deal of time and effort making pierogi for special occasions. But, food isn’t the only private form of expressing one’s ethnic heritage. Once we set food inside Irene Novak’s kitchen, we will discover more non-public symbols of her identity in other parts of her home. In addition to special kitchen utensils used to prepare Czech sweet breads, Irene has safely kept away in a truck hand-embroidered headdresses sent to her by her cousins in Moravia when she was a girl.

In the home of Agnes and Joe Oreskovich will be found representative hand-crafted items from Yugoslavia. Mrs. Norman Burnside include in her decor symbols of her Norwegian ancestry, while Vern and Naima Sandstrom proudly display a symbol of their multiple identities: Swedish, Finnish, and American flags. Another symbol of their ethnic identities is hidden away in the basement: the ever-present Finnish sauna. Ethnic life in the region stems from the settlers’ rich, diverse cultural heritages, heritages which also have mingled together to produce distinctive regional expressions. Past and present, public and private, traditional and adapted, the diversity of those ethnic expressions adds a uniqueness to life in the South Shore region.


Produced by Special Student Programs
Northland College
Ashland, Wisconsin 54806

Script by Greta E. Swenson

Visuals by Sue Ellen Smith, James P. Leary and Greta E. Swenson

Funded with a grant from the Ethnic Heritage Studies Program
U.S. Department of Education, directed by Stuart Lang.

Narrated by Cynthia Soucheray-Luoma

Music by Ray Maki, Olavi Winturri, Bill Hendrickson, The Voyageurs, George Noisianen, Jerry Novak, St. Mary's Russian Orthodox Church, Gogebic Range Tamburitzans, Rose Swanson & Friends, Art Moilanen, Saron Lutheran Church, Tom Marincel, Bruno Synkula, and the Bethany Swedish Baptist String Band.

This program is a result of hospitality extended by the people and organizations of the South Shore region."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


[originally posted by Insubria87]

Italy woman Europe's 1st astronaut

Air force pilot Samantha Cristoforetti makes history

May 20, 2009

(ANSA) - Rome, May 20 - Italy got its first woman astronaut Wednesday when a 32-year-old Italian Air Force pilot became the European Space Agency's first female pick.

Samantha Cristoforetti, 32, an air force lieutenant with an engineering degree and a passion for scuba diving, was among the six new members of ESA's astronaut team.

''It's hard to say what I'm feeling, even in Italian,'' said Cristoforetti, who speaks several languages. ''Space flight has always fascinated me,'' she told a packed press conference in Paris.

''I feel lucky to be here,'' she added, thanking all those who supported her through a final year of gruelling training.

''I think we're going to be a good team,'' Cristoforetti said of the ESA flight force whose numbers have been boosted from ten to 16.

Another Italian, 33-year-old air force test pilot Luca Parmitano, was among the happy six.

''It's an incredible moment,'' he said, thanking his parents and wife ''without whom I don't think I would ever have been able to reach this goal''.

The final selection from thousands of aspiring space cadets was announced by ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and personnel chief Simonetta Di Pippo.

A Milan native, Cristoforetti attended scientific lycee' in Trento before getting a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Munich.

She graduated from Italy's Aeronautical Academy in 2005.

Cristoforetti speaks fluent German, English and French and has a good working knowledge of Russian.

As well as scuba diving, she lists her hobbies as reading, yoga, swimming, skiing, mountain biking and caving. The six new astronauts were selected from some initial 9,000 applicants from ESA's 17 member nations.

ESA launched its recruitment drive last year, its biggest since 1992, to boost the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in light of new projects, especially at the International Space Station (ISS).

Two of ECA's team are already Italian, Roberto Vittori and Paolo Nespoli, who are both set for more spells aboard the ISS in the near future.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Camuni nel Mondo

Camunian Clan USA

A social, cultural, and heritage organization for Camunian descendants who live in the USA






Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bresciani nel Mondo

Brescian Circle USA

A social, cultural, and heritage organization for Brescian descendants who live in the USA






Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lombardi nel Mondo

Lombardian-American Alliance

Statement of Purpose

The LAA is an umbrella group for any association which promotes Lombardian heritage and culture in the USA. Lombardian culture is from the former sovereign nation, and current region of Lombardia in Italy; as well as the canton of Ticino and the three southern portions of the canton of Graubunden, both in Switzerland.

You may contact us if you are a representative of any group or institution which you believe should be placed on our list. Again, they must be American and very specifically dedicated to promoting Lombardian heritage and culture.

Note: The term "Lombard" refers to the ancient Germanic tribe. Therefore the proper English language term for anything of Lombardia is "Lombardian." We merely ask for the same distinction as there is between the ancient "Etruscans" and modern "Tuscans." Thank you.

Related American Heritage Organizations








Contact Information





Related Links

Lombardian Related Clubs

Chicago-Milan Sister City Committee [Lombardi nel Mondo]
c/o Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Lombardian-American Alliance - Northern California
P.O. Box [coming soon]
Brisbane, CA 94005

Milan Club
7306 20th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11204

Pro Ticino Nord California
P.O. Box 330129
San Francisco, CA 94133

Pro Ticino Sud California
[info needed

Miscellaneous Lombardian Related

Giovanni's [formerly Franzi's Italian-Swiss Deli]
1390 North McDowell Blvd.
Petaluma, CA 94952
Deli & Catering (recommended)

Cheda Chevrolet
11225 State Route No. 1
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Chevrolet Dealer (unreviewed)

Regions and Sub-Regions of Lombardia and Lombardian Switzerland

Bergamo, Brescia, Brianza, Valle Camonica, Como, Cremona, Sud Grigioni, Lecco, Lodi, Mantova, Milano, Monza, Pavia, Sondrio, Ticino, Valtellina, and Varese.

Lombardian Related Media

  • The Lombard Laws [book]
  • History of the Lombards [book]
  • Town and Country under Fascism [book]
  • Family and Public Life in Brescia, 1580-1650 [book]

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lombardian-American Community

The Lombardian-American Alliance blog has been merged into the PAL blog. All postings have been integrated by date, and the separate LAA blog will be closing. The LAA will remain active through the PAL blog.

The reason is that it is not necessary to have entirely separate web infrastructure for every project. It saves on a lot of time and effort, which would be better directed at community development. In other words, we already have a forum voice here.

The national council and a planned sponsorship will be put on hold, but the LAA concept will continue on. I know that we've bounced all around on this subject, but hopefully this will be permanent, and we can all just move forward under the PAL banner. Additionally, there will be three separate sub-projects under the LAA. The Brescian Circle USA, and the Camunian Clan USA, both active through the PAL blog.

Lastly, naturally we welcome other Lombardian circles into the LAA community. Also, in a greater PAL scheme of things, we want to connect with ties from all North Italian communities, and from all over the world. If you think that there's an aspect of history or the American experience that should be covered here, send your own posting so we can put it up. This is a forum for all related communities. Thank you.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Italian Swiss is Lombardian

We've covered this area a number of times, but not specifically. Anything "Italian Swiss," or "Svizzera Italiana," is from the Lombardian culture. In other words, any time we hear it, it's in reference to our culture. Our people.

In rural areas, the Lombard dialect can be spoken without any stigma, as there is in Italy. A time, not really long ago, everyone in Lombardia and Lombardian Switzerland spoke the Lombard dialect. Actually, it's the Lombard language, with a Western Lombard dialect.

On the Wikipedia webpage called "Linguistic geography of Switzerland," we can see maps of the language distribution of Switzerland. We can see the canton of Ticino, and east of it the canton of Graubünden (Grigioni). Three separate southernly parts of Graubünden speak the Lombard language. In Graubünden, an ancient form of Latin called "Romansh" is spoken, as it is in certain parts of northeast Italy. This language goes back to the Roman province of Raetia, which encompassed a part of what is now northeast Italy and up to Bavaria and Swabia. We can cover this subject at a later time.

Ticinese is the language, people, and culture of Ticino. In this video, people in Ticino are asked what language they speak? Only the second to the last woman seems to mention "Lombardo" as her language.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Swiss Chard Bruscetta

Someone from the Pacific Coast Farmer's Market Association gave me this recipe this morning, so I thought I might add it here, as it appears to be of basically Ticinese origin (modified with the feta).

Swiss Chard Bruscetta

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 8 ounces Swiss chard, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
* 2 tablespoons water
* Salt and pepper
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
* 6 slices French bread, cut diagonally 3/4-inch thick, toasted
* 1/2 cup torn arugula or small arugula leaves
* 2 ounces garlic-and-herb feta cheese or plain feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

In a large skillet or wok heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil; stir-fry Swiss chard over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add water and cook 2 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine the 1 tablespoon oil and the vinegar, set aside. To serve, divide chard among the pieces of toast. Drizzle with the oil-and-vinegar mixture. Top with arugula and feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

Pacific Coast Farmer's Market Association
5056 Commercial Circle, Suite E
Concord, CA 94520

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bresciani nel Mondo - Northern California changes it's name, approach

Bresciani nel Mondo - Northern California has changed it's name to the Lombardian-American Alliance - Northern California. This is part of an effort to move towards the idea of a Tuscan American Association type of national organization. For further reading: 'From Bresciani nel Mondo to Lombardian-American Alliance.'

Saturday, March 28, 2009

From Bresciani nel Mondo to Lombardian-American Alliance

After much careful thought, we're changing our approach in this endeavor. "Bresciani nel Mondo - Northern California" was to be a very small group, and partly to encourage the idea of a worldwide Bresciani nel Mondo. However, we believe that it would be much more pragmatic to focus on the Lombardi nel Mondo concept, which would appeal to a larger group of people here locally, and in this country.

Lombardi nel Mondo is a worldwide association for people of Lombardian decent. Their linkup heritage groups are on five continents. In Argentina, there are many Lombardian groups, all over that country. However, in North America, the Chicago-based committee leaves a whole lot to be desired. They make almost no attempt to reach out to those who share their own heritage. Unless they don't really want to reach out to Americans, in which case: "why are they even here in the first place??" They have a very strange website, which 1) is only in Italian; 2) is offline most of the time; 3) is very difficult to navigate; and, 4) changes it's URL every few months. For this North American regional committee: the official languages here (N. America) are English, Spanish, and French. I think, but I'm not positive, that they're funded by the region of Lombardia. I don't get it. What are they trying to accomplish here?

One model for the Lombardi nel Mondo groups, is that they have two groups in one. Lombardi nel Mondo and, for example, Bergamaschi nel Mondo. I think for us here, we need to stick with one name, and that being with the larger quasi-ethnic group. Also, we're hyphenating it to "Lombardian-American." There are, for example, Sicilian clubs with this hyphenation, as they consider themselves, or it's at least put it out there, the concept of a separate ethnic group "Sicilian-American." Of course, they would outnumber us ten, or twenty to one in this country. It would be to our advantage to promote the concept of "Lombardian-American." A Lombardian-American should be a European-American of Lombardian or Italian Swiss decent. Therefore, for example, a person with connections to "The Hill" in St. Louis, with Sicilian and Lombardian roots, may consider themselves a "Lombardian-American." Or, Irish, Polish, Greek, etc., you get the point.

We would still like to associate with "our" (?) regional continental committee, but we don't really need to. It's a little embarrassing that we had set up some blueprints for networking that have quickly become defunct (ex-Camunari Circle - San Francisco Metro). The idea, as it now stands, is to form a national Lombardian-American Alliance, with a Lombardian National Council made up of regional leaders and other important individuals (ex-a professor). This may exist in thought-form only for now. A blueprint. Here, of course, we will be renamed to the "Lombardian-American Alliance - Northern California." Part of our goal is to facilitate this organizing process.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bresciani nel Mondo - Northern California: Official Website

Bresciani nel Mondo - Northern California now has a new official website. This blog will remain the active arm of the association however. We would like fit into the landscape of the Padanian-American League, Lombardi nel Mondo - Area Nord America, and the Lombardian American Alliance.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Radetzky March

From Wikipedia: "Radetzky March

"Radetzky March, Op. 228 is a march composed by Johann Strauss Sr. in 1848. It was dedicated to the Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, and became quite a popular march among soldiers.

"When it was first played, in front of Austrian officers in attendance, they promptly clapped and stomped their feet when the chorus was played. This tradition is carried over today when the march is played in classical music venues in Vienna, among members of the audience who are familiar with the tradition. It is almost always played as the last piece of music at the Neujahrskonzert, the Vienna New Year Concert.

"Despite its military nature, its tone is rather festive than martial, in accordance with its dedicatee's exuberant personality and popularity in the ballroom as well as the battlefield. It is usually played in under three minutes.

"Radetzky March consists of three main parts:

"* The introduction: The whole orchestra plays here and the brass section plays the melody.
* The first figure: This is played by the string section.
* At figure two, the whole orchestra plays until figure three when it repeats back to the D.S. (first figure.)
* The trio: This is played by the brass section and the trumpet plays three triplets in the last bars of the trio.
* Figure five: The whole orchestra plays here.
* Figure six: The whole orchestra plays here and then repeats back to figure 5.
* The orchestra plays on the last bar.
* They go back to the D.C. (beginning).
* They play until figure three; and the piece finishes with the Fine ("end") bar -- i.e., the direction is Da capo al fine (repeat from beginning up to the word fine).

"Popular culture

"Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles. (March 2009)

"* Danish football club AGF Aarhus play the Radetzky March in their stadium every time a goal is scored by the home team.
* The 1932 book Radetzky March by Joseph Roth, depicting several generations of a military family in the last period of Austria-Hungary was inspired by the Strauss music.
* The march plays an important role in several armies around the world, and its presence demonstrates the influence that Austria made in the countries whose armies play it. Chile's Army's Officers' Academy "General Bernardo O'Higgins" plays the Radetzky March because of the system imposed in it by German officers in the between world wars era. Radetzky is one of the central parts of any of their ceremonies.
* In the film Battle Royale, the teacher Kitano plays the Radetzky March during his first report.
* In the film Werckmeister Harmonies, the march is played in two consective and constrating scenes; first, when Valuska visits Tünde and the drunken police chief, who are dancing to it, and in the following scene, when Valuska attempts to put the police chief's children to bed.
* In the TV series The Prisoner, the march is a notable part of the repertoire of the Village band.
* It was the theme song of the Finnish children's programme Pelle Hermanni, this version was played with a barrel organ.
* The song is played on all El Al flights prior to take-off.
* In Back to School, Mr. Bean, the Radetzky March is played over a horn speaker at the beginning of the episode, with a group of cadets marching.
* On Aristocrat Slot Machines[dubious – discuss], the introduction is played when a jackpot is won."

Further reading:

The Radetzky March (within the context of the Austrio-Hungarian or Happsburg Empire)

Cinque Giornate Revolt (Five Days Revolt in Milan - 1848)

I am not certain as to whether or not this march was composed before or after the Milanese revolt in 1848. It makes little difference, as it was in reference to Radetzky's army marching and conquering Lombardo-Venetia. It is frequently stated that "Italians hate the Radetzky March," which is understandable up to a point. I would think that it would only really be offensive to those of Lombardian, Tri-Venetian, and Trentinese descent. I don't even know if "offensive" is the word, but I do think that we should always be aware of this time period, which is really just one bleep within a historical perspective. We are as close as one or two great-grandparents away from this event. I guess it's possible that someone alive today could have had a grandparent who was alive during this time. That's amazing in of itself! The Brescians also had a big revolt against Radetzky's Happsburg army. The Ten Days Revolt during the same year, and was also victorious (but for only one year). I think that the march has transcended it's original meaning, and is used all over the world. It should be noted that the Venetians had their heel on the Dalmatian coast for a long time, just as the Austrians later had theirs on Lombardo-Venetia. It appears that Venetian colonies down along the eastern Adriatic coast to parts of Greece, were granted a little more political and economic inclusiveness, and less brutality (although the Venetians were brutal at times).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Loose Ends: Valcamonica, Cernunnos, Wicca, Druids, and the Pentagram

We have covered some of the undeniable history of traditions of witchcraft in the Valle Camonica, and there are more areas to look at. This may not follow any consistent pattern, as we're tying in a number of related loose ends into one entry.

The above video is from the YouTube channel VeraMajestic, and is called 'Wicca vs Satanism.' It covers the issue well I think (3-2-12: this video was changed due to VeraMajestic closing her YouTube account). Wicca probably originated with the Celts, and goes back far before Christianity. A native European tradition. Intrinsically, there is nothing "Satanic" about Wicca/Witchcraft. Starting in the twentieth century, there exists some problems with undue influence in the "Wiccan Revival," with Illuminist type people infiltrating. However, the exact same thing has occurred in some areas of Christianity, and most other religions, as we have painfully seen in recent times. Also, it should be noted that the word "occult" merely means "hidden," and really has no meaning beyond that. It literally goes back to the idea of anything non-Christian being labeled "Occult!" For example, "He got involved in the occult!," has no meaning. Either he got involved in something specific, or not. Also, being called a "heathen" was once a major accusation, when it merely means something "non-Christian." An "infadel" if you will. The most important fact is that virtually all religions and faiths have had undue (mainly Illuminist) influence, and it certainly is a problem; but it's not just pagans. In fact, ironically, Wiccans have done a far better job of weeding out this negative influence than Christians have.

Following the lead of the video, I would like to cover the Pentagram, or also known as the Pentacle. It's basically a "Celtic Star Pentagon" (pentagon = 5 points). Satanists/Illuminists take already existing symbols and contort them to reflect the "evil side." As shown in the video, a Christian Cross, when put upside down, symbolizes Satanism. Nobody believes that the original cross is evil merely based on the fact that it can be turned upside down at any time.

The Pentagram goes back, probably with the Celts, thousands of years. Long before Christianity. It's is not at all Satanic... unless it's turned with one point downward into a "goat's head," at which time it does become a Satanic symbol, but not until. Now the above image probably isn't the best one to use because it's red and gives the wrong impression. A traditional non-Satanic/Celtic Pentagram is usually black I think.

I also wanted to at least mention Cernunnos, Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, Celtic polytheism, Celtic mythology. Unfortunately, these bring up many false images to most people. Lets separate a little fact from fiction. Some areas, both in the Middle Ages in Europe, and in the early American colonies (Salem witch trials), were exaggerated in their scope. In other areas, it wasn't. The persecution of other forms of Christianity and Protestantism were probably far more brutal. For example, the attacks on the Cathars or the Waldensians. What was not exaggerated was the elimination and demonization of the Wiccan and Druid traditions.

From Wikipedia: "Cernunnos is a pagan Celtic god whose representations were widespread in the ancient Celtic lands of western Europe. As a horned god, Cernunnos is associated with horned male animals, especially stags and the ram-horned snake; this and other attributes associate him with produce and fertility." What has to be understood is that this was from ancient pre-Christian Europe. Fertility, the success of crops, the weather, etc., were of utmost importance. From what I have been able to gather, it was usually deer antlers that men wore.

From Wikipedia: "Archaeological sources such as inscriptions and depictions from Gaul and Northern Italy (Gallia Cisalpina) have been used to define Cernunnos. ...... Several images without inscriptions are thought to represent Cernunnos. The earliest known probable depiction of Cernunnos was found at Val Camonica in Italy, dating from the 4th century BC, while the best known depiction is on the Gundestrup cauldron found on Jutland, dating to the 1st century BC. The Cauldron was likely to have been stolen by the Germanic Cimbri tribe or another tribe that inhabited Jutland as it originated from south east Europe."

I'm only briefly going into Cernunnos, as it's involved and may confuse the issues. What is amazing is that related occult traditions, like Cernunnos, go back thousands of years in the Camunian Valley.

From Wikipedia: "Neopaganism

"In Wicca and derived forms of Neopaganism a Horned God is revered, a divinity which syncretises a number of horned or antlered gods from various cultures, including Cernunnos. The Horned God reflects the seasons of the year in an annual cycle of life, death and rebirth.

"In the tradition of Gardnerian Wicca, the Horned God is sometimes specifically referred to as Cernunnos, or sometimes also as Kernunno.

"Modern Druidry, which derives from Celtic culture, honors Cernunnos in his ancient Celto-European form as the guardian of the forests, the defender of the animal tuatha (tribes), the source of the deep forest wisdom, and the masculine half of creative energy. His restorative work in the cycle of the year is particularly celebrated at Beltaine, and is often paired with one or another of the female deities in her maiden aspect. Druids may call upon him in reference to vital, non-violent masculine divinity."

Celtic polytheism, "sometimes known as Celtic paganism, refers to the religious beliefs and practises of the ancient Celtic peoples of western Europe prior to Christianisation" (Wikipedia). Also, Celtic mythology "is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, apparently the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure" (Wikipedia). Lastly, Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism "is a polytheistic, animistic, religious and cultural movement. It is an effort to reconstruct and revive, in a modern Celtic cultural context, pre-Christian Celtic religions" (Wikipedia).

It should also be noted that the old Greek and Roman deities were exchanged with Northern European traditions, which is too confusing to go into now. Also, don't be afraid to go to YouTube and look some of these things up. It doesn't mean that you're becoming a Druid, a witch, an Odinist, etc. I've said it before, and I will continue to say it, the Greek-Americans have no problem at all adhering to the Orthodox Christian sect while honoring their pagan past. I think that this is the way to go. Who said that there ever had to be any conflict? Why deny what our ancestors were for thousands of years?

I wanted to end this by briefly taking a look at Druidism. From Wikipedia: "A druid was a member of the priestly and learned class in the ancient Celtic societies of Western Europe, Britain and Ireland. They were suppressed by the Roman government and disappeared from the written record by the second century CE. Druids combined the duties of priest, judge, scholar, and teacher. Little contemporary evidence for them exists, and thus little can be said of them with assurance, but they continued to feature prominently in later Irish myth and literature. Most of what is known about them comes from the Roman writers." More subjects relating to the Druids can be found at Wikipedia's Druidry categories.

4-8-09 ADDITION: I think that there are several items that could use clarification here. First, if you are new to the LAA, this had been "Bresciani nel Mondo - Northern California," and focused on issues of Brescian or Camunian origin. One such subject was the deep roots of witchcraft in the Valle Camonica, likely of predominantly Celtic origin. We still want to cover this, and any other part of the history and tradition of any other province of Lombardia (including Ticino and Grigioni). You may send us items to post if you like.

Second, it should be noted that Druidism is not the same as Wicca, although both are mainly identified with Celtic tradition. Also, that's an area where we need a little help on. How did the two interact. I'm not certain, but Druidism seems more Patriarchal, while Wicca seems more Matriarchal, so it would be interesting to find out how the two interacted, especially within a single culture.

Lastly, and this is interesting. The Runes, of Etruscan origin, not only were adopted (and modified) and used by Odinist traditions, but also by Wiccans (not sure about Druids), who used them in their practices. That would be something to look into. As stated before, the Romans destroyed virtually everything Etruscan.

8-1-09 Clarification: The third sentence of the second paragraph begins "Wicca probably originated with the Celts...." Wicca is the modern incarnation of European Witchcraft, therefore was not in existence prior to the twentieth century. It was used here as a convenient term, rather than saying "European Witchcraft." Christians probably would not like a term like "Levantine Priestcraft," and the same for other religions.

3-2-12 Addition: Loose Ends: Valcamonica, Cernunnos, Wicca, Druids, and the Pentagram - Part II