By: Joanne Natale Spigonardo
December 31, 2021
As 2021 comes to a close, and we find that some of our travels have been curtailed in the last two years, it is wonderful to remember our past travels. One of mine is travelling to Rome for a long weekend that included New Year’s Eve.
The city was ablaze with lights as it always is during the Holidays, but it was even extra festive for New Year’s Eve. We started the day with a noon Mass at the Vatican said by Pope John Paul. It was an amazing experience to end and to start out the New Year with such significant spiritual guidance. We walked along the Tiber to Trastevere and Piazza Navona and visited with the Befana, who was getting ready for January 6th. We stopped at the many outdoor stalls and purchased the seven dried fruits and nuts that are eaten for good luck on New Year’s Eve. These consisted of almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, dates, raisins and dried figs. We purchased fresh pomegranates because its many seeds, according to legend, bring fertility and wealth, and have done so since ancient Roman times.
We ate a cenone – at L’ambasciata d’Abruzzo – which was a famous restaurant in Rome for many decades. Cenone means a big feast, and a big feast we had! We had a multitude of antipasti, prosciutto, mozzarella di buffola, soppressate, the traditional lentil soup with cotechino, bacala, bucatini with sardines, stuffed artichokes, and many other delicacies. All of these foods are eaten for good luck and prosperity as well. The desserts were numerous, panettone, zeppole, biscotti, grapes, and a magnificent torta con crema.
The evening ending with bottles of spumante and prosecco on the Spanish Steps with fireworks overlooking Piazza Venezia and along the Tiber. It is a memory that sustains me till this day when we are still battling COVID and many social issues globally.
Other cities in Italy also have amazing celebrations for New Year’s Eve. Most of them include fireworks along the spectacular iconic and historical landmarks in each city. Their culinary delights include lentils always, as well as the dried fruits and nuts. Each city has many traditional and unique dishes, for example the large and life-like marzipan candy fruits in Sicily and the insalata di rinforzo in Naples, a power salad with cauliflower, green olives, pickles and anchovies. The salad promises to bring good health to you and your family in the New Year.
In homage to my heritage, I’m making lentil soup today. It is my hope that you and your families have a healthy, prosperous and joyous 2022. My fondest wish is that you visit Italy in 2022 and find a hidden treasure there. Happy New Year!
About the Author:
Joanne has many years of experience in travel to Italy, Italian art, literature, film, history, wine, and cuisine. She is a lover of nature and beauty. She is an advocate for Italian immigrant women, and the author of White Widow, which is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB. For more information about Joanne please visit her LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanne-spigonardo-b4824a9/.