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Respiro: a legend

I have read and heard many different interpretation of this movie Respiro (Breath). Here are below are two of them which express two opposite points of view.

“Respiro” is a cheerful, life-affirming film, strong in its energy, about vivid characters. It uses mental illness as an entertainment, not a disease. Do such people really live on Lampedusa, and is this film an accurate reflection of their lives? Perhaps it doesn’t matter, since they exist in this film for one and a half hour and engage us with their theatricality. Grazia needs help, but her island will not be such a lively place to live if she gets it.

Respiro was inspired by one of Lampedusa (an island near western Sicily) legends. It is the story of a young mother who was looked down upon by the townspeople who thought she was crazy because she behaved outside the rules of their small community. One day, she disappeared leaving only her clothes on the beach. As time passed, the community was left feeling guilty for having driven the woman to suicide. The legend has it that the force of prayers brought her back to life from the sea and she returned to normal life with her family.


Being woman: pictures and poem which capture the essence

Ser mujer: Being woman

Please watch these powerful images


“The church seemed doomed to failure, destined to go down to bloody death…., when the people discovered Mary. And only when Mary, against the stern decrees of the church, was dug out of the oblivion to which Constantine had assigned her and became identified with the great Goddess was Christinity finally tolerated by the people… The only reality in Christianity is Mary, the Female Principle, the ancient goddess reborn. (Geoffrey Ashe – The Virgin.)

From Amor and Psyche

…. feminine existence is almost entirely determined by the masculine world of consciousness and its values (Erich Neumann – Amor and Psyche)



Radici di vite

acqua di vita

le viti

la vita sotto il mattone

vita attorcigliata..

Roots of life

water of life

ancient vines

life under a brick.

Five red clay tiles

are missing

under the kitchen table

and there

grapevines grow,

they indicate the presence of water

deep down

underneath the dry sand.

My mother knows.

Don’t worry – she says –

roots break tiles.

There will be wine

on the table.

There is nothing

but shrines in this city.

Protectress of seamen,

and salors, Stella maris,

Maria, mare, madre.

Madonna under the water

protects us,

united at the root

under the water.

Grapevine roots grow long

and search for the water

which unites us all

where Maria comes from

and lives.


The Glory of Santa Cristina

My mother’s village, Sepino, in Central-South Italy commemorates the 900th anniversary of the death of Santa Cristina, Virgin and Martyr, Protector of Sepino this year. Hundreds of emigrants are coming back to celebrate. My whole family is going by train from Genoa which is 500 miles to the north. My brother Piero and his family will drive to Sepino from Rome.

We meet my brother in Rome at stazione Termini. My daughter Irene, my mother, and our luggage will continue the trip in his car. My husband Tim, my son Stefano, and I will go by train. Sepino is only two and a half hours away.

Continue reading ‘The Glory of Santa Cristina’


Definitely an acquired taste
is necessary
to appreciate
the earthiness

of this sea creature
– nothing but mere cod –
preserved in barrels full of Atlantic salt
or dried stiff in the cold northern wind.

Baccala, stock fish
an epithet
people less than flexible
in their views, personality, or posture
earn from unsympathetic people.
Yet, unused taste buds need to make
quite an athletic leap
into the unknown
bending over backwards
to reach its depth of flavor
bordering between decay and sublime
like anything worth our love and interest.

Baccala, stock fish
whole empires were built on it.
Maybe we owe it to its proteins
if the Vikings had the energy and skill
to come this way of the Atlantic Ocean
a thousand years before Columbus did.

For us itâs just a treat
a curiosity, a gastronomic leap of faith.
Maybe, if I do it right,
soak it the right amount of time
– changing the water often –
add those Greek olives and capers,
good olive oil and parsley,
some fresh tomato
– a soft polenta on the side is optional –
I might acquire that sophisticated taste
and appreciate its flakiness.

This is what I promise you
in handing out this recipe.
Try it once at least.
You will feel strong and nourished,
ready for great adventures.
The world will stretch its limits,
its possibilities will look endless,
the way they must have seemed
to the people who feasted
on this peculiar dish
since the beginning of history.


August 2019
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