(Last Sunday in August)
Saint of the day:
Saint Constantina or Santa Costanza
Patron Saint of San Donato, Italy and protector from the “fevers”. Also, she is the patron saint of young people and of spinsters.
In 1756, the remains of Santa Costanza were brought to San Donato Val di Comino. She was one of the first Christian martyrs killed with a sword to her throat. The saint became con-patron saint of San Donato and protector from the “fevers”.
Santa Costanza is celebrated by young people and spinsters (called "onions or cipolle") with the re-enactment in costume, popular games of the 1700s and 1800s , the night vigil, and the eighteenth-century "Mercatino di Santa Costanza "dedicated to shards and onions, the ancient menu of the feast re-proposed in some inns rebuilt along Via Duomo, fireworks, musical concerts and a solemn procession where it is carried in triumph by 12 pages in eighteenth-century dress.The ceremony of the saint is celebrated on the last Sunday of August.
San Donato, Italy
The Cathedral of San Donato Val di Comino
THE TRADITION OF THE COMMARELLE OF SANTA COSTANZA
As in Canneto, even in San Donato the girls forever bound their friendship by becoming "commarelle". The young women met on the day of the feast of Santa Costanza at the entrance to the Cathedral, near the holy water stoup. They took a pebble and bathed it in holy water. With the sign of the cross they marked each other and then kissed the stone. During the ritual the following sentence was recited: “C'mbar 'S. Giuvuann', baptized 'st' puann ', st' puann 'sta batt'zzat', sempr 'ch'mbar' n 'sem' Chiamat '. (Shaking his hand three times he repeated himself :) C'mmar '! C'mmar '! C'mmar '! "
With the protection of Santa Costanza, that special friendship would last for a lifetime, helping the "commarelle" even in the difficulties of adult life.
One other tradition: the custom was that children were given a clay money box to encourage them to save up their pocket money throughout the year. On the feast day the money boxes were smashed and at the market the children were able to buy whistles, small toys and items made of terracotta, together with new money boxes to save up their coins or “spiccioli” for the next year.
THE RECIPE: STEW WITH ONIONS
Fry the chopped onion and carrot in olive oil over a low heat in a stock pot. When the onion is golden, add 500 grams of veal stew, which you will brown for five minutes. Wet the stew with a glass of white wine, then add salt, pepper and - halfway through cooking - add 5 or 6 finely chopped onions. Cover with water and a little wine and let it continue cooking over low heat. Enjoy your meal!
Cipollata (Onion Soup) is an excellent Tuscan onion soup. It’s rich with flavor and great served on a cold day. It can be a first course for your holiday menu or an entire meal. The true Tuscan flavor comes through by lining the bowl with toasted Ciabatta bread and pouring the onions over the top.
Sometimes a variety of onions is used for this soup but the regular white onions have a makes a nice flavorful soup. Bread is normally found in Tuscan-style soups usually as a thickener or to line the soup bowl. And of course, no soup would be complete without fresh grated parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top. Though not necessary, I like to add a half a cup of red wine to this Onion Soup recipe. Wine is a little added touch to bring out the flavor of this soup. Also, homemade beef stock works best but canned broth may be substituted. Traditional local dishes are served based on onions such as the “cipollata” made of onions, cheese and eggs.
6 large white, yellow or red onions, thinly sliced
2 carrots, diced small
1/4 pound of pancetta, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
6 cups of beef stock or canned beef broth
1/2 cup of dry red wine
4 thick slices of Ciabetta or similar Italian bread
1 cup of fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Caciacavallo cheese
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, sauté the pancetta and garlic for 2 minutes in 4 tablespoons of olive oil and butter.
Add the onions and carrots, cook covered for around 15 minutes stirring often until the onions slightly browned.
Add the broth, wine, salt and pepper.
Stir together, cover and cook on medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes.
Brush the bread on both sides with remaining oil.
Broil the bread on both sides until toasted.
Place the bread in bottom of four individual bowls.
Pour the soup over the bread and sprinkle with cheese.
Serve the soup with the remaining cheese. Serves 4 people.