Here we are on the cusp of 2016 and I’ve got some updates and clarifications about 2015 topics in my most recent columns. I am also going to continue with a description of my fantastic trip to Italy with the Veneti nel Mondo.
First off, let me say that the 42nd Annual Pullman House Tour was a great success and a major reason for that success was the made to order beautiful weather. There were nine houses on the tour this year along with four civic buildings. The first floor of the Hotel Florence was open for viewing and on Sunday there were 110 classic and sports cars. I was a house guide both Saturday and Sunday and can personally attest to the many people who came to visit Pullman. A special hello goes out to all my Fra Noi readers, St Anthony Parishioners, members of Spaghetti-Os, Veneti nel Mondo, and the Roseland Roundtable who stopped by to say hello.
The Pullman Cafe opened its doors for the house tour weekend as we all had hoped. After the opening weekend dust finally settled, some adjustments were made in their menu and hours (they’re closed Mondays). They have a great short menu and offer beverages from coffee and tea to soda pop and juice. The café is a great asset for the community: it gives neighbors and visitors a place to meet, relax and enjoy a bite to eat and with their wi-fi, you can get plenty of work done.
I’ve written about the PullmanArts/ArtSpace project which will be located on Langley Avenue just south of 111th Street. The community turnout has been outstanding for the two community meetings that have been held thus far. There were many questions answered by the ArtSpace representatives with their emphasis on the fact that they have created 39 artist live/work space across the United States with only positive results. Each of these have resulted in a successful community oriented artistic environment that has enhanced and added to the vibrancy of their surrounding communities. There will be future meetings to discuss this project as there have been for the past five years so with the intent of answering any questions.
The Pullman National Monument is still in the development stage with planning objectives and artist renderings available for viewing online. We’re within the three to five year planning stage for the Monument and look forward to the posting of more proposals and plans from the development team of the National Park Service.
In the future, the Pullman area will go through many additions to its present appearance. There will be new restaurants and, perhaps, even a hotel or motel which will, of course, bring more businesses to the Pullman area. There are acres of land available for development along the expressway where Walmart and the neighboring plaza are doing quite well. There is also the Pullman Factory area to the east of the factory buildings that can be considered for development as either part of the park or for building development. Ground has been broken and construction begun on the Pullman Community Center at 104th and Woodlawn. It is a $15 million joint investment in an athletic facility that will create a place for the area’s youth to grow and develop.
In October we mourned the loss of another representative of our beloved Roseland culture with the passing of George Traverso. George and his brother John Traverso have been mainstays in preserving the memories of Roseland merely by offering Roselandites a place to eat, drink, be merry and reminisce about the days of Roseland gone by. John is part of the Traverso singers who made an appearance on December 13 at the Pullman Candlelight Christmas Tour. The Roseland Roundtable, which Dan Bovino manages, holds its Friends Pizza Party at Traverso’s every two months which is another event for Roselandites to gather and share.
Ah, Italia! For me, this was a trip of a lifetime. I was asked by my son if I would have preferred to continue working for a year to cover the cost of this “all inclusive” trip — my answer — “No.” There’s no way at 68 years of age that I could guarantee the state of my health another year. That was one decision that I definitely do not regret as the trip gave me memories that have enhanced my life and my appreciation.
While in Italy we ate at a number of “Agriturisimo” restaurants which were part of a vineyard, a farm or a resort. They provided a unique pleasure in dining as they were mostly outdoor dining venues. One of the most distinct features of each of these Agriturisimos was the pleasant demeanor of the employees. They hardly came across as employees as much as friends hosting friends. Their kind considerations and general ambiance gave each of us an excellent memory to cherish through the years.
Our guide Simonetta Ferremosca was extremely knowledgeable and aware of current events and policies. She informed us of any current changes and just how those changes came about, i.e. the use of headphones at the St. Francis Basilica rather than the guide speaking aloud. (The local Bishop declared it too noisy on a recent basilica visit.) We were informed of the history of each of the churches we visited due to Simonetta’s arranging local guides to give their input.
Many towns we visited were behind fortress walls dating back to the 1600s when each town was a state led by a ruling family. For instance, the Medici’s were present in many towns as shown by their coat of arms shield which is affixed to many important government buildings throughout Italy. The Medici may have had some conniving, sly, manipulating family members but they were also responsible for preserving art for the ages and advancing educational standards, not to mention giving us a Pope or two. Italy’s unification as a single country is celebrated as having taken place on March 17, 1861 and that is when the fortress walls became artifacts rather than defensive strategy.
Our tour group took many ferryboat rides, which gave everyone a sense of adventure. The small boats were driven by daring Italians with a sense of humor. A number of them sped up their boats and made them bounce and create waves which thrilled some passengers to the point they were yelling “Stop.” The islands we visited were reminiscent of castles and fairies and Renaissance towns that we’ve heard about throughout history. Of course, now they are more tourist shopping areas but still retain small beautiful restaurants and shops due to the age of the buildings.
For all the aggressive adventures and walking and riding we did on our trip we were paid in beautiful memories that we will forever cherish. The fantastic Italians we met that welcomed us, not just as a source of income, but as guests warmed our hearts forever. All in all, the thirty-five members of our tour group have fantastic memories to look upon as they enjoy life.
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