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CBS Sunday Morning : A Sunday Morning in Florence

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
May 19, 2019 11:31 am

CBS Sunday Morning : A Sunday Morning in Florence

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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May 19, 2019 11:31 am

The "Sunday Morning" theme is performed by cellist Christian Grosselfinger on the streets of Florence; Emigration, full circle: Returning  to the old country; Creating an irresistible mozzarella; Florentine artisans: Preserving the traditions of Medici taste; Under the Tuscan Sun; Brunello Cucinelli: Fashion and philosophy; True espresso love: Attenting a university of coffee.

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Visit to order samples. Good morning, or should I say, buongiorno? I'm Jane Pauley, and this is a special edition of Sunday Morning. We're in Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance. Among the landmarks behind me, the great cathedral known as the Duomo. And the Padavecchio, the bridge that dates back to the 1300s. Rich in history and art and culture, Florence is our home base this morning.

We're inside the magnificent Duomo, the great cathedral of Florence, completed in 1436, a century and a half after it was begun. Looking around this beautiful city, it's easy to see why Americans fall in love with the idea of living in Italy. Our Mark Phillips has met some who've done it. For all the obvious reasons, people who come to Italy often find it a difficult place to leave. Now some are finding they don't have to go home.

They already are home. Marcy Blackstone and Leslie Fornes from Oregon, granddaughters of an Italian immigrant. Sandy and Phil Ferretti from Long Island via Florida, who run the Rolle Ortalia B&B in Tuscany. Phil is the great grandson of an Italian immigrant. They've all discovered a connection to Italy that's deeper than they thought. Marcy and Leslie and Phil may actually be Italian because of what's known as the law of blood. A lot of people love Italy. There's lots of reason to. Not everybody wants to become an Italian.

Why did you decide? Life's too short not to become an Italian. Come on. I think that was on a t-shirt. Everybody comes from somewhere. Everybody has roots.

I guess I'm coming back. Perhaps it was written on a t-shirt, but more importantly it's also written in old Italian laws. Phil has found that unlike U.S. citizenship, which is based on where you were born, in Italy it's based on whether your parents had Italian blood in their veins.

Yes. Blood that can run down through the generations all the way from Phil's immigrant ancestor to him. So after years of coming to Italy on vacation, Phil and Sandy have sold up in America and settled down here. We just felt so comfortable here. We love the culture.

We love the food. Starting from your great-grandfather Vincenzo. In setting up business here, Phil's lawyer, Michele Capecchi, informed him he was probably a lucky winner in the great Italian citizenship lottery. The first member of your family that was born in Italy, when he moved to a foreign country, he kept on passing the Italian citizenship, the Italian blood to the children, to the grandchildren, and so on. So you're telling me that whether they know it or not, there are potentially millions of Americans who because of the blood that flows in their veins are still Italians?

Yes. What determines the transfer of the Italian citizenship is the blood. America at the turn of the century. More than 4 million Italians emigrated to the U.S. between 1880 and 1920. Today more than 17 million Americans claim Italian ancestry.

The law of blood means many of them are still technically Italian as well. They come to me and say we feel very connected to this country. We love the culture. We love the language. We love, we love, we love. Can you do it on your own or do you have to hire a lawyer to do it?

You can absolutely do it by yourself. Which is why Marcy and Leslie, the Oregon sisters, Leslie, have come to find their family's records in a small town in southern Italy. Their grandfather, Felice, left for the U.S. around 1900, changing the family name to Oliver. The old name still takes some getting used to. And how did they pronounce Oliverio? Oliverio, Oliverio.

Massimo at the records office spends a lot of time digging up documents of residents who left for America a century or so ago. When we heard that we could do it, we got excited. The dual citizenship would be a great benefit for ourselves and our children. What's the benefit in it for you? My benefit is I have some place to go if I want to. Yeah, an escape clause.

Exactly. There seems to be an uptick in demand lately. Are there things that are happening at home now that make the idea of looking further afield more attractive to you?

Yes, there are. Our country's divided and it is nice to have a place that potentially we could go to sometime. Laura Lee Watson reclaimed her own citizenship and now runs a business here guiding Italian Americans along their own heritage trails, often meeting long lost distant cousins along the way. Citizenship not only connects them to Italy, an EU passport means they can live anywhere in Europe.

So what size is this movement now? I think it's becoming an industry because if you take a look at the Italian consulates, if you look at San Francisco consulate or Los Angeles, there's a 10-year wait list just to get an appointment to submit your application. The wheel of history is turning, greased with irony.

Well, I guess that's full circle. Your great-great-grandparent, you know, comes to America for a better life. Your great-great-grandchild goes back to Italy for a better life.

For a better life. Who would have bet on that, right? Nobody. I don't think I could have written it.

It's a story that's still being written. Florence may be the perfect spot to sample the delicious food and drink of Italy, like here in the city's central market where you can find just about any delicacy. Seth Doan will offer us a sampling. To begin, say cheese.

Better come early to snag a number before this specialty sells out. After all, this is fresh buffalo mozzarella. It's packed up in styrofoam boxes. Emotions, however, are not so contained. Are they fighting over the mozzarella?

They're fighting over the number. Mario Spattuzzi came all the way from Milan. You can buy this in the grocery store. Indeed, yes. Why come here? Because the taste of this one is, it's simply amazing. So this is made of the buffalo that you see over there in the lab that is just behind the shop. This is the organic cheesemaker, or cassificio, Tenuto Venullo in southern Italy, not far from the ancient ruins of Pestu.

Maybe we'll get to Paestum, which is like the temple, but like this was the first stop. Nicola Palmieri runs his family farm, where the buffalo are, well, pampered. If we can give them the possibility to live in the best way, we must.

And the technology gives us this opportunity. Soothing music is piped into the pens, and when the buffalo feel they're ready, they line up on their own to be milked by machines. They can also take a shower or get a massage. They have to be relaxed to give the milk. This is one of the secrets that we use to make a good mozzarella. After the milk is collected, curds are produced, and in just about five hours, they are formed into balls with the special technique that gave mozzarella its name. The mozzarella means to cut, and that's what we're watching right here.

The chance to see the process draws locals and tourists alike, including Patricia Oakes from Louisiana. How different is the mozzarella you've tried here in southern Italy from what you've had in the U.S.? Oh my gosh, it is like it melts in your mouth.

Buffalo milk has a higher percentage of fat than milk from cows, so it's richer and sweeter. Domenico Calderone came from Bolivia to learn this rather involved art at the consortium for the protection of buffalo mozzarella in Campania. Did you realize how difficult it was going to be to make mozzarella? No, no. I was thinking this would have been more of a one-month process. But it's been six and counting. It looks easy.

Trust me, it's not. It's complicated to master, but whether featured on a pizza or eaten plain, it's simply delicious. In Florence, the tradition of art and craftsmanship continues to this day. Here's our Martha Teichner. We're here next to the Leonardo da Vinci worker.

You heard right. Leonardo da Vinci designed this machine for winding thread. There's a copy of his sketch. He designed it in the end of the 1400s, and then this was made in the 1600s. This very machine, still in use 400 years later. Made directly from these machines, you know, these beautiful braids. Filippo Ricci is CEO of silk maker Antico Setaficchio Fiorentino. We actually know now entering into the historical part, if I can say that.

Okay. It's the 1700 looms. In 1786, the city's most prominent families handed over their personal looms so Florence could go into business producing the luxury fabrics it's arrested for. This is the Hermezino. It's a special kind of a Renaissance tafta. It changes the color according to how the light hits the fabric.

And this you have green and red combined. This goes back to the Renaissance. Yes. And it has a special sound.

Yeah, I love the sound. A city of businessmen, bankers. Florence was always into conspicuous consumption.

Just look at it. Art and the gold jewelry sold on the Pontavecchio. Originally, it was a place for selling fish and meat.

Elaine Ruffalo is an American Renaissance art historian who lives in Florence. When the Medici became grand dukes of the city, they don't like the smell of all that fish and meat. And so they changed the function of the bridge to the place for the goldsmiths. And it has had great value to the city.

For the goldsmiths. And it has had gold shops on this bridge since 1565. As bankers and then powerful political figures, the Medici were famous patrons of the arts and of artisans. For Florentine artisans today, the past is the present.

She said talking makes the gold fly. Restorer Stefania Martelli uses the same techniques, the same tools, the same gold as guilders working for the Medici. Welcome to the Chapel of the Princes.

The Florence tourists visit is one big display of Medici taste. This is all inlaid stone. Beautiful inlaid stone.

It's called Pietra Dura. The words mean hard stone. Hard stone. You could be fooled into thinking this is paint.

But it's not. Explain what we have here. It's a stone world.

Ilio De Filippis heads Pitti Mosaichi. These are made today by us. A workshop creating Pietra Dura almost exactly the way it was done during the Renaissance. This is going to be this part here. The artistry is in searching thousands of stones.

This is the lapis lazuli. For the perfect color and shading, then cutting and fitting the pieces together like an intricate puzzle. The subtlety and the variation of color. Yeah. It's slow painstaking work. Ilio's sons are learning how to do it, but... When I started, we had several workshops in town.

I would say between 25 and 30. And now? Only three left. The good news, there are still nearly 500 traditional artisan workshops in Florence.

The bad news? That's 75 fewer than 10 years ago. It's a very, very old technique. Maria Giannini is the sixth generation in her family to make marbleized paper.

Once used in bookbinding, now this is more of a beautiful novelty for tourists. But she hangs in there, making one sheet at a time. Because for her, for so many of the artisans of Florence, it's about passion. It's very important. It's a satisfaction and it's also to give people a piece of my art and my history as well.

So it is important because I live something. That is amazing. Yes, yes.

It's magic. We're quite literally under the Tuscan sun, which you may recall is the title of the best-selling book by Francis Mays. And all these years later, that's exactly where Rita Braver found her.

It's one of the most famous villas in Tuscany, attracting a constant stream of tourists. So what is the house called? Brahmasole.

Bramare to yearn for, and Sole, the sun. Yes, it is that house from the book. The place that American Francis Mays felt an irresistible urge to buy back in 1990. And it was a mess. It was. It was derelict. This whole front garden was practically in the road. Mays transformed the 300-year-old property outside and in, even breaking through walls. And when we started opening that, of course, we thought the house was falling down. That was one scene in the movie that was really accurate.

Under the Tuscan sun was the movie that was based on her memoir about restoring the house. The book spent more than two and a half years on the bestseller list, much to the shock of this one-time professor and poet. I expected it to sell like one of my books of poetry, which means not at all. Why do you think it touched a chord with so many people?

Well, I've wondered that a lot. It's a woman taking a risk and doing something out of the plan, out of expectations, even her own expectations. And then, of course, as a writer, I like to think it's the writing. The film does depart from the book with lovelorn Francis, played by Diane Lane, taking up with an Italian lover, which doesn't faze her long-time real-life partner at all. The book is about two happy people who come to Tuscany and become happier.

There is no movie at all there. But Ed Mays, like his wife, a poet and professor, was here from the beginning. Many relationships would never have survived the redoing of a house like this. What was the key?

I think it's love, respect, a sense of adventure. This is a gorgeous Renaissance church. Those adventures are featured in the seven other books Mays has now written about Italy. Oh, there's a new book, too.

Including her latest. See You in the Piazza. Anytime you leave a party at night, the last thing someone says is, see you in the piazza.

It focuses on off-the-beaten tract towns, like her adopted village of Cortona, where she seems to know everyone. You just put beautiful Daniele prosciutto. The new book is sprinkled with recipes. Semolina gnocchi. As the couple loves to cook. There's our eggplant involtini we made inside. This, you know, it's spring in Tuscany when you see fava with pecorino. Oh, that is so good.

And after all these years, Frances Mays still marvels at the life she now leads. Hello, hello. You never expected to have what happened happen, did you? No, no. Isn't that great, though, not to be able to expect?

Because if you can expect it and predict it, it's not as much fun. As we've seen, the Padavecchio is the historic bridge where gold is always in fashion. And fashion, Tracy Smith tells us, is the life's work of modern designer Brunello Cucinelli.

In a country where thousands of little towns like this are being deserted by younger people moving to the cities, the village of Solomeo is thriving. And it's mainly the work of one extraordinary man. His name is Brunello Cucinelli. And if you haven't heard of him, maybe it's because you're not shopping in, well, the right places. Cucinelli makes luxury wear, the finest fabrics, all very carefully made into clothing bound for the best stores and the brightest lights.

Ryan Reynolds has been known to show up wearing Cucinelli, same for Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio. A Cucinelli cashmere sweater can cost $2,000, a suit closer to five. And this was all started by a man with a dream and not much else.

Brunello Cucinelli was born near Solomeo in 1953 and grew up in a house with no plumbing and no electricity. As a young man, inspired by the woman he would eventually marry, he hit on the idea of making knitwear. How much money did you have when you started this business?

Well, we were farmers, so I didn't have even a dollar in my pocket. So with a $500 loan, he made a handful of cashmere sweaters. And now Brunello Cucinelli is an international $500 million a year company.

But it's not just about money. Through this company, Brunello Cucinelli changed his life and the lives of nearly everyone around him. He started with Solomeo's medieval church, which was practically a ruin, and had it restored to its original glory. And then he built this 240-seat theater in the heart of the village.

He tore down old warehouses that cluttered the valley and let trees grow there instead. The Cucinelli factory is beautiful, too. An entire wall is mostly windows, giving people the feeling that they're working outside. And, as you might expect, Cucinelli also pays his workers more than they'd get just about anywhere else. But forget about overtime. It's forbidden to work after 5.30 p.m. Certo importantisiva. The boss believes that working too many hours will, in his words, steal your soul. A balance between mind, soul, and work. Mind, soul, and work. So, at precisely 1 p.m. every day, the very stylish Cucinelli workforce heads to the company dining hall en masse for a mandatory and subsidized 90-minute lunch.

So why does Cucinelli pamper his workers? Part of it comes from watching his own father drag himself home each day from his back-breaking job at a cement factory. You saw the tears in his eyes.

Yes, I was 15, 16. It was really impactful to see my father humiliated. That's where I got my inspiration. And that's where my big project of life came from.

The moral and economic dignity of the human being. Cucinelli calls all of this a humanistic enterprise in the world of industry. And about a hundred years later, he's in the world of industry, and apparently it works.

The company is growing, and Cucinelli himself is a billionaire. You were on the Forbes list as being a billionaire, and people showed this to your father. And what did your father say? He pointed at me.

He said, the only thing that matters to me is for you to be a good man. So this was the dream of my life. And looking at Salomeo, it seems Dad got his wish. I don't know about you, but I could use some caffeine. How about a quick espresso with Seth Doan? The vibrant southern Italian city of Naples seems to run on espresso. It's a very exciting city. Is any of that due to its love for coffee?

Yes, this is packed in here. It's like a temple. And coffee here is like a religion. Cafe Gambrinos was established before Italy was, back when Naples was a kingdom. But talking about coffee, it's just like talking about the pizza.

It's part of our tradition. Marcello Uzzi offers high-end tours of his city, and says this is a regular stop. Espresso, simply called coffee here, takes about 30 seconds to brew, a little less than that to drink.

Okay, please, next time, take your time. Moreno Faino works for Italian coffee powerhouse Ili. How many cups of coffee do you think you have in a day working here? Roughly 10.

He says it's a real shame to simply knock it back. Think about what happened before the 50 beans were selected. How many people were involved in preferring the right cup of espresso?

And then you have to appreciate the balance, the right level of bitterness and the sourness and sweetness. There's so much to know that Ili developed a university of coffee at its headquarters in the northeastern port city of Trieste. There are more than 140 rules that can affect the final result in the cafe.

Yes, rules. Barista Stefano Gianini is a sort of coffee professor at Ili. What exactly is espresso?

If you consider from Latin, expression, it means under pressure. This is the way we extract the coffee. Italians invented this highly calibrated method of preparation. But first, the beans must be roasted and ground just right.

An art in itself. Ili imports coffee beans from about two dozen different countries and at any given time has around 100,000 bags of it on hand. That is enough to brew more than 650 million cups of coffee. That seems just about enough to fuel the city of Naples. Which brings us back to Marcello Uzzi. This is your local spot?

Yes, this is it. There is a bit of competition here among different Italian cities. Who has the best coffee? How can you compete with our coffee?

It's impossible. Indeed, espresso is brewed under pressure. With a fair dose of passion and pride. I'm Jane Pauley. Thank you for listening. And please join us again next Sunday morning. The good fight. The final season. Now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-27 15:18:09 / 2023-01-27 15:27:59 / 10

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