A few anecdotes from recent stories in the Italian press:
First from Emma3 of the main forum above, who contributes this item from Libero, about
Papa and his sun glasses
It seems, notwithstanding widely publicized reports last summer, that the sun glasses Pope Benedict wore during his ride to the Quirinale Palace in an open car were Italian-made glasses, not the status-brand Serengeti that has been reported.
He was wearing a pair of Persol [literally, for the sun], according to the salesgirl who sold him the pair some two years ago. She says he came in during one of his usual early afternoon walks, having seen the glasses on display in the shop window.
“He came in,” says Sabrina Bottazzi, “asking about the glasses. He tried it on, and he liked it. He seemed a simple man, quite easy-going. I wonder if he remembers me.”
It is said that, in fact, Papa Ratzinger has a “passion” for sunglasses. He is said to have four pairs that he has kept all this time.
A fellow seminarian, Father Bernd Hinskopf (now deceased), once recounted that Ratzinger bought his first sun glasses as a seminarian. It was a pair of Zeiss glasses set in very simple round frames. He recalled how the young man form Marktl took very good care of his glasses, and “if someone tried to touch them, it was like the end of the world!” [succedeva il finimondo]
Ratzi acquired his first pair of Persol, with very dark lenses, in the early 80s. He said at the time, “I am not used to the sun as it is reflected in St. Peter’s Square,” he told Cardinal Casaroli during one of those Masses held outside the Basilica. During his first summer visits to Pope John Paul II, he acquired a pair of Ray-Bans with lenses calibrated to filter the summer sun at Castel Gandolfo.
It is recounted that Pope John Paul II once told Ratzinger in jest: “You’re supposed to be the custodian of the truth – you shouldn’t wear dark glasses!”
”I know,” the cardinal supposedly answered. “On the other hand, I will perhaps see less faults!”
The Libera Universita Maria Santissima Assunta (LUMSA) in Rome conferred an honorary Doctor of Jurisprudence in1 999 on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. When he became Pope last April, LUMSA devoted the April 14-27 issue of its student publication to a special on the new Pope. Student journalists filed their own stories on the election and first days of the new Pope. Sara Galmazzi came up with a few things previously unreported about Cardinal Ratzinger.
Papa and good food
She interviewed owners of shops in the Borgo Pio, the street near where Ratzinger lived, and came up with this account from Roberto, owner of the restaurant “Al Passetto di Borgo.”
“Ratzinger was one of our habitual customers. He first started coming here with his sister. And he was here just a few days before the Conclave. He asked to see my dog Billy, with whom he always played. This is a a person of indescribable humanity, a true and proper 'good guy.'”
One of the waiters said: “He loved pastas. He always asked for a carbonara or a norcina. He gave me the impression of being a calm and quiet person, extremely kind.”
As we have read in earlier stories, his other favorite restaurant in the area was “La cantina tirolese,” whose logo happens to be a monk with a stein of beer in hand.”
“Beer was always made and distributed by monks, specially on feast days,” says owner Mario Notari.
The cardinal came often to eat dishes of his native Bavaria. He often ordered Knoedel(dumplings) in broth, but he never drank wine. Once in a while, he ordered Weiss [a light beer]. But always, he had a glass of orange juice.”
“He was very reserved, austere and serene. Whenever I saw him walking along Borgo Pio, he was always relaxed. At table, he was a good conversationalist...I think the Church needs a strong doctrine to recover certain basic values, and he is the right man for that task.”
Pasta for the Pope
A “royal and papal pasta” is called “courtiers of Queen Caterina Cornaro” ["cortigiane della regina Caterina Cornaro].
It is a pasta made in Asolo [a small city in northern Italy, province of Treviso, in the region called the Veneto]- inspired by an illustrious Asolana and above all, with the blessings of Pope Benedict XVI!
The pasta was “previewed” at the recent meeting of Nobel laureates gathered in Rome, at which catering was provided by the Ristorante Vila Razzolini Loredan of Asolo. At one affair held at the Vatican, the Pope was said to have liked the dish very much.
So yesterday, St. Catherine’s feast day, the pasta was formally presented to the general public at the restaurant in Casella. The Dussin brothers who own the restaurant said they were determined to leave a gastronomic mark in history, not just in their hometown. They are collaborating with other local restaurants to find suitable basic sauces for their new pasta.
The restaurant staff experimented for more than 6 months before they came up with the pasta, which is a tagliatella (broad noodle bands) made from 3 kinds of flour and spiced with cinnamon. [Caterina, who became queen of Cyprus at the time of the Crusades, reportedly first brought cinnamon to Italy.] So far, it goes best with a sauce of meat, mushrooms and chicory. Now, they are trying to find how to serve it with fish.