FALL ISSUE 2021
A classic Italian legacy
by Vittoria Zorfini
Montreal’s Casa d’Italia, in collaboration with the Urban Agriculture Lab/Laboratoire d’agriculture urbaine (AU/ LAB) and Vignes en ville, gave away 1,000 vine plants to the residents of Little Italy and Rosemont at the Jean-Talon Market last March, aiming to create the largest urban vineyard in the world.
The goal of this project is to highlight and honour the contribu- tion of Montreal’s Italian community to Quebec’s food farming culture. It is an expansion of the web project La ruelle des vignerons (The Winemakers’ Alley)—launched in 2019 in collaboration with Casa d’Italia—which aimed to highlight the major role the Italian community has played in the agricultural industry, and to bring people closer to the world of winemaking.
Remember that classic ‘60s film, If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium? It revolved around the whirlwind nature of those dizzying pre-packaged tours of Europe where you would “visit” as many cities and countries as possible without experiencing them in any real way.
Checking off an entire bucket list of destinations from a bus window or quick stopover was never my thing. I have always preferred visiting smaller, obscure places and making connections with people who live there, while absorbing local life and culture. Little did I know this made me an early advocate of the Slow Travel movement—an offshoot of the Slow Food movement, which began in Italy with Carlo Petrini in 1986.
Pierino Di Tonno lived in Montreal’s Little Italy for many years. His home, a veritable museum that also served as his studio, was full of large-format images taken by the photographer around the Venice International Film Festival and Montreal.
A passionate photographer of Italian cinema and friend to some of the era’s greatest directors, Di Tonno’s work will soon become the subject of a retrospective at the Cinémathèque québécoise and a short film by professor, screenwriter and director Paul Tana, which is slated for completion in 2022.
Prints of cinema’s biggest stars lined the walls of Di Tonno’s studio, like Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Claudia Cardinale and Laura Antonelli. Images of Federico Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina were also prominently displayed, as were those of Salvador Dali (from whom Di Tonno borrowed the mustache), Cesare Zavattini (father of Italian neorealism), Ugo Tognazzi,
As an alternative to traditional eggplant parmigiana, these single-serving eggplant towers are a wonderful summer meal.
They are a much easier, quicker and lighter version of the hearty traditional dish, because the eggplants are grilled, not fried. Served hot or cold, this vertical rendition of the parmigiana is sure to impress your guests.