The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi

In October 2022, Neflix released a 4-part docuseries called Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi.  It recounts the true story of a 15-year-old girl, a citizen of Vatican City, who disappeared in the summer of 1983.  The mystery has never been solved, but by the end of the series, we have a pretty good idea who has some answers to Emanuela’s fate.

She was the fourth of five children in a family that served for centuries under seven Popes.  Her father was a messenger for the Vatican Bank.  Emanuela was a music student; she played the piano and the flute, and sang in a choir at a music school just outside the Vatican near the Piazza Navona.  On the night of her disappearance, she was going to the school to practice singing and play the flute.

The agony of the family is palpable throughout the documentary.  Rome became plastered with posters of her picture and pleas for any clues.  The family and the Carabinieri followed lead upon lead.  Each of the episodes focuses on one or more theories:  Two years earlier, a Turkish national had shot Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square; supposed kidnappers were demanding a prisoner swap of him for Emanuela.  During the time of the Cold War, there was even suspicion of KGB involvement.  And at one point, it seemed certain that the Mafia had a hand in her whereabouts.

But the story returns time and again to the Vatican.  Why was Pope John Paul II the first to announce that Emanuela had been kidnapped?  Where did he get the money to fund the Solidarity movement in his native country of Poland?  Were the Bank of Ambrosiana and the Vatican Bank laundering Mafia money?  And why did Pope Francis tell her brother, Pietro, that Emanuela is in heaven?  As Pietro explained, those four words stuck a dagger in his heart.  But the Pope refused to say anything more.

The crux of the case, in my opinion, is a document that a journalist obtained during the time of the VatiLeaks scandal, beginning in 2012, which exposed Vatican corruption.  The document appeared to be a financial accounting of expenses paid on behalf of Emanuela, and included a large final expense, which was presumed to be for her burial. 

The final episode raised a new theory that again points to the Vatican.  In it a high school friend of Emanuela’s anonymously recounts a telephone conversation in which Emanuela nervously confesses that when she walked in the Vatican gardens, an archbishop close to the Pope “bothered” her.  The friend said that she explicitly meant that it was a sexual encounter.  If so, this would be the first time that the Vatican could have been exposed for sexual misconduct on its own soil.  And if so, it would be an enormous motive to silence Emanuela.

Throughout, you feel an overwhelming sense of sadness for the Orlandi family.  Shortly before the father died in 2004, he told the family, “I was betrayed by the very people I served.”  Her mother, now 92, thinks of her daughter every day of her life with the hope that she can put a flower on her grave before she herself passes away. 

For the rest of us, we are also profoundly saddened that the power of the Church is so much greater than the life of one young girl.  As the documentary closes, you wonder if all the leads that the family and the Carabinieri followed for decades were actually planted by the Vatican to distract everyone from the real culprit.  The Vatican has at least partial answers, and we hope there is a fifth episode exposing those connections.              

Posted in English, Film, Foto, Italia, Mafia, Musica, Roma, Storia, Vaticano | 2 Comments

Pinsa Romana (in italiano)

La Pinsa Romana sta appena iniziando a farsi scoprire fuori dall’Italia. È un’antica pizza romana che è stata nel tempo reinterpretata con nuovi ingredienti e tecniche moderne. È una versione più leggera e salutare dell’amata pizza italiana. Pinsa deriva dalla parola latina “pinsere”, che significa allungare o allargare.

La ricetta originale nasce da un antico prodotto realizzato tra le popolazioni rurali che vivevano fuori le mura di Roma. Facevano una specie di focaccia o piadina macinando grani come miglio, orzo e farro e poi aggiungendo sale ed erbe aromatiche. La ricetta tradizionale è stata rivisitata nei secoli.

Corrado Di Marco, pizzaiolo a Roma, è ampiamente considerato il fondatore dell’odierna Pinsa Romana. Negli anni ’70 inizia la sua ricerca con più di 2.000 esperimenti di fermentazione e una rigorosa applicazione del metodo scientifico. Nel 1981 introduce la Pizzasnella, un misto di farine a base di frumento e soia che produce una pizza a lunga lievitazione, senza grassi o zuccheri aggiunti. Poi nel proprio laboratorio ha prodotto la prima Pinsa Romana nel 2001, in cui alle farine di frumento e soia vengono aggiunte farina di riso e pasta madre per produrre la piadina di forma oblunga.

La Pinsa Romana si distingue non solo per la forma ovale, ma anche per la consistenza (croccante fuori, morbida dentro), profumo (dovuto al lievito e alla lunga lievitatura fino a 72 ore), per una ricetta distinta (3 tipi di farina e lievito madre essiccato), e digeribilità (la presenza di farine di riso e di soia significa meno glutine). Rispetto alla pizza tradizionale, la pinsa ha il 48% di carboidrati in meno, l’85% di grassi in meno, il 100% di colesterolo in meno, il 33% di calorie in meno, e il 75% di idratazione rispetto al 50-60% della pizza tradizionale. 

Ispirazioni per i condimenti? Come con la pizza tradizionale, lascia che la tua immaginazione sia la tua guida. Ecco alcune idee:

• Diavola: salsa di pomodoro, mozzarella, salame piccante, olive nere, cipolle rosse, basilico, pepe

• Napoli: salsa di pomodoro, mozzarella, acciughe, origano

• Cotto e Funghi: salsa di pomodoro, mozzarella, prosciutto cotto, funghi, prezzemolo

• Dolce e Salato: mozzarella, pere, gorgonzola, miele, noci

• Tropea: mozzarella, acciughe, zucchine, cipolla rossa, pomodorini, capperi, olio d’oliva

• Montanara: mozzarella e pecorino, guanciale, funghi, olio al tartufo, pepe nero, prezzemolo

• Cotto e melanzane: mozzarella, grana Padano, prosciutto cotto, melanzane, cipolla rossa

• Tripla P: mozzarella, patate, pesto, pancetta, pomodorini

• Parma: stracciatella (un formaggio pugliese), prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, pomodorini

• Mortazza: stracciatella, mortadella, ricotta, pistacchi

• Salmone: crema di formaggio, stracciatella, rucola, salmone affumicato, pomodorini, aceto balsamico

• Miele: crema di ricotta, noci, miele, fichi

Posted in Abitudini, Formaggio, Foto, Italia, Italiano, Roma, Storia | Leave a comment

Pinsa Romana (in English)

Pinsa Romana is just beginning to be discovered outside of Italy.  It is an ancient Roman pizza that has been reinterpreted over time with new ingredients and modern techniques.  It is a lighter, healthier version of the beloved Italian pizza.  Pinsa comes from the Latin word “pinsere,” which means to stretch or to spread.

The original recipe comes from an ancient product made among the rural populations living outside the walls of Rome.  They made a kind of focaccia or flatbread grinding grains like millet, barley and spelt and then adding salt and herbs.  The traditional recipe has been revisited over the centuries.

Corrado Di Marco, a pizzaiolo in Rome, is widely considered the founder of today’s Pinsa Romana.  During the 1970s he began his research with more than 2,000 fermentation experiments and strict application of the scientific method.  In 1981, he introduced the Pizzasnella, a mix of wheat and soy-based flours that produced a pizza with a long leavening time, without added fats or sugars.  Then in his own laboratory he produced the first Pinsa Romana in 2001, in which rice flour and mother dough were added to the wheat and soy flours to produce the oblong-shaped flatbread.

Pinsa Romana is distinguished not only by its oval shape, but also by its texture (crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside), fragrance (due to the yeast and the long maturation process of up to 72 hours), distinct recipe (3 types of flour and dried mother yeast), and digestibility (the presence of rice and soy flours means less gluten).  Compared to traditional pizza, pinsa has 48% less sugar, 85% less fat, 100% less cholesterol, and 33% fewer calories, and 75% hydration compared to 50-60% for traditional pizza. 

Topping inspirations?  Like with traditional pizza, let your imagination be your guide.  Here are some ideas:

  • Diavola (devil): tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy salame, black olives, red onions, fresh basil, pepper
  • Napoli: tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano
  • Prosciutto and Funghi: tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto cotto, mushrooms and parsley
  • Dolce e Salato (sweet and salty): mozzarella, pears, gorgonzola, honey and walnuts
  • Tropea (seaside resort in the Calabria region): mozzarella, anchovies, zucchini, red onion, cherry tomatoes, capers, olive oil
  • Montanara (named for the mountains around Naples): mozzarella and pecorino, guanciale, mushrooms, truffle oil, black pepper, parsley
  • Prosciutto and Melanzane: mozzarella, grana Padano, prosciutto cotto, eggplant, red onion
  • Triple P: mozzarella, potato, pesto, pancetta, cherry tomatoes
  • Parma: stracciatella (a cheese from the Puglia region), prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes
  • Mortazza (Roman term for mortadella): stracciatella, mortadella, ricotta, pistacchi
  • Salmon: cream cheese, Stracciatella, arugula, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar
  • Miele: ricotta cream, nuts, honey, figs
Posted in Abitudini, Cucina italiana, English, Formaggio, Foto, Italia, La Moda, Roma, Storia | 2 Comments