Monday, December 3, 2012

A Punch in the Bread Basket -or- How Pancetta Got Its Name

It's Christmas season, and I'm sitting in Panera Bread, and I've just been to Capri Flavors  where my friends the Vuotto's run a wonderful Italian import business, and there the shelves were piled high with  a Christmas sweet-bread called Panettone and I began to think. I wondered if "Panera" was derived from "panare", the Italian word for bread... and then I wondered, does the "Pane" in Panettone" mean bread? And wait, Hayden Panettiere the actress, "panettiere" means baker, she must  be descended from Italian bakers... and Panzanella is a Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad.  This odd stream of consciousness led me to wonder: "where in the world did pancetta, a sort of Italian bacon, get its name?"

Well before I answer that, let me tell you a little more about panettone and pancetta.

Panettone is the Italian version of fruitcake or stolen, it is more bread-like than fruitcake is, and lighter than either fruitcake or stolen, but it often has fruit in it (though less than either fruitcake or stolen). I can also tell you that panettone has no place in my memory as having anything to do with my family traditions, other than lining the shelves at the deli on the corner of the street I grew up on in Manhattan.

Though I called pancetta an Italian bacon, it has one major difference. Most American bacon is smoked. Italian bacon, on the other hand, is cured with salt, and sweet and savory spices, and then it is dried. My favorite use of pancetta is in pasta carbonara. Here is how I make pasta carbonara:


1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 pound pancetta, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced, about 1 teaspoon (optional)
3-4 whole eggs
1 cup grated parmigiana cheese
1 pound fettuccine
Salt and black pepper to taste

While the pasta water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook on a low heat till crispy. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then turn off the heat and put the pancetta and garlic into a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs and mix in about half of the cheese.

Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the pasta, and cook, uncovered. When the pasta is still a little firm (al dente - when it sticks to the wall you throw it at) , use a spagheti comb to move it to the bowl with the pancetta and garlic. Move the pasta quickly, so it stays hot; the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs sufficiently to create a creamy sauce. Toss the pasta like a salad to mix it, then add the egg and cheese mixture and toss quickly to combine once more. Add salt to taste.

Serve at once with the rest of the parmigiana and freshly ground black pepper.


As it turns out, the "pan" in pancetta has nothing to do with bread... or does it? Pancetta is an Italian cured meat made from pork belly, and the Italian word for belly is pancia, so pancetta means something like little belly, but wait a minute...  pancetta sounds like "pane cesta"  which means "bread basket" (though it would be rendered cesta de pane) and paniere, paniera the other forms of basket are very close to "panare" and "pancia". No wonder the belly has been nick-named "the bread basket" - it's Italian!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Italian Protestant Town in North Carolina?

In the United States, especialy here in the south, it is not unusual to find Protestant Italians, but most of them converted from Catholicism long after immigrating here. Imagine my surprise when, on a recent trip to Asheville, I pulled off of the road in the Town of Valdese, North Carolina, only to discover a whole town full of Italians descended from Protestants that had imigrated from the Waldensian Valley in the Piedmont region of Italy. The Alpine valley in Italy and the town in North Carolina were both named after the Waldensian (aka Valdensian) Movement, a movement that started in Lyon, France in the late 1170s, as a reform movement within the Catholic Church. Waldenesians advocated a return to the vows of poverty and preaching of the Gospel.

In 1184, the Catholic Church officially declared the movement heretical, and the Waldensians were persecuted by armies from both the governments of Italy and France and by officials of the Catholic Church. Because of this Waldensians fled to various parts of Europe, including Italy, putting down particularly deep roots in the Piedmont region of Italy in a Valley of the Cottian Alps that has come to be known as the Waldensian Valley, where they remained secluded until they received some degree of religious freedom with the Edict of 1848.

With the new-found tolerance their numbers grew, and in the late 19th century many Waldensian migrated to the United States settling in New York City, Chicago, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and here in  North Carolina.  The group of Waldensians that immigrated to North Carolina crossed the Atlantic on the SS Zaandam, a ship of the Holland-America Line, and arrived in Burke County via train on the Salisbury-Asheville line of the Richmond & Danville Railroad on May 29, 1893. Eleven families formed the first group. They were led by the Reverend Charles Albert Tron, who came to help them launch their enterprise, and to return to Italy once the community was established.

The immigrants founded the Valdese Corporation with a charter granted by the State of North Carolina and purchased about ten thousand acres of land near the Catawba River in eastern Burke County  from the Morganton Land Improvement Company. On June, 18th additional settlers arrived from Utah, and on August 23rd, six families of 14 persons came from Italy aboard the SS La Bretagne, and on November 23rd, 52 families totaling 161 persons, crossed the Atlantic from Italy on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II, and joined the original group. Their settlement, the Valdese settlement, became the largest Waldensian settlement in the world located outside of Italy, and the town of Valdese North Carolina grew up in the midst of it.

A Protestant movement begun in France in the middle ages that led to a settlement in North Carolina, might be unexpected, it might even seem strange, but whatever else it is, it's Italian!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Italian National Anthem

I have never seen an understandable translation of the Italian National Anthem into English. Here is my attempt:

In Italian: 

Inno di Mameli

Fratelli d'Italia, 

L'Italia s'è desta; 
Dell'elmo di Scipio 
S'è cinta la testa. 
Dov'è la Vittoria? 
Le porga la chioma; 
Ché schiava di Roma 
Iddio la creò. 

Stringiamci a coorte! 
Siam pronti alla morte; 
Italia chiamò. 

Noi siamo da secoli 
Calpesti, derisi, 
Perché non siam popolo, 
Perché siam divisi. 
Raccolgaci un'unica 
Bandiera, una speme; 
Di fonderci insieme 
Già l'ora suonò. 

Stringiamci a coorte! 
Siam pronti alla morte; 
Italia chiamò. 

Uniamoci, amiamoci; 
L'unione e l'amore 
Rivelano ai popoli 
Le vie del Signore. 
Giuriamo far libero 
Il suolo natio: 
Uniti, per Dio, 
Chi vincer ci può? 

Stringiamci a coorte! 
Siam pronti alla morte; 
Italia chiamò. 

Dall'Alpe a Sicilia, 
Dovunque è Legnano; 
Ogn'uom di Ferruccio 
Ha il core e la mano; 
I bimbi d'Italia 
Si chiaman Balilla; 
Il suon d'ogni squilla 
I Vespri suonò. 

Stringiamci a coorte! 
Siam pronti alla morte; 
Italia chiamò. 

Son giunchi che piegano 
Le spade vendute; 
Già l'Aquila d'Austria 
Le penne ha perdute. 
Il sangue d'Italia 
E il sangue Polacco 
Bevé col Cosacco, 
Ma il cor le bruciò. 

Stringiamci a coorte! 
Siam pronti alle morte; 
Italia chiamò 

In English:

Mameli's hymn

Brothers of Italy,
Italy awakes;
And fastens the helmet 
Of Scipio on her head.
And Victory, Where is she?
Let her shave her head,
For what a slave of Rome
Hath God made of her.

Let us join together,
Ready to face death;
Italy calls us!

For centuries we have been
Downtrodden and derided,
For we were not a people,
We were divided.
Let one flag, 
And one hope;
Join us together.
The hour is already here. 

Let us join together,
Ready to face death;
Italy calls us!

Let' us unite and love one another;
For this unity and love
Reveals to the people
The ways of the Lord.
Let us swear to liberate
the native soil:
Under God, United, 
Who can defeat us?

Let us join together,
Ready to face death;
Italy calls us!

From the Alps to Sicily,
Everywhere is the battleground
And every man a defender
With their hearts and hands;
The children of Italy
are called "little soldier";
The sound of the trumpet
Is our daily call to prayer.

Let us join together,
Ready to face death;
Italy calls us!

We are the reeds that 
Will bend the mercinary swords; 
Already the eagle of Austria
has lost its feathers.
It drank the blood of Italy
and the blood of Poland
It drank with the Cossacks
But its heart was burned. 

Let us join together,
Ready to face death;
Italy calls us!

Some notes:

Scipio refers to Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (Scipio the African AKA Scipio the Great) (236–183 BC)  A general in the Second Punic War  who defeated Hannibal. 

I took some liberties with this verse:
Dall'Alpe a Sicilia, 
Dovunque è Legnano; 
Ogn'uom di Ferruccio 
Ha il core e la mano; 
I bimbi d'Italia 
Si chiaman Balilla; 
Il suon d'ogni squilla 
I Vespri suonò. 

Legnano is a specific historical battlefield, I translated it as Battleground.
uom di Ferruccio is "the men of Ferruccio", a specific captain, I just call them defenders.
Balilla was a nickname for Giambattista Perasso who was a child from Genova that fought in the 1746 people's revolution of Genova against the Austrians. Without the historical context i felt it would be more understandable as "little soldier"

To hear Inno di Mameli in Italian, visit:

Inno di Mameli, like it or not , it's Italian!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Timeline: Italian Immigration to Brooklyn, NY

1801 the Brooklyn Navy Yard opens.
1814 the steam ship Nassau begins service between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
1834 Brooklyn is incorporated as the City of Brooklyn.
1838 the Green-Wood Cemetery is created.
1859 the Brooklyn Academy of Music is formed.
1867 Prospect Park opens to the public.
1883 the Brooklyn Bridge, is opened.
1886 the Statue of Liberty was re-assembled on her new pedestal and dedicated.
1902 Nick Santora Comes to the united states and the Flatiron Building, New York's first skyscraper is completed in Manhattan.
1903 Grace Santora comes to America with her Daughter Olga and infant Nicola. Nicola dies. The Williamsburg Bridge opens, it is the largest suspension bridge in the world.
1908 The city's first subway begins running trains between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
1909 The Manhattan Bridge is completed.
1912 Nick Santora opens a bakery near Floyd Street under what is now the Marcy Projects, but must close within the year because he cannot afford the protection money.
1913 Ebbets Field opens, and the Brooklyn Dodgers, have a new place to play.

1920 "Eddie" Felice Ettore DeVito comes to America with his parents Antonio and Carmella Devito and his sibblings Michael and Aurelia, moving first to White Plains
1921 Antonio opens his barber shop near Flushing and Thompkin's ave.
1929 Brooklyn's tallest building, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, is completed.
1957 the New York Aquarium comes to Coney Island, and the Dodgers leave Brooklyn.
1961 Torre DeVito is born.
1964 Karen Fisher (DeVito) is born and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is completed, connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Discovering Poetry

A little poem about my personal discovery of poetry in both English and Italian....

in English:
Discovering Poetry

When I was very young
I would listen to my Aunts and Uncles
During family gatherings.

I was American, I spoke English
I did not know the Italian language
I did not know the use and context of words.

I knew only the form of sentences,
The ripple of the syllables,
Concluding in voluptuous vowels.

Normal speach sounded
Like poetry dancing with laughter
And clothed in beautiful mystery.

                               by Torre DeVito
Magnetic Poetry 12382 Adhes-A-Mag Adhesive Magnetic Sheet (Google Affiliate Ad)

And in Italian:

Si prega di commentare. Come sta il mio italiano? Orribile?

Alla Scoperta Della Poesia

Quando ero molto giovane
Vorrei ascoltare i miei zii e le zie
Durante le riunioni di famiglia.

Sono stato americano, ho parlato inglese
Non sapevo la lingua italiana, non sapevo
Che l'uso e il contesto delle parole.

Sapevo che solo la forma delle frasi,
L'ondulazione delle sillabe,
Concludendo in vocali voluttuoso.

Discorso normale suonava
Come la poesia ballando con
Risate e vestiti di bella araba.
                               by Torre DeVito

Let me know how good the translation is, it may not be perfect, but it's Italian!

Monday, July 9, 2012

What are you looking at?

In my little world the Italians discovered or invented almost everything, and anything worth anything that they didn't invent they borrowed and improved upon, like the arch for instance, which was invented by the Mesopotamians, and used liberally by the Romans, who used its principles to create the dome and the vaulted ceiling. The Greeks may have invented Democracy, but the Roman's borrowed it, and invented bureaucracy  and graft.  The Chinese may have invented the noodle, but the Italians made it different thicknesses and shapes and added sauce and meat and cheese. da Vinci dreamed up the horseless carriage, but Italians (so they tell me) did not invent the internal combustion engine, but when they learned about the two-stroke engine they came up with the vast improvement of the four-stroke engine. Henry ford may have come up with mass-production and the boxy model T  but Italians came up with Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Paganis,. Barossos,  Ghias, and Lanzas. America may have fallen in love with the automobile, but the Italians romanced it and taught it to dance.

One little car company in Italy has been swallowing up the others recently. FIAT now owns Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, and Maserati; and in 2009 they took a controlling stake in Chrystler,  they expanded that stake in January of 2012 in what has amounted to a merger, and the gorgeous little FIAT 500 with its almost 45 MPG highway, is popping up all over the American landscape, including my driveway out here in Bear Creek, North Carolina. In other words, we bought one.

I annoyed my beautiful and patient wife throughout the buying process by oft repeating :"Che cosa guardi, eh? Che cosa guardi?" the line spoken by the baby in the FIAT commercial, which means "What are you looking at, huh? What are you looking at?" Finally my wife said, "Are you done?" to which I replied: "Mi stai spogliando con gli occhi?", the line spoken by the hot Italian model who turns into the FIAT 500 Abarth in another commercial, literally "Why are you undressing me with your eyes." Of course the only thing she was doing with her eyes was rolling them. But don't worry she's had her revenge. We bought the car on July 5th, my Birthday, and thus far she has only let me drive it once,

If you happen to find yourself staring at a FIAT and someone says "What are you looking at?" tell 'em "I'm not sure, but it's Italian."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

It has been a year already since Dad passed away. In the year or two before his death he talked to me often about growing up in Brooklyn, New York and being an Italian teenager in the '50s. We laughed at pictures of him in a pompadour, He told me about working at his uncle's car lot, and about some of the girls that he dated, and places he used to go in Brooklyn. .

One time he and some friends built a boat, Apparently it was fairly elaborate with a nice little cabin.He mentioned a young lady he used to take out on the boat, wondering what had ever happened to her, and told how one of his fellow boat-builders rammed into a rock which tore a hole in the plywood and fiberglass hull and sunk the boat, ending all their nautical escapades.

He told me that they would go to Coney Island  and ride the Cyclone or the Wonder Wheel or take a girl on a ride through "The Tunnel of Laffs" or just hang out by the boardwalk when the weather was hot. Other summer days they would go to Jones Beach and body-surf in the waves. I wish I had taken notes!

Dad was an interesting guy, if I do say so myself. He was interested in Photography, Set Design, Modern Art, Hydroponic Gardening, Wind and Solar Power, just a whole bunch of things that most of his peers weren't thinking about in the '50s and early '60s in the city.

Happy father's day Dad. I miss you.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Learning Italian

I've been trying to learn Italian. Tapes and CD's bought at thrift stores and freeware and free resources from the internet, mostly. I'm trying to get to the point where I can really think in Italian. to that end  I have written a new poem in Italian as well as deconstructed a poem that I wrote many years ago, and instead of translate it, rewrite it in Italian. Here are my attempt:s:

Molto Bene
da Torre DeVito

"Molto bene", ha detto Dio,
"Molto bene", quando ha finito
E tutte le sue creazioni
Sono molto buoni
E tu, piccolo che adoro
Sono un capolavoro!

In inglese:

Molto Bene
by Torre DeVito

"Very good," said God,
"Very good!" when He finished
And all his creations
They are very good
And you, little one that I adore
You are a masterpiece!

Arbusto Pino
di Torre DeVito

C'è stato un tempo, dopo una storia di attenzione,
Abbiamo parlato dei volumi interi con ogni parola
E le nostre conversazioni erano come vaste foreste
Quando ogni sfumatura è stata una grande sequoia.

Quando è successo? Gli insulti iniziato
Incenerire il nostro dialogo, divorando
Verbi e aggettivi in fiamme!Il grande incendio ha smesso di bruciare a lungo
Trasformato in brace e cenere alla fine, ma ...

Quelli che restano sono i seguenti:
Un groviglio di erbacce, luoghi di sabbia,
E un deserto di crescita povero albero.
Per l'osservatore casuale le cicatrici sono oscurati:
Una nuova vita è meglio di ceneri fredde

Ma in questo momento arbusto pino emerso
Quando le sequoie una volta erano potenti.

I don't know if the gramar is very good, but it's Italian.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rabbit Punches

Besides the chickens, we also have rabbits. I tried to get two does (females) and a buck (male) for breeding purposes. I ended up with two bucks and a doe. One of the bucks is sweet and gentle, and loves water, in fact he drinks it as I fill his bowl by turning his head sideways and putting his mouth in the stream. I named him Slurpee for obvious reasons. The doe is a pretty nice doe too, though she hasn't had much luck kindling (having little bunnies) her first kindle died, and her second mating resulted in a false pregnancy. The third member of the menagerie is a little demon of a buck that lies to box at my hands and bite me. I call him "Tyson" after Mike Tyson. I am contemplating rabbit cacciatore.

People often say rabbit tastes like chicken. I don't think so. The texture is a bit reminicent of chicken dark meat: thighs or legs, but it has its own taste: mild, suckulent,  delicious!

Rabbit Cacciatore Recipe:

One 2 1/4 lb rabbit, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 chopped medium onion
4 cloves garlic, quartered
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
3 cups of chopped, very ripe tomatoes (or canned plum tomatoes)
2 red bell peppers, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can of whole black olives, pitted

Salt and pepper the rabbit pieces, rub with the basil leaves, brown in olive oil in a large skillet, Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side until lightly browned, then turn the pieces and brown on the other side for a minute or two more. Remove the rabbit pieces to a dish to set aside. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to the pan, cook for 1 minute. Then add garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms, cook for a couple minutes more. Add the rosemary and the remaining basil. Rinse, drain and quarter the olives and add them to the pan. Add the rabbit back into the pan along with the olives. Cover with chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium low; cover the pan and cook for 35 minutes. Increase heat to high and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Tyson, you'd better watch out! Revenge might be delicious served warm, and it's Italian!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Torre Catch-a-Chicken

We have chickens! But the darn things aren't laying eggs. There are five hens and a rooster. The rooster is a wyandotte, and the hens are red sex-links (they were bred in a cross producing red females) I'm feeding them laying crumbles, some corn for scratch and supplementing with oyster shells. I leave a light on in the chicken house, and have golf balls and fake eggs in the nesting boxes. If I let them out they follow me around. They come when I call. They seen happy, but I didn't get them as pets! I talk to them, nicely. Even when I threaten to cacciatore them I use a soft tone, and they look at me with their heads cocked making clucking noises. They have pea sized brains, and they often look at my feet as if they've never seen them before and wonder if they might not be edible.

In the meantime I guess I'll have to eat something else for breakfast, maybe I'll have some Farina. According to the OED Farina (fah-ree-nuh) is a noun meaning:
1 flour or meal made of cereal grains, nuts, or starchy roots.
2 (archaic) a powdery substance.
And the source is British, from the latin for grain.

Bull Shtuff. Farina means flour in Italian, and Farina (as a breakfast) came from Italy. In America it is mostly called Cream of wheat.

Here is a recipe "Per la Vostra Salute!" (To Your Health)
2 cups low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup farina (not instant)

Bring the milk and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk in the farina. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Farina, it's Italian!

Update on the Chickens, We lost a hen a few months ago, and we bought 6 Cochin Hens that will begin laying in the fall, and we get an average of 2 eggs a day right now.

This just in... black snakes were stealing our eggs, and the hot weather thwarted them. I caught one trying to eat a golf ball. We put golf-balls in the nest to induce the hens to lay, and apparently the heat wave warmed the golf balls up enough to confuse the snakes. I killed the one snake I found with the golf ball stuck in his mouth, I watched him trying to get it back up, but the curve of his teeth prevented him from getting it out, he just couldn't un-hinge his jaw enough. Perhaps he was just re-positioning for another swallow,  but it didn't look like it would end well for him, and a quick death seemed only humane. He was a black snack that I would gladly have relocated, so I felt bad. The next day two other golf balls were gone, and the egg production is now 3 to 4 eggs a day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Italian Valentine

Saint Valentine was Italian, well, actually there are several possible candidates for the historical figure that became Saint Valentine, and all of them are Italian. Little is known about the saint other than that he was martyred on February 14.  In fact, the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre seems more likely an event to be associated with any candidate for the real Saint Valentine than would this holiday of cards and candy, with the exception of one account, that has Valentine martyred for performing marriage ceremonies when he was not supposed to be performing any Christian ceremonies. That has something to do with romance, right?

Cupid is Italian, I mean our cupid, the chubby little baby with wings. The Greek Eros was a slender youth, but the Romans sculpted him chubbier, in the renaissance he somehow became a Putto (what we incorrectly call a cherub) a male baby, sometimes with wings, but always carrying his bow and those insidious bolts of desire.

Though Punxsutawney Phil sounds like an Italian gangster the closest thing Italians have to groundhogs day is a proverb that goes "Se San Paol Pe ciar e la Ceriola sciira, De Pinverna no g'o pii paiira Milan" which means "If St Paul('s day) be clear and Candlemas cloudy, we have no more cause to be afraid of winter." (Candelmas is Feb2). This is a pretty obscure proverb, however. Most Italians are more familiar with April 4th as the day of weather prognostication. Another old saying goes "Quattro aprilante, giorni quaranta" or "Quattro aprilante, quaranta dì durant" literally "April 4, 40 days", meaning whatever the weather is like on April 4th it will be like for the next 40 days.

This February has 29 days, leap-year day is an unlucky day in Italian tradition. If a baby is born on Leap Year Day it is said that either the child or the mother will be dead within the year. OK, so maybe that was gloomy, but hey, it's Italian.

Monday, January 2, 2012

An Urban I-talian in Rural North Cackalacky

Karen and I moved into Dad's house in Bear Creek North Carolina in November, but the reality of it is just begining to sink in. I finished growing up in rural New York, so I realy wasn't expecting the big culture shock that is part of every day life here. I went to the small general store in the near-by town of Goldston the other day, where I introduced myself to a fellow shopper, with whom I had struck up a conversation about local amenities. The first time I said my name I could see the gears turning behind the poor fellows eyeballs, so I repeated myself, and through some cultural filter my new aquaintence latched onto "Troy" (a common occurrence in North Carolina) and paired it with a phrase that almost made me laugh out loud. "Ye'r not from arround here, are you Troy?" he asked in a genial way (no, I didn't hear distant Banjos, I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it).

A few minutes later he introduced me to his wife, forgetting the "Troy" he introduced in this fashion: "This here's Danny, he's an I-talian fellow from Neew York" (the "New had an extra long "ew" to it). I understood the "Danny" thing, people hear my last name and associate me with Danny DeVito. Taking no offence I steered him back to "Troy" and found out where I could buy some chickens, and the best place to get Rabbit food and laying crumbles, and all about "The Devils Tramping Grounds" which were in Bear Creek, on the other end of 902 from my house. All-in-all he was very friendly and helpful, but I parted from his company with the distinct impression that he had viewed me as a rare and exotic creature, an oddity of nature that he had to point out to his wife. Don't get too close, honey, he seems friendly, but he might bite!

As to the Devils Tramping Grounds, tradition says that it is a patch of ground in the woods of Bear Creek where plants will not grow within a circular path supposedly tramped down by the devil as he paces arround plotting evil against humanity. Supposedly nothing left inside the circle is there the next morning, and no-one can remain there overnight, though there is much evidence to the contrary since the stories surfaced in the 1930s.

This is oddly reminiscent of a site in Italy not far from the town of Piedimonte Matese where my father's maternal grandfather came from. The name of the place is "Passeggiata Del Diavolo" which translates to "The Devil's Walk" or "The Devil's Footprints". The area is volcanic, and there is a set of footprints in volcanic rock. People used to believe that the devil left them there as he paced or danced around on the lava, but scientists now believe ancient humans left their footprints in ash as they fled the volcano.

So, calling me Troy or Danny, that's sooo North Cackalacky, but imagining the Devil's been pacing arround in your back yard, that's either North Carolinian, or it's I-talian.