May 28, 2016

Remembering the Battle of Bitonto

Neobriganti Gather in Brooklyn, New York for the Eighth Annual Battle of Bitonto Commemoration
Revelers rally around our ancestral flag before dinner
Photos by New York Scugnizzo and Luca Lerario
By Cav. John Napoli
As part of our yearlong tricentennial celebration of the birth of HM King Carlo di Borbone (1716-1788) we decided to bring back our semipublic Battle of Bitonto Commemoration, a celebration of faith, culture and history. In the past we had trouble locking down commitments from participants or finding a suitable place to celebrate because of the Anniversary’s proximity to Memorial Day Weekend; however, thanks to our good friend Giuseppe Marrone, we finally found the perfect venue at Forno Rosso.
Admittedly, the numbers are still low (only about half our guests could make it), but I gave up the idea of having large festive celebrations long ago and resigned myself to smaller, more intimate gatherings of like-minded individuals to network and discuss important issues concerning our community, while still having a good time.
This year, friends and colleagues from the Saint Rocco Society of Potenza, the Comitati Due Sicilie USA, and the U.S. Delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George came together to remember and honor the Great Restorer, Carlo di Borbone, and extoll the virtues of our Borbone Monarchs.
This year's invitation
Celebrants mingled and enjoyed a few cocktails before dinner. Some pamphlets about the pivotal battle were distributed and each guest received a small packet of prayer cards, buttons and a scapular. This year three lucky winners went home with door prizes. Marco and John each won a Concertos for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies CD (Hyperion, 1999), and Andrew carried off a first edition copy of Nino Zchomelidse’s Art, Ritual, and Civic Identity in Medieval Southern Italy (Penn State University Press, 2014).
Knowing how terribly disappointed I was at being unable to join my confratelli in Rome and attend the recent Confirmation of TRH Princesses Maria Carolina and Maria Chiara of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Cav. Charles Sant’Elia thoughtfully presented me with a copy of the program and a Constantinian Order handbook. They are very considerate keepsakes, which I will cherish forever. Charles was also kind enough to bring me back a beautiful handmade Argenio silk tie adorned with the crimson and gold insignia of the Constantinian Order of Saint George. It was an extremely generous gift that I will wear often and proudly.
Spirits high, we finally sat down for dinner. My dear friend Marcantonio Pezzano said grace, then we all raised our glasses and made a toast to our ancestors and the memory of the combatants. Throughout the night, the beer, wine, laughs and interesting conversation continued to flow freely.
For our first course, Chef Marrone treated us to a delicious assortment of Neapolitan delicacies. Each of us were given a large dish laden with Frittatina di maccheroni, Panzarotti Napoletani, Mulignan a fungitiell, Polpo alla griglia, Bruschetta and Insalata mista e CapreseThe antipasti was followed with a perfectly cooked Penne alla Sorrentina, al dente pasta served in a simple tomato sauce with basil, mozzarella and pecorino cheese. 
After a short breather, our pizza entrées were brought to the table. First we had the classic Pizza Margherita, a true Neapolitan culinary masterpiece. Then came Pizza ’nduja, a spicy Calabrese specialty made with the famous spreadable salumi from Calabria.
Our sumptuous repast was capped off with caffè, dessert and some shots of limencello and amaro, the perfect after dinner digestivi.
I cannot thank Chef Marrone enough for letting us hold our celebration in his restaurant. Giuseppe is a genuine friend and remarkable host. As always, the food was delicious and the service was great. He and his hardworking staff went above and beyond to make us feel at home and accommodated our every need. We couldn't have asked for anything more.
Special thanks to all the attendees, it was an honor and a privilege to celebrate with you and I look forward to doing it again next year. Viva ‘o Rre! 
Giorgio, Stephen, John, Andrew, Mike, Giuseppe, John, Marco and Charles
Some information about the battle and the Neapolitan Bourbons was on hand
Attendees received a small packet of prayer cards, buttons and a scapular
This year's door prizes 
Confratelli Cav. John Napoli and Cav. Charles Sant'Elia show their pride
Programs from the Confirmation of TRH Princesses Maria Carolina and Maria Chiara of Bourbon-Two Sicilies and a Constantinian Order handbook
Charles presented me with a beautiful handmade Argenio silk tie
The beer, wine and laughs continued to flow freely
Frittatina di Maccheroni, Panzarotti Napoletani, Mulignan a Fungitiell, Polpo alla Griglia, Bruschetta and Insalata Mista e Caprese
Perfectly cooked Penne alla Sorrentina
Pizza Margherita, a Neapolitan masterpiece
Pizza 'nduja, a spicy Calabrese specialty
For dessert we enjoyed chef Marrone's Coccole Con Nutella, deep fried sweet dough with Nutella, strawberries and powdered sugar
Luca, Giuseppe, Mike, John, Andrew, John, Giorgio, Stephen and Charles
pose for one last picture before calling it a night