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Bersaglieri…feathered hats, running marksmen, swords & cakes.

Bersaglieri…feathered hats, running marksmen, swords & cakes.


The Bersaglieri (Marksmen in English) later to become the Royal Italian Army. In 1836, the relatively poor Kingdom of Sardinia could not afford large numbers of cavalry, so a quick-moving infantry corps of marksmen were needed.

These troops were trained to high physical and marksmanship standards, have always been a high-mobility light infantry unit, and can still be recognized by the distinctive wide brimmed hat that they wear (only in dress uniform in modern times), decorated with black capercaillie feathers.

The other distinctive trait of the Bersaglieri is the fast jog pace they keep on parades, instead of marching.  Butera28

The Duchess called me in Australia, telling me about a lunch she was holding for 55 of these gorgeous boys on one of the days we were staying with her.

After 3 days celebrations, they want her to cut a cake with a sword to complete the festivities. They would supply the sword. She asked me to cook the cake….Butera28

I think it needs to be a rather dense cake & a recipe I can execute with my eyes shut (wow! I wonder if I should use these words in the same story :))

So I set about collecting appropriate ingredients, (ones that I have learnt from previous international cooking experiences may not be readily available,) & ferried them in my checked luggage from one side of the world to the other. Butera28From my humble abode, to the Palazzo in Palermo, for the Duchess & the Bersaglieri.

I still wonder in awe, at how these things happen for me…..Amalfi Coast

We have arrived in Palermo after an overnight ferry from Naples, a day in Pompeii, & a few spectacularly beautiful days on the Amalfi Coast.Pompeii

We cooked, the Duchess & I, & caught up on personal chatter. It was lovely….the countdown closed in quickly, staff appeared in bulk & the pace quickened considerably. Much behind-the-scenes organized chaos. We now have 71 for lunch….Butera28

The Duke arrives home from New York in time & fortunately, excitingly, my group of travelling companions got to see all the parades prior to lunch.Butera28

Speeches in Italian, finger foods like no other (we are spoilt for flavour when we sample the Duchess’s food, she is such a good cook!!) Tables of Primi, tables of Secondi, tables of Dolce, one after the other, all prettily presented & served by little white gloved waiters.

Find a spot to sit & eat…at one of the several long white linen tables in the dining room or the library, both overlooking the sea front, or just on your knee on one of the many plush lounges.butera28

Eventually it’s cake cutting time….the Duchess had kindly introduced her Australian guests & generously made a point of announcing my culinary participation.

There were many photos, many complimenti & much kudos. All a bit surreal, but very pleasant for all of us. And surprisingly comfortable for us as a group.butera28

It seems a long time ago since we were calmly chatting in the kitchen! Several hours later, as the last of the guests vacate the grand ballroom, we make our way to the private lounge room for a trolly of teas with our host family.

How exceptionally precious & awesome to share with our adventuring Art group.

Now it’s time for a quick change & out on the streets for a few informal drinks while hanging with the chicks & rehashing this experience in awe!Butera28

We found a rooftop bar, pretty, great food, good drinks…perfect way to wind down. And then a stroll home in the evening presented us with strobe lights, loud music & a fashion parade from the city wall to the street. At 11pm. As you do.

Such a different & interesting culture to us.Butera28

We smile, embrace & collapse into bed (which by-the-way is centuries-old, intricately carved dark wood, in the same chambers I stayed 2 years ago for my special birthday :))Butera28

Foot Note: This is my 3rd visit to the Palazzo in 2 1/2 years. The head house keeper tells me I need to “take diet.” Three times!

As shocking & in-your-face as that was to me, he’s definitely right. And probably an accurate gauge of a real issue :(( But that can wait while all these new tastes are so fresh & delicious….Butera28

  1. Sounds amazing. Wish I was there and I wish you posted more food pics so we can live through your eating adventure ????

    • Oh Kass, what a kind thing to say…..:)) especially when others are reminding me of the effects, lol xx
      I think people get sick of food photos though….xxxx

  2. Sounds awesome xxx

  3. Hahahaha always a laugh reading your posts!

    • lol…yeah, it’s fun.
      And I’m so glad it’s a shared experience :)) xx

  4. What a wonderful story already unfolding to be a sure fire epic! Can hardly wait to read the next instalment. X

    • Oh thanks Suzy, it sure is going off with a bang…..we’ve had another amazing adventure today.
      Fabulous street theatre….stay tuned :)) xx

  5. Beautifully written and inspiring as always; dream it and do it. Xo

    • Thanks huni….wish you were here too :)) xxxx
      Yes, if the opportunity arises & it won’t hurt anyone….my philosophy is just say YES!!!!

  6. What an awesome adventure!!! Sounds like your all having an amazing time.
    I almost had a sense of being at the palazzo with you…. Almost!!! :(((
    Keep the updates coming xx

    • Hey huni, yes it was amazing….& you know how welcoming Nico is. Sent your love.
      The duchess loved the bamboo cami, wore it the next day & said she’s never taking it
      Miss you…xx

  7. Oh Mambo, so well written as always – puts me right there with you all – perhaps a reality next visit to this part of the world. Grazie, Grazie mio amico

    • Oh thanks honey, glad you felt that way. That’s my hope when I tell these tales….I would have you all here to experience the blessings if it were up to me :))
      And yes, a visit to Sicily will be memorable, particularly with all the amazing connections we now have to share.
      Big love xxxxxx

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