Vita e storia
Gabriele D’Annunzio was born into a middle-class family. His father adored him and made sure he received a good education. At eleven, Gabriele was invited to enroll in the Real Collegio Liceo “Cicognini,” a prestigious high school in Prato, where he was a brilliant, but undisciplined student.
Due to his behavior, he was expelled from school and studied privately in Chieti before returning to Cicognini, where he finished his studies. During this time, he became interested in poetry, having read Carducci’s Odi Barbare. He began to write and composed a hymn in honor of the King’s birthday. Gabriele’s father decided to self-publish the piece.
D’Annunzio enrolled himself in the literature department of the University of Rome, and decided to begin writing professionally at the same time. He wrote short stories, poetry and articles of various subjects or different magazines. In 1888, he finished his first book, Il piacere, (“The Pleasure”), based on his experience in life and love.
In 1883, he married a Welsh duchess named Maria Hardouin with whom he fathered three boys. This did not stop him for having a series of passionate female relationships that he wrote about in his poems. D’Annunzio dedicated the book L’innocente, (“The Innocent”), to his lover, countess Maria Anguissola. The countess was so taken by D’Annunzio that she left her husband and children for him. They even had a daughter together. This relationship ended with D’Annunzio met the actress Eleonora Duse. Together they created both an artistic and romantic partnership, dedicating themselves to the theater.
In addition to his passion for women, D’Annunzio had the bad habit of spending money frivolously. He continuously found himself in financial trouble and would ask his friends for loans. His life of excess caused him to accumulate serious debt. In 1910, all of his goods were seized and sold. He left Italy for France and did not return until the beginning of the war with Italy.
He enlisted himself in the military and drew attention to himself with his bold and impressive actions, like the Becca di Buccari (February 10-11,1918) or “the Flight over Vienna” (August 9,1918). In 1919, he helped to take over Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia), and defended the city after a treaty, signed between Yugoslavia and Italy, had made it an independent state.
Disillusioned and tired, he retired to his home in Gardone, near Lake Garda, which he gave to the State upon his death to repay his debts. D’Annunzio had named his home “Vittoriale degli Italiani” and it has become a national monument. He lived the last years of his life in severe physical pain. His suffering caused him to become extremely frugal and contemptuous.
D’Annunzio did not enjoy long, over-indulgent meals, which may seem strange for a man who exaggerated with so many other things.
Actually, he showed great restraint at the table. However, he appreciated good food and regional cooking, especially sweets.
When an enterprising pastry chef from Abruzzo began to produce parrozzi in large quantities, D’Annunzio would recieved packages of the them from the baker. In return, D’Annunzio commemorated the pastry chef in his poems.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 5 oz chocolate
- 4 ½ oz sugar
- 3 oz butter
- 2 oz almonds sweet
- ⅜ oz bitter almonds
- 1 ¾ oz starch
- 2 oz all-purpose flour
- 5 eggs
(35 minutes preparation + 45 minutes cooking)
Peel the almonds, after blanching in boiling water: pound the almonds in a mortar with two tablespoons of sugar. Melt the butter. In bowl, whisk the five egg yolks with the remaining sugar; then fold in the pounded almonds, flour, starch and melted butter. Finally, fold in the egg whites whisked to stiff peaks. Pour the mixture into a buttered baking tin and bake at 425° F for 45 minutes or so. Make a chocolate frosting and coat the cake, once cooled.
G. TRAGLIA, Le ghiottornie di Gabriele D'Annunzio, Milano, L. Veronelli, 1957;
G. CONTI, I gusti della tavola in Gabriele D'Annunzio, Milano, Istituto propaganda internazionale, 1965;
P. SORGE, A tavola con D'Annunzio, Milano, Electa, 1998.