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This post isn’t about the results of today’s US election. It’s not about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. It’s not about conservatism vs. liberalism, right vs. left, republican vs. democrat.

It’s about how I’ve come to the shocking realization that I’ve just spent the last year of my life lulled in a Facebook cradle. I let a social media vacuum swaddle me in a gigantic ‘preaching to the choir’ sense of security. I believed everyone was exactly like me, when actually I’d just surrounded myself with like-minded people. You can “unfriend” someone, but that doesn’t make them disappear.

I wasn’t paying enough attention to the other side of the aisle. I didn’t engage in any meaningful discussions with people who saw things differently than I did. That’s how I got blindsided.

I was living in a blue bubble.

The wake up call is quite jarring, but I accept the results of the election and I continue to believe in our system of democracy. I don’t particularly like it right now, but I still believe in it.

Some soul searching is now in order.

 

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m all about promoting my hometown of Orvieto, so I’m absolutely thrilled to repost the following article published today in the The Local Italy! A Rome-based, independent daily reporting/news service, The Local Italy offers English speakers a window on life in the bel paese. The Local is one of the largest English-language news networks in Europe with more than four million readers every month. 

If you’d like to be part of the Local Italy’s community and received daily updates, sign up for their newsletter – you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to the Editor and staff of the Local for passing the word about our little slice of heaven on a hill!  – Toni

An Italian hilltop gem: why you must visit magical Orvieto

The hilltop town of Orvieto, Umbria. Photo: Stefano Constantini

An Italian hilltop gem: why you must visit magical Orvieto

Published: 08 Jun 2016 07:00 GMT+02:00

With its rich history – it was an Etruscan stronghold – narrow streets, inspiring views, abundance of places to eat and drink, and friendly locals, Orvieto is definitely one to add to your Italy travel list.

DeBella, a freelance writer, gives us the inside take on what to do, where to stay and, most importantly, where to eat and drink:

Because I live in Orvieto and write a blog named after my obsession with this town, people often ask me to recommend things to do and see on their visits here. In an effort to avoid duplicating my efforts, I began compiling a list – a sort of “The Best of Orvieto” – that I could easily pass along to others.

Photo: Stephen Bugno

It’s not a complete and comprehensive list, but rather a collection of my own personal favourites: Things to see, do, places to stay, where to eat, drink and how to explore.

The beauty of all this information is you’re able to tailor your itinerary to match your time constraints and interests. For instance, if you find yourself only in town for the afternoon, I suggest you go straight to the “must sees”, stopping for a quick bite at a bar, café or gelateria.

If you’re staying for the entire weekend, you’ll have a lot more time to enjoy the region’s famous wines and cuisine. Languishing for a week or more? Take a morning hike around the Anello della Rupe or sign up for an Italian language course. No matter the duration of your stay, I’ve designed this guide in the hope that it will help you to get the most out of your time in Orvieto.

Photo: The Local Italy

Getting here…

Orvieto is located almost smack-bang in the centre of Italy, in the region of Umbria. It sits alongside the Autostrada A-1 (the spinal cord of the country’s highway system connecting Milan and Naples), so it’s easily accessible by car or train (it’s on the regional train line between Rome Termini station and Florence’s Santa Maria Novella).

If arriving by train…

From outside Orvieto’s train station take the funicolare (funicular rail car) that runs every 10 minutes up to town. From Piazza Cahen take the picturesque 15-minute stroll up the Corso Cavour to the historical center or hop on the bus that drops visitors off at the Duomo or Piazza della Repubblica.

If arriving by car…

There are several parking lots in town, but the easiest to access is the Forum Boario, a carpark on the western end of the town, accessible from the Strada della Stazione to Via delle Conce. The covered garage charges a fee of € 1.50 per hour and has an escalator (scala mobile) or elevator (ascensore) up to town.

Must-sees…

Photo: Gerdy Ling

Duomo di Orvieto: This 14th century Roman Catholic cathedral is one of the most spectacular and important in Italy. Its Capello di Madonna di San Brizio contains Luca Signorelli’s (c. 1445 –1523) Last Judgment, considered by many to be his masterpiece.

Orvieto Underground: This tour leads you through an utterly fascinating subterranean network of medieval caves, tunnels and Etruscan wells.

Torre del Moro

Photo: Toni DeBella

 The 13th century clock tower chimes on the hour, half and quarter hours, so you’ll never need a wristwatch. Climb the 270 stairs to the top for a bird’s eye view of Orvieto’s terracotta rooftops and surrounding countryside.

Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick’s Well)

Photo: Emilio Pocaro

Dating back to 1537, the largest of the town’s subterranean wells measures 62-metres-deep and has two spiral staircases, one for descending and one for ascending, that provided residents essential access to the water source at its base.

Crocifisso del Tufo Etruscan Necropolis (Etruscan Tombs): One of only two Etruscan necropolises in Umbria, it dates back to the mid-sixth century B.C. and is an enlightening example of the engineering superiority of this ancient but highly advanced civilization.

Where to stay…

****Hotel Piccolomini, Piazza Ranieri, 36; Email: info@palazzopiccolomini.it; Tel: (+39) 0763 341743; Website: http://www.palazzopiccolomini.it/en/

***Albergo Filippeschi, Via Filippeschi, 19; Email: info@albergofilippeschi.it; Tel: (+39) 0763.343275; Website: http://www.albergofilippeschi.it

B&B Ripa Medici, Vicolo Ripa Medici, 14; Email: ripamedici@libero.it; Tel: (+39) 0763 341343; Website: http://www.ripamedici.it/IndexEng.html

B&B Sant’Angelo, Via Sant’Angelo, 42; Email: info@bborvieto.com; Tel: (+39) 0763 341959; Website: http://www.bborvieto.com/

B&B La Piazzetta, Via Angelo da Orvieto, 10; Email: lapiazzettaorvieto@gmail.com; Website: http://www.lapiazzettaorvieto.it/indexeng.html

B&B Casa Vera, Vicolo Albani, 8; Email: info@casaveraorvieto.it; Tel: (+39) 349.430.0167 – (+39) 347. 811.9725; Website: http://www.casaveraorvieto.it/en/

B&B Magnolia, Via del Duomo, 29; Email: info@bblamagnolia.it; Tel: (+39) 0763.342808 – (+39) 349.462.0733; Website: http://www.bblamagnolia.it/?lang=en

Where to eat…

Photo: Mike Cross

Trattoria La Palomba. La Palomba is a typical Umbrian trattoria with a strong local following that never disappoints. Mention “Silvia” recommended it (an inside joke). Via Cipriano Menente, 16; Tel: 0763 343395 (Closed Wednesdays)

Trattoria Del Moro Aronne. Christian and his family serve food and wine that are out-of-this-world without sending your wallet into orbit. Via San Leonardo, 7; Tel: 0763 342763 (Closed Tuesdays)

Ristorante Capitano del Popolo. Located on the famous square of Piazza del Popolo – once the hotbed of Medieval Orvieto’s civic government (and now the setting for the town’s biweekly, open-air market) – Chef Valentina Santanicchio proudly sources her produce, literally, at her doorstep. When it comes to ‘eating well’ in Orvieto, Capitano del Popolo keeps both your taste buds and your good health in mind. Ristorante Capitano del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo 7/8/9; Tel 320 9287474; Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/capitanodelpopolo/?fref=ts

Bistrotters. Opened in the winter of 2015, this trendy, not-your-average-trattoria-style restaurant has become one of my favorite haunts for dining or enjoying cocktails on their expansive outdoor covered patio (they have heaters in the wintertime). Located on the piazza opposite the Church of San Giuseppe, halfway between the Torre del Moro and the Duomo, it’s close to everything, but also a world away.

Piazza Gualterio, 2, Orvieto; Email: info@bistrotters.it Tel: (+39) 0763.343978; Website:http://www.bistrotters.it/en/bistrotters-orvieto/(Open everday for lunch and dinner)

Pizzeria Charlie. The Poggi family is passionate about pizza and beer. Their beautiful outdoor courtyard is an excellent spot for dining in warmer weather. Via Loggia dei Mercanti, 14; Email: info@pizzeriacharlieorvieto.it; Tel: 0763.344766; Website:http://www.pizzeriacharlieorvieto.it (Closed Tuesdays)

Gelateria Pasqualetti. Made with only the freshest ingredients and natural flavours, it’s considered one of the top gelaterie in the country. Note: Their coffee-flavoured gelato recently won an award in an International ice cream competition. Corso Cavour, 56; Tel: (+39) 329 837 6959

 Where to drink…

Il Vincaffe. A wonderful enoteca with an outstanding selection of regional wines, it’s a great place to meet friends for an aperitif or to enjoy a light dinner. Via Filippeschi, 39; Email: info@ilvincaffe.it; Tel: (+39) 0763 340099; Website:http://www.ilvincaffe.it (Closed Mondays)

FEBO – Officina del Gusto.

Coffee at FEBO. Photo: The Local Italy

This cute and cozy spot has a café upstairs that serves lunch and dinner. I go there so often in the mornings that I no longer need to bother ordering. I just sit down and my caffe latte arrives at my table – perfect as always! Ah, to be a local. Via G. Michelangeli 7; Email: febobistrot@gmail.com; Tel: 0763 341057; Website:http://www.officinafebo.it/

Blue Bar. During the winter of 2008/2009, this was my living room. Owners Romina and Anthony’s little bar is a favourite of the ‘young crowd’ (and those of us who want to sit in their quiet salon and work on their computers without being glared at). The most recent addition to the Blue Bar family…their son, Leonardo! Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 23 (Closed Sundays)

Caffe Cavour. To say this bar is ‘family-owned and operated’ would be an understatement. Roberto, his wife Luigia and their sons Simone and Giacomo work this brightly lit, warm-welcoming bar like it was part of their home. Offering outdoor seating on “The Corso” in warmer months (located just down from the intersection of Corso Cavour and Via del Duomo) and in a back room all-year-round, they not only serve coffee drinks and cocktails, but light meals and a great aperitivo as well! Corso Cavour 74; Tel 340 644 9360; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Caffè-Cavour-1475679886059292/?fref=ts

Caffe ClanDestino. Right on the main street, you can sit at bistro tables underneath umbrellas for prime people watching. Corso Cavour 40; Email: caffe.clandestino@facebook.com; Tel: 0763 340868

Festivals and special events

Natale in Orvieto. Holiday time is my favourite season in Orvieto. There are free pop-up concerts galore and white lights strung on practically every street and lane. Magical.

Umbria Jazz Winter. One of the most important jazz festivals in the world, it takes place annually in late December to early January.

Corpus Domini. The Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena in 1263 prompted the construction ofOrvieto’s Duomo and established the Feast of Corpus Domini. Each summer the city commemorates the feast with a procession of over 400 costumes representing the municipal courts of the time, coats of arms, colored flags, armor, weapons, and helmets signifying Orvieto‘s military strength of that era.

Slowing it down

Orvieto has such a rich history – once Etruscan, then Medieval and now a vibrant, modern small city always buzzing with excitement, art, culture, music, food and wine. But it also offers a slower, peaceful pace that makes visitors feel as though they’ve stepped back in time…if only for a little while.

Toni DeBella is a freelance writer living in Orvieto. Her blog, Orvieto or Bust, is a collection of stories of a life in Italy.

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.it)

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Pasticceria Nando Orvieto

Instead of an oversize bunny rabbit leaving a basket of candied eggs, citizens of Orvieto wake up on Easter morning to a breakfast of Pizza di Pasqua (it’s not really a pizza, but it’s not exactly a cake either).

Pizza di Pasqua is a yeast-filled bread (similar to Christmas pannettone) that’s served during the holy days of Pasqua (Easter Sunday) and Pasquetta (Easter Monday).

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Bar & Pasticceria Montanucci Orvieto

A cherished tradition typical of central Italy (Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche), Pizza di Pasqua comes in both dolci (sweet) and al formaggio (cheese) versions.

Folks in Orvieto take great pride in their Pizza di Pasqua, so you can imagine there’s lots of fighting discussion about who has the best recipe (there are as many as there are cooks). For the past 14 years, Palazzo del Gusto Orvieto has sponsored a bake-off to decide whose is the yummiest. Both professionals and amateurs are invited to compete for the coveted culinary distinction of “Best Pizza di Pasqua di Orvieto”.

 

IMG_1795Exuberant baker Gaetana Olini has been preparing the Easter specialty for decades and let’s us in on her secret for making a great one.

“You must have patience and allow the pizza to rise in a warm spot for at least 18 hours”, she warns. “It’s in this way that you can be sure it will turn out very soft and airy.”

Gaetana P di pasqua

Pizza di Pasqua: It isn’t Easter in Umbria without it.

 

IMG_1792A RECIPE FOR PIZZA DI PASQUA…

INGREDIENTS

4 yeast cubes (from the refrigerated section, not the powdered kind!)

1 kg of flour 00

250 grams of sugar

1 cup olive oil

6 eggs

300 ml of water

300 ml of milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or one package)

1 lemon zest

1 small glass of anisette liqueur and ‘rosolio di cannella’ (cinnamon liqueur)

IMG_1793

PREPARATION

Dissolve 2 cubes of yeast in 250 ml of warm water.

Meanwhile, in a large plastic bowl put 300 grams of flour.

Add the yeast mixture into the flour and mix with a fork until all the water is absorbed into the dough (be careful not to let it get hard). Add flour gradually making sure the dough remains soft!

Cover with a cloth and put in a warm space (inside a shut-off oven is best) and let the dough rise (about 1 hour).

Melt the remaining 2 cubes of yeast in 300 ml of warm milk. Remove the bowl from the oven and add the eggs, sugar, olive oil, lemon zest and milk with yeast. Blend with an electric mixer, adding more flour gradually, by hand.

Pour in two glasses of the liqueur and the vanilla.

At some point, if you did everything right, you will see that you will be forced to stop mixing because the dough will stick to the whips and it won’t be possible to continue. At this point use your hands to knead the dough, still continuing to add flour until you find that the dough comes off easily from your hands. But beware, it must not become a nice smooth ball! It must always remain soft and wet!

Grease two baking pans (large and tall) and put a quantity of dough that must not exceed one quarter of the height of the container to allow the dough to rise more than twice its size. It’s ready when the dough reaches the edge of the container.

Put in a preheated oven at 100C, then increase the temperature to 180C. The pan should be placed on a lower rack but not resting on the bottom of the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes.

Pasticceria Nando, Via dei Sette Martiri, 68, Orvieto Scalo

Bar Montanucci, Corso Cavour, 23, Orvieto

Palazzo del Gusto Orvieto, Via Ripa Serancia I, 16, Orvieto TR

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Rupe and clouds

I can’t believe it’s been 31 days already! Time flies when you’re having fun! What a wonderful experience it’s been to sit down everyday and write about the people, places and things that make this city so special and unique. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who inspired, participated or supported me in sharing a little bit of Orvieto with the world, day-by-day. In 2013, I wrote an article for BrowsingItaly entitled, “Insiders Guide to Orvieto”, and I thought it might be a good way to wrap things up. Remember, August may be over, but you know me….I’ll never, ever stop shouting it from the terracotta rooftops…Orvieto, Italy Rocks! Like! Share! Visit!

http://www.browsingitaly.com/umbria/orvieto-insiders-guide/972/

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Slavic Montanucci

Coffee bars in Italy are its life’s blood. For over 100 years, Bar Montanucci has been pouring caffeine-addicted Orvietani their morning cappuccinos (in my case, caffe latte) as well as offering fresh, handmade pastries, cakes and…..wait for it…chocolate! At lunch choose from fresh salads, sandwhiches and pasta. After lunchtime, the case transforms into a gelato counter, and in the evenings you can order cocktails with small plates. The terraced patio is a great place to hang-out on warm, summer days and nights, too. Like! Share! Visit!

giraffe

candy

MONTANUCCI 1

‪#‎31daysofOrvieto‬‪#‎orvietoorbust‬ ‪#‎Orvieto‬ ‪#‎barmontanucci‬ ‪#‎coffeebarsinitaly‬ ‪#‎Italytravel‬

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Death Logs In is the second book in E. J. Simon’s techno-thriller crime series. The first, Death Never Sleeps was published in 2013 and rose to #2 on Amazon Kindle, as well as appeared on numerous bestseller lists in the U.S. and abroad. Initially self-published, Simon/Zef began publishing Death Never Sleeps after it moved over 80,000 copies in its first year.

Unfortunately, I was unable to read the first book in the series because both copies mailed to me never reached my home in Orvieto. Ahhh, the Italian postal service…talk about a shady organized crime syndicate!

Death Logs In book cover

“Some of the most powerful people in the world want to kill Michael Nicholas. Only his brother, Alex can save him – the problem is that Alex is dead. It’s been almost a year since Alex Nicholas, a Queens based underworld Boss, was gunned down. After Alex’s brutal murder, Michael inherited not only his brother’s business – but his enemies. Michael is now a key player in a world he once feared. By day, he is the head of a Fortune 500 company by night, the CEO of Tartarus, one of the worlds largest illegal gambling operations.” 

Review of Death Logs In….

Thrillers and crime novels aren’t really my thing, but I wanted to keep an open mind as I began reading E. J. Simon’s newest novel, Death Logs In

Death Logs In has all the makings of a great crime/mob thriller. There’s protagonist, Michael “just when I though I was out, they pulled me back in” Nicholas – a reluctant gangster who was left to run his brother’s gambling empire after his death. Sindy Steele is a femme fatale bodyguard with more secrets than the Vatican has gold leaf, and Michael’s wife Samantha, who likes to shop but doesn’t much care for Michael and Sindy’s business association. The cast of characters are rounded-out by two meathead bookies from Queens, a whiney but deadly assassin stuck in exile at one of Rome’s finest hotels, and a gaggle of high-powered Catholic priests whose dealings have nothing to do with “God’s work”. It’s The Godfather-meets-Goodfellas-meets-The DaVinci Code

I had some trouble, initially, getting past the artificial intelligence premise on which the story is based. To be fair to the author, I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic – especially when it comes to future shock/conspiracy theories. If a Stephen Hawking had come to me personally to explain “AI” principle, I might be more receptive to the idea…but then again, maybe not.

The improbable plot aside, I also struggled with the schizophrenic quality of the storyline. Locations changed and jumped around a lot and some chapters were way too short, making the plot extremely difficult to follow. The sanitized dialog stuck out like a sore thumb – not one single F-bomb in a book full of mobsters? A novel about a criminal underworld should have a little edge.

Finally, the world-class destinations such as New York, London, Rome and Paris were underused. Scenes were invariably set inside restaurants, bars or hotel rooms instead of taking the reader on a clandestine gondola ride on the Grand Canal, a car chase through the streets of Rome, or a cliff-hanging murder scene atop the Eiffel Tower. It might have been contrived and cliché, but at least it would have been fun.

Regrettably, Death Logs In is a book I’m less than enthusiastic about. In my opinion, the author didn’t take the story of racketeering and church corruption quite far enough. But as I said earlier, crime thrillers aren’t really my thing…they could however, really be yours.

Meet the Author: 

E.J. Simon photo

E.J. Simon was the CEO of GMAC Global Relocation Services (a division of GM) and the Managing Director of Douglas Elliman, the largest real estate company in NY.

He is a consultant to many leading private equity firms and has held senior level positions at prominent financial services companies.

He is a world traveler, food enthusiast and lives in Connecticut.Death Never Sleeps is his first novel. His second novel, Death Logs In, will be available in October 2014.

Connect with him:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

 

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER:

Where to buy the book:

 Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

Chapters Indigo

Death Never Sleeps – Amazon.it / Amazon.fr

Death Logs In – Amazon.it / Amazon.fr

TO READ OTHER REVIEWS OF Death Logs In click on the links below.

Tour Schedule:

Dec 12 – Monica Cesarato – review Death Logs In

Dec 17 – The Good Life France – review of Death Logs In / author interview

Dec 17 – Curiosity and a Carry On – review of Death Logs In

Dec 22 – Why Roam? – Book Spotlight / guest post

Dec 29 – The Good Life France – giveaway

Jan 5 – Young in Rome – review Death Never Sleeps

Jan 7 – Orvieto or Bust – review Death Logs In

Jan – Young in Rome – review Death Logs In

Jan – The Venice Experience – review Death Never Sleeps

Jan – The Venice Experience – review Death Logs In

Jan – Erica Firpo – review Death Never Sleeps

Jan – Erica Firpo – review Death Logs In

 

Italy Book Tours Logo jpeg 225 pixels

Italy Book Tours gets books in the hands of readers who love everything Italian. They offer professional virtual book tours to authors and publishers whose books are set in Italy, have an Italian theme, are written by an Italian author or translated from Italian. For more information you can contact Laura Fabiani at http://www.italybooktours.com.

 by Toni DeBella

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I love it quadri

Tip #1:    Point and grunt.

Tip #2:    Always have Google Translate open on your phone and a copy of the “Alfabeto Fonetico” in your wallet. My name spelled out this way is Torino-Otranto-Napoli-Imola. Domodossola-Empoli-Bologna-Empoli-Livorno-Livorno-Ancona.

Tip #3:    Never make eye contact on public transportation – it invites people to speak to you.

Tip #4   Don’t engage in conversations with Italians under the age of 5…it’s just soo00 humiliating.

Tip #5:    Avoid initiating phone calls – send emails or text messages because you’re less likely to sound stupid in writing.

Tip #6:    If you must answer the phone, pretend you’ve got a bad connection. “Pronto? Mi senti? Mi senti? Boh” and then hang up.

Tip #7:    Respond to questions (even if you don’t understand them) with phrases such as “Certo” (sure), “Si, Si” (yes, yes), “Va bene” (okay) and “Ho capito” (understood) as you start to walk away. People won’t think you’re rude – just late for an appointment.

Tip #8:    When all else fails…talk with your hands.

 

And speaking of speaking Italian..I recently participated in a podcast with Cher Hale, the brains behind the “Iceberg Project.

http://cherhale.com/2014/07/what-would-it-be-like-to-live-in-orvieto-italy-an-interview-with-toni-debella/

What’s the Iceberg Project,?

The Iceberg Project is based on the theory that most of what you learn about culture when visiting a new country without speaking the language is just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about The Iceberg Project go to click here

by Toni DeBella

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