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Archive for the ‘Living in Italy’ Category

It’s a message I’ve been attempting to get across to travellers for years. It’s become my own, personal mantra. I’ve recently made it an Instagram hashtag. I’ll shout it from the rooftops, if I have to…

One day is not enough to fully experience all the wonders that Orvieto has to offer!”

the food.

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Pretty cauliflower

 

umbrichelli tartufo

Umbrichelli al tartufo nero

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gelato on the steps of the Duomo di Orvieto

the wine.

foresco

Barberani Foresco red

vino

white wines anyone?

febo wine

a little Prosecco to take the edge off

the art and culture.

Luca 2

Luca Signorelli’s Masterpiece

 

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Famous rooster ceramic pitchers

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Christmas magic

the lifestyle.

 

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Ahhh, life is good.

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Transport

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Parades

and the people.

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Cheese, please.

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Keeping up with the news.

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Friends with boots.

Repeat after me! Orvieto is NOT just a day trip from Rome!

Come. Stay. Enjoy!

 

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Election image

Given the number of parties in Italy there are to choose from, candidate platforms to sort through, and the chess game that is the collalition-forming possibilities, voting here is not a simple undertaking. Preparation is key.

Here’s my step-by-step guide to voting in an Italian election…

Step one: If you’re an Italian citizen, register to vote at the local election office.

Step two: Go online. I found a helpful video entitled, “Elezioni politiche 2018, come si vota.” Watch it here:

Step three: Visit your local coffee bar and ask the baristas and patrons for advice. They are a fountain of information. Order a double espresso to fortify yourself for what is about to come next.

Step four: Walk over to your polling place. Once there, things get a lot more complicated.

Step five: Find the voting room that corresponds with the number on your voting registration card. If a crowd has gathered, ask who is the last person waiting–it’s similar to queuing at the doctor’s office. There are no lines. Italians prefer to bunch.

Step six: While you’re waiting for a booth to open up, some enthusiastic citizen will give the group an explanation of how to mark your ballots. They’ll use the samples ballots hanging on the wall as a visual aid. After the lesson, you’ll still be confused.

Step seven: As a crowd forms and grows bigger, don’t get involved in arguments about who was there before whom; hold your ground and keep your elbows spread. Inside, poll workers were calling our group in–alternating between men and women–though no one is quite sure why.

Step eight: After you’ve been handed your ballots and a pencil, enter a voting booth, close the curtain behind you and mark an large “X” across the party or candidates (or both – this still isn’t completely clear to me) you’re voting for. Fold the ballots and drop them into the color-coded cardboard ballot boxes.

Congratulations! You just voted in Italy.

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Sometimes it’s better to admit defeat—especially when it appears your opponents have the upper hand (and the youth and energy to outlast you.)

I could “go full postal” on these boys, but what would that accomplish, really? If my goal is to live harmoniously with others who share this little alley with me, then it’s time I wave the white flag of surrender and call a truce.

As I sit here on my stoop waiting for the owner of this lovely dirt bike to arrive, I wonder if he’ll be open to easing our hostility and strained relations too. I’m calling for an armistice: The end of our Vicolo Wars.

This is the final chapter in the continuing saga taking place in my little alley. (Read Vicolo Wars, Vicolo Wars: The Sequel and Vicolo World War III.)

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Libreria Antiquaria Baduel

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

We have a total of four bookstores within the walls of Orvieto’s historical center. A disproportionate number for a town of its size—they’re eclipsed only by the number of bars, restaurants, barbershops and underwear stores.

Unfortunately, over the last several decades the world has witnessed the long, slow death of the independent bookshop. Most blame the decline on the advent of superstores and later by the domination of online companies such as Amazon. In today’s digital-based world is there still a place for brick-and-mortar bookstores?

One former Dublin bookseller and regular visitor to Italy thinks there is. “I believe that bookstores will survive in some manner, shape or form; they are already evolving by offering customers comfortable cafes, other gift items and electronics, including access to digital books via their own websites, while remaining cultural hubs. Today I am a frequent traveller in search of independent bookstores wherever I go!”

A book enthusiast

Bookworms who visit Orvieto will be happy to know that there are two such ‘repositories of knowledge’ located not far off the main high street, but far from the maddening crowds.

Libreria Arcimboldo

GianLuca Fioravanti of Libreria Arcimboldo

Libreria Arcimboldo is a second-hand bookshop located on Via Filippeschi (between Piazza della Repubblica and the medieval quarter.) The little shop sells a fascinating mishmosh of art books, first editions, out of print titles, literature, poetry, old bibles, and even vinyl records.

Proprietor GianLuca Fioravanti wasn’t always passionate about books and reading. In high school he’d studied economics, but found the subject so tedious and boring that he almost gave up reading all together. “Then I ran across Kafka and Flaubert—two leading novelist of the last two centuries—I have not stopped reading since.” Changing to the study of philosophy opened him up to the worlds of art, history and poetry, as well.

Finding work in the literary field wasn’t easy so GianLuca took a series of jobs that helped him develop his people and trading skills. During that period he lived in Rome’s Trastevere district where he spent a great deal of time browsing neighborhood bookshops. He literally woke up one day and thought, “EUREKA! I will open a bookstore!” He chose Orvieto because it’s where his ancestors originated and because, “I think the city is gorgeous with many hidden treasures.”

One of those treasures is Libreria Arcimboldo.

Libreria Arcimboldo, Via Filippeschi, 16; Tel: (+39) 380.4757293; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LibreriaArcimboldo/; Email: libreriaarcimboldo@gmail.com. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00am to 1:30pm & 4:00pm to 8:30pm. Closed Mondays.

Libreria Antiquaria Baduel

Owner of Libreria Antiquaria Baduel, Mario Tedeschini

Mario Tedeschini’s love of reading began at age thirteen. Spending afternoons with his nose in a book from his parents’ library, he began cataloging each finished volume by subject and time of printing. In essence he’d drafted his first inventory—unaware that years later it would become his profession.

Mario started his career in 1997 with a bibliographic study in which he published a catalog of ancient books. In 2000, he opened Libreria Antiquaria Baduel on Via Vitozzi and, at about the same time, was certified as an expert authorized to issue opinions about the originality and market value of books, prints and manuscripts.

The oldest book in his possession at the moment was printed in 1561, but Mario points out that books aren’t necessarily deemed rare or valuable because of their age; rather they’re appraised for their historical significance or important subject matter.

Formation of Eve, relief basement of the façade of the Orvieto Cathedral. Engraving made in 1791

“The engine that drives me to continue a job that is “out of step” with a digital world is dictated by the passion to discover rare editions or books virtually unknown,” Mario explains. “I am compelled by an irresistible impulse to study, observe and touch a book—where all the senses are involved. This passion is driven by cultural enjoyment and the desire to preserve history—not as a mere economic interest, since that would end all the magic that surrounds the world of books.”

Libreria Antiquaria Baduel, Via A. Vitozzi, 7/7A; Tel & Fax: (+39) 0763.342046; Email: baduel@baduel.it; Website: https://baduel.it; Winter hours: 9:30am to 1:00pm & 4:30 to 7:00pm. Closed Mondays. Summer Hours: 9:30 to 1:00pm & 5:00pm to 7:30pm. Closed Saturdays.

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hrc-tru

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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toni with drinks

I made it over the hump into middle age with most of my sanity intact and my self-confidence shored up by the passage of time and the fact that my acne had finally cleared up. Attending my high school reunion could mean the destruction of all that hard-won progress.

I began to wonder if stepping back in time might thrust me into an emotional downward spiral. I imagined a banquet hall filled with unrequited loves, former beauty queens and my adolescent nemesis, all of whom possessed the super powers to return me (an otherwise reasonably happy, healthy adult) into a sniveling, blubbering masses of teenage angst in less than 20 minutes.

I couldn’t chance it (plus I wasn’t able to make it back to the States that fall…or so I thought).

My friend and I hatched a plan and with the help of modern technology—a blown up selfie, a wooden stick and some Elmer’s glue—I was able to attend the reunion by proxy.

 

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Me, backrow second from the left

 

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After party girls

Apparently, I got more action that night than I ever did in the backseat of a ‘71 Camero.

TOM PENDER & ME

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coffee sf

There’s an audible gasp when the price of my morning coffee is announced ($5.00) and the bill arrives for two martinis ($35, nuts included). Doing the grocery shopping causes small aneurysms – a 12oz container of strawberries and blueberries comes in at $7.99. I’m experiencing sticker shock on steroids.

Downtown office buildings have hi-tech elevators that run based on algorithmes. Tap a computerized keypad and it scientifically figures out which car you should take to get to your floor most efficiently.

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At commuter train platforms people form queues behind black squares that indicate where doors will line up. Folks wait for others to get off before boarding. I guess these people have never met a Signora at the Saturday morning market.

I’ve been seen standing dumbfounded in front of new-fangled ATMs, bus ticket machines and parking meters. I ask way too many questions and require loads of explanation. Suddenly I’m a stranger in my native country.

After nearly four years living in Italy, I’ve adapted to its culture and grown accustomed to its ketchup (less sugar), pastries (less sugar) and mayonnaise (less salt).

The other day a barista asked me if I wanted my cappuccino “wet or dry?”

Ten days and counting…Orvieto or bust.

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