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Archive for the ‘Rome’ Category

Photograph by Wendy Dreary

I could start a series about the hundreds of things I’ve walked past, wondered about, and then just kept going.

One of those things is the enormous golden statue of Christ perched above Roma Termini. For years I’ve exited the station on the Via Marsala side, looked up in awe at that glistening Jesus in the sky but, I’m sorry to say, never bothered to take a closer look. That is, until today.

The golden boy…

  • The statue is entitled “Christ The Redeemer.”

  • It’s made of gilded bronze and was sculpted in Milan by artist Enrico Canaanite.

  • In 1931, the effigy was transported to Rome where it was added to the Basilica del Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio’s bell tower.

About the basilica itself…

Basilica del Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio (considered a minor basilica) is quite modern as Roman churches go. Designed in the neo-Renaissance style, it was conceived at the urging of priest-turned-saint Giovanni Bosco. A rockstar clergy of his time, “Don Bosco” applied a little pressure on his friends at the Vatican and hooked up the architect Conte Francesco Vespignani to oversee the church’s construction. The basilica was finally completed in 1887—a year before Don Bosco’s death. A relic of the popular saint (a cotton swab soaked in the blood) is exhibited in a glass display case inside.

Basilica del Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio, Via Marsala 42, Rome.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Wendy Dreary and Toni DeBella

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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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Compodoglio garden terrace

You may be wondering why in the world I’d be posting photos of my day in Rome on a project dedicated to Orvieto? Well, it’s to illustrate one of the great things about our town: It’s smack-dab in the middle of Italy, on a main rail line and right off the autostrada. Just a quick 1-hour train ride to Rome’s historical center, Orvieto can be the perfect day trip from Rome or… MAYBE.. Rome is the perfect day trip from Orvieto? Think about it! Like! Share! Visit! 

Getto fountainLeonardo-da-vinciRome campodoglio

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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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Kelly's Bike

It goes without saying that painters of landscapes love the outdoors, but for one American-turned-Roman resident, Plein air painting isn’t only a passion, it’s a way of life. Riding around the Eternal City on her “tricked out” bicycle – two saddle bags swinging in the wind and trusty easel strapped to her back – it’s just another day at the office for artist Kelly Medford.

Kelly laughingI met Kelly outside a book event in Rome last fall and mistakened her for a college student studying abroad. Perhaps it was her fresh face and wide-eyed exuberance that makes Kelly seem much younger than her 36 years, but make no mistake about it – this petite powerhouse of a woman is an accomplished painter with serious credentials.

Kelly grew up in Washington, D.C., the only child of two left-brained scientists. Her emotional, expressive and free-spirited nature set her on a different path with its share of serendipitous forks in the road and twists of fate along the way.

Kelly alley paintingFortunately for us Kelly’s travels eventually landed her in Italy where she studied at the prestigious Florence Academy of Art. It was in the Renaissance capital that she spent a year of intensive training in classical figurative drawing; honing her skills and developing her techniques. Painting indoors made Kelly feel isolated and itching to spread her wings so in 2010, she traded the dimly lit, heavy-curtained and controlled environment of Florence for the warm, golden sun-soaked locations of Rome. You’ll most likely find Kelly on a tiny lane or hidden piazza painting evocative canvases of Roman life or its surrounding countryside.

IMG_2478Kelly loves to paint, the outdoors and sharing her entusiasm for plein air painting so Sketching Rome Tour was born. “I created the tour so that people could have a different way of experiencing and remembering Rome. It’s such a beautiful place with so much history, that to take a photograph doesn’t really capture how you feel about a place.”

No Experience Necessary. No Erasers Allowed.

I recently met up with Kelly and her sketch group at their morning classroom, the Pincio balcony adjacent to the Villa Borghese gardens. My fellow students were Joanie, a teacher from Palm Springs (paints in her spare time) and daughters Becca (likes art a lot) and Vanessa (an excellent doodler).

IMG_2474

Following a brief, but enlightening lesson on technique and tips for using our handmade-by-Kelly sketchbook and kit, we fanned out to draw…rocks, leaves, sign posts, statues…I was having so much fun I didn’t want the tour to end. Sadly it did end, but not before gathering as a group for a little show and tell. 

Kelly urged us to continue our visual travel journals after the tour was over. “When you look at those drawings” Kelly explains, “you’ll have a recall about the day, what it was like, who was there, the weather – just the place – and that’s why sketching is important.”

Sketch tour rome

Memories, as I learned from Kelly, are extra special when you can hold them in your hand.

For more information about how you can sketch your own Roman memories, contact Kelly Medford at Sketching Rome Tour 

See Kelly’s artwork at Kelly Medford.com and her Adventures in Painting Blog

by Toni DeBella

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Every single path we take in life has its price to pay. Fulfilling my dream comes at the expense of living far away from my son.

IMG_2181Today I especially felt the sting of that choice as I accompanied Andrew to the train station. I decided not to see him off at the airport because he absolutely hates it when I make public displays of emotion.

Honestly, I should have earned an Academy Award for this morning’s subtle and realistic performance as the upbeat and nonchalant Mom…smiling as I gave him a big hug, two kisses on the cheek (Italian style) and waved goodbye through the train window. I waited until I was on the Metro back home to burst into tears.

Andrew arrived in Rome in January to do a semester of university study.  This once shy, introverted child had become a confident, independent and adventurous man.  It’s astonishing how quickly he immersed himself into the experience: A year ago he was asking me, “How do you say “fork” in Italian?” and now I’m asking him, “Should I use the imperfect or simple past in this situation?”  I admit it does bug me a little when he orders the dinner in a restaurant to avoid the embarrassment of his mother (who’s been studying the language for six-something years) mispronouncing menu items.  I suppose I should be used to it by now – he’s been smarter than me since the third grade. 

We spent his last day in Italy quietly walking around Rome. I could tell he was sad too, but he claimed he was just tired. I know he’s ready to return to his life in San Francisco and resume his studies, earn his degree, begin a career and get on with building the life he wants for himself. I want that for him too, but I will miss my Amore di Mamma more than I can say.

by Toni DeBella

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Finding Rome on the Map of LoveShortly after arriving in Italy, I accepted an invitation to a book signing and reading event in Rome.  When I learned of the book’s subject matter (a thirty-something woman who finds love with an Italian and moves to Rome) I thought, Oh no, not another fairy tale about coming to Italy, having an affair with Marcello Mastroianni and living happily ever after!  Needless to say I was skeptical.  Seriously, is there anyone out there who could bring freshness to this tired and overly saturated genre of storybook fantasies alla Three Coins in a Fountain, Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love?  I know I sound jaded, but my expectations are low.

IMG_1262After a brief introduction author Estelle Jobson sat down on a cushion in the courtyard of The Beehive Hotel, opened her book, Finding Rome on the Map of Love, and began to read.  As I listened to her recount the stories, I noticed the corners of my mouth began to spontaneously turn upward.  Her elegant and proper South African accent was in sharp contrast to the wry, sardonic and sassy repartee.  Hey, this girl gets it!  When she finished I was a bit sad, but fortunately I’d purchased my very own autographed copy of the book and immediately cracked it open on the train back to Orvieto.

During the first couple of chapters, I was gulping down Estelle’s pages the way a typical American might eat their dinner: swallowing without taking time to taste.  Perhaps I’ve been in Italy long enough that a voice inside my head warned, “Don’t be in a hurry. Savor each flavor and texture.”  This book was just like a good Italian meal; I never wanted the literary feast to end. And when it did end, I felt warm and utterly satisfied.

IMG_1263Estelle Jobson is a talented writer who has a true gift for observation. She describes things that, as an expatriate, I’d experienced but was never able to fully articulate.  What appreciate most about Estelle’s storytelling is the way she doesn’t laugh at Italians, she laughs with them. Her book is filled with intelligent humor, compassion, and edgy insight. She’s sarcastic without being mean; clever without being pretentious; and emotional without being overly sentimental.  Estelle sees Italians the way they really are and reconfirms, at least for me, why I love living among them.

I’ll stay with the food analogy just a little bit longer. I really enjoyed chewing slowly on every single delicious “bite” of Finding Rome on the Map of Love. Her words were proprio buonissime! 

Enjoying my copy...

Enjoying my copy…

...in front of the...

…in front of the…

...Duomo di Orvieto.

…Duomo di Orvieto.

by Toni DeBella

You can contact the author at findingrome@gmail.com

Find her and her book on Facebook

ebook on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Rome-Map-Love-ebook/dp/B009HBLYYO/ 

Online extract here: http://italianintrigues.blogspot.ch/2012/10/the-socialization-of-italian-man.html

 

 

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