reblog: Toni DeBella, Rick Steves, and The Food Police in Italy

Very funny (while informative) video produced by Toni DeBella, a blogger (Orvieto or Bust) who has relocated her life to Orvieto, Italy.

location of Orvieto, Italy

location of Orvieto, Italy

Rick Steves, a travel consultant, is based in my state and is well-known for helping Americans be smart and courteous European travelers.  I had a bunch o’ Rick’s info packed for my Italy trip that didn’t happen.

There are apparently four videos in The Food Police series, but I did start with the Rick Steves episode at the link (below).  It’s only 9 minutes long, well worth watching (loved Rome’s cobbled side streets).  The other episodes are shown at the link, too.  Only about 3-something minutes each.

Rick Steves in My Inbox

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“Ciao, Professore!” (movie); Io speriamo che me la cavo (the book)

“Ciao, Professore!” is a charming, laugh-out-loud movie, by Lina Wertmüller, released in 1993.  Next to the title in parentheses were these words:  Io speriamo che me la cavo.  Here’s the Netflix blurb:

In director Lina Wertmüller’s upbeat comedy, Marco Sperelli (Paolo Villaggio) — a priggish upper-class teacher from northern Italy — is mistakenly assigned to a tumbledown school in an impoverished village near Naples. But upon arriving, he finds most of his students hustling on the streets to earn money for their families — and before you can say “school of hard knocks,” Sperelli becomes the pupil as the kids tutor him about life’s realities.

I don’t speak Italian, so the English subtitles could be accurate that translated the very, very rude language of the 3rd graders.  Somehow it worked, those little children hollering some terrible language.  It probably worked because it was coming out of the mouths of little children.  Laughed and laughed till I couldn’t breathe!

The parenthetical title in Netflix was in little tiny letters and got me curious.  (Thank you Google.)  The movie is based on the book, released in 1990, Io speriamo che me la cavo (I did not know there was a book!).

Apparently, the book is a collection of the real essays written by children going to school in Arzano near Naples.  At that link there is a sample of the humor and is well worth reading.  I remember this passage well in the film and it was hilarious!  Still funny!  Now I want to read the essays…. !!  Better get studying!

The real reason I started this post was to quote a particular piece of wisdom in the movie.  But I digressed. (gasp!)  I’ll tell anyway:

Q:  Why is LIFE like chicken coop stairs?

A:  Because it’s short and shitty.

gimmee the drugs, man

I’ve been sick for a stinkin’ month.  My usual prescription is rest and the occasional ibuprofen.  But today, the light bulb went off, albeit a slow-to-warm fluorescent, when I realized that I was actually getting worse instead of better AND that I’ll be flying in two weeks and a couple of days.  aggggghhh!

No respiratory thing to start a trip on  a pressurized craft!  No, no, no!   The thought of my poor old sea-level ears and lungs being pressurized to 6,000 feet fills me with dread!  Gimmee the dang drugs, man!  (My physician’s assistant, who only sees me when I’m dead or dying or if I have to get refills of happy pills, actually had an appointment this afternoon and I got the drugs, man!)

The last time I went to Europe I had pneumonia.  It was a grand ski vacation for three weeks to Austria and Switzerland.  I tried to ski (telemark), but I was in pretty bad shape for a while, so spent a fair amount of time riding the narrow-gauge rail a little way down the hill to the baths.  Which, of course, I loved!

The group I went with was a bunch of downhill ski patrollers I associated with in my capacity as a backcountry ski patroller.  My dear friend Dolly, who was not a patroller, went too and we were partners in escapades and curious adventures.  One non-skiing day, the whole group went on bus tour down the mountain and on the way back up, Dolly and I decided we should get off at the baths.

Well.  We were in Switzerland.  I spoke basic French, a smattering of Spanish, and pretty good Chinese.  (I could also say mit schlage in German, which means with whipped cream, but I couldn’t find a way to comfortably or helpfully toss it into the conversation.)  Dolly spoke Spanish fluently.

You should have heard the two of us faking it in French, English, and Spanish to ask the driver to please let us off at the place where we could catch the narrow-gauge.  I probably threw in some Chinese because my brain gets all bollixed up with all the languages floating around.  I digress.  (Cue Eddie Izzard dancing.)  Our busload of buddies ended up cheering for us –and the driver–  as we stepped off at the correct place!

On our way to Europe from Anchorage, we stopped over in Copenhagen, which I thought was quite fabulous!  We had about 24 hours there and I planned to make use of that time, jet-lag be damned (and very real!).  Dolly and I decided to find our way to Roskilde, the site of the Viking Ship Museum.  We’re both adventurous and have that attitude that carries us wherever we want to go.  We knew we could catch a train, so planned to trundle off to the station.

The others in the group, I think there were 9 others, decided that might be fun, but not a one of them was interested in finding the way.  Keep in mind that everyone else in the group was a tough downhill ski patroller–they see broken bones, blood, contusions, all the icky stuff, whereas we backcountry folks tended to see avalanches and the occasional stabbed-himself-with-his-pointy-pole stuff.  Well, there was that one guy who dropped dead, but that’s for another story.   (Eddie Izzard again dances in my head!  la la la, where was I?)

Nobody else spoke a language other than English either, so I imagine it was kinda daunting.  The group of us started walking to the train station, Dolly and I in the lead, reading the Danish signs (how?) and the 9 others following in a duckling-train behind us.  Standing at stoplights was particularly amusing — the Other 9 would mill closely around Dolly and me, clearly not willing to leave us, so we 11 would stand in a clutch until the light changed, then the duckling-train would chug along again.

Dolly and I bought the tickets for all 11 of us.  The Other 9 stuck close by us on the train ride–what if we had tried to sneak off without them?  How would they get back to Copenhagen without us?  How would they find the hotel?  gasp!  (Lots of folks speak fluent English there, including the ticket seller at the train!)

At Roskilde, we walked in a duckling pack until I thought I would scream.  I am an independent sort and require a level of independence of those around me.  When we finally got down to the water and the museum, I ducked out on ’em and wandered around the museum that I had wanted to see, to experience, without a single quacking duckling in my wake.

Then it was time to go get the train back to the big city and we did the duck walk dance again.

That was a grand trip.  I still have the souvenir sweatshirt from les bains de Val d’Illiez where I spent so much time soaking away the pneumonia!  (The baths are MUCH fancier now than when we were there!)

My first stop on my Italy trip will be in a tiny village called Bagni di Lucca.  Bagni means baths.  Yep, I’m going to soak myself in the baths again.  How cool is that?!

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

planning and planning…

I’m going to be in Italy for a month and have plans for only the first 10 days.  The rest will fall into place!  This is the area I’ll concentrate on…  but who knows what could happen?!

After landing in Bologna, I’ll hop a train and bus to stay with a blogging pal in a tiny village in Tuscany.

 

A couple of days later, I’ll take the train to Ravenna where I’ll take a 5-day mosaics class that teaches the traditional methods.  I will also celebrate my 55th birthday there!  I’ll be staying in a small B&B right in the historical district and will quite likely ride a bicycle to class!

I’m hoping to apprentice in a mosaics workshop, which would require that I stay in Italy for longer than a month.  If I still have money, I may do that!

that is mosaics!

  Then, since Venice is just up the road, I’ll probably head there.  How could I miss Venice?!  Burano or Murano?

Siena?!   I have a guidebook that belonged to my uncle who visited there on a break from North Africa during WWII.    I’ve long wanted to see Siena….  but it’s south of that purply highlighted area!    hmmmm….  what to do?  what to do?

four Wednesdays hence

… I will be wishing I could get comfortable in my cramped Lufthansa airline seat so that I could sleep away the 10-hour overnight flight.

Lufthansa long-haul flight

I will also want to stay awake to watch icy white Greenland slide along below us, 41,000 feet under those wings.

Four Wednesdays hence I will be living my dream of spending a solo month in northern Italy.   I have the round-trip ticket, I have registered for the 5-day classical mosaics class in Ravenna on the east coast, and I know where the flight sets down outside Bologna, but I still don’t know where I’ll lay my jet-lagged head the first night or nights thereafter.  I don’t know if I’m renting a car at the outset or at all.

I do know I will be celebrating my 55th birthday in Italy.  Cinquante cinque ani!

This dream of going to Italy has haunted me for years.  Perhaps once I’m there I’ll be able to articulate the tremendous magnetic desire to be in that tiny country.  Life experiences to now have narrowed like a funnel to point to the concluding reason for the disparate events that all seem to make sense now:

Mom had us studying Latin when we were kids and I continued to study in college.  Gaudeamus igitur, etc. and so forth!

We lived in Taranto way down at the heel of Italy when I was a wee thing and apparently my brother and I spoke conversational Italian to our housekeeper, though we apparently refused to speak Italian to our parents!  Dov’è Laurio?    Andiamo bambini!

The Ancient Italians, those amazing, warring Romans, have had my attention for decades.  They knew how to use concrete as well as any modern concrete contractor!  Amazing!  Underwater!

Some years ago I wanted to learn mosaics, but since I wanted to do outdoor installations, I stopped what I was doing with mosaics to teach myself about concrete as a substrate for those mosaics.  I love working with cement!  I love the smell of admixture in my cement and sand mix in the morning!

Four Wednesdays hence, as I fly to Italy, it will be two years ago almost to the day that I was laid off from a quite fine job, a job from which I believed I would retire with a nice little 401k.   I at least have the little 401k!

These last two years have been an exploration, a rediscovery of the guts I possess that have allowed me to simply try something!  How hard could it be?!  

In an effort to become employable once more, I studied landscape design, but after the third quarter of commuting to school in unfathomable traffic, I called Uncle! and stopped.  Simply stopped.  Panicked.  Didn’t panic.  Wondered and thought and pondered in that nonmoving space and time.

Recovered from the exhaustion brought on by being caught up in the too many people in too-close quarters driving aggressively at 70 mph!   As I came out of the exhaustion, I returned to my spot in the garage and poked around with my concrete stuff again.  Created some oddball stepping stones.  Became inspired, at last being rested and refreshed after a difficult 1-1/2 years, to work on mosaics along with the concrete.

Full circle.  I know concrete as a substrate for outdoor installations.  I learn mosaics in leaps and bounds, absorb knowledge and wisdom from the teachers who have written books.  Knew I wanted badly to go to the seat of Byzantine-era (around 600 CE) mosaics and learn at the feet of master mosaicists.

Still have to earn a living and wondering what in hell to do at my age when I’ve effectively been shut out of the job market.

Boing!  Clink!  Bing!   I shall be a concrete and mosaics artist and I will call the business Concrete Couture (TM).

Four Wednesdays hence, I shall be on my way to Italy, to tie together those disparate experiences, to bring to the fore all the courage I’ve ever had, to try something new, to take a leap of faith, the only net being the Universe, which has cared for this Earthling all these years, kept me alive and showed me how to thrive.

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cartooning and coloring

I’m slow, but steady:  finished the mosaic cartoon, then made myself a cheat-sheet of the colors to order:

I’m planning to take a 5-day mosaics class in Ravenna, Italy when I take my month-long trip next February.  Since I’ve been booted out of the job market, because of my age (age-ism!!!!%$@), I’ve been casting around for other money-making ways.  Our culture is set up for 9-5ers, but I have always chafed at being squoze into that pigeonhole.  Even in my 20s a friend remarked, “But you’ve never wanted to work full time.”

Good thing, that, because with my weird proclivity for getting tired easily, I cannot work full time on someone else’s schedule.

Mosaics could be It.  I remember now how I got into concrete sculpture–I wanted to do outdoor mosaics!  So, got distracted by learning how to create my own dang substrates upon which to embed said mosaics.

(Aside:  getting distracted like this is something the Big Mister and I call a “moose muffin.”  It’s not what you think, partly because they produce tootsie rolls and not muffins.  There is a lovely children’s book called If You Give a Moose a Muffin, that splains what happens if you start with one thing with a moose….  And of course, having lived around mooses for many years in Alaska, I am particularly fond of the vision of giving a moose a muffin and other stuff!)

Ahem.  Mosaics.   Yes, there I was.  (There’s a dance that goes with that trying to remember where I was.  I’ve been told that I resemble Eddie Izzard the fabulous comedian/commentator when he dances around trying to remember where he was!)  Any-way, mosaics have been an art form for at least a kajillion years and probably served as wayfinders before that.

I like rocks.  Stones.  Tiles.

Thanks, Mom, for believing in me yet again!

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Optimism, the Universe, and Everything

I loved the post in Dear Optimists this morning.  I hope you discover those secreted-away dinosaurs and unicorns and send pics of them in your front yard!

About 10 years ago, my husband and I were broke, well actually minus-broke.  In fits of optimism and living in la-la-land for a few minutes, we would scribble our hopes on a 3″ by 3″ scrap sheet.  Lots of thumb tack holes in that little sheet.

Today, there is one audacious wish left on that original scrap:  a small villa on the northern edges of the Ligurian Sea (Italy).

Those other items were:

  • a GoldWing motorcycle and vintage Ural sidecar
  • a 2006 Scion <car>
  • lahgitana get a good job
  • pay off a rather daunting debt
  • buy a 2-bedroom house in a particular neighborhood
  • can’t remember, but it doesn’t mean I am ungrateful.  Thank you again and still, Universe.

Most of that list required money, which was not exactly streaming in, more like rushing by.  Then, the strangest things began to happen:  my husband found a sidecar on craigslist not too long after he had found a GoldWing motorcycle to fix up.  We bought that brand-new toaster Scion, I got a job, paid off that icky debt, and then bought that 2-bedroom house in that neighborhood.

After all that, we unearthed that tattered scrap somewhere in the packed-up detritus and were amazed, thankful, and amused!

Intentions count. Gratitude counts.

Thank you, Universe.  I wouldn’t be here without you.

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Color Pencils

Right after I put away my drawing tools, of which there are many, I needed them again!  Just not for garden design.

In one of my first posts, I showed a picture of the stones I’m making to serve as the patio for our pergola. 

Peony leaves and fish gravel!

Right now, the first 3 are in place by the fountain so that one of them gets splashed on one side, changing the effect of the embedded leaf patterns.  The last 5 stones are still curing, and they will all be able to come out and play by the end of the month.  The consistent theme is the embedded peony leaves; to each stone, I added different bits of glass, marbles, cut-marble, and even a string of tiny blue beads.   (The Big Mister asked me if that string was from Mardi Gras, and if so, how did I end up with them?!  Harumph.  The answer is no, they didn’t and I didn’t.)  All of those bits came from my long-collected-at-garage-sales supply of mosaic pieces and parts.

Which brings us back to the drawing tools.  I decided 8 stones were enough for now and that I needed to move on to something else.  I cast a shallow 15-inch-diameter bowl in white concrete and sand with the intention of mosaicing the inside.   I pored over my mosaic books and found a design that seemed to fit the idea of a shallow bowl that will live outside, gathering rainwater, and probably turn out to be yet another water bowl for the cats. 

Buddy Cosmo Scooter: he gets called many things! He adopted us through Calpurrnia's kitty door.

Not because I deemed it so, but because, well, they’re cats and they choose what they choose and we have little control. 

Calpurrnia

I digress. 


Out came the color pencils and oil pastels, along with the circle template. 

Didn’t need the drawing scale because I knew I’d be eyeballing pencil to paper.

architect scale

Modified the design as I sketched.  The colors were harder to decide upon, but once I parsed the artist’s intent I knew what to do next.  My usual jewel tones are missing from this outing; instead there are unusual pastels, the darker shades rather than the ubiquitous pinks and blues.

The colors remind me of the Tuscan landscapes I will soon experience in person:  sandy white, even celadon green (my favorite color), a burst of deep sky blue, and burnt Siena.  All those years ago with my box of crayons, I’d marvel at that name, burnt Siena, and wonder where that name came from.   I figured it was some kid who had charred a town!(Blaming a kid was logical because with my brother, my partner-in-crime, as kids we were playing with matches in the woods and, um, accidentally set those remote woods on fire.  Fire trucks.  Hoses.  Mom looking at us and knowing, which means the firefighters knew it was us.  I’ve never been the same after torching Mother Nature.)

You must see a photo of the town of Siena in Italy to understand perfectly.

Siena, Italy

See the "burnt" Siena?

So, it’s off to the mosaic tile store to choose and price (I am unemployed still, after all!) the colors I talked over with my Mom.  (Oh, my Mom!  How many posts could I make about my fabulous Mom?  She is a huge part of the inspiration of the post called Fan-Fare.)

Ah, the creativity and inspiration that arise when the tired recedes.


© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Abandon All Hope, etc., etc., etc.!

Dante’s Inferno: Abandon all hope, ye who enter

Is this not the greatest manhole cover in the world?!

(source)

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Co-ink-i-dink? I think not!

My Mom has saved bits and pieces of her past lives and passed them to me.   The day before I posted about Italia, I found a stack o’ stuff from her in the Italy section of a dusty bookcase.  Lots of small tourist booklets from Second-World-War-time Italy from my uncle who was an officer in the hospital corps.  There’s a slim volume about Siena, which has been on my list for 10 years.  How is this possible?  (He must have been on leave from North Africa, where he did serve.  Shudder.)

Sometime in my 30s when I had been living the outdoor, self-propelled life in Alaska, I found out something special about a tiny town that I love and where I thought I’d retire–Seward, AK.  My paternal grandmother was shipped to Seward as an unmarried girl who hadn’t quite found a husband yet.  She did find her husband there, my grandfather.

In my late 20s–Mom you started telling me stories then, yes?  Or did I start to listen?–while working as a technical editor, I found out that my mother had worked as a technical editor in the 1960s for Chrysler Missile!  (Chrysler Missile was the reason we moved to Taranto.)  Remember this as the time of NATO, the Cold War, and nuclear attack worries.

My own parents after they were first married in the early 1950s were headed to work in Alaska, but the contract fizzled and they ended up in a more southerly portion of the Pacific Northwest.   I moved to Alaska after college and lived 16 amazing years there.  I’ve been gone for 13 years and I’m still homesick.

I used to be amazed by these co-ink-i-dinks, but now I am rather blase (where’s the acute accent here?) and just find that the revelations give more structure to my life.

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Italia

For many years, I have been fascinated by the early Romans.  Geez.  They beat up everyone;  created state-sanctioned marriage in order to encourage people to have children (to strengthen the empire); built huge structures, especially aqueducts.

The climate was one of war-mongering, slavery, and assimilation.

Another fascination is with the Ancient Egyptians.  OK, they were builders and intellectuals.  Why can’t I travel in time to see both the Library at Alexandria  and the Pharos Lighthouse?  That lighthouse was around 450 feet tall!   That took a lot of slaves because who would pay a living wage for that kind of labor?  As a young child, (early 1960s) I cut out pics from the National Geographic of the fantastic sculptures–I think a dam was being built and would flood ancient structures.  (Can’t remember.)  My impression is that the Egyptians stayed home and hosted guests from out of town such as Antony and Caesar, etc.  However, there was plenty of slavery, so I must be wrong about the stayin’ home.

Then there’s Alexander the Great.  Dang, what a guy!  Warmonger and traveler.   I even named my long-ago doggie companion after Alexander–called him Iskander.

Fascination with warmongers?  I’m one who was preparing in the late 1970s to register as a conscientious objector if the draft began to include women.  In the late 1960s, I protested the Vietnam War, even tho’ I was only a kid.   On and on I could go about war, but I do see that it is what we do.  We are a horrible species, I’m just sayin’.

OK, then, Italia.   Have you seen the movie “Gladiator”?  There is a particular scene where our hero is walking up a dusty lane lined with Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), with groves of olive trees on either side.  When I see that picture, I get the scent of that dry air, dusty, and a little rosemary-ish.  How is that possible to have an olfactory experience from a place I haven’t been?  An aside, my family lived in southern Italy, Taranto, from 1960 to 1962.  Did my parents take us to the countryside where that pungent air swirled into my memory banks?

All that studying of Latin, beginning when I was 7, with Mom at the kitchen table.  I still have that workbook.  Studied Latin in college because I wanted to (along with my dearest Mal), and even had to sing Gaudeamus Igitur.  Yikes!

I have to go to Italy.  How can I not go?  Something apart from me is drawing me there.  As I study Italian right now, I keep hoping I’ll stumble into the cache of Italian language left from my toddler-hood in Taranto.  I know it’s in there!

The northwest corner of the country is my goal–on the water or in the mountains.  Close to France.  (Studied French, too; we lived in Toronto, Canada around 1970.  That’s a whole other story.)

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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