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Archive for 2003

Pomp, Circumstance, and Darn Good Canapés

I got a letter from the United States Ambassador to Italy the other day.

Now I know that what I am about to reveal may cause shock and consternation amongst my readers, but the sad truth is, despite my carefully cultivated image of jet-set refinement, cutting edge culture, and general Glamour Queenliness, I rarely get personal mail from Popes, monarchs, presidents or even diplomats. So it was not without a slight frisson of excitement and trembling hand that I opened my embossed envelope.

Oh, What I Would Give to be Canadian!

Okay, okay, pipe down. I know I promised part two of Bedford Falls, but something else happened in the meantime.

Life in Bedford Falls

I often get asked what the main difference is between living in Italy and living in the States, and I usually respond by saying that it’s not so much the contrast between Old World and New, but between living in a small town as opposed to a big city. Sure, it’s a cop out answer, but it’s also a pretty inane question, so I think I deserve a break.

Death and…

Everyone has a code word. That special word that signals to the outside world that just one more straw and the camel’s back will not only be broken, but his legs will fall off and he will be diagnosed with a degenerative muscular disorder and pinkeye.

Ode to Italy

On the fifteenth of this month I celebrated 10 years of living in Italy. Time has flown, time has crawled, time has changed me. In the decade and a half I have known her, Italy has given me many gifts and has been vital in forming the person I have become. How can I ever thank her? Italy made me beautiful

Four Letter Words

Pauline was clear about the ground rules for the essays. No swearing. So of course I’m going to push the envelope by immediately composing an incisive academic thesis examining the etymological and sociological implications of taboo verbiage in occidental culture, ‘cause that’s just the kind of gal I am.

Youth

So, I had a bit of an epiphany the other day. I had to go to the doctor’s to have him take a look at my hand which, truth be told, has been hurting me for months now, but as the mother of a toddler I am no longer allowed to indulge in luxuries such as timely medical attention or peeing in complete privacy. Anyway, I headed off to the doctor’s…no, wait. I’m skipping a step. To make a long story short, our family doctor has his olive grove bordering on our olive grove above Capodacqua, so he spends lots of time talking This Year’s Harvest with my father-in-law Ugo when they run into each other out there (often, it seems, since my doctor appears to visit patients a total of two hours a day). Unfortunately, whenever I stop by Dr. Bensi’s office with some minor complaint or prescription to renew, he invariably settles himself down for a nice satisfying chat about fertilizer and pruning techniques. This used to be a bit of a problem, since I have something to confess. We all have our dirty little secrets and this is mine: I don’t really know all that much about the daily workings of our farm, Brigolante, my home for the past ten years. I often have guests at our agriturismo ask me things like how many pigs we have in the barn, and I look them straight in the eye and respond: four females, two males, and 14 piglets. I’m lying. I don’t have the faintest idea of how many animals are in the barn, what is planted in the north field and the running market price of barley. In fact, the last time I was in the barn was Christmas eve 1997, which began with an emergency 1 a.m. porcine birth, and faded out to a touching scene of me, attired in a cocktail dress and black pumps holding a slop bucket in each hand filled with squirmy, slippery newborn piglets while my husband, in suit and tie, whacked at the glowing new mother with a broomstick to get her to lie down and nurse, both of us cursing our neighbors Peppe and Gentile with all our linguistic creativity for having invited my in-laws over for a late game of cards. Back to the doctor story. For about the first eight years I lived here, I would no sooner step into Dr. Bensi’s office before he would whip off his glasses, lean back in his chair, and bark, “Is Ugo spraying his trees this year?” and I would stare at my shoes in shame and mumble something under my breath about how I really wasn’t sure and the rest of our interview would be terse and stilted and I was starting to worry that I was receiving substandard medical care because of this whole olive thing. However, being the kind of gal that takes a bull by the horns (after almost a decade of mortification) I now arm

Italian Sense of Fashion

All this reminds me of a story relating to my husband, who, though undoubtedly Italian (who else would pack olive oil for vacation?) is not what you’d call a flashy dresser. Or, I should say, he has all the necessary elements, but doesn’t really have the knack for putting them together correctly. I am considering adopting a Geranimals system.

Arrival in Umbria

It was 1987 and I was a fresh faced, excited (extremely naive and unprepared) high school exchange student hot off the plane from Chicago. I had arrived at the Rome airport, had my luggage arrive five hours later on the next flight from NY (tragically, a running theme in my life), and had to somehow get to the Termini station, buy a ticket for Assisi, and meet my host family. I spoke no Italian. I carried no guidebook. I had arranged for no one to meet me to help me through this. (When I say naive and unprepared, what I’m trying to convey is a level of stupidity too embarrassing to dwell upon.) I was extremely jetlagged and overwhelmed by five hours in Rome airport. I set off.

Common Myths and Misconceptions Regarding Italian Culture Fostered by Guidebooks

Now, I’m the last person to criticize guidebooks – any author deserves some credit for taking a stab at a task so momentous – but certainly they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some seem to be museum-opening-time-challenged, others couldn’t recognize a decent hotel if they stubbed their toe on its doorstep.

Brigolante Guest Apartments

Via Costa di Trex, 31 | 06081 Assisi (PG) | Italy

+39-075-802250 |

P.IVA 01251450530

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