Italy Hit Parade Vol. I

Discovering new or new-to-me music has always been one of my favorite things about traveling and living abroad. So I plan to use this space to bring you some of the songs that I’m listening to in Italy. Some of the music will be bubbly pop, some hip hop, some…I don’t know what. But most, if not all, will come from the radio and MTV (which actually plays videos here).

Note that some of these videos may not play because of region restrictions or on mobile. I really have no way of knowing if every video will work. So consider IHP Vol. I the first test.

Rocco Hunt is one of the more successful (and accessible) hip hop artists in Italy. Continue Reading →

Roma So Far

View of Piazza del Popolo from the Pincio

I stayed in Italy for a week and thought I’d write a book.

I stayed in Italy for a month and thought I’d write an article.

I stayed in Italy for a year and realized that I didn’t have to write anything at all.

A friend recently told me this quote. I don’t know if it’s a famous one–I’m paraphrasing so I haven’t been able to locate it online. But it hits home for me.

I moved with my family to Rome about a month ago and I’ve had a lot of writing inspiration. Of course, I’ve made it to a few tourist sites, the piazzas and parks and cobbled historic center. But I’ve also just hung out–walking the streets with my kids, enjoying gelato, straightening up the house, waiting for utility men to hook up wifi, fix cracked windows, etc. My brain is so full of sights, sounds, smells, and local quirks that I don’t even know which Italy story should begin this new phase of my blog. And so, I’ve been taking everything in instead of writing.

But many new posts are coming, so do stay tuned.

I’ll be blogging about Rome, day trips, nearby beaches, hill towns, and more in the coming months as I get intimately re-acquainted with Italy and its capital. I’ll also be sending out the occasional newsletter with my latest posts and links to other Italy travel news. Subscribe here to keep in touch.

Ancients Doing Modern Things

I posted this silly tweet on my personal account one week ago and people are still retweeting it. Some replied with suggestions that it was Marcus Aurelius attempting a selfie. While quite a few suggested photos like this could become a trend. Is this a meme in search of a hashtag?

Either way, I hope to be doing more of these while I’m in Rome. Stay tuned for photos and musings posted on my personal and italofile twitter accounts. I’ll also be posting more Italy stories, how-tos, and travel news as I get settled.

Posted in Sardinia

Tower in Cagliari, Sardinia

Before I had a chance to read this weekend’s New York Times article on D.H. Lawrence’s footsteps through Sardinia, my father-in-law interjected with a tale from his time spent in Sardinia while in the Italian Army.

Dante served in the army for 13 months, most of that time spanning the year 1960. He had been posted to the Piedmont, but his battalion was sent to Sardinia for a gun training exercise. “Our hands were purple when we left the Piedmont, it was so cold,” he said. “By Genoa, it was much warmer. Then when we got to Sardinia, we were bare back because it was so hot.”

“I remember we took the train from north to south, from Sassari to Cagliari through the middle of Sardinia. It was so dry and we were so thirsty, we jumped out the train at each stop so we could run into town and fill up our canteens with water from the village nasoni (the faucet-like fountains that are all over Italy). Only the first guy would ever get a cup of water because the water in the nasoni just went ‘drip drip drip.’

“The other thing I remember is that all up and down the island were plots of land with prickly pear bushes everywhere. We took to eating the fruit from the prickly pears as a way to hydrate. But I remember this one guy–Carnicella–who was an office guy, a real primadonna, who stood back on the train with a fork and waited for the others to come back with prickly pears. Now, prickly pears are tricky–they are prickly so you have to be careful to get the meat out of them. Carnicella used his fork to dig into a prickly pear but the pricks were on his fork as he took a bite. He couldn’t eat for three days after that!”

The train chugged along through Sardinia. “It was a coal train, so by the time we reached Cagliari, we were black from the soot. I ate mussels in Cagliari that made me so sick I was in the hospital for two days. I didn’t know if I was dead or alive.”

Photo: Flickr/rainshift79

Win the 2014 DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Italy

DK Eyewitness Guide to Italy

Dorling Kindersley has asked me to help them give away a set of their 2014 Eyewitness Travel guides. Included in the 4-pack are the guides to Italy, New York City, Paris, and London.

I have been toting around DK guides since the first time I visited Rome and I think they are hands-down the best travel guides for visual learners who love art, architecture, and maps. Yes, yes–I know everyone uses fancy smartphone apps now. But there’s something comforting about thumbing through a guidebook before and during one’s travels (it also saves you from paying huge data usage fees!)

If you’d like to win the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Italy plus three more titles for your library, visit this post on my personal blog and leave a comment *there* to enter the contest. Comments left on this blog, while appreciated, will not count towards entry to the giveaway.

Surf Italiano

Chris Del Moro surfing in Italy

Chris Del Moro surfing in Italy. © Bella Vita Film

Two films about surfing in Italy have come across my inbox in the past week.

Peninsula

The first is Peninsula, a documentary about surf beginnings in Italy. On the occasion of the film’s debut in Milan this week, Corriere della Sera tells the story (in Italian) of Alessandro Dini and his friends who introduced surfing — both the sport and the lifestyle — to the Italian peninsula. The film will begin a world tour after its showing in Milan, so look for it at your local indie theater in the coming months.

PENINSULA | TRAILER from BLOCK10 on Vimeo.

Bella Vita

Bella Vita is about American surfer, artist, and environmentalist Chris del Moro who goes to Italy to reconnect with his ancestral homeland, his family, and tasty waves. This film came out in 2013 but it seems to be making the rounds now that it has received several film festival awards, such as the Official Selection for the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2013 and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2014.

BELLA VITA FILM from Bella Vita Film on Vimeo.

From Veronese to Futurism: Italian Art in the NYRB

The Family of Darius before Alexander by Paolo Veronese

The Family of Darius before Alexander by Paolo Veronese

I recently re-subscribed to the New York Review of Books and I’m glad I did. Besides providing some of the world’s most comprehensive and engaging book reviews, the NYRB often reviews art exhibits. In the latest Art Issue of the magazine, Andrew Butterfield reviews Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice, an exhibition running in London’s National Gallery through June 15, 2014; Julian Bell looks at two new books about Piero della Francesca in The Mystery of the Great Piero (subscription required); and Jonathan Galassi writes Speed in Life and Death (subscription), a piece that deals with Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe, an exhibition on view at NYC’s Guggenheim Museum through September 1, 2014.

There is also a poem by Michelangelo. Michelangelo’s note To Giovanni da Pistoia has appeared in many publications over the years, I’m not sure why it is being reprinted here. But the poem is always an illuminating read about the difficulties Michelangelo had in creating his most famous work.

Prodigious Veronese

A review of Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery, London

“For much of the twentieth century Veronese was regarded more as a skilled purveyor of decorative finishes than as a profound master, and his reputation was in decline, but of late there are signs of renewed interest, which this show and its catalog will certainly do much to advance. Perhaps more than any other picture in the show, The Family of Darius before Alexander [part of the National Gallery's permanent collection] reveals his great strengths as a painter; it also makes clear why he can seem so foreign to common modern ideals of art and of the artist.” –Andrew Butterfield

Speed in Life and Death

A review of Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City

“The Futurists wanted to sweep away what the poet Guido Gozzano called “le buone cose di pessimo gusto,” good things in the worst of taste, and replace them with an insolent, steely, polluting Machine Age. “Time and space ended yesterday,” Marinetti intoned. “We already live in the absolute”—that is, in a state of perpetual youth menaced only by death. “In every young man Marinetti’s gunpowder,” Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote. Marinetti not only wanted to end the monarchy and “de-Vaticanize”; he also argued for replacing the senate with an assembly of the young.” –Jonathan Galassi

The Mystery of the Great Piero

Reviews of the books Piero della Francesca: Artist and Man and Piero’s Light: In Search of Piero della Francesca: A Renaissance Painter and the Revolution in Art, Science, and Religion

“What more can we know about the artist, who died the day that Columbus landed in the New World and who for most of four centuries was nearly forgotten, only to reemerge as an indispensable fixture in modern schemes of art? The Met’s catalog ushers in Piero in the manner we have come to expect: he painted “magical pictures” that combine ‘intimacy and gravity,’ inspiring ‘a sacral awe.’ It points to his ‘almost primitive’ qualities and cites Aldous Huxley’s essay [PDF] of 1925 that names the Resurrection fresco in Sansepolcro as ‘the best picture in the world.’

“All this fits the occasion, but it mystifies. It makes it harder to imagine a human painter at work. Banker has been intent to reverse that process. To do so he has scoured the archives of Tuscany, Umbria, and the Marches. (Sansepolcro lies near the border of the three regions.) If, just possibly, he has been overzealous about tying up loose ends, he can nonetheless boast of personally discovering “over one hundred previously unknown documents specifically relating to Piero.” His methodology is sober and his inferences are toughly argued, and the result must surely count as a vitally important contribution to Piero studies.” –Julian Bell

Check out the New York Review of Books’s Art Issue for these and more reviews.

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