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Category: Braving Italy

Winter waterfall in Fondo (Val di Non, Italy)
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HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ — The Valley of Tears (Part 2)

This post is one of the four-part HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ series, including: 

Jason asked me one day—the kind of day where boredom lays over everything like dust — “What do you think gets a Noneso really excited?”

I thought about it for a few moments, but could think of nothing, wondering out loud, “Cross-country skiing? Motorbikes…polenta?” The conversation was starting to sound less tongue-in-cheek, and more snarky by the second. Aw, c’mon. That’s unfair, I thought. “I’m sure there are plenty of things…”

But nothing came to mind. Other than talk of saving money (or Amanda Knox — which gets any Italian anywhere all riled up), I’d seen very little that could stir the emotion of a Noneso.

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Jewish Star

HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ – “Troppo Jewish” (Part 1)

This post is one of the four-part HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ series, including: 

Note: A person who speaks the ‘Nones’ language is known as either a Noneso/a (singular male/female) or a Nonesi (plural)

As a baptized Episcopalian who grew up in predominantly Southern Baptist Kentucky with no Jewish family members, I can count on one hand all of my encounters with people of the Jewish faith. I’ve traveled and sojourned in mostly Hindu, Buddhist, or Catholic places, and other than an intense fascination with The Holocaust, I can speak of few legitimate connections to the world of Judaism.

Until now.

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Dirt motorbike

Spring In Val di Non (aka “Dirt Motorbike Season”)

Springtime, in most places, is a gentle season — a welcomed reprieve from winter’s frosty dull. Things start slowly coming alive, grasses poking their verdant heads above the warming soils, flowers opening like untended wishes. Winter is finally abating, as the landscape is almost imperceptibly colored in.

But springtime in Val di Non is not like this. It’s an outright assault to the senses. (more…)

Snow on a house in Cavareno (Val di Non)
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It’s A “Nones” Life

Nones. What’s that word?

It’s a people, a subgroup, a culture wedged in the Non Valley (Val di Non), far off in Italy’s northernmost region, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The dialect that people in Val di Non speak is called Nones (pronounced No-nez), while the people are known as Nonesi (Noneso for singular male, Nonesa for singular female).

Italian grammar aside, Nones is the type of dialect that precedes Italian, meaning: Italian speakers can’t understand it.

Confused yet? It’ll get easier…. (more…)

Horse Travel In North Italy

I have no pictures of it — no stunning visuals to go with. It was one of those moments where nothing interesting or exciting was supposed to happen when I left the house.

Only it did.

Dark night, 5 degrees below zero, snow on the streets. I was headed to the pharmacy for a last minute pick-up. There were no cars out, no people. Only me and the white, lamplit streets.

Rounding the corner, I heard it approach from behind. An approaching clack, clack, clack. (more…)

A four-wheeler driving through the town square in Cavareno (Val di Non, Italy)

Moving Around – Val di Non Style

One of the wonders of Val di Non is that you’re not limited to conventional modes of transportation*. Due to it’s wealth of farm fields, paved cycling paths, forested roads, trails, and general lack of car traffic, alternative transportation modes abound.

TRACTOR

After a day plowing the fields or shoveling snow, why bother heading home to change vehicles? Just drive straight on down to the bar, the grocery, or the bank atop your trusty ‘Fiat’ (the John Deer of Italian tractors). Due to your size, you can park absolutely anywhere you’d like, no questions asked.

Look here, there’s more!

Fondo, Italy, in the mist.

Cavareno, Italy: A Question Of “Move To Fondo”

Tucked in the far northern end of Italy’s infamous apple valley (Val di Non), lies a plateau, called, Alta-Val di Non (the High Non Valley). It’s a more bucolic area, home to the few rolling farm fields  remaining in the valley since apple trees were banned there years before (to maintain land for hay cultivation and tourism).

Among Val di Non’s otherwise overcrowded brocade of apple farms, Alta-Val di Non‘s lack of the crop has made it into a respite, of sorts. It’s here that Cavareno lies, the small town of 7 or 800 that Jason and I called home for almost 2 full years. By the looks of it, Cavareno seems like an idyllic place. Some slice of heaven, you might guess.

Oh but looks can deceive. (more…)

comb and scissors
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Val di Non Country Boys and The “Mele Mullet”

Jason’s cousin, Silvio, speaks excellent English, and he loves to insert the word ‘country boy’ into any conversation. “I am a country boy,” he’d say to us in English. “Me — a ‘country boy’.”

This was a relief for us to hear — because it’s true. Not in a derisive way, but true in the way things are just…’true’. Apples grow on: trees. Whales live in the: ocean. Young men in Val di Non are: country boys.

Being country boys, though, average things are never sufficient. Why buy five pounds of potatoes when you can buy fifty? Why take a car to the grocery when you can travel by four-wheeler? And when it comes to their hair styles, Val di Non’s country boys don’t settle.

Enter the Mele Mullet: Oh, Goody! There’s more.

Women dancing in traditional lederhosen (Levico Terme, Italy)
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Smack A Backside And Buy A Brezel

They were women dressed in lederhosen. And dancing in a circle in the dark. On the path around the Christmas Market, waving lanterns, sporting braids…jolly smiles slapped on their faces.

But this was Italy. Why were they wearing lederhosen?

I might have pondered this longer if I hadn’t already been in far north Italy for at least a year by this time, and, well… I’d come to accept that I was living in a place that took its directions more from its Austro-Hungarian past, and less from the Italian ringmaster that the rest of the country was subject to.

More!!!

My former students in Val di Non

“Dopo Lady” & The People Of Val di Non

She has a thick, low voice. Raspy, like a smoker’s. Or like she’s had reflux for the last 25 years. Her skin is the color of curdled milk, and I’ve never noticed the color of her eyes, but the rest of her is stout and square, with a similar face. Her hair is always cut in an awkward series of right-angles, bangs the result of the ole bowl-over-the-head-method.

And she almost never smiles.

She is ‘Dopo Lady’, and she is our anonymous, unwitting Val di Non friend.

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