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Category: Devoted

The Hanging Dead of Palermo’s Catacombs

Let’s talk about dead people. Not all dead people, though — just the ones hanging on the walls of the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, Sicily (in Italy). They are seriously among the most interesting “still around” dead folk on this planet, and you should go see them, too.

But first — let’s talk about them.

The Capuchin Catacombs got their start in 1599, when the (above-ground) Capuchin Monastery’s cemetery was outgrown.  (more…)

Coffee and cream at a bar in Perugia, Italy.

10 Rules Of The Italian “Bar”

In Italy, you can get your upper and your sedative in the same place. Morning, noon, and night. Want to make that a macchiato? How about a shot of brandy in it? And a pastry…with a glass of prosecco? And then another coffee in the afternoon to ward off the 3pm dull, before aperitivo rolls in around 5:00?

You only need to go to one place: a bar.

How the word bar worked its way into Italian language is a mystery to me (I imagine the French/anglicized term café is not used because it’s too close to the Italian word for coffee = caffé). But I do know that the culture, rules, and rituals of “bar” hopping differ greatly from what we anglophones are used to. So to help orient you for your next Italian travel, here are nine rules to help you navigate Italy’s infamous bar: (more…)

Tractor Spreading Muck (Val di Non)

Muck Spreading Season

Val di Non summers are short and cool; the winters, longer and harsher than I was used to, coming from Seattle, WA (USA). That makes spring and fall these sort of brief, frenzied seasons that leave your head spinning. You’d think just four seasons would be enough to round out the year — but no. There’s a fifth season in Val di Non, one people don’t bring up, or fail to mention, or refuse to acknowledge at all.

Yet everyone knows it’s there.

So long as your olfactory senses are intact, you can hardly miss “muck spreading season”. You’ll be forced, in fact, to breathe it in and wonder about it every time it leaves you gagging, grasping for air. And as you ask, How long will it last, this time? (more…)

View of Downtown Seattle, WA (USA) from Kerry Park.

What We Talk About When We DON’T Talk About Amanda Knox

Merely mention that you lived in Seattle (USA) for 9 years, and you’ll likely get asked by the people of Perugia, Italy: Do you know Amanda Knox? As though, somehow, by living in the same city of 3.5+ million (where Amanda Knox now conducts her prison-free life), ones chances of knowing her are better than any Italian’s.

They’re not. And no, I don’t know her. Haven’t met her. Don’t plan to.

Nothing against the girl (and I won’t get into her guilt/innocence here), but the point is: if you’re an American traveling or living anywhere near Perugia, Italy: DON’T bring up Amanda Knox. Più, più, più! (more, more, more!)

Happy wood stacks
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HOW TO TALK ‘NONES’ – Making Friends (Part 3)

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

As I mentioned in It’s A ‘Nones’ Life, the Nonesi can be a little hard to get to know — any real entry into Val di Non culture can be a bit of a challenge. As one of our [non-Val di Non] Italian friends living in in the valley explained to us: the Nonesi are as friendly as they need to be, with the expectation that you’ll soon be on your way, returning to wherever you came from.

This is precisely why I’ve put together a cheat sheet, of sorts: lists of things to prepare you for life (or extended travel) in Val di Non. Hopefully you’ll be better prepared than we were when arriving in 2012…as unsuspecting as fish in a stock pond. (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.

German Infantry, 1914
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Trentino’s Bloody Past – Part 2

If you missed it, check out the first installment, Trentino’s Bloody Past – Part 1, where I explain Italy’s northernmost region, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.

To continue, dear readers, let’s take a trip down history lane: WWI (aka ‘The Great War’) was epic. The war of all wars, with roughly 32 countries involved, worldwide.

But how did it all start, you ask?

Well…some Serbian dude named Gavrilo Princip (I love this name!) had to go and assassinate the Austro-Hungarian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand. Naturally, Austria-Hungary is irritated, so backed by Imperial Germany (naturally), they declare war on The Serbian Kingdom.

Makes sense. Kill our leader and we’ll fight you with our fists and guns…

(more…)

Bar in Parma, Italy

THE ITALIAN “BAR” – Leave Your Laptop At Home

We would’ve missed so much if our faces had been glued to computer screens. But I’ll get back to that. First, let’s begin with some terminology.

BAR: your one stop shop for everything pick-me-up in Italy.

In Italy, there is no such thing as a café. That’s a French idea, adopted by the Americans (who-knows-when). A bar in Italy, though—that’s where you want to go. Where they serve coffee beverages and all kinds of alcohol. Where there’s sometimes food*. Or live music (er, ummm…bad English hits). And pastries. Where people chat and mingle and catch up…

All in one place. Lookey, lookey, there’s more!

Normal driving conditions in Puglia (Italy)

Crazy Italian Driving, Demystified

Admittedly, when I first arrived in Italy in 2012, I wasn’t prepared for the left lane etiquette of “get out of the way, or else”. I was frequently incensed. These truculent, Italian road warriors had it all wrong, and Jason had to remind me, over and over, “Erin, it’s their culture. We’ve come here—not the other way around.”

He had a point.

If you’ve ever been on an Italian roadway, especially a highway, you’ve probably learned that Italian drivers can…well—be a bit rowdy. But step back from whatever cultural framework you come from, and you’ll see there’s a lot more to the Italian roadways than meets the eye. (more…)

Apartments for rent in Perugia, Italy

The Key To Being A Tenant In Italy

There is a secret to being a tenant in Italy, and it involves only three things:

  • proximity
  • money
  • documentation

Allow me to explain.

First, a good relationship with a landlord is one of proximity. By which I mean: do not under any circumstances live near them (not in the apartment upstairs, in the house out back, or in any attached part of the building…not even if they beg you).

Check it out, there’s more!