HORSE ON THE MENU

Category: Explaining Italy

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.

Close-up of man's hands bricklaying (spreading mortar between bricks.).

Construction Trauma

Before moving to Italy, I couldn’t have ever said, “I’ve been traumatized by construction.” But after living in this country for the past three years, I can say that now. It must be part of the initiation phase:

-Do you have what it takes to live in this country? 
-I’m not sure…
-Well you’ll soon find out. Because Italy doesn’t give a damn whether you make it… Hey look, 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!

Horse figurines

Horse Meat, Anyone?

Horse is not my first choice of meats. Cow, pork, chicken—those are the usual ones. Duck, rabbit, even venison or buffalo are all acceptable animals to eat. But horses? They are friends, not food.

Being from Kentucky, and having ridden horses all my life, I always swore that horse was the one meat I could never eat. Yet I seem to be a homing device for bizarre foods: sea snails, cow tongue, haggis, blood sausage, tripe, geoduck, crocodile, and hippopotamus—I’ve tried them all (drawing the line at goat’s eyeballs).

But call it peer pressure, chock it up to an impulsive thirst for adventure, blame it on a moment of insanity…the truth is, when faced with the option (and the challenge), I broke down.

I ate horse. Giddyup for 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!

Large, teardrop-shaped bread of Altamura (Italy), scattered on a shelf.

The Hunt For Altamura’s Secret Italian Bread – Part 2

This post is one of a two-part series, The Hunt For Altamura’s Secret Italian Bread — Part 1 and Part 2.

“He said go that way,” Jason explained. He was nonchalant in his lack of concern for precision.

“What do you mean, ‘that way’?” I urged. But he ignored me.

I followed.

We wound onto side streets and shimmied through narrow corridors between buildings built so closely together you could reach out of one window and touch the other.

Dish up some more!