Category: Central & South Italy

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…)

A statue in The City of Como (Lake Como, Lombardy, Italy)

The Notorious Italian “Furbizia”

Since living in Italy, it’s become abundantly clear that there’s a cultural concept Jason and I are (and have been) entirely unaware of. It’s something Italian’s know well and are always on the lookout for, but we have been blind to.

It’s called: furbizia.

The word furbo often means “clever” — but also “sly”, “sharp”, “crafty”, and so on. It’s more sinister meaning is what typically prevails: clever in the sense of “taking advantage” for one’s own personal gain.

Which is a virtue in this country? I’m not sure.

Parked scooter in Naples (Italy)

Accidental Scooter Ride In Naples

Some friends of friends from Seattle welcomed us to their home in Naples, “We’ll order pizza!” they said. “We’ll invite all our friends! Come, come….” And so, thrilled to hang out with some genuine napoletani, Jason and I took the metro to their neighborhood.

And we waited for their call.

When Umberto showed up on a scooter, we hadn’t been prepared to hop on back, one-at-a-time, and weave through the streets and the traffic to get to their apartment. It may be the stuff people dream about when they dream of Italy…’Roman Holiday’ meets the millennium.

But I was palpably terrified. (more…)

Val di Non mountain view, from Fondo (Trentino)

Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop (Part 3)

This is the final post in the series, Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop, including:
Part 1 and Part 2.

Today, most of Jason’s remaining Italian family live up north, far from Puglia’s pane e pomodoro. Relatives on his mother’s side reside mostly in Milan, while his father’s relatives are clustered in a valley far off in the northern Alps. A valley called: Val di Non.

To get started on our own immigration process, we knew we would need the help of family, and since Milan was not a place either of us wanted to live, it was: “Apple valley, here we come!” (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!

Various breads spread among different baskets.

The Hunt For Altamura’s Secret Italian Bread – Part 1

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

Every culture in the world has their version of it. The Russians have their rye, the German’s their white braided breads. India has her naans and puris, and France has her world-renowned boules and baguettes. Italy, however, is not the place I think of when I think of good bread.

When I think of Italy, I picture squishy, pure white balls of mozzarella. Shiny sun-ripened tomatoes. Earthy, cloudy extra virgin olive oils. I picture a place where pasta fresca is as ubiquitous as American corn.

But exquisite bread? That belongs somewhere else.

Admittedly, I’ve been wrong about things before. And so I must now hang my head when I say: I was wrong about this.

Hungry for more?