People Who Live on Glass Islands... - High waters, High Mass, and low local spirits teach me a thing or two about La Serenissima.
The Melandris and the Mud Angels - On November 4, 1966, the Arno flooded Florence with over 20 feet of water and sludge from the riverbed, damaging 8,000 paintings in the Uffizi basements and over 1.5 million books and manuscripts in the National Library (which houses such important documents as Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, Michelangelo's handwritten sonnets, and the drafts for Machiavelli's groundbreaking "The Prince" and Cellini's tell-all "Autobiography."). So much I knew from books; but now I've had the chance to share a dinner with people who actually lived through it.
Etna - I was 12, excited to catch my first glimpse of Europe's largest volcano. I peered from the VW's back seat as we skirted the coast, angry that I couldn't seem to pick the mountain out from the foggy dark blue-gray horizon. Then it hit me. That wasn't the horizon. That was the volcano.
Sweet Heaven - Lecce is one of the loveliest, liveliest towns in Southern Italy, but some of its best secrets hide in the unlikeliest of places.
The Madonna of Tears - Stumbling upon a festial is one thing, but happening across the Mass celebrating a religious cult object from the 1950s is something else entirely.
Brindisi, Waiting Room of the Aegean - Brindisi is a port, the great drain through which Mediterranean-bound tourists from ancient Romans down to today have been commonly flushed. It is a town whose main activity is waiting; waiting for the boat, waiting for the heat to quit, waiting for the moon to rise and that ferry whistle to blow.
Pronto Soccorso - I which my traveling companion introduces the staff of a Third World-style hospital in Palermo to the concept of a pierced tongue.
The Orders of Scaffolding - An architectural treatise on the most prevalent building form in Italy.
What Italian Train Classifications Really Mean - The distance between two points in Italy--and the time taken to traverse it is never a short, straight line. This is especially true where trains are concerned.
Gianicolo - A distant panorama of the most beautiful, most shockingly genuine, city on Earth.
A Small Receptacle- In which I wage a valiant war against an Italian washing machine and almost, but not quite, win.
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