domenica, ottobre 29, 2006


This is where it ends. In some ways, this blog is very complete, in other ways it’s far from it.

My last few hours in San Demetrio were among the most interesting, and my last few days in Rome were the saddest. After riding a bus all night from San Demetrio to Stazione Tiburtina, I went back to the Orzali’s, took a shower, and then went back out to meet friends to show them Rome. In a day, we hit all the high points. One of my new San Demetrio friends hung out with me in Rome over the weekend before he went back down for another month of study, and we went to a lot of museums and more obscure places in the city that I really enjoy. With him, I said goodbye to Rome until my next visit. My last night in Rome, Alessandra and I went to an Irish/American-inspired pub in Prati where some of her friends worked. My last meal in Italy was a cheeseburger, fries, and a pint of Harp. The next morning, I took a taxi to the airport, got to the international departures section, and had exactly two Tazza d’Oro cappucini, as per my custom when leaving Rome.

In retrospect, a lot of what happened in San Demetrio need not have been so dramatic. It’s quite possible that the drama was what there was to do, and I got myself worked up over very little – of course the opposite could be the case as well. I continue to be in touch with people that I met in San Demetrio, via e-mail and Facebook, and it was of course an unforgettable experience for all of us.

Rome I miss every day.

lunedì, luglio 24, 2006

The Italian Movies I've Seen This Summer

Last summer, my goal was to watch the entire James Bond canon. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet, though I've made a dent in it. However, this summer I got to see quite a few really good Italian movies, and I have listed and linked to them here.

domenica, luglio 23, 2006

I'm baaaack!

Oh wow, wireless internet. I'd nearly forgotten what a pleasure it is.

Alas, the "in Italia" part of this blog will be over on Wednesday. However, in the next few days and probably continuing after I get back, I am planning on posting blogs I wrote in San Demetrio but wasn't able to post, more photos, and even some video! ...maybe even an epilogue. So keep checking back for my final hurrahs.

NB: Blogs I wrote in San Demetrio but wasn't able to post will be postdated as if I had been able to post them when I'd written them, so you may need to weed through the blog a bit.

lunedì, luglio 17, 2006

Weekend Update

I talked to Dad yesterday on the phone, and he said that it seemed like I’ve gotten an emotionally mixed bag out of this experience. That is the most accurate way of describing it.

This weekend we went to Naples, and even though we didn’t have a lot of time there, it was great to walk around and shop, to be in a big city. It will be even better to get back to Rome, a city I can respond to emotionally.

Yesterday morning, instead of going to Pompeii with everyone else, they let me go to Herculaneum. Besides being an absolutely fantastic place, it was so terrific to have my independence back, to get on the Circumvesuviana, to be squashed up against a ton of beach-going Neopolitans, to be on public transportation.

Herculaneum is absolutely stellar. I think Pompeii is amazing also, and that the two sites compliment each other well. However, Herculaneum is much more manageable and well-preserved. I left with more questions than I came with and so I’ll have to do more reading about it when I get home.

It was great to get back to the Naples Archeological Museum, and this time I got to see the Secret Cabinet! Otherwise, the Farnese Bull is always a pleasure to see, the mosaics from Pompeii, everything. They have a modest Egyptian collection there thanks to a later Cardinal Borgia, and one of the coolest things is a mummified crocodile with two baby mummy crocodiles.

After the museum, we went to the Gelateria della Scimmia – the Monkey Gelateria for ice cream. I had Torrone, chocolate fondant and hazelnut.

We had dinner at Pizzeria di Matteo, which is where Bill Clinton went when he was in Naples for the G8 summit. We had so many different types of pizza, and my taste in pizza toppings has definitely changed or become more refined, something. There was also much Nastro Azzurro, which is excellent with pizza.

It’s looking like I’ll be coming home even earlier than expected, which I think is good because I’m ready to get home. This has been a long month here, and there’s a certain degree of restlessness because I can really go anywhere or do anything unplanned. I also feel like I’ve adapted and assimilated so well into Italy that generally speaking very little surprises me anymore. I love it here, nad I want to be here, but I think I need city life, not small town life. Naples or anywhere in the shadow of Vesuvius would be more affordable than elsewhere and it would be a great challenge someday. If I can survive a month in Calabria, I think the next logical step is the other extreme – small town Southern Italy to big city Southern Italy!

San Demetrio Music Video!

It's two moments of Italo-Albanian folk music, al fresco at Pub Fusion (the one and only) in San Demetrio.

sabato, luglio 15, 2006

Pizza di Matteo

The amazing pizza we had in Naples, in this order. I will identify the types of pizza, and as always, click to enlarge.

Broccoli rabe and sausage.

Prosciutto crudo, some type of green, and mozarella.

Proscuitto, eggplant, artichokes!, mushrooms, olives, basil, and mozarella.

Classic Margherita.

Eggplant, mozzarella, with sauce.

A simple but delicious tomato/basil red pizza.

This one was our favorite, so favorite that we went through two of them. Red and yellow peppers, olives, prosciutto, mozarella, with sauce.

Nastro Azzurro. A great beer to drink with pizza.

All finished. Obviously, I tore through a ton of pizza that night, as did everyone else. I was still full the next day at lunch.

This is the line outside of Pizza di Matteo. It is possible to see that people are enamored with this pizza and are willing to wait hours for it.

martedì, luglio 11, 2006


I think I have only 10 days left here. Most days, I'm in class from about 8:30am to 7:30pm or so, and by that point I don't feel like blogging. I want to put up a lot of pictures and also write more about being here, but that will have to wait until I get back to Rome, it would seem.

This Saturday and Sunday I'll be in Naples, and I'm happy because at least we're going to the archeological museum, and my last visit of it was one of the higher points in my life, it's that good. I'm also pretty curious to see how a bunch of greenhorn Americans who don't speak Italian will be in an absolutely terrifying city: Naples is fun, but especially if you can also speak Italian.

On Sunday, Italy won the World Cup! I'm exceptionally happy, and there is nowhere I'd rather be right now than in Italy, it's a fantastic thing. For those readers of this blog who are also trekkies, you will know what I mean when I say that the entire country regressed into pon farr the second Italy made the final penalty kick. Awesome. The Zidane red card was also exceptional, evidently this is at least the second time he has done that to someone in his career, and now that's exactly how he'll be remembered. I watched the game in the lower level of Pub Fusion, the town spot. I was packed in there with about 100 other people, and it was awesome because we were all doing all of the soccer chants and songs together, people were praying the rosary (I'm not kidding), and there was much happiness at the end.
Catharsis was necessary, because the game went into overtime and then penalty kicks, with which up until now Italy did not have a good history. Then we all went out into the street, and the closest thing to a traffic jam San Demetrio Corone has ever seen happened, because the rest of the town got in their cars and drove around with flags and people hanging outside of the window. I can pretty much guarantee that this happened everywhere else in Italy at the exact same time. It's what they do, and it's the only thing they do together as a nation.
This guy called Mimmo (he introduced himself to me as Mimmo, come il paese) was setting off fireworks and then walking around the piazza nonchalantly like he didn't do it. Most of the other Americans were exceptionally drunk, and acting like it, as were the Italians, except they weren't drunk. At any rate, I'm happy about it.

To conclude though, I'm getting tired. My brain is tired, and I'm tired of these insane people, and of this town, as nice as both can be. I'm tired.

venerdì, luglio 07, 2006


Alas, a rather low point.

Three things first:

  1. I needed to do this, I needed to put myself physically into the part of Italy that has produced the most culture in some ways so that I could see just how bad it really was. Reading about it wasn't enough, I had to be for a month here to see what made everyone need to go to America, Germany, and The North. In case there was any doubt, the greats of Italian film and literature are not making much up.
  2. My Italian identity has very little to do with Calabria. This is a completely different culture, one I've grown up around but that I am not a part of.
  3. If one more person from San Demetrio asks me how I like it here, I'm going to freak out. Yesterday I decided to start being honest, and so I said, I like it here, but I can't wait to get back to Rome. The response, inevitably, is "well, here the air is fresh and there's no traffic." I'd kill for some traffic and pollution at this point.

The same guy I told I couldn't wait to get back to Rome, when I asked him what his name was, he said "Mimmo, like the town." ...Mimmo being the diminuative for Demetrio, but I thought it was hysterical. When it comes down to it, there are four male names in this town: Luigi, Demetrio, Angelo and Mario.
I have one professor who generally starts the class speaking slowly and in Italian and then reverts into fast Italian with a thick Calabrian accent by about the fifteenth minute of class. He doesn't speak any English and only speaks to me. This is a problem because there are four other people in the class and I don't want to have to pay that much attention. He loves me, and in class yesterday said, "you are a revolutionary! you're going to be the next president of the United States!" I asked him how he knew I was a revolutionary without me saying anything about it, and he said he could see it. Fact of the matter is though, he's hysterical, more bookish and professorial than the worst stereotypes ever, and he writes poetry under a pseudonym, all of which is ok. The ultimate though is that after a long discourse about how he'd love to be a monk and just be in a monastic library all day, he mentioned that he really wants to be reelected mayor of his town, because he likes being close to the people and helping them with their problems. I asked him what the problems were, and it seems that (since he lives at the beach) that the biggest problem is keeping the beach clean for everyone and making cultural initiatives. Eh. At any rate, I asked him how sinistra, or left he was, like L'Ulivo left or Democratici della Sinistra left, and he whispered rifondazione. Alas, I have an insane poet reformed communist politician professor. My description, verbose as it was, does not enough justice, because a picture is absolutely necessary at this point, otherwise it just doesn't make sense.
Tomorrow I'll have time to write some more, and there are of course more stories to tell, maybe even a photo or two, although this internet connection leaves much to be desired and I've got two take-home midterms to write, and I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. I'm feelling kind of not always good about being here anymore, because it tends to drive me nuts and most of these people are totally insane, seriously. However, I have met some awesome people (who are not from San Demetrio but rather in this boat with me) as a result, which is positive. Still, I could be ok here... I could last here if I had to. This is the type of place where Mussolini sent Italian political prisoners during the 30s, it's that crazy (cf. Primo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli and let the jokes keep on coming).