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Alto Adige Bolzano Italy Mummies Otzi

THE ICE MAN

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November 28, 2012

 

 

It was disturbing to gaze into the vacant eyes of a 5500-year-old man who could possibly be one of my most distant ancestors.

Otzi, as he is known after the location where he turned up, is sleeping in the northern Italian city of Bolzano between Verona and the Brenner Pass. But Otzi doesn’t rest in peace because he was a murder victim in a case that will never be solved, and because some scientist or another is always wanting to study him  or check on his health.

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Capraola Italy Lazio Renaissance Villas Villa Farnese

THE VILLA FARNESE

on
July 27, 2012

Low clouds and mist enveloped Rome. It was cold. Even worse, the city was in chaos with demonstrations by flag-waving groups loudly protesting against the construction of a high-speed rail line in the north of Italy. Most of the demonstraters were dressed in jeans and sweaters but a group looking like monks with brown robes were standing around with cigarettes stuck in the middle of their mouths while waiting for their marching orders. Stores were shuttered and transit was tied in knots.
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Cumae Delphi Greece Italy oracles sibyls

Oracles & Sibyls

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February 20, 2012
Oracles & sibyls, those fascinating forecasters, were popular with ancient Greeks and Romans who wanted to learn their fates. I’m never quite clear on the difference between the two but my classical dictionary says that an oracle transmits the response of a god to a question asked by a worshipper. A sibyl was a female prophet who  didn’t need a god to get involved in the process.

One of the most memorable days I ever spent immersed in the ancient world was a visit to Delphi, dedicated to Apollo and home of the Delphic Oracle, called Pythia, by tradition a local woman over age 50.
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Italy Ravello

Ravello

on
January 23, 2012

The narrow road from crowded Amalfi twists and turns while it ascends to Ravello, my idea of heaven on earth. Reaching the town requires effort as it does to reach paradise, in this case not by good works but by skillful driving. Looking down into the deep Valley of the Dragon below me as Glenn navigated the steep and sharp turns I could see tiny flat spaces filled with lemon trees, a small house with smoke rising from the chimney and one or two seemingly inaccessible B&Bs nestled on the vertiginous slopes.
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Etruscans Hill Towns Italy Lazio

Via Etrusca

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January 16, 2012
I have a friend who lives in a small town an hour north of Rome. Her home is on Via Etrusca, a perfect name for visualizing the area’s continuing Etruscan influence even though the Romans had finished them off by the Third Century BC. The town, set high on a cliff, has no tourist attractions but is kept alive by commuters and city dwellers who have restored their former family home for weekend use. The ancient row houses are thought to be between four to six centuries old, the year the buildings were actually erected long forgotten.
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Clitunno Italy Umbria

The Past Remains

on
December 27, 2011
“Cigni, cigni…cigni,  “Swans, swans, swans,” the little boy cried out as he carried his pail holding yesterday’s bread to feed them and their cygnets gliding around the mill pond’s still waters leaving small wakes trailing behind. We were staying at a hotel converted from a 15th century water mill built on a little island and over a small river, the Clitunno.  The hotel was the scene of a wedding reception, with guests dining and dancing in the garden by candlelight until daybreak finally sent them home.
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Italy San Gimignano

Book Review: The Pursuit of Italy

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December 7, 2011

A book recommendation for all Italophiles: The Pursuit of Italy by David Gilmour. The author is a British historian who has a long association with Italy beginning in childhood and continuing to the extent that he resided in all Italy’s 20 regions to research the book: a revisionist look at the history of Italy as a nation.

When I think of Italy I think of a country where the disparities of culture, cuisine, climate, and geography were more apparent than elsewhere in Europe when I lived there and now when I visit.… Read more

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