Friday, March 27

California Dreamin'?


I recently spent some time in California - a welcome return there after nearly 10 years' absence. We all have all these ideas of Californians...generally 'doin' the right thing' in terms of eating, exercise, GMOs, heck - even plastic surgery...but, in reality, it's a far different place than what the Kardashians would have you believe. 
But what came as most shocking to me was the utter disregard for our natural resources and recycling. As someone who scrapes the coffee grounds out into a special bin rather than toss them down the drain or in the garbage, like most Europeans, I couldn't believe my eyes.
We've all gotten so used here in Europe to garbage bins calling for your plastic or aluminum or paper goods, that even though no one particularly follows those orders, we at least give it the old college try. In California, our picnic turned into one big garbage bag, tossed into the bin. Papers, bottles (galore...after all, they're Californians with their omnipresent water bottles not far behind), cans.  I was stunned.  I wondered if somewhere along the garbage line they didn't get separated and recycled elsewhere, but I doubt it. Food waste was in epic proportions.  Kids half-eaten bowls of cereals tossed carelessly out, along with the last four pieces of bread in the package, just because they 'look funny'. In restaurants, people left entire meals on their plates. So why don't they just serve them less?
Watching Californians' water consumption was a sight to behold, and I don't mean just with the goldfish bowls and aquariums everywhere. This is a state that just stated they have about one year left of water. I believe it. I witnessed people with all the behaviours above, and then some. Water running for 30 secs just to rinse an apple or even just a tupperware lid; kids with 30 min showering routines; people watering their lawns -- even just after a rare rainfall.
Certainly, I am always horrified to return to Rome to see the water from our nasoni fountains just pouring out onto the streets. I wonder if somehow it could be bottled and shipped to California.  Because they have a lot of fine, white teeth that will need brushing in the future. Just ask the Kardashians.

Friday, February 6

Italy Magazine & the 2014 Blogger Awards Are Here!


For everyone and anyone who loves Italy, there is an embarrassment of riches within the pages of ItalyMagazine on its own.  Now the intrepid folks over there have accumulated a wealth of blogs / blog posts / pictures - across a wide spectrum of candidates covering everything from Art&Culture to Life in Italy to Food, Fashion and Travel blogs. 
But don't just read them...read *all* of the entries and then cast your vote for each and every category!  You will meet plenty of people with a wealth of knowledge, local colour, and words of wisdom and be richer for it.

And...a fun-filled post by yours, truly has made it into the running!!!
That's the post on the 10 things that have changed in the 20-odd years since I moved to the Bel Paese.  So, if you like it, please take the nano-second to vote for it!

But really, the competition is stiff.  I have been reading ItalyMag since its inception, and love their devotion to highlighting all of those wonderful things that keep us coming back (or staying, as the case may be) for more.  Looking at the blogs, some of us poke fun, some bask in the glory of the food or architecture porn that is served up daily...Others offer the news, and many many more of us these days, give the boot a firm kick to make sure it's still got enough air in the tires.

So, when you're in need of a good Italy read, choose from some of these select blogs! 
But, today, CAST A VOTE IN MY DIRECTION!  We bloggers survive on recognition.  E GRAZIE.

http://www.italymagazine.com/blog-awards/2014?field_blog_category_tid=44501 
 

Thursday, January 29

Retaking Rome - one wall at a time

I highly recommend watching this superb production piece on full screen! 




An incredible video by Rome's FederAlberghi Hotel Assoc who rolled up their sleeves alongside RetakeRoma & started cleaning up our City Center.

It starts with:

Millions of tourists dream of coming to Rome looking like this... But when they arrive...it looks more like this.

And ends with: 


We've applied the elbow grease - now it's up to City & Govt institutions to do the right thing.
 

And then...asking your officials (everywhere in Italy as the graffiti, garbage& stickers is a pox on our society) what are they doing with the 90 million euro each year taken out of the pockets of our visitors "for services to improve our fair City?"

Tuesday, January 27

Advertising in Italy: Not for the faint of heart

Anyone who has followed my blog knows that every so often...I come across a delicious ad campaign that I can't pass up.  But honestly, I never caught this one until one of my peeps @ABroadBrush pointed out the irony...
So here it is, my first entry of 2015 of ad campaign fails of the Bel Paese.  
This one, properly translated, states Switch over to WIND (mobile phone carrier).
Literally translated is...Pass to Wind ... if you get our drift...Well, actually, scratch that...you won't want to find yourself anywhere near our drift...
It's no wonder they use English so much in their ads. 

You actually could have some fun with their little vignettes...
Like...he who smelt it, dealt it!
Or...like this one...starts you wondering about those poor astronauts out there in Outer Space


For more fun posts on Italian adverts...try here!



Tuesday, January 13

Your Government at Work

Walking around my neighborhood as I am wont to do is often a wonderful experience, that is if you don't count my playing three times a day Doo-Doo Dodge'Em on the sidewalks: There are the old guys who hang out on the benches or in little groups talking - incessantly - about Lord knows what; the old ladies wheeling their carts to the mercato,  the Bangladeshi green grocers and other dog owners with whom I always stop to say hello.  In short, you get to know your little quartiere fairly well; with all its pox-marks and forlorn tree stumps lining my path.
So I was taken aback when rounding the corner, suddenly street signs had gone up, official yellow paint sprayed with a decisive cautionary aire down on the ground, and no cars in my midst - a rarity if there ever was one in Rome...The spanking new sign posted was still sans graffiti so I could read it:  NO PARKING.  TOURISM BUSES ONLY.  
Taking up (or shall I say, taking away from us mere mortals) a full five, treasured,  parking spaces -- while day in, day out, the street stands empty.  And yet we're all afraid to park there.  But the street waiting to host these phantasmagoric monoliths is quite wide.  Wide enough, in fact, to allow passengers to alight every so often.  That's because nearby, are the catacombs.  And sometimes, around Easter, their parking lots are full.
My first thought was...of all the darned places?  Just further on, in fact, there are miles of wide streets where none of us choose to park -- wide enough to hold countless numbers of monstrous buses (and Suvs for that matter...but, dream on...).  So this entire fiasco wreaking havoc on our parking rhythms, reeked horribly of skunk.
So, I ventured over to the cabal of guys-on-a-park bench and pondered loudly, Isn't there something we can do to make them take this back? After all, Rome is famous for do-overs.
And then, the guys shared with me their very best conspiracy theories; a national pastime in Italy.  But, I'm fairly certain this one was spot on:
Prior to the bus parking lane, huge trash containers were perched there.  The residents had asked for them be removed as there were others nearby. No one listened.  So, someone got the brainy idea to ask for a bus lane and Ecco Fatto! the horrible containers were gone; and along with them, so were the mountains of trash pulled out of them by the indefatigable hoards of gypsies...
So now, we're just waiting to put in the request to restore parking in that same spot for our cars and, gazillions of tax payer dollars later, all will be good in my corner of the world once again.  Talk about Civic Duty.
And the bonus? I now know what all those guys are busy plotting each day.

Tuesday, January 6

Italy has an Epiphany

January 6th marks the day we all get to have extra holidays in Italy.  That's because no one truly considers working between Christmas and New Years and not even between New Years (the Feast Day of Stephen-Santo Stefano) & the Epiphany, or La Befana - marked by the arrival of that old gift bearing kitchen witch floating by on a broomstick.  Once she turns up, expect the huge post-Epiphany sales, which cause tourists and residents alike to have their own sort of Epiphany.  The streets of Rome are so mobbed, even the counterfeit vendors don't have room to display their wares curbside.
In Venice, they hold the annual Regata of the Befana - From the looks of things, men can run the race dressed up as women, but still, a woman gondolier is as hard to find as a female priest.  Maybe this will bring the 'ol boys club just one step closer.
And, as a little curiousity, I just read in my charming This is Venice book (by M. Sasek) - a gift from the Befana herself - that in its heyday, Venice had over 10000 gondolas roaming its canals.  Now, fewer than 500 are in existence.  No wonder prices are so high for a ride. Talk about diminishing returns...

Pic from Venice.nu search engine site: 
  http://www.venice.nu/photos/regatta-della-befana/
And click here for a fun slideshow of the Venetian event.


And, for all those who don't know what we're celebrating exactly, here's my favorite video on youtube depicting the arrival of those three kings on this day:


Buona Befana a tutti!

*For more on our beloved Befana...Click Here

Wednesday, December 24

Away from the Manger-Christmas Eve in Italy

Christmas Eve is the night Italians often celebrate the birth of the little baby Jesus. This event is quite significant, especially if you are to judge by their crèche or manger scenes; something we Americans can only remember with nostalgia of days of yore.
But you see, Italians are nothing if not highly literal people; especially given their long history of language, discourse and oratory, starting with Latin and Lord knows what languages even before. And so it is with their manger scenes.
When I first came to Italy, I thought all those presepe showing an old Giuseppe and his young wife looking fondly down on a heap of hay, standard issue donkey, sheep and even the Three Kings in the distance, was simply yet another indication of Italians' poor planning: Someone clearly had forgotten the Baby Jesus!!!
Who stole Baby Jesus?picture from GodsDiscussion.com
After seeing this a few more times, I thought: 'Okay, who stole the Baby Jesus?!!'
But then, I finally figured it out: This is a country in which article after article, conversation after conversation, they feel the need to warn you prior to making a joke or a cynical statement, just in case the meaning is lost on you - so you don't take it literally.  [I always envision this practice much like the Robot in Lost in Space: “Danger! Guglielmo Robinson! Giovanni said, with a note of irony…”] In Italy, unless forewarned, and if no hidden meaning is implied, they take the sentence for what it is fully worth.
And so, little Baby Jesus never shows up on the manger scene until the stroke of midnight. Although, in their search for authenticity, something is always a bit amiss. You will always find him looking more like an 18 month old, than a cone-headed red-faced newborn; bright-eyed and chubby on Christmas morn.
Incredibly, to add to the veracity of the scene, I have only recently discovered that those three kings, though smaller in size, to represent distance, actually creep up day by day, until January 6th (the Epiphany, for you pagans out there) when they bestow their gifts on the Baby Jesus.
What I don’t get in all of this figurative placement is why, then, they don’t swap a very pregnant Mary for a less pregnant mamma (and perhaps decidedly exhausted one due to labor pains whilst riding a donkey) the next day, too. I guess they don't take it that literally, after all.

Buon Natale a Tutti!

F. Maggi @IrreverentItaly
(decidedly not Magi, like those three wise men!)