Sunday, November 30, 2014

Festa Degli Alberi-Arbor Day Italia












Could you resist an invitation from these kids? You may remember that we watched the tree planting last February and got the invitation to celebrate the official National Festa degli Alberi (Arbor Day) on November 21. After the kids listened to the adults speak about the importance of the day for the environment, they got to help plant some more trees and shrubs and check on the trees they planted in February.

As a bonus for good deeds, it was the most beautiful day you could ask for and the sunshine added a lot to the proceedings. 













It's a challenge to live up to the hopes and expectations of youth. There were what we had to guess were hazard trees marked for cutting (big red X) along the section of highway where this celebration was located. They are the type of tree used for pulp in these parts so we don't know what their ultimate fate will be or whether they are on private land in the park. There's a lot to learn about the organization of the national forests here. 








The folks who invented Arbor Day in Nebraska (way back before Earth Day)  hoped that the idea would spread. It's something to be proud of, Nebraska! The day ended --as many have this month-- with a beautiful sunset that made us hope that maybe someday everyday will be Earth Day or Arbor Day on the planet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Napoli by the Sea

Piazza dei Martiri near the hotel

We are no longer gainfully employed, but  the equivalent of business trips remain in our lives. For example, our passports were about to expire, so we went to Napoli to renew them at the American consulate there in person as we do not trust Italian postal service for sending such important documents (to tell the truth, we weren't all that confident when we applied by mail in the USA). Our distrust was a good excuse to check out Naples, so off we went by train to mix business and pleasure.

Napoli, on the Intercity train, is a 2 hour 10 minute journey normally, but for the second time this year, our train was stalled for 30 minutes in the area just south of Battipaglia. At least on the way in, we were lucky to sit out the extra time in good seats. On the way back the train was on time but we got the seats where you face each other (or strangers). Very uncomfortable.

We found a 4 star hotel within walking distance (1 mile/1.6 km) of the consulate which is located on the shoreline about 2km north of where the large ferries and cruise ships dock. The hotel Palazzo Alabardiera is a 10 minute taxi ride from Stazione Napoli Centrale. At €150 a night, it was typical for a large city quality hotel. We have since learned of a hotel very close to the consulate, but further from shopping. One must have priorities! Taxi stands are all about in case you don't feel like walking.



Castel dell'Ovo


There is a nice park area on the lungomare. Our one bad experience in Napoli was being gouged as foreign tourists at a bar there. We bought our normal double caffe’ macchiato and a gin tonica and they charged us €10,60 compared with €4,60 around home. They also used cheap Italian gin for the drink. Italians are good at some things, but making gin is not one of them. The drink was left behind.

Consulato degli Stati Uniti d'America

The American consulate sits near the sea. It has Italian military guards outside with a belt-fed machine gun, and private Italian security. After 5 years of dealing with Italian bureaucracy, this place was soooo nice and efficient. We were in and out in 20 minutes and served by a humorous American man who joked about a man from Cleveland and a woman from Chicago living in Calabria. We’ll return in about 2 weeks to pick-up the passports that are sent from the USA.


We didn't know there were hills on the northern part of Napoli


A Greenpeace boat anchored offshore


The return walk to the hotel through the shopping area showed us many stores to look into in the future. We both were exhausted and figured it was because of all the dodging of motorini on the streets and walking on the rough stone pavements. On yet another visit, we might try the historic district with its underground tunnels, etc.

The hotel is situated off main streets, so is pretty quiet. Although there is a restaurant/pizzeria within 50 meters (where we had a pizza--because we were in Napoli!), we only spotted one other restaurant in the time we were there. That is surprising as most Italian cities seem to have restaurants every 2 blocks or so. Anyway, the hotel is in the middle of the famous CHIAIA shopping district for those into shopping for upscale clothing and shoes. We might take more time to shop when we return to get the new passports.

FYI, the historic district of Napoli is between this neighborhood and the stazione. There are cheaper hotels nearer the stazione including (God forbid) a high rise Holiday Inn!


Oh, contrary to all you hear about Napoli being filled with bandits ready to pick your pockets or steal a purse, at no time did we see or sense anyone paying us the slightest attention on the streets. Another urban myth--or do we finally not look like tourists? However, the traffic was as bad as people have said.

Ciao a presto, Guido


Shopping!!

A church almost every 3 blocks

Residences in the Chiaia District

Friday, October 10, 2014

Beauty and the Vendemmia


I was looking forward to starting the Stagione di Vino (wine season) with a report on a typical local vendemmia d’uva (grape harvest) and then the pressing and making of wine. I was a little late asking around, but I found that no one had a good grape crop this year and some had no oil olives at all.  I read in a paper recently that all of Europe is expecting a poor wine year. Too much rain.

Table olives and table grapes are still available in the markets, but they come from Puglia, Sicilia, ecc. We also had great plums (prugne) this year from Puglia, so who knows what affected the other fruits. 

One of the final evening events of August in our village piazza was a fashion show (sfilata) starring local teenage ragazze. Many folks gathered to watch-- close to the judges and a local bar had seating for people eating gelato or drinking cool things. I was squeezed-out of my spot behind the chairs, so made my way to a roof terrace over the bar.




Rita was the hostess and one of the key organizers. There was also a panel of judges with experience in the industry. Each girl had to choose the dress of a certain country/culture and create the outfit (probably with a lot of help from mamma or nonna and the local clothes shops!)

I didn’t have a way to record the country each young woman was representing, so am missing some info here. The Japanese outfit is obvious. Some of these ragazze went all out in their outfits and also the presentations -- some had obviously been practicing the moves of models on the red carpet! The crowd loved them all. They were bellissime.

Good memories of the recent summer as we slip into a very nice autumn. Enjoy:





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