Friday, December 16, 2005


I forgot to post this a while back when I was trying to be artistic. Of the series I took I like this one the best. Posted by Picasa

View of the Amafi Coast

A random shot from Ravello this fall when Chris, Emily, and I drove the Amalfi Coast. I put new scratchs on the car getting up here, but I get a new car in 8 monthes. Posted by Picasa
This is just some house I saw in Fredrick. Hey, that town's named after my favorite king of Southern Italy, Fredrick II. Posted by Picasa
This is a photo from when I was in Harpers Ferry visiting my brother. We had a nice long walk and a light ethopian meal afterwards. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Cincinnati, Ice Cream Show

Last night a film was on TV that was made right down the road in Lecce and the Salento area. I watched it very closely to see the local scenes that were used throughout the movie. I recognized most of the places immediately and Italian movies love to use scenery shots with very specific landmarks in the background so isn't hard to know exactly where they were. The leading man and woman in the movie were both police investigators. He lived on the coast near Otranto (great for views of the sea) and she lived in an apartment overlooking the old city center in Lecce (great for showing the local architecture in every shot). The storyline was the poisoning death of a person at a large wedding (the bride was supposed to get the poison it appears, oooooo). So it was a fascinating show to watch but more for the scenery than the acting.
Another very funny thing I saw yesterday was at the United Colors of Benneton store. I walked by this bastion of Italian clothing design and I saw a bright orange hooded sweatshirt with purple and white writing on it. In the middle in big block purple letters it said “Cincinnati” and above that was written “Ice Cream” and below “Show” in white. It’s so ridiculous because it makes no sense. I see this so much. They put something on the shirt or pants just so it has something and it’s almost always in English. Right now they also have sweatshirts that say “Are You Friendly?”

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Ugh..

Christmas is coming and I haven’t done a thing. I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet but it’s because I don’t have a clue what to get anyone. I think I’ve already bought everyone the typical Italian things and I don’t feel like flying home with an over-weight bag of wine or olive oil again. There has to be a better way. I can always claim that Christmas snuck up on me. Without Thanksgiving and cold weather I just don’t feel like it’s really a few weeks away. Never mind that the center of town has lights strung across the streets for the holiday. Well I’m sure I can work it out.
Local news is pretty slow right now. We have a big holiday coming up on Thursday, the Immaculate Conception. I plan to go to Turibio’s house for some ultimate Frisbee and lunch. We played a little ultimate last Sunday morning on grass. This is strange because there isn’t much grass around here. In the summer it’s too dry so no one bothers with a lawn. All the soccer fields are dirt except for the ones in the stadiums! So where did we find grass…at a place where they train attack dogs, no kidding. They have field next to the kennel with obstacles and an area to attack people. Even while we played a German shepherd was going through the paces attacking a guy in padding. This was a real German shepherd because they even spoke to it in German!! That was an interesting morning. Anyway the holiday is Thursday and I hope to have a good time at Turibio’s. Most people take Friday off too but I don’t have the time left to do this, besides I have work that needs to get done before the end of the year. As of right now I’m not sure when that is. They haven’t said when the plant will close for Christmas. I do know that it will be closed until January 9th after Christmas. I have my paperwork together for my new work visa. Now I just need to go to Detroit to file it before Christmas.

Monday, November 28, 2005

This Weekend

So much to write about this weekend, but the weekend itself wasn’t that exciting. You know how I always complain about the wind here well now I have some proof it’s bad. Two fishermen were killed this weekend in Taranto when they were blown overboard. It wasn’t a thunderstorm or hurricane, just wind and waves and these were professional fishermen that battle the seas almost everyday. Locally there is a new store in town. Something finally moved into the empty McDonalds that was right on Corso Garibaldi near the sea front. It’s the last thing I would have expected. It’s a 99 cent store. Next door there are stores with watches for 2,000 euro and suits but in the new store everything is 1 euro or less. I wonder how long it will last. I give it 5 months maybe 6 because by summer it’s gone because there are too many street vendors selling the same sort of crap. By the way the dollar is coming back slowly on the euro. It’s now at 1.17 euro to a dollar. It was up to 1.33 euro to a dollar a few months ago. 1:1 would be so nice. There is a big mystery in town for me. Daniele, owner of the Big Ben Pub, is “missing”. Thursday night I went there for a great band and was surprised to find Ottavio working there along with Manuela and Floriana. Now this is whole cast from Ottavio’s new pub “Alla Corte Di Bacco”. I thought the two had ended their business arrangement at the Big Ben. All I could find out was that Daniele had to go to Spain and it’s not a planned trip. I’m sure they know the whole story and they’re just not telling me. So right now Ottavio is running both bars. I must find the answer to this mystery. When Daniele gets back I’m sure he’ll have a great story but I don’t think he’ll tell me the truth. Another strange point is that I smelled fresh cut grass today at work. We don’t have grass in the summer because it’s too dry. Now between Thanksgiving and Christmas I smell fresh cut grass.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Blogging in the USA

I’ve been away from the computer for a while. I’m in training for work and then on the weekend I was very busy. Let’s see. First I drove from Indy to Athens, Ohio to pick up Lori and Kent. From there we drove on to Fredrick, Maryland on Friday to check out the lay of the land where Pam and Keith are living now. The town of Fredrick has a nice center with many restaurants and shops that made it feel like it was made to walk. I have a new appreciation for a town like that. We had a great time using our legs to get around both in town and out in the woods. Harper’s Ferry is nice little spot where the Potomac River is baffling. It’s filled with rounded rocks that make it seem like you could jump from rock to rock and cross the river. I hate to talk bad about Indy but sometimes I really think that every part of the country is more interesting than Indiana. I have been to Washington DC but it was only to see the museums downtown. In this trip I was seeing signs for Gettysburg, D.C., and other places that I was supposed to learn about in history class. I also had my first experience with real Ethiopian food. It was pretty good and we followed the rules and ate with our hands, except for those that indulged in cheesecake at the end. I’ll have to put up some photos of trip when I’m back in Brindisi.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Spam on my Blog!!

One little post here. So the little @#%$@# know how to post spam on blogs. Well I think I have fixed that with the help of blogger. On reviewing my settings I found a way to let the ordinary public post a comment but keep the spammers out. Feel free to put a comment if it's on topic and keep it clean.
Thank you.

Country roads, take me home....

So this is a pre-states blog. The next blog will be JeffinIndiana, not Puglia. Fear not! This is only a two-week stay for some training I probably should have had before I left two years ago. It’s very funny when you consider I only have 9 months left on my contract. The bottom line is, if the company here is still happy with me in 9 months then I can stay longer. If relations fall out then I may not have a choice. Right now all is good but you never know.
Latest news…My cat Nello is growing fast and needs a trip to the vet. As soon as I get back I need to do this. He’s getting aggressive, but it’s only his manliness coming out. We’ll have to “fix” that. Along this line I found out last night this his nails can make short work of a shirt. I’m glad I didn’t have on a shirt I care about. I worry because I have a friend from work coming over to take care of him while I’m gone and I hope he knows what he’s in for. His girlfriend has a cat so I think it will be fine.
I have news on my girlfriend, Paola. We are planning that she will come over to the States after Christmas and before New Years. That’ll be the first chance she’ll have to meet MY family and friends. No worries there. My friends and family are all perfectly normal and nice, except for Kent.
Oh I forgot to put something in code for Kent…That’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home. He’s still following us?! Inconceivable!!! You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.
Can you crack the code? Or just figure out what 2 movies these quotes are from…
A dopo!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bad Concrete?!!?

Yes it could be true. Last weekend we had one heckva’ storm here. It was our own little hurricane just north of me. They had a year’s worth of rain in 3 hours in Fasano (it wasn’t that bad here in Brindisi, but close)!! So, it wasn’t a hurricane but 7 people died when a bridge collapsed up there and the cars fell into a “temporary” river. There are no real rivers in Puglia (it’s that dry). Also a train derailed as one of the concrete storm drains was “weakened” by the rain and then collapsed when a train went over it. All this has lead to 2 investigations, according to the Brindisi Quotidiano, about the quality of the concrete used to make these structures and how they were built. While this was a really bad storm the bridge and the storm drain should not have "disappeared". You look at the photos in the paper and there is nothing left in either case. The entire bridge is gone and in other case there are only train tracks and railroad ties with nothing below it. You have to ask how was it anchored and made. I’ve seen some amazing pictures of rivers right up to bottom of a bridge and they hang on. My engineering side says this shouldn’t have happened. It will be interesting to hear updates on this. Other then that I won’t make any comments on concrete in Southern Italy. Well, except to say that the longest span suspension bridge is due to start next year to link Sicily to the Italian toe. Two areas where the mafia is…influential!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Expedia, my $#%#!

I say to never use Expedia to actually buy anything!! I was looking for a hotel in Indianapolis and the hotel that I wanted was full according to Expedia. I went to the hotel’s website, Marriott, and found there was no shortage of rooms and they were $20 cheaper a night. Now I expect Expedia to charge for their service but $20 a night is a little steep. I’ve also heard that you get the worst rooms through Expedia but I thought I would at least get a room. That’s my big whine for today. I know you can find deals on Expedia but I think that same deal is always someplace else too. I use Expedia to find a hotel or airline that has the service I need, then I go to that company’s website and make the reservation myself.
That problem aside, now I can think about coming home. I’ll be coming home after one of the longest stretches away (7 months). The funny thing is that my next trip should be home for Christmas so that could be one of the shortest times between trips.
A lot has changed for me in 7 months. I’m working more than ever. I’m busy chasing one woman, instead of many (and that works so much better to chase only one). And of course I just brought home Nello. He’s doing much better and grown so much he can’t get under the sofa anymore, and he doesn’t need to. He’s finally so comfortable that you give him a ball and as long it doesn’t get stuck under something he’ll play until he’s exhausted. Oh yeah, and my hair is a lot longer. That was part of reason for posting that photo of me yesterday. My hair is pretty long so I didn’t want to scare anyone who hadn’t seen me in long time. Well that’s about all for now. I have some serious Christmas shopping to do. If I can bring some gifts home now it will make my bags in December much lighter. I also want to get a new suit for Travis’s wedding. I haven’t bought a suit in a long time.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Me, because most of you haven't seen me for a while!!!

Here's a picture of me taken this weekend by Paola's friend Simone. His pictures have a way of making you look better than you are. Maybe he got my good side. I'll have to remember which side that is. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 17, 2005

Il Gatto

Now everyone has seen the picture of Nello, my new cat below. After 2 years in Italy I finally felt the need to have an animal for company. I don’t know why I want to complicate my life with him, but why not. The first night I was convinced he couldn’t stay. I knew he would feel scared and out of place for a while but I had no idea it would be so bad. But then a funny thing happened. Friday there was a strike at the plant. The day off work gave me time to bond with the little guy. I was very amazed at the progress he made in just a few hours. He still cries a little when we are separated and he tends to run at first when a big person approaches him but he is getting so much better. He now knows how to follow me and he knows that when I sit down to eat that I will have my hands occupied so he is free to try to jump up in my lap. And of course he knows he should not be on the table so he is determined to find out what goes on up there! I now realize why it’s so nice to have doors everywhere in the apartment. I can easily limit his access to rooms he doesn’t need to get into, like the kitchen!!!In the end I hope this is the start of good relationship. Nello seems to be the type of cat that will be very affectionate and a pain in the a**, but that’s part of experience.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Well look at my latest addition to my family. A friend at work said he needed a home and I volunteered mine. I may call hime "Nello" unless I can come up with a better Italian name. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Under the Old Olive Tree

Here is myself, Chris, and Emily taking a tour of the olive orchard then on to the factory that makes olive oil. Posted by Picasa

Cellphone Camera

This picture is a new era for me. I took this with my new cell phone. It has a 2 MP camera in it. Oh, the picture is Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 30, 2005

Yeah, visitors!!!!

Well this page has been quiet for a week for good reason. Chris and Emily came for a visit last week and I haven’t had time to write something up. The first part of their visit was up in Venice then they came down to Brindisi. Our first order of business was to go to the Amalfi Coast. But before we arrived in Sorrento we stopped at Pompeii. I always like that place because people who come later have modified so many other things but no one had that chance with Pompeii. There are old churches and towns in Italy but they all get modifications by the following generations. Pompeii is all the way it was….
We arrived at our hotel, which was high up over Sorrento with a nice view of the Bay of Naples. The hotel was complete; it even had a resident cat that could always use a little more attention. We hit all the major towns along coast. I learned more about the coast like that there is a nice parking lot at the bottom of Positano, which would have made the stop there much easier. When Emily made it up the stairs from the bottom to top of Positano, then I knew she could handle anything on this trip (she’s kinda pregnant, like 6 months!). In Amalfi we stopped at a papermaking mill. It’s amazing to think that there were once 16 papermaking mills in Amalfi. The town’s not that big. Another highlight were the views from Ravello (I think most postcard photos of the Amalfi coast come from there). This town is really small, now I know why it was hard to find a hotel there. Then we headed back to Brindisi the scenic way. I love driving down through Potenza and Metaponto to Brindisi. You stay in the mountains for a long time but the road is usually pretty empty because the trucks will take the Autostrada, so really I think it’s an easier drive. It also takes you through Basilicata. A very poor region of Italy but the towns on the hilltops look amazing.
Back in Brindisi we hit the local towns. A couple new things we did were: a visit to Polignano a Mare. This town is high above the sea, with some cool restaurants in caves in the cliffs over the sea. Also we toured a plant that makes olive oil. The people there were VERY nice, so go to there website They drove us out to see some especially old olive trees in the area and a stone house that people used to live in during the harvest (hundreds of years ago). Then after giving us a tour they gave us some olive oil. And we thought we should give them something for the trouble. They had about 6 people there to show us around. I have to go back when they are making oil to see it at work (that starts around the end of November).
That wraps up the highlights as I see this is getting really long. I should put up a few photos this weekend.Late edition to this blog. The weather was terrible before C & E came but it was perfect while Chris and Emily were here and now it looks very dark out...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

How to make life more annoying....

I knew it would happen in Europe first, but I thought it would be Italy to lead the way!!! What is that? I just read that two airlines in Europe (BMI of England and TAP of Portugal) will experiment with a system that will allow you to use your own cell phone in flight. I was wondering when this would happen. I always assumed Italy would be the first to do it since people are so addicted to their cell phones, but I was wrong (but close). So starting next year it will be allowed on a few planes on these two airlines to prove it’s safe but by 2007 it should be in general use. Man, how annoying is that going to be? Imagine your neighbor on the plane having a loud annoying conversation with someone the whole flight. Or trying to sleep with phone going off all around you. It could happen, soon…

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Miss Italia

Last night I stayed up late just to watch the end of the “Miss Italia” competition. Of course it was very interesting (not just because of all the women- it’s a cultural thing). The system is very different from the USA. The most important difference is that all the voting is done by “televote”. People call in at 0.60 cents per call. Now this may not seem that radical but there are many rounds of voting. The contest is 2 nights and they start with 101 contestants. Keep in mind there are 20 regions of Italy so even with 2 from every region that should be only 40 to start with. I’m not sure how they came up with 101. I didn’t see the first night but I think it was 2 large groups and they whittled it down to about 50 in several rounds of voting and interviews. I turned it on at 10:30 of the second night and they still had 30 contestants. There was no specific swimsuit or evening gown or talent competition. As they wore all of those outfits in just the 2 hours I saw. While the public is voting by telephone there would be dance numbers or interviews. So the women were interviewed many times and I think it was a test on how they could take the pressure. The most interesting round to me was when they went from 10 to 5. They would pick one woman at random and she would pick one other girl in the 10 to go head to head with. That meant the public had to choose between her and the other to be in the next round. I found it interesting to see who picked whom to go against. One definitely chose poorly, I think if she would have picked anyone else she could have moved on. They went down to 3 with no special challenge. When they were at 3 I thought “ok, this it” but then they went down to 2 and had another round of voting (remember all these rounds are $0.60 a vote). So the final round of voting was between two, Edelfa Maria from Piemonte and Anna Manafro from Sicily. I thought the Sicilian girl had in the bag. She definitely had the classic Italian looks. The other woman was not that different but I thought Italians would vote for the one with more Italian looks. I was wrong (or maybe the people in the North just voted more – a common complaint). In the end Edelfa won. On a side note, last year’s winner was there and she was blonde but this year there wasn’t a blond in the top 30 from what I remember. Interesting, there’s always a blonde in the Miss USA top 10.

Monday, September 12, 2005

This is a San Teodoro one of the two patron saints for the town. This statue was in a gazebo in the middle of the town for the weekend. Posted by Picasa
This is a photo from the festival last week. I meant to put it up a while ago. It was like a good ole state fair without all the animals... Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 05, 2005

More Local News....

There was a string of local news events over the weekend so I thought I would write about it. I’m not going to write about the hurricane because enough is being said about that. There is nothing I could say that hasn’t been said before. It's far away but the BBC has been covering it extensively, so I know all to well what has been going on.
Bad News: Gina won’t be working at the Fruit and Vegetable Store anymore. I’m not sure why.
Good News: Now maybe I’ll go down to the Farmer’s Market more. There is a wider selection there.
Bad News: Octavio and Daniele are no longer co-owners of the Big Ben Pub. They have split up. Again no reason has been given as to why this happened.
Good News: Octavio is taking over the “In Buca al Lupolo”. Another pub right down the street. So now I have two places to go. Still, it will be strange the two bars are almost in sight of each other.
Bad News: There are signs up on my street that says no parking starting tomorrow for street repairs. It’s funny because the signs say no parking until the work is finished. It has no finish date and it also doesn’t say what the work is exactly. So something is being down to the street for some amount of time.
Good News: I don’t park on the street so it doesn’t affect me and just about anything they do to the street will be an improvement.
Bad News: The patron saints festival is over. The street vendors are gone and the town is quiet.
Good News: Fall is coming with cooler temperatures and rain to make things green again. No trees change color and loose their leaves here so there’s no real “sign” of fall like I’m used to.

Odd news…the paper today is calling for a “sciopero” or strike against high electricity prices. So they want everyone to unplug everything from 11:30 to 11:35 AM on September 14. They even talk about how much electricity items like TVs use when they are on standby, which is off but can be turned on by remote. They naturally are willing to give in on the refrigerator but they say, “don’t open the door!!” It even asks do you really need the light when you open the door? There are some good ideas for saving electricity.
That’s you’re update for this week in Italy.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The winners!!!! Posted by Picasa

Palio d' Arca

Tonight the event was a boat race. This was organizing the start. Also tonight the cray street market starts. Everything from vacuum sweepers to animals. Posted by Picasa

Play on wheels

This event was a horse drawn cart play. The cart would stop and the actors would play out an "act" that was part of a larger story. Then you follow them to the next stop to learn more. At this point the two actors at the bottom were doing the pizzica. Posted by Picasa

Good Vibrations

Following the action of festival week. This is national recording artist "Le Vibrazione" performing for free in Brindisi. They are a hard rocking band and yes the lead singer is wearing red horns. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The pizzica or the taranta, I think the difference is very minute. These guys were great and the old guy on the left was giving CDs to cute girls that would come up and dance by him. Posted by Picasa

Sunday dinner

Sunday dinner at my place. Look how tan Paola is after just a weekend in Puglia. AHHHH the summer. For the record the plate of red things is peppers and they are not FOR ME!! Posted by Picasa

Quick blog

I’ve been bad at updating the blog lately. The events lately have been slow. The concert Saturday night was so big we didn’t go. When we arrived the little town was packed solid with people so Paola and I decided that Lecce would be nice enough. We found out the next day that 70,000 people were at the concert. Imagine 70,000 invading Bloomington or Athens for a free concert to be held, not in a stadium, but in piazza in town. Remember also that this town was planned out before cars and the need for parking lots. I think they were expecting 40,000. I was just happy I could get back to the highway.
Last night “the thing to do” was a stupid “introduction” of the basketball team. The team went to the semi-finals in Series B. Yes I think that’s the 2nd level of basketball, so the team is like in the minor league of basketball. A big stage and a whole night that was like a really boring pep rally for the team, but the whole town was there. I took one picture of the team on stage just to have some record on the event. I probably won’t post it. There was a popular local celebrity there, which is what brought the crowd out. He said some bull about how great Brindisi was and how we should support the team. Blah, blah, blah…
The most interesting thing was when I saw one of my neighbors from my building there. I found out he is high up in the front office of the team (some type of secretary, but not the typing and filing type, you know what I mean). He was up on stage and I even saw his picture in the paper. I bet he could get me free tickets to the games. His family is the one that has that little rat dog. Luckily they are two floors down so I don’t hear it except on my way out. If lived directly above or below that dog….

Monday, August 22, 2005

Festival Time!!!!!

I just read in the paper that August 27th will be the start of the festival for the patron saints of the town of Brindisi. This is a great time to live where I do. I can walk to all the activities in town and that is so nice because parking is usually crazy at this time. I mean crazier than usual. There will be something going on every night from August 27th until September 5th. There will be free concerts, plays, a boat race, fireworks, parades (lead by the statues of the patron saints) and a big street market. Everything, except the church services will be outside. I love that.
Every town in Italy has at least one patron saint of the town. Brindisi has two. The more important one is San Lorenzo da Brindisi. I’m not sure what he did but the other San Teodoro has an interesting story. He was a captain on a ship during the Crusades. His fleet came under attack in Turkey and he was killed and his boat attempted to return to Brindisi. The crew put his body in a small boat, as they were being attacked and about to sink. The small boat made it’s way back to Brindisi where his remains are still today. Because of this miraculous return, every year as part of the celebration they parade his statue down to the sea where it is taken around the harbor in a parade of boats. Then it returns shore and fireworks are set off.What I should try to do is get a picture of something every night. It’s an ambitious goal. So I’ll make a little report with photo from every night. Also I should try to find out what San Lorenzo da Brindisi did.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Di Montagna!!

When we weren't at the lake we were in the mountains (Alagna in this photo). This area has a house that was built of wood in 1628 and is still in great condition. Posted by Picasa

Ferragosto and a peaceful setting

A picture perfect day on Lago D'Orta. This was our view as ate lunch on August 15th (a national holiday in Italy) on the island in the lake. Posted by Picasa

Lago D'Orta

Your author trying to look cool at Lago D'Orta. Matteo next to me looks mortified. Like the new sunglasses!!! Posted by Picasa

In Ole Napoli....

Paola and I at the Castel Nuovo in Naples. Why am I still carrying "the shopping" around that late? Because we didn't go back to the hotel all day!!! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


It’s August and sure enough most of the country is on vacation. I had a little mini vacation. Paola came here to Brindisi for the first time. I think my place impressed her with its rugged manliness. I think if my apartment didn’t “need a woman’s touch” I would be worried. We had a good time hanging out in this little town by the sea. Funny thing is we had horrible weather, of sorts. There is this northerly wind called the “tramontana” (from the mountains) and when this wind kicks up it makes a day at the beach no fun. It cools things down a bit, which is nice but the problem is when it’s blowing so hard it’s difficult to walk and sand is blowing everywhere. So this stupid wind ruined a weekend of beach fun. We had to go inland to Martina Franca. It was really strange to see the beaches around here empty in August but you didn’t dare get out of the car. We did get a little sun on Saturday afternoon but it was nothing like it should have been.
Then after battling the wind we headed to Naples to spend two nights there. Again I noticed how beat up and dirty Naples is but it has such potential that I feel like I’m visiting it before it becomes “discovered”. It has crazy poorer areas that I saw the last time but this time we took the funicolare up on the hill to a great museum and castle that have beautiful views over the city and the greatest thing is how quiet it is. There is even a nice neighborhood up there. Naples is so loud and chaotic that when you get up there it really calms you down. I feel I wasn’t thinking straight in the constant barrage of Naples, but once we got up high it felt so good. Now it’s back to work.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Math time!!!!

Let’s do some math. Yeah on a Monday morning no less!!! This weekend the high temperature both days was 40C. To go from C to F multiply by 1.8 and then add 32. If you do that then you get 104F. UUGGHH! Yes, it was 104F all weekend and in the evening it really doesn’t cool off that much. Yes it’s nice to go to the beach, but it kind of sucks when that is THE ONLY thing you can do AND it’s also the only thing everyone else can do, too. Even then in the middle of the day (between 1-4 PM) it’s so hot that you really don’t want to be at the beach either (I burnt my feet on the hot sand, boo hoo). I would have been toasted a nice red color if I would have stayed out. On the positive side I did some snorkeling and saw something new every time I went out. One of the more impressive things was a huge jellyfish (about 14 inches in diameter) and it had a small light blue fish swimming around the top staying away from the stinging tentacles. One of the strangest things for me was when I saw a guy standing on a rock in a shallow area. I wondered what he was doing and then I noticed he had a fork and a sea urchin. Yes, he worked the sea urchin open and ate it right there, IN the sea. Impressive but this particular beach is a park and you aren’t allowed to do such things. The only thing that makes this beach so good for snorkeling is because it’s a park!!! Idiot. Another time I found this bright violet little fish hiding in a little dark cave. It was like a neon tetra only neon violet in color. I’ve been getting to know the area underwater, like at one beach I’m much more likely to see flounders in the sandy area than at another beach not far away. But I still haven’t seen the red starfish. There is supposed to be a red starfish that haunts these waters and I would really like to see one. I need to buy an underwater camera because I would like to get pictures of some of the animals I’ve seen and if I ever see that red starfish I want to be ready.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

No al Rigassificatore!!

There is so much to write about lately. The most important thing is I spent last weekend in Rome having a great time. Rome has so much it’s always great to visit that city. Then as soon as I got back Sunday night I wandered into town for a gelato and saw that a free concert was going on. It was an American guy called Sonny Rhodes and he was billed as “The Last Great Texas Bluesman”. He sounded great and in the end I bought his CD and he signed it afterwards. Then last night there was a big demonstration in town against a gas refinery they want to build in Brindisi. I saw several people I knew so I joined in. I got my first glimpse of Nichi Vendola the governor of Puglia.
The weekend in Rome. Not much to say really. Paola was in Rome on business so I seized the chance to see her again when she was near. It was hot and dry as July will always be and the city was full of tourists. I like the off-season a little better. I can’t imagine living there and putting up with the tourists.
The blues concert Sunday night was amazing I think mainly because Sonny Rhodes took the crowd by surprise. He must be at least 70 years old so it just felt like someone who should be singing the blues. If you’re young you just don’t know the blues. There’s no way they could understand him but the music was so good, especially the guy playing the harmonica. Sonny took a wireless microphone and walked out into the crowd while singing “Standin’ on Shaky Ground”. The people loved it. At one point he was even riding on the front of a “bike” (it has 4 wheels and it’s for 4 people) still singing as they pedaled him back towards the stage. It was hilarious.Then last night there was the big demonstration against gas refinery. There have been signs up for weeks “No al Rigassificatore” and last night everyone came together. It seems some English company wants to bring in and refine natural gas and petroleum products here. Crude oil and gas would come in by ship and be refined here and then shipped out again to other parts of the world. So Brindisi gets a few jobs and all the pollution created by this plant. Many groups were there last night WWF, Legambiente, Verde, the farmers (with tractors!!) and the communists, all the people that elected Nichi Vendola. So I have to believe this thing doesn’t have a chance because Nichi himself was there last night talking against it. I’ll have to keep on top of what happens.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Gina at the Store

Those of you who have visited me will recognize Gina "the fruit and vegatable lady". Watermelons are as cheap and good as the get right now. In the background you see Porta Napoli. You've seen the other side in earlier pictures. Posted by Picasa
Tonight there was a demonstration against the building of a gas refinery in Brindisi. This is the start of parade through town to the piazza where fiery speeches were made. More about this tomorrow. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Castle FOR SALE!!!

I mentioned to sis a while ago that the castle in Oria was for sale. This small town is on top of one of the few hills in the heel of the boot, so it has some nice views and a great cathedral. It’s one of the places I like to go now. My favorite king, Fredrick II, made the castle in the 11th century. He made all the castles around here. Freddy’s most famous is Castel del Monte, which is on the one-cent coin in Italy. Before you say one-cent coin, BIG DEAL, remember we have Abraham Lincoln on our one-cent coin! Now the website with the castle in Oria said to “ask for details” on the price. That to me meant if you have to ask you can’t afford it, which is true. I found out today that a coworker lives in this nice little town and he knows the asking price for the castle is roughly 8 million dollars.
It’s funny because I thought what would you do with a castle and who would buy it? The best answer I came up with was that it would make the perfect place for a James Bond villain to set up shop to hatch a plan to rule the world. It’s a little out of the way and hidden, but not tough commute. It has a great round tower that would be perfect as a secret helicopter landing pad or missile silo or both. It has a very nice garden attached to it because you know the bad guy always has some natural passion like pet sharks and tigers or a pool full beautiful women or both. It’s just a perfect setting for the some 007-type movie. Oh and I just remembered there are lots of caves around here so I’m SURE you could drill down to one that leads all the way to the sea. So you have it all. The streets in the town would also make a great scooter chase scene. It would need to be scooters because cars barely fit on the streets in old city center. Can I copyright this idea?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What a sweet ride....

I have to put something up today about what happened last night. It was raining cats and dogs like a good old thunderstorm back home in July. I spotted Manuela standing in a storefront on my street. I stopped, as I feared my cheap piece of junk umbrella was going to give out at any moment. We talked for a little while and she agreed to drive me to the grocery store if I could get her to her car without getting soaked. I agreed immediately because I have wanted to ride in her car. Why, because it’s a white 1975 FIAT 500. I have to get a picture of this car. It’s INCREDIBLY small and basic. The engine is in the back so the hood in front is actually used as legroom. I noticed this first because I was amazed how easily I fit into this car. Manuela is maybe 5’ tall so I could understand how she could have this car but I think I could drive it too. The dashboard consists of 1 dial (speedometer) and 3 switches. So the conversation was (in Italian)…
Me:“Manuela, what does this switch do?”
Manu: “Lights”
Me: “this one”
Manu: “wipers”
Me: “this one”
Manu: “I don’t know”.
No radio, no vents, no power anything. It doesn’t even have a fuel gauge, just a light that comes on when you need gas (well diesel, of course)!! I still didn’t quite understand how you started the car. It had a key you turned but it also has something like a choke lever that you pulled for a short time. A couple other things about this particular car (it’s actually her mother’s car), it has a fabric sunroof that is really cool (but of no use yesterday) it’s 30 years old but with only about 106,000 km on it (that’s about 66,000 miles). It’s probably never been used over 40 or 50 mph, well it may not be capable of 50 mph, or in ice or snow. And yes it’s in great condition and yes I would like to buy it because I’m a nut. It’s such a novelty but still so useful in Italy. It’s the Italian version of VW beetle only a lot smaller. It reminds you of what you need. I think dad’s lawnmower has more hp and options then this thing but it got us to the store and back which is all they need it for. And it’s easy to park.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Pantanagianni (that's the name of the town)

This is Ottavio and Daniele's summer bar. They run the Big Ben in the winter and now they will be running this place for the next 3 summers. This place was a complete dump before they came in this spring and cleaned it up. I helped (sort of) but now I can park right behind the bar and have a short walk to the beach. Time for an Sunday afternoon nap... Posted by Picasa

Da Beach

This is the view of the beach from the bar. There is a beach right out front of the bar but the view is blocked by a big sand dune that you see at the very left of this picture. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 08, 2005

North vs. South

Even before I moved here people have been telling me about the differences between the North and South. Now that my Italian is getting better I seem to be reading the paper more (usually La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno) and learning more about this difference. People can have stereotypes that will last forever so I’m looking for facts. Some recent facts I’ve seen are these…
In Puglia water is the most expensive in Italy. I thought this was no big deal because it makes sense since it is very dry here. There is only one “river” (I would call it a stream) and not many lakes so I could see why water would be expensive but Molise just north of us has much cheaper water and in the Milano area they have the cheapest. Also just out in the news is recycling. It seems in the North they recycle up to 70% or 80% of their trash, which ranks as high as some of the best areas of Europe, while in the south they are at 12% or 13% and some areas below 10%. To make a long story short, the water is blamed on corruption and the trash is blamed on people’s attitudes (which confirms a few stereotypes). Another strange example of southern Italy, just the other day, right out in front of where I work, someone stole 300 feet of railroad tracks in the middle of the night (not the ties just the metal tracks). That’s no small feat and to get away unnoticed…. Lastly politics. When I moved here I remember a few weeks later I learned the word for mayor, sindaco, because Brindisi’s mayor was all over the papers. Why? Because he was in jail for corruption. Also did I mention that the Governor of Puglia, Nichi Vendola, is a gay communist? It’s funny because he says he speaks for the average working man in his Armani suits with his boyfriend. Does that sound like your average Southern Italian? So I have to say that some of the stereotypes seem to be true and division between North and South are there. I bet you didn’t know that there is a small group up North that are calling for the North to split off and become it’s own country called “Padania”. Strange but true.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Happy 4th of July. This is flag on the balcony for the day. I don't think people can even see it because I'm up on the 4th floor (5th to you Americans). And yes, Emily this is the little Old Navy flag you left at my house. Posted by Picasa