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