Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Story of San Teodoro D'Amasea

The story of this saint is pretty cool to me. It’s lacks a lot of detail and if I’m getting something wrong then I hope Marco Ruuu will correct me. San Teodoro was a Roman soldier on a ship that sailed from Brindisi as part of the Crusades around 1210. He died in a battle in Aukat, Turkey. As the ship returned with his remains the sailors realized the Turks were chasing them and they would not escape. They decided to put his remains in small dingy and sent him adrift as they turned the ship to fight the Turks chasing them. The story says that the dingy miraculously made its way back to the harbor of Brindisi unaided.
So to mark this event, every year Brindisi has a boat parade led by a boat with the effigy of San Teodoro riding a white stallion (and a statue of San Lorenzo, the other patron saint of the town is on the boat too for some odd reason). The lead boat brings the statues into the harbor again as a reenactment of the original miraculous return in 1210. There are speeches made by important local politicians and religious folks. Then they set off the best fireworks show of the year from the Sailors Monument on the other side of the harbor. The waterfront and the steps up to the columns that mark the end of the Via Appia are PACKED with people.
The whole celebration is about 4 nights of what you see in the Youtube video link below. I guess I would be called crazy if I acted surprised to find video on Youtube. It's not great but it gives you a little of what the rides and vendors are like. My camera would make a video of about the same quality so I can’t make fun of the person that did this and if you can’t be here for the festival then it’s the next best thing.

Festival of San Teodoro

The carnival rides remind me of how I would like to take some of my Italian friends to the US. Back in Ohio I could take them to King’s Island just north of Cincinnati or Cedar Point up by Cleveland. Some of my best memories of childhood are when I was first allowed to ride “The Beast” at Kings Island and then later in my teens going there for most of the summer with a season pass. Nothing was cooler than riding in the very front of the Beast late at night.
It’s funny that I forgot about those days because people here always ask me what I did as a kid in the summer with no sea to go to. I remember now. The parents would drop us off at Kings Island and we would run wild all over the park. We hardly ever got into trouble except when we learned how to squeal the tires on the “old fashioned car ride” or when we learned that we could screw up the mechanical Smurfs by throwing pennies on their tracks until the Smurfs got stuck or…. Ahhh, the good ol’days….

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Quick Plug for a Blog

My sister told me about a friend of hers that's living in India teaching English who has a blog. The guy is a really good photographer and I just checked out his blog and looks like things that you would see in National Geographic.
His blog is:
Bombay Dreams

It has nothing to do with Italy but it's pretty cool to me since I've never been to India, yet.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Big Wedding Blog

I didn’t think I would have the time or energy to write about the wedding in Colorado today but I forgot that today is also the day that I go back to drinking caffe after a week of acqua sporca or “dirty water”. So…
After going to Winnipeg for work I flew down to Denver on Thursday morning to go to Kristen and Brian’s wedding. They were going boating on Thursday afternoon as a way to relax before the storm of wedding festivities (the wedding was on a Friday afternoon). I showed up at the marina for Lake Dillon straight from the airport hoping they hadn’t left yet, if that were gone then I would go and check in at the hotel in Keystone. With my luck they were still loading up the pontoon boats so I joined in. I was a little light headed from the altitude but a few beers should fix that, right? I was surprised to find out that Niels had bought a condo in Breckenridge and he had been spending the last few years fixing it up. After the boating he and I decided that there was enough time that we could do some mountain biking before he had to be at the rehearsal dinner so we took off to his place. I was amazed when I saw his place. I knew he did renovations for work in Indianapolis so I should have known the place in Colorado would be cool. I called and cancelled my hotel as he had room and I wanted to stay at where I was. All we had to do to get to the trail was carry the bikes the across a little babbling brook in his back yard and then start pumping hard up a gravel road. He assured me the down hill part was right around the corner, several times. The photo below is the view before we started down the trail.Then it happened, we turned off the gravel road into the aspens and pines for a ride I won’t soon forget. I was on Niels’ bike and he was on his wife’s. I realized how sad my own “mountain” bike is. My bike couldn’t handle this trail at all. Only on a bike with real suspension could I stay on this path as I hurled down the mountain at ridiculous speeds. There is something about that adrenalin rush of being almost out of control. Trees flying by as you try to find the smoothest path on a trail that’s only a foot wide! I relived it over and over as I began to feel my hands again while I was relaxing on the front porch after the ride. Also after the ride I took in as much water as my body would allow because I was still trying to battle the effects of being at a little of over 9,000 ft. Then I had to get ready as quickly as possible because it seems there was room for me at the rehearsal dinner. Niels went over first because he was in the wedding then I drove Jen (Niels’ wife) and Cole (Nicole in case your wondering, Niels’ sister) over. We had a wonderfully long dinner at a restaurant called Samplings in Keystone. I was sitting next to Kristen’s parents, which was a treat as I’ve met them before but on this occasion there was so much more to talk about.
That’s right I was in town all of 12 hours and I had gone boating, mountain biking, and to the rehearsal dinner. Then on Friday, the day of the wedding, again Niels had to be there early so Jen, Cole, and I went on a big hike. Hell yeah. I’m in Colorado and I made the most of it. The hike was very picturesque so here are few. The only problem was that we had to rush back down the mountain to make it to the wedding.
The wedding itself was perfect. The weather was sunny and cool (there was snow and hail up there the night before!) so the ceremony was on the porch of the Timber Ridge Lodge, which is 11,444 ft above sea level and then the reception was inside.



After the wedding the reception started early because the lodge closes at 11:00 PM. I actually liked this because I had to be at the Denver airport at 6:15 AM the next morning so staying out until 1 or 2 AM would make the next day in airplanes tougher than normal. Also an early night was ok because I wasn’t able to dance for very long at the high altitude. I think I was finally getting adjusted to the thin air right about the time I was leaving! I REALLY enjoyed the 2 days I was out there. I got to do everything, boating, hiking, biking, eating, and dancing. I have to thank Niels, Jen, and Cole as hanging out with them the whole time was a blast. Of course I have to thank Kristen and Brian for inviting me too. Congratulations to Kristen and Brian!
Once again a photo of me this time at the Fountain of Chocolate....

Quick update.....

There is so much to write about with my trip back to the US and Canada. I think I’ll jump straight to the wedding in Colorado because it was just amazing. Normally I have to do everything in chronological order but not this time. I had such a good time in Keystone and Breckenridge that it will definitely be the first thing I write about next.
Getting back to Brindisi was tough. I had so many flights and layovers that when I ran into someone famous at the airport I was too tired and jetlagged to even talk to him or get a photo. He was standing right behind me in the airport in Rome yesterday. I thought people were staring at me because I was sleeping while standing up but it was because of who was behind me. Maybe he was trying to hide behind me.
More later… the first photo is from the St Mary’s Festival in Cincinnati. The bottom one is from Keystone, Colorado (I took it after the first of two gondola rides that it took to get to the wedding site).

Monday, August 13, 2007

Too much to not blog...

I want to be in ferie so bad but there is too much to talk about right now. The most important news is that on Saturday we finally got rain! Almost 2 months without a single drop of rain. If you check out the photo you’ll see dots on my railing that I swear are from raindrops. It’s a good thing I took that photo when I did because it didn’t last long. It was barely enough to get the ground wet but I’m hoping other areas around here got more. I haven’t seen any fires along the roads so it seems to have done the trick for now. The only reason I’m blogging today is that there's another big dark cloud outside my window right now that may bring us a little more rain, if we’re lucky. It’s not a good day for the beach so I figured I could write a little.
Speaking of the beach. I set new records by coming across two octopi in one trip around the rocks. I can’t believe it but now I know what to look for they seem to be everywhere. Also I saw for the first time in the wild a cuttlefish. I took some lousy photos of it and even tried a video but you can’t see it because they are THE masters of camouflage. The only reason I saw it was because it happened to be right next to fish I was trying to photograph. I’m sure there are tons of them out there too I just need to look harder. The only thing I haven’t seen that I would really like to see (and have a chance of seeing) is a sea turtle. I know they’re around because occasionally they find an injured one and nurse it back to health. Also I would like to see a shark but that’s very, very unlikely.
Around town: As Marco mentioned they returned the statues to the top of the cathedral. In fact it was only days after I took that photo. So my photo of the statue less church is rarity or oddity. Maybe it’s a collector’s item? Of course there is a bunch of controversy over if the statues are the originals or copies. And we know they are from left to right. Pope Pios X, San Teodoro, San Lorenzo da Brindisi, and San Giustino de Jacobis. I also saw a sign that Brindisi will be celebrating San Teodoro from August 25th until September 3!! Wahoo, it’s always the BIGGEST PARTY in Brindisi.
Let’s see, I’ll just be getting back from whirlwind trip to the States by then. I should fill you in case I’m not blogging for a while and you won’t need to ask why. I leave Brindisi on August 17th for Cincinnati. After a weekend with family I’ll head up to Winnipeg, Canada where I’ll be working for a few days. Then my trip gets even crazier. From Winnipeg I’m going to Denver because some friends of mine are getting married in Keystone, Colorado. From there I fly back to Cincinnati and back to Brindisi in time for work Monday morning (August 27th) if it all works out. I mentioned before that “the stars were coming into alignment” because that was when the travel agent for my company had going through Cincinnati as the cheapest option to get to Winnipeg. Then when I found a direct flight from Winnipeg to Denver. I said, “Why not go to the wedding?” All I have to pay for is the flight from Winnipeg and the hotel in Colorado to be at another wedding in the month of August.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Big Wedding Blog

I'll try to keep this short and use pictures to tell the story. Erika and Valerio were married on Monday and I had the great pleasure to be there. First of all the church was right across the street from Erika's house so it was VERY convenient. She could get ready at home with her friends and then just walk across the street to the church. Valerio meanwhile lives a short distance away and this photo is him arriving with Marco showing the way. Marco was the life of the party all night. I had no idea he could dance so well.

What's wedding without flower girls?

This is Erika leaving the house with her father. I know I have seen or heard about the tradition of cutting the ribbon as you see here but I can't remember the significance.

This is the crowd leaving the church. I thought maybe you could get a feel for how people were dressed and what they were like. The service was very similar to catholic weddings that I've been to in the US except we seemed to be standing a lot more here. The priest gave advice just like in the US, there were a few readings by friends and family, and of course some singing. Yeah, I would say it was very similar to when my cousins on my mom's side were married and also all the Oliverio weddings that I've been too! Maybe I'm catholic by now...

This photo will require a little explaining. A short walk from the church is a place we call "L'ufficio". This is where we meet up to go out. You can just say "L'ufficio alle 9" and everyone knows. So we met there quickly for a few photos before going on to the reception.

This one is for the ladies out there. Look at all those southern Italian guys

Marco Russo driving the married couple around. Don't drive that car like you do your Lancia! Wait Antonella is there too...

The reception was great and a big part of that was the location. It was so big and everything outdoors. This first photo is the area where had a little aperitif and toast to happy couple. The place had three courtyards. One in the front shown here. One on the side where we ate and danced to live music and one in the back where had desert by the pool.

This photo is where we ended the night with deserts and dancing(dancing again! My legs felt it the next day). I didn't get a photo of the area where we ate because I've already learned not to be taking photos when a buffet is involved. The curious thing is that we started dancing after the cheese and prosciutto part of the appetiser so I passed on the pasta dish because we were having too much fun dancing. Then the smoke from the grill caught our attention and we sat down for the meat portion of the meal.

Yours truly with Francesco (aka Miami Vice). In my defense I was reaching to adjust my tie when the photo was taken.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Photos of Brindisi

Sognatrice mentioned in her blog how everyone should take some photos of their local town. I thought it was a great idea because there were several things that I've been meaning to get a photo of with the new camera.
This first photo is the most important. It's of the curious little round church(temple?) hidden in the middle of town called the Tempio di San Giovanni al Sepolcro. It's been covered in scaffolding for months and now it's finally seeing the light of day again. A bonus is that with my new digital camera the lens goes to 18mm, which is wide enough to get the whole church (it's on a pretty big piazza but faces another building).

This next photo is the heart of the passeggiata. The street you see is pedestrian only and it's a good thing too because cars would be a major problem navigating it when it's filled with people every night, still an occasional taxi does try to use the road for some odd reason.

A door shot.

I don't want to show just the pretty things. This poor building is falling apart and it's in a great location in the center of town. I guess every town has a few buildings that need help.

And last, but not least, the main duomo of Brindisi. If you've seen photos where there are statues on the roof then you're looking at an old photo.

The next blog will be Valerio and Erika's wedding. I have a ton of photos to sift through and I'm "in ferie" so it might take a couple days.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Board is set. The pieces are in motion....

The stars are starting to align. My plans for August are coming together. More later...
This is an old photo not meant to hint at where I'm going. It's Tropea from some years ago when I drove to Sicily for the first time.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Good riddance to July. Let’s put it into perspective because it wasn’t all bad.
Weather wise (the bad part):
We didn’t have a single drop of rain the entire month and we managed to hit a new record high of 49C (that’s 120F to you Americans) in Brindisi. This is the month that I officially gave up on most of the plants on my balcony. It seems that every time I turned around they were wilting away. So all I have left are plants that are “very hardy” and toothpicks. Hey, I’m on the 4th floor so nobody can really see my plants away. I’ll just get some plastic ones! The good thing about this weather is that I was at the beach more than any other July. You already know this because I’ve been posting those underwater photos all month. Now I won’t feel bad if I go someplace else in August because I’m already getting a little burned out on the beach.

Guest wise (the good part):
It was a great month. At the start of the month my sister was here with my brother in law (Lori and Kent). They always have a good time hanging out in Brindisi. Then the following week I had Juli and Sabine as guests. They had found my place through and they needed a place at the end of their crazy whirlwind tour through Puglia. I say crazy because I really didn’t know when they would be here, until they were here. In the end they arrived on a Sunday afternoon and then they were gone by the very next night. But in that short time I had fun showing them around Brindisi, Ostuni, Polignano a Mare, and Bari. See what I mean about whirlwind. Crazy kids!

Other wise:
Work had some interesting moments for me. Naturally some things are slowing down and getting ready for the August shutdown of the plant but that’s when something unexpected usually happens. And it did, but we got through it. Enough said.
At home my downstairs neighbor started destroying their apartment in July. At 7:00 AM last Monday I woke up to a light banging sound that I found annoying to say the least. Then at 8:00 AM they got out the sledgehammers and really went to town. Then they added to this commotion with a third person shoveling up broken ceramic tiles and dumping them down a plastic slide on their balcony. The good news is that I think the “destruction phase” of redecorating is over as so far this week everything has been quiet.

So today starts August and things look better already. The most important event is that the plant in Brindisi is closing for 3 weeks starting Monday. So I have 3 weeks of vacation right, not exactly. Stay tuned…

Mia sorella throwing some parmigiano on spaghetti e cozze. A good action shot by Kent

Juli and Sabine, the Couchsurfers in Ostuni

Nello and I reading a book this month. Nello is such a showoff because he's reading it upside down.