100. Scenes of Italy

My daughter Lizy tells me that the average number of posts that people who start blogs do is — zero. I get that. Aspirations often outstrip reality. It’s not so easy to see something, recognize its significance, and then write about it.

But for me and Italy, the ideas just keep coming — far beyond my wildest expectations. There’s so much to see and think about, and the mere process of observing makes me much more mindful when I’m there, making the whole experience more meaningful.

So on the occasion of my 100th post, here are some things I noticed on my recent trip.

The old and the new coexist.
An alarming sight in a Rome shop window. I know it’s meant for tourists, but even so…

Olive trees are beautiful: gnarled, silvery green, human scale. They practically beg to be climbed.

A 400-year-old specimen, still going strong.

Italians seem even more besotted by their dogs than we are, and incorporate them naturally into their daily lives.

Dog in restaurant? Why not?
It is not uncommon to see dogs, unleashed, “guarding” their owner’s shops.
Helping with the olive harvest, and modeling.

We passed farmers selling their wares by the side of the road. We pulled over and bought a crate for 10 euro; he wouldn’t sell in smaller quantities. Delicious!

One of our favorite spots is the Mercato in Rome’s main Termini railroad station; it’s always our first stop when we land in Rome. It’s like a food court, but filled with wonderful delicacies, and actual Romans eating their lunch. Can you imagine New Yorkers going into Penn Station just to eat?

So many options. How to choose?
Making your pizza right in front of you.

I’m an early riser, and I love the sights, sounds and smells of towns coming to life in the morning. There’s nothing like passing a bar with its door open in welcome, and seeing the gleaming coffee machines, hearing the clang of the ceramic cups on the marble counter tops and oh, that wonderful rich smell of coffee.

Headed to school in the morning.

I love the espressino found only in Puglia. Halfway between a macchiato and a cappuccino. Perfetto!

I always make a point to seek out the weekly outdoor markets that take place in most Italian towns of any size. We took time away from our olive-picking duties one Saturday morning to go to Altamura’s. I love the variety and predictability of the offerings and the enthusiasm of the customers. Thankfully, I had committed myself to not checking any luggage; otherwise, I would have come home with an extra suitcase filled with items I probably don’t need. I did purchase a set of espresso spoons (2 euro!) that will remind me of Altamura’s market every time I use them. Here are some examples:

Baby shoes.
Kitchen equipment, including an assortment of ravioli crimpers
Strange floor mats

And then there was the food section, always a high point, although Altamura’s market did not include the customary porchetta truck, which Tonio later told us is more characteristic of markets in the north.

Meat, cheese, olives and salt cod. What more does one need?


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