Gubbio’s Guinness Record Lights the Mountain

December 6, 2011

Who could ever imagine that a quiet medieval Umbrian hilltown- not even on the railroad line - would merit a place in the Guinness Book of World Records? Gubbio did it with Albero di Natale più grande del mondo. Between 7 and 8 pm on December 7th - vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - thousands of excited Eugubini gather in Gubbio's piazzas, eyes on Mount Ingino backdropping the town, as the lights are lit on the World's Largest Christmas Tree (Guinness World Records, 1991). Read more...

In Città  di Castello, Magnificent Tubers Entice

November 11, 2011

In early November, white truffles star at the 32nd edition of la Mostra-Mercato del Tartufo Bianco in Citta' di Castello in the Upper Tiber Valley. But not only the prized white truffle, Tuber Magnatum Pico: all the many flavors of Umbrian fall goodness team with traditional culinary wisdom in this weekend dedicated to educating the taste buds and the mind through a kaleidoscope of conferences, cooking competitions, theatrical presentations and food tastings. read more...

Elegant Turin, Bracing Against the Floods

November 7, 2011

As the Genovesi and the people of the Cinque Terre mourn their dead and shovel out the mud, the Torinesi keep a watchful eye on the Po, il Grande fiume, up 4.5 meters yesterday and swelling 10 to 15 cm an hour. They know their river - and that ravaging weather can turn it into "un padre ubriacone e malignazzo" ("a big old drunk and malicious father"). The mayor of Turin has ordered all schools closed and advised the locals to stay indoors. read more...

Here Comes the Pope (again..)

November 2, 2011

In 2002, I wrote about the Pope John Paul II's sixth visit to Assisi - and my memory of a personal encounter (so-to-speak) during his 1976 visit. That note follows below. On October 27th, Pope Benedict XVI made his first visit to Asisisi, called "citta' della pace" ever since the encounter of all the world's religious leaders here at invitation of John Paul II in 1986. This recent Papal visit commemorated the 25th anniversary of that most significant inter-faith meeting... read more...

Our New Italians

August 13, 2011

Italians relax under umbrellas on sandy Adriatic beaches in the hot summer months. Under blistering sun, Moroccans, Tunisians, Indians, Pakistanis, Nigerians, Senegalese, Bangladeshi - to name a few of the immigrant vendors - trudge for hours in the sand, toting their wares, hoping to make a sale. read more...

May 9th: Remembering an Anti-Mafia Hero

May 9, 2011

Pino and I will head to the meeting tonight (May 9th) in Assisi in memory of courageous young Sicilian Peppino Impastato, eliminated by the Mafia on May 9th, 1978 for his outspoken criticisms of Mafia crime via the Radio Aut he started (his brilliant broadcasts were often full of irony and cutting humor) in his small hometown of Cinisi, not far from Palermo. read more...