Puglia: Bari and Polignano

Every August the whole country of Italy essentially shuts down (don’t worry if you were planning a trip the touristic areas and museums are the only things still open) That may sound dramatic, but really it becomes difficult to even find a supermarket close by. This is due to Ferragosto, the holiday celebrating the Assumption of Mary, which has become the official Summer Holiday. The solution to escaping the dead cities and unbearable heat is to go to the Sea or the Mountains. With a friend, we chose the Sea, and we chose to head back south and see a new region, Puglia.

With only three days we didn’t have the opportunity to see much, only Bari and Polignano a Mare, but after this visit, I am sure I will be back to visit even further down the Italian heel.

Polignano A Mare Sea

The view from one of the Free “Beaches” at Polignano, this one was more a cliff of rocks, but you could sit and be sprayed by the crashing waves.

Street Scene Polignano A Mare

The streets of Polignano

Vespa Bari Vecchia

All the winding streets of BariVecchia were filled with Vespas, I decided to take all the photos and start anew Instagram: @NotMyVespa

Bari Vecchia Pasta Making

Everywhere you walk you can find the nonne of Bari Vecchia making fresh Orecchiete and Taralli to sell (they were amazing!) *Photo by: Sara Faloughi

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Return to Matera

Sassi Matera

 

What is Matera?

Matera, most famous for its “Sassi” or rock dwellings, has been settled in continuously since Paleolithic period. In fact, the area of the Sassi is said to be the site of the first ever human dwellings in Italy! These dwellings were carved into the rock and built on top of each other along the edge of a ravine overlooking the Parco della Murgia. Today while they have been upgraded for modern habitation, some stores and houses still incorporate these caverns and many are accessible to Matera;s tourists.   Matera as an official city founded by Romans in 3rd BC, much later it became Lombard territory in 664, when it became a part of Basilicata.  Matera then passed hands between Basilicata, Puglia and the various reigning families that controlled the territory.

In the early Christian history, Matera housed many Benedictine and Basilian monasteries which were then founded in the various grottoes of the area.

The cavern houses of the Sassi were often inhabited by entire families, who then also stabled their animals in the same living area. Due to these conditions, and the natural issues such as lack of running water, mosquitos, and dampness, the Sassi became an embarrassment of Italy. The Sassi were considered so uninhabitable that they were evacuated in the 1950’s, later towards the 1980s people began to return to the Sassi, today both the modern city and Sassi are livable and accessible, and most Materani are proud to share the history of the caves.

In 1993, the Sassi of Matera were officially recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Now they have also been named the Capital of Culture for 2019.

While Christ Stopped At Eboli  by Carlo Levi brought attention to Matera, the city has also inspired many filmmakers and has set the scene and been the subject of many films such as:

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964).

Bruce Beresford’s King David (1985).

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (

2004).

Abel Ferrara’s Mary (2005).

Catherine Hardwicke’s The Nativity Story (2006).

Cyrus Nowrasteh’s The Young Messiah (2016)

Timur Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur (2016)

Roberto Rossellini’s Garibaldi (1961)

Brunello Rondi’s Il demonio (1963)

Nanni Loy’s Made in Italy (1965)

Roberto Rossellini’s Anno uno (1974)

Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Star Maker (1995)

John Moore’s The Omen (2006)

Liu Jiang’s Let’s Get Married (2015)

Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman (2017)

Matera Sassi Built House

Matera Sassi Doors in the Evening

 

Our Time in Matera

From Rome, the train dropped us in Salerno then it was a two-hour bus ride to Matera. We drove through the cliff-like hill side of Basilicata seeing many different landscapes, from the dry fields of yellow grass, the cliffs and mountains only spotted with vegetation, the marshes filled with goats and herons in the water. I still don’t understand how people somehow found their way through all this to end up carving houses out of Tuffo in a mosquito infested ravine, but whatever led them so deep inland to the arch of Italy’s foot, I am glad they did and left us with the beautiful city Matera is today.

Gelato Matera Vizi degli Angeli

My gelato of Figs and Aglianico

As soon as we got to Matera it was time for the most important stop: Gelato.  l remembered the I Vizi degli Angeli Gelateria in the main square, still one of my top gelaterie in all of Italy. This time I got Figs and Aglianico. Normally I would prefer something creamier, but seeing as how Basilicata has only one DOCG wine and they turned it into gelato I decided it had to be done, and really, what can you pair with a strong red wine gelato?
Even though the last bit of light was being covered by dark clouds and the old street lights of Matera only provided scarce yellow light, we wasted no time exploring every winding path of Matera.  Once leaving the main squares the streets become so quiet, only occasionally do you meet a tiny bar or a group of ragazzini.

The next day was dedicated to exploring all the art and history Matera had to offer.

Three Chiese Ruprestri:

Madonna de Idris, and San Giovanni in Monterrone: both connected they stand on top of a small cliff, overlooking both the city to one side and the Park to the other. Inside are Frescoes dating from the 12th and 13th centuries.  The name “idris” leads back to a greek word meaning to guide the street or water, this became another name for Mary in Constantinople, the name spread to Byzantine territory. This specific church was half constructed outside of the natural rock, and have carved into the rock formation.

Santa Lucia alle Malve: The first monastic church by the Benedictine monks dedicated to a woman, originally from the 8th century, many of the frescoes still seen today date to the 13th century.T he church was eventually inhabited before the evacuation in 1950’s.

San Pietro Barisano, the largest of the Chiese Rupestre, dating from the 12th/13th century.

It’s truly amazing how some of the frescoes within the churches have managed to be kept, even though Nature seems to have been against them since the beginning. Of course, every cave has bright green mold creeping along the highest edges, but it seems just to add to the beauty of the churches.

The next stop was MUSMA: Museo della Scultura Contemporanea Matera. Talking to the woman managing the museum she explained to us that Matera has a series of Private museums, all run by women that have been built up mainly through incredible donations. MUSMA happens to be located in the Palazzo Pomarici, the previous palace of one of the various noble families that used to live in the area.

While their permanent collection is stunning, the most memorable was a joint exhibition between MUSMA and the Chiesa Madonna delle Virtu, who both were displaying an exhibition by Novello Finotti “Dalle profondità del tempo”. He did sculptures of stone playing on different aspects of the human body. One of my favorites was a “nest” made of hands, or a sculpture of a naked torso, with the body above the chest becoming a bunch of asparagus. Sassi Matera NightSassi Matera

Matera is really deserving of the Capital of Culture title, around every corner something is happening, from artisan crafts to historical caves to contemporary exhibitions and galleries. If you are planning a trip anywhere in the South of Italy, I highly recommend stepping just a little out of the way to check this city out, I personally cannot wait to be back!

Vatican Museum Morning

Roma e Amore is coming back, just with less Rome

Where have I been?

Wow, it has been a few years, but I am back, I re-found this blog and have decided I would like to get back to it!

So here is my update:

After graduating in May 2015, I traveled to Matera and Elba  before starting work at the EXPO Milano 2015. At EXPO, I served as a Student Ambassador at the USA Pavilion. IMG_20150730_095110Expo was an unforgettable experience, I met some of the greatest friends of my life, and had the opportunity to learn so much.  It was a tough three months, we weren’t so happy all the time; 90 degree weather in Brooks Brothers wool blazers was not the greatest, we lived outside the city and transport was tough, but looking back I am so happy with every day spent there. This was also the first time I lived a longer time outside of Rome, before going I was so scared how it was going to be, leaving a place I felt really comfortable in and everyone I knew. While I wasn’t a fan of Milan at the beginning, the friends I made at Expo made it an incredible time, and the city did have its highlights (Sushi, lots of sushi).

 

 

After EXPO, I decided to finally get my TEFL certification, and continue adventuring a little, so I tried a new city. I moved to Florence for a month and did an intensive course. This helped me out a lot, as I was able to stay in Italy, and thankfully was then able to spend a year working teaching English back in Rome.

Florence Cathedral Duomo

Cathedral of Florence: Santa Maria del Fiore

But, as I kept working, I realized teaching wasn’t really what I wanted to keep doing forever, and wanted to get back on the track of cultural heritage. I started thinking about a Masters and finally decided to apply to two, still in Italy. I was accepted to both GIOCA at the University of Bologna, and MAMA at SDA Bocconi.

In the end, I chose the Master of Arts Management and Administration at SDA Bocconi, as much as I wanted to spend two years in another new city, I thought Milan deserved another chance, and Milan seemed to have a better opportunity with internships and further job opportunities.

The year at Bocconi was filled with adventures,

Quirinale Window
View from inside the Quirinale

we met such incredible professionals and visited institutions all around Italy (my favorite happened to be the Antinori family and visiting their Cantina). We traveled to Chiusi in Tuscany and presented our advice to revamp the towns cultural offering and fundraise for their museums. We were able to visit beautiful FAI properties, such as Villa Panza and Villa Balbianello. Then our whole class took a trip around Italy to meet with institutions in person and see how they are changing cultural management practices. We started with Venice: The Biennale, and La Fenice; The Certosa di Padula; Paestum; Napoli: Certosa San Martino, and Capella San Severo; Florence:  Galleria Accademia and Grande Museo del Duomo; Finally, Rome: Villa Medici, The Quirnale and the highlight, a day of private tours of the Vatican Museums, where we even saw the Sistine Chapel before opening hours!

 

Vatican Museum Morning

The Vatican Museums at 6:30 in the morning,

Sistine Chapel

The whole class at the Sistine Chapel

I personally in this year also finally got the chance to take a Sommelier course with ASPI, passing their two levels and am hoping to continue studying and take the sommelierIMG_20170508_200217 exam eventually! I also had quite a biking adventure (I never bike….) of 40km trip to Montepulciano…just for the wine. Visited Bolzano finally crossing another region off the list. I also successfully avoided ever entering La Scala for a year.  And finally got an internship I have been dreaming about: Museo Egizio!

Where am I headed?

So in just a few weeks I will move over there and I cannot wait for all the food, wine and adventures there will be (oh and work)!

But before I start sharing with you all the beauty of Piedmont, here is what you have to look forward to:

I will be finalizing an official guide to Rome: eating, drinking and what you can’t miss.

I will be headed back to Matera!

& marking another region of my list: Puglia! Headed to Bari and Polignano for Ferragosto, if you have any recommendations, be sure to let me know 😊

Matera

Matera Sassi Matera Sassi Sunset Matera Matera

Finally I had the chance to visit Matera and was not at all disappointed. Although I left more confused aout the history of Matera than I started, although it is one of the longest inhabited towns in the world, the only history the town was very interested in pushing was that of the early 1900’s and the poverty of the Sassi.

There are plenty opportunities in the town to see what the Sassi houses looked like, but the best part of the trip was a hike through the Murgia park, where there are many prehistoric caves and rock churches.

If you visit I definitely recommend staying in the Sassi, eating at Ristorante Francesca (greatest staff and ricotta cake ever)!

Rabat Coast waves

The Highlights of Morocco

This past Spring Break I finally got the chance to travel to Morocco! My friends and I traveled to Marrakech, Rabat and Fes, spending two days in each city. Overall I would have to say Rabat was my favorite, besides being the only place we weren’t harrased, it has the coast an beautiful gardens! Every city we went we visited the Medina, although full of life with plenty to see, it was very tiring. We were lucky enough to tag a long with a study group for a tour of Fes’ Medina and that was one of the best times. I would reccommend getting a guide, it makes the medinas seem just a bit more relaxed. I never got the chance to take an excursion into the desert, but it is at the top of my list for next time!

In Marrakech: don’t miss the Ben Youssef Madrasa, it is confusing to walk to but absolutely stunning! All the mosques in Morocco are closed to non-muslims, but the Madrasa’s are open, usually for a price of 10dh (that is only about 1$).

Rabat: the Casbah gardens, and be sure to grab something at the cafe inside the gardens which look over the coast.

Fes: Try to find the Foondooq, where the weavers make scarves and tapestries. The word literally means hotel, but this is an open building where you can see massive looms set up and buy some beautiful cloth!

The hidden gem of EUR

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Palazzo Dei Congressi

 

 

 

 

With the upcoming EXPO I have been thinking a lot about the layout of the would be Rome EXPO of 1942, however as it was never used, there has still never been a World Expo here in Rome, although it has been hosted in Italy four times.

Benito Mussolini, in is hopes of expanding his fascist empire and building a new Rome, as well as in his desire to display the greatness of Italian power to the world, attempted to hold a world exposition here in Rome. It was to be held in 1942, on the 20th anniversary of his March on Rome.  In 1937 construction began to build this new city which would hold this exposition.

The project was called E42 or Esposizione 1942. It was to be built along the Via Imperiale that stretched from the Altare della Patria all the way to Ostia. Today this road is broken into Viale dei Imperiali and Via Cristoforo Colombo.

At the same time as this project, Mussolini worked to clear out the center of historic Rome. He believed this would solve two problems. The first was opening the historic Rome, as an image of italianita and grandeur, the second would solve his problem of necessity for modern buildings and housing.

EUR, as it is known today, was Rome’s first major reinvention. While many other cities continuously changed and renovated, Rome was the same as it had always been. This development was a push forward to bring Rome to the same modern field as all other capital cities.

Mussolini entrusted the design of this new city to Marcello Piacentini, a young architect who was the leading designer of fascist architecture. His work was Reactionary, Imperialistic, and Monumental. EUR became a meeting point for Rationalist and Antique architecture, mixing functionality with ancient motifs.

Everything about this city was to mirror Centro Storico. It included elements that paid homage to ancient structures such as the Colosseum and the Forum of Augustus. The entire message of the city is one of authority. This area has been used in a number of films depicting future societies including Equilibrium.

Although the Exposition never occurred, the area was salvaged around the later 1950’s and was reused. EUR served as presentation space during the 1960 Olympics. To this day EUR still functions as an industrial and office space of the city. Recently Fendi has taken the Palazzo della Civilita as its official Rome headquarters.

Unfortunately, the beauty of this area is not often realized as it is so far out of the city. EUR can be reached through Metro and is definitely worth a visit if you have the time. Although it is filled with Fascist propaganda architecture, the locals have forgotten this heritage, and choose to appreciate the area for it’s beautiful architecture.  “You can’t reject those past 50years because intelligent people made art and it’s still art, whatever its flaws are. It’s not the ideology that matters it’s the art, one cannot forget or cross out history.” Director of the Luigi Piggorini Museum, found in EUR.

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San Pietro e San Paolo, climb up this ramp for one of the greatest views of Rome.

 

 

 

 

The details of Michelangelo’s David

052    On March 6th, the anniversary of Michelangelo Buonarrotti’s birthday I had the chance to finally visit the David. Upon walking into the Accademia there is no excitement, the first room is yellow tinted with unappealing lighting. In the center stands an early cast of Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna, the walls carry scattered paintings. Turn left and you enter a long hallway where suddenly the David strikes you. The hallway includes a number of statues by Michelangelo as well but they are impossible to focus on when there is the beacon of natural light meeting marble at then end of the hall.

It is impossible not to rush straight ahead to the David. He stands on a pediment, and although I have seen the one in Piazza della Signoria, I thought the real statue was smaller. This massive larger than life statue holds your attention. A large part of this is due to its position.  A jewel of the museum it is almost as if the museum was built around this statue, rather than having it moved there later.

Michelangelo David Florence

 

When I imagined David smaller, I imagined the viewer could meet his gaze, whereas in reality Michelangelo’s ability to create moving emotion shows through and David intently looks up to his left, as if meeting the gaze of Goliath.  In reality, it originally looked to Rome, a message sent from the Medici Democracy to the Papal State.

While his gaze does not meet the views, the strong aspect of his hand and his overall presence within the space is enough to complete a sense of awe.

Michelangelo's David Gaze Michelangelo's David, Hand detail

Once the viewer can pull themselves back into the moment, away from the statue, the other statues in the hall become clearer. Of these 6 other statues, 4 are Michelangelo’s unfinished Slaves, meant to be placed on the Pope Julius II tomb. While they may not seem “beautiful” in our eyes that are trained to see finished works as beautiful, they reveal a new part of the process. How does a block of marble become an inspiring work of art? Michelangelo carved from the front back, having the figures emerge. When looking at these however, it appears the reverse, that the figures are slowly melting back into the marble.

Exploring Garbatella

GarbatellaThe last Roman neighborhood, Garbatella, meaning the well-mannered innkeeper, an area that manages to be both incredibly lively and peaceful at the same time. There is a reason it is on the top of every “off the beaten path in Rome” list. This neighborhood will stick with you.

Garbatella is a puzzle of public housing, some made quick and cheap, some designed in the manner of an English Garden, some staying true to the fascist architecture. One of the greatest sites to wander through are the many lotti, apartment blocks which are built around communal gardens.

Garbatella offers many culinary experiences from the classic bars featured in Passolini’s work to the trattorias which offer a different menu every day, depending on the fresh ingredients available. There is also a food market found behind teatro palladium, it is up every weekend throughout the day. One of my greatest finds there was balsamic honey, perfect on bread, or for medicinal purposes as well.

A.S. Roma is the team of choice here, and they won’t let you forget it, murals to the team, tasteful grafiti with the symbol of the wolf. The passion for the team, with the colors of red and orange decorating every corner, holds your attention and inspires you as you walk through.

Lotto of GarbatellaThough not as ancient as centro storico, this  area holds much history. Built up under Mussolini to serve as a suburb to rome, the houses were commissioned by the Public Housing team. different architects worked on them at different times, this is clear in the changing styles, throughout the blocks.

When the allies bombed this area took a small hit, and it managed to stop the clock that stands on top of the “Red Hotel”. No one ever bothered to fix it, so it stands as a reminder to the event.

Also found in Garbatella is Eataly, which I do recommend stopping at for a treat! I also recommend Lavazza Tierra coffee, which I found only there.

The truth is Garbatella’s beauty cannot be described through words, and you ought to see it for yourself. Go get lost, but if you need a little more structure, I recommend the tour found in Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler.

Lotto Signs in Garbatella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windows in Garbatella

Why the Italian Response to ISIS is the best response.

In the last week, as you might have read, Italians had some fantastic responses to the ISIS generated hashtag #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome  (seriously guys there are only 160 characters, stop using underscores). You can read more here. Most of these responses were jokes about Italy’s already terrible government, transportation problems, and even some advice on where to eat.

Italian tweets ISIS

Anybody who knows Italy and Rome had a laugh about these. And that, right there, is the reason this was such an amazing response to ISIS: Not fear, but a little humor.

I read about the Italian response while watching Star Wars Ep. V where Yoda tells Luke not to fall to the dark side and be overcome with hate. But back in Ep. 1 , he does reference fear into this mix.

Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

The world is a constant fight between good and bad. Always on the good side is happiness, love, and trust; and always on the opposite side,  hate, anger and fear.

That’s why joking around with ISIS threats is just a little bit better  response than panic and anxiety.   I’m not saying let’s go Hebdo on this– seriously, learn to also be respectful; Italy’s humorous response was appropriately self-effacing, not de-humanizing. But a little laugh, a smile, is going to go a long way in a time where we are all so driven by sad and hateful news.

Fear leads to hate and is probably even worse. It is fear that drives people to shoot their neighbours, to burn down religious buildings, and cause pain to those who may not deserve it. I am too young to remember pre-9/11 but I know that after that date a new era took over, one completely run by fear. This idea of the post-9/11 world is run by the constant reminders to report any suspicious activity, and to be cautious of every bag left unattended. It’s the constant stares given to the people on the bus with you in the morning, and the  comments made at passers-by, like those in Milan:

 

Obviously you should be reasonably cautious, and take care for the safety of yourself  and your family.But don’t allow the occurrences in Libya, Australia, Denmark and Syria to scare you into not trusting those around you, or into hiding away. If we don’t act as willing consumers  of all this fear that many news channels and all terrorist groups heap on our plates, we don’t feed their power. An organization, a person, a cause is only as powerful as the power that you give it. The less fear we have of these organizations, and the more faith we put in our own armies, governments,  each other, and in the idea this will stop, it will, sooner rather than later.

Bar, Food, Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup, Rome,

Trying something new: Tales of the Table

As this is my last semester, I decided to jump out of my normal zone, also somewhat as a way of distancing myself from Archaeology and more Roman history. So, I took Online Journalism, still a little nervous as I am bad at talking to people, but I thought it would be fun and another great way to use my photos. So I chose to focus on Food, but more than that, how food is in our culture and what it means to people. It won’t be a constant line of reviews, or recipes, but more of individual stories surrounding food.

My first story was about Michele Ferrero‘s death, as it was meant to be a “hard news” story, you can read it, and future posts on Food here: www.talesofthetable.weebly.com

I hope this new blog will be able to push my comfort zone and get out there talking to more people throughout Rome!

Side note: weebly is so frustrating, I wish we could just use WordPress.

My next piece will focus on the culture of Aperitivo in Rome, and hopefully further through Italy. If you have any great aperitivo spots or stories let me know and I will include them!