Are you ready? Are you getting geared up? For Christmas? No! For No Burlusconi Day. Students who have no love for the current president of Italy have declared a whole day, December 5th, to pretend like he doesn't exist. They do this by having a loud protest, carrying posters with his name on them, and shouting his name all day long. I guess shouting "Down with that guy who we don't like but we don't want to say his name!" just doesn't sound as good. Check out their web site to find out what beef they have with the president: www.noberlusconiday.org
click: appello, then: inglese (for english version).
Walking along Via Po yesterday, I came across a little gallery that had it's doors wide open stating that everyone was welcome inside. I couldn't resist and I stepped in and discovered a display of many Nativity Scenes created by artists. This show was just open for the holidays and housed 20 or so Nativities, each with a different take. Some had moving parts like a windmill and some had running water! Here are a couple of my favorites.
There is a place in Torino where all the hip cats go to get their groove on. We sat front row in a smokey club while we listened to some local Jazz. BTW, front row means you are close enough to get spit on from the trombone.
One really cool thing about this city is that every holiday season the powers that be let artists take over the decorating. With lights! It's called Luce d'Artiste and the main streets are lighted up with different neon and twinkling wonders. They really put you in that seasonal spirit. On an evening passigiatta, Pier and I took pictures of a few of them.
We must have tasted 12 or so different wines on our trip. We learned why you swirl and why you stick your nose in the glass before tasting. We did not, however, spit. It just seems so wasteful. We also followed the journey of the grape from seed to bottle and now I can feel confident when ordering a bottle in a restaurant knowing the difference between the flavor of a young and an old red wine.
And that was our last day. With a trunk full of Christmas presents in bottle form, we headed back home.
Where we stayed in Tuscany was called Montiplucino. It's where wonderful red wines come from like Brunello and Chianti. We stayed at a working farm villa called Fattoria del Colle or Hill Farm. They had acres and acres of grapes, olive trees, and truffle rich forest. Here is a little peek.
One our tour of Tuscan wine tasting we stopped off in Siena for a coffee and to take a peek at one of Italy's best preserved mid evil cities. Siena holds many traditions unique of it's own. Take the Palio for example. A horse race around the large main piazza determining which of of it's 17 neighborhoods gets the trophy , and the pride, for that year. Each neighborhood, or contrade, has it's own unique flag shown in a below photo. Siena's main water supply is still brought to the city by an ancient aqua duct first build by the Romans.
The patron saint of the city is Santa Caterina (1347-1380). A women who at the age of 8 believed she saw a vision that she was betrothed to Christ. Later she received the stigmata and then believed the the devil himself pushed her when she tumbled down these stairs (below photo).
Let me start with the fact that we have just returned from celebrating my birthday by wine tasting in Tuscany. Being in Tuscany is like being in a fantasy. The landscape is truly surreal. All you can see are green and gold hills with miles and miles of grape vines and olive trees. Each hill is topped with a rustic stone villa each more beautiful than the next. I can understand why Sting has decided to become a farmer here, why books like Under the Tuscan Sun were written here, and why why the movie The Gladiator was filmed here. We stayed at a vineyard villa where we ate and drank like kings. These next few posts I will share the fun starting with the private lesson we had in pasta making with the chef of the villa. We made handmade pici pasta that, according to the chef, is paired with ragu sauce in true Tuscan style.
I looked out my window today and across the street they were filming a movie! A WWII costume period drama. I was able to take a few paparazzi style long range blurry pics. The scene was: some old cars and trucks drive up to the police station. Then a group of people, possibly prisoners, in 1930's clothes rush out of the station and are made to go into the back of the army truck. They must have repeated this scene a dozen times. In the truck, out of the truck again and again and... Notice they put hay and dirt down to cover the asphalt. Also notice all the people watching the process on the sidewalks. Luckily I get to watch from out my window.
It went from rainbows to fire outside my window as there was a quite zealous student protest over who knows what!? The sign says, "Not happy, not silent, were mad!" About what? Don't know but they were angry enough to have a bon fire, which was enjoyed for 3 minutes and then put out safely by the fire dept. There are protests everyday around here, yes the Italians are passionate about many things, but this was the first one with fire!