We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, October 31. 2021
If Roger, semi-retired King of Sicily, would take over my morning links job here, we'd be a far more interesting, amusing, and educational website. But he won't.
Mrs. BD and I have been driving around northern Italy for 12 days, staying in cool places, tasting real Italian foods (avoiding pasta and pizza as usual - they are just not the best Italian food), and trying to keep to my limit of 1 museum (limit 1 hr) and 1 old church/day. And on this trip 1 Etruscan ruin/day. It got to the point that I called everything, including newstands,"Etruscan" just to calm things down.
As usual, I will post iphone photo travelogues when I get organized. For now, though, a menu from an ordinary cafe in Porto Santo Stefano. Nice lunch right on the fishing docks. We drove out there to the island Monte Argentario to look around while we were staying in Orbetello (in the Maremma). Fun to look at all of the frutti di mare in the fish stores.
Vecchia Pesa. Here's the menu. - click on it.
I am always amazed by the rate at which Octopi must reproduce given the rate at which Italians and Greeks eat them. Best grilled, I feel. I love seafood of every type.
Random bonus trivia: The police in Siena drive Alfas - Alfa Guiliettas, in fact. Me? I drive a Stelvio here at home. Fun, but this time in Italy we had a big diesel Citroen which was great especially on the highways. Mrs. BD loved driving it. Mapquest is excellent in Eurolandia.
Second tip re tourism: October is the only time to visit Italy. Off-season hotel prices, far fewer tourists, no hot weather and no rain, and everything open, cheerful, and lively. Plus it's truffle season.
Third thing: Tourists in Italy are still there in October, but in manageable and not-annoying numbers. We only saw them in Siena and some in San Gimignano. Mostly Scandinavians and Germans, bunches of Brits, a few French. Almost no Americanos or Asians at this time of year. You can ID tourists by dress, manners/mannerisms, posture, etc. Brits look and dress quietly elegantly, tastefullly, and always get lost; Scandinavians hip with their babies running around randomly or in backpacks and do not care if they get lost; and Americans and Germans dowdy, clunky, and overweight. You can easily ID the natives because they are skinny and fashionable at all times. La bella figura. If you want to look local, good luck: a cigarette, a dog on a leash in the bar, Max Mara, a Prada bag, and good shoes (so testifies Mrs. BD, who can pass for Italian even without Prada).
Re the flag - Italy has not been a nation for very long, if they even are a functional nation now. Began 1861 or so. The history of this peninsula and its surrounds is long, complex, and fun but not important in the long run. The only reason they all now speak Italian is because the Tuscans took over. Mrs. BD: "How does this country function? Nobody works hard or pays their taxes ("We prefer cash"), and everybody looks great and seems happy. And they love their untrained, ill-behaved dogs." Yeah, their dogs are terrible, untrained menaces but they all have them. They might love dogs, but they do not have a clue how to train one for a use or for civilization. All on leashes.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Joe, honestly, I am grateful for those who post in BD's absence. Why trash them? Seems pointless and mean-spirited. If you don't like it, start your own web blog. See how many people read it.
1 museum for 1 hour per day? There you are in the Motherland, the birthplace of Western Civilization, and you can't be bothered with the museums?
Reminds me that after my dad died, his sister gave us a shoebox full of the letters he had sent home from overseas. My dad never spoke of his experiences during the war so we had no idea the letters existed. Thanks to the wartime constraints, the letters were one thin sheet of paper that folded up into its own envelope and he was not allowed to mention anything about where exactly he was or what he was doing, but there was one letter that struck me as the essence of what my dad was like. In the letter, he mentioned that he was in camp all by himself washing his socks (apparently dry socks were more precious than life itself, every letter he sent included an appeal for his mother to send him socks and, knowing my dad, I'm suspicious that the socks weren't just for wearing but for trading purposes since dry socks were so valuable) as all the other men had gone into town but he hadn't gone because he had no interest in looking at a bunch of old buildings. Then he mentions that all the church bells were ringing because apparently the Pope was returning to town and you realize that the town he's camped outside of and has no interest in seeing is Rome, as if a poor farmboy from Ohio might ever again have a chance to see Rome.
Take in all the history you can while you can, the barbarians are intent on erasing Western Civilization from the face of the Earth and you may never get another chance.
Ha! Reminds me of Spike Milligan's letter home to his parents in England while serving with the Eighth Army in Italy:
"I cannot tell you where I am [spaghetti stain] but we are advancing north [spaghetti stain] rapidly along the coast [red wine stain]..."
My father-in-law was in North Africa , Sicily , Italy, southern France and Germany. A fine southern Baptist he new his bible and a good bit of history. He sprinkled his letters home with comments about travels of Paul and bits about the Protestant reformation in an attempt to inform his family where he was, it evened the sensors . Some of postings were quite entertaining and informative. It was obvious where he was to me when I saw the letters.
But his mom and dad totally missed the hints .
We spent two glorious years in bella Napoli .... seduced by the life on the sunny side of the Alps ... buon viaggio...
Me,too! I was sent there for two years straight out of submarine school. It was a highly unpopular assignment for my rating and I extended again and again until the end of my six years. Quattro anni a Napoli! A great education for how to live the good life and a blessing beyond measure. (Purtroppo/unfortunately I wasn’t mature or smart enough to have applied all the lessons). Mr and Mrs Bird Dog — Thanks for sharing your travels with us, I got to live in Siena, too, for a while later in life and your descriptions of Italy brighten my day. Grazie Mille!
Can you go where you want or has the COVID panic limited what you can do and see in Italy?
Do you need a vaccine passport?
Well, a minor inconvenience. We needed a neg test 3 days before leaving, and a neg test 3 d. before coming home. Doctor comes to your hotel.
We did the Euro online thing but nobody wanted to see it. They do want to see your vaccine card tho, many places.
Italy no longer obsesses about the China virus.
My question is what happens if you test positive in Italy. I have heard horror stories of people being confined to a room for 14 days.
Looking forward to seeing pictures and hearing specifics about what you saw and did over there. I am so jealous. My wife and I put off international traveling because of covid and the myriad rules other countries have. We do travel all over the states and haven't found any states or any rules that affect us at all.
You just get a neg covid test over there before you come home. No big deal. The doc comes to your hotel room, takes one minute.
12 days everywhere in Italia and restaurants and etc daily - no problema.
The hysteria etc is over. Over.
I got back 2 days after a month there, Florence and area mostly, a drive to Civitavecchia (in a Fiat 500-fun!), then a cruise then Rome for a few days.
They often ask for the card but they don't often seem to actually read them. They flip their eyes down and up too quickly.
The cruise ship tried to enforce masking in public areas but passengers often evaded that by carrying around a glass of water-pop-beer-wine-whatever. No masking needed while drinking.
Will probably never get to see these places, but I do so love to hear your stories! Keep up the good work.
Roger--is a good substitute--but, the original is still best!
Tell your wife that my DH has a very old Mercedes Diesel 350. That is still the best car for driving on the highway--gotta love the way that diesel works!!