Monday, July 30, 2012

Mourning Time Again


It is a good thing I can control my abandonment issues, because they would certainly kick in at the end of each semester. One of the roughest things about being an ex-pat for me is the continual cycle of relationships. People appear in our lives, for 3-9 months and then disappear. Well, they at least return to the US, so they may as well disappear. Unless they return here, I will never see them again.

Just over a week ago, Todd Berliner, the Distinguished Chair Fulbright scholar and his wife Dana Sachs Berliner, left for their Carolina home to the humidity and mosquitoes. Dana sent a note stating this fact. Dana, a celebrated author is her own right was a member of the writing group I belong to. Ron and I bonded with these two immediately. There was nothing not to like about them, but tons to things to want them to hang out here for a decade at least. I for one was very sad when they left.

Now it is Jeff Frawley's turn to leave. Jeff was a Fulbright student here last year. His grant was to write a novel. He was here for 9 months off the regular track of other Fulbright grantees. We also formed an immediate bond with he and his girlfriend Allison Layfield. When they left, it there was a vacuum in our lives that had not been refilled. Eventually, I talked Jeff into taking one of the teaching positions at ELTE where I teach, but in the English department. He did and returned solo in January. From February on, he rented our other apartment. We were close and spent a good amount of time together. At the end of the semester, Allison returned for the summer and again our foursome socialized to a healthy extent.

Tonight the four of us went to the movies together. We had drinks first and then saw Moonrise Kingdom. Jeff and Allison had seen it already and wanted to see it again. It is beyond me why they would suffer through it twice, but Ron liked it so I was odd man out. Perhaps, I couldn't stop thinking of their leaving, so there was that distraction.

Tomorrow, we will take them out for dinner and have our final good-byes.
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reader Humor


I get many comments like this one, where some post is highly praised, only because they really want me to link back to their website. For the most part, the comments center on my outstanding writing, hoping flattery will get them somewhere. I generally mark them as spam and delete them. This one, however, had a twist of irony to it, since the writer talks about "brain dead", but still seems to think I will not see through a comment to a New Year's Eve post as yet more spam.

Here you are Anonymous, I am reprinting your post. Sorry if I misplaced the link you wanted included.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "New Year's Eve":

I rarely drop comments, however after looking at a few of the responses on "New Year's Eve".
I do have a few questions for you if it's okay. Is it just me or do a few of these remarks look like they are coming from brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing on additional online sites, I would like to keep up with everything fresh you have to post. Could you list of all of your public pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

DIY Needs a DIY Expert


Have you ever heard the expression "Physician heal thyself"? This evening I went to OBI, a Do-It-Yourself hardware store similar to Home Depot in the US. On the second floor, areas of walking space were littered with buckets, pails, pans, and other containers. It was not raining out, so that was not the reason. It was due to the air conditioners. Outside it was 96 degrees. Inside with air conditioner braced in the beams here and there, it cooled the temperature to a chilly 89 degrees. Thanks to the thermometers on sale, I could tell for sure, though I did have to translate the Celsius to Fahrenheit. I think they need a better contractor.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let Us Slip This By You


Wizz Air, now the largest low-cost, low-fare airline in Central and Eastern Europe, announced it will start testing a new cabin baggage policy from August 1, 2012. The premise is that it will enhance on-time performance and improve customer experience during aircraft boarding. Insert here, "It will increase our revenues substantially." The 'test' is scheduled to begin in August on all flights from London Luton to Katowice and in the opposite direction. In order for them to enhance our flying experience, they will be charging for hand baggage, the same hand baggage they now make us stuff into small metal templates at the check-in desk and make us put on the scale besides.
What they will be offering is allowing a free small cabin bag or pay a €10 online fee to bring a large cabin bag on board. The ''free small cabin bag" is a purse, briefcase, or laptop bag. Anything larger is considered a large bag. Their claim is that the limited space on board causes too many carry-on bags having to be off-loaded and put in cargo. The simple solution to this would be to reduce the fees for checked luggage and then travelers would not feel the need to stuff it all on board.
The secondary reason they are trying to promote is that it is inconvenient to families with small children and the elderly. Well, if you are inconvenienced by this, you should not have bought a budget airline ticket.

Here is where some truth is revealed. Less weight in the cabin will also result in less fuel burn, reduce costs and protect the environment.You can rest assured that the savings is not going to be passed on to the consumer.

Goods purchased at the airport (an important source of revenue for Wizz Air’s 78 airport partners) will continue to be allowed in the cabin for free.

This is a joke right? The underlined words are mine to stimulate your thinking.
"We believe an online fee as low as €10 for large cabin baggage will encourage most passengers to bring only one small cabin bag that could easily fit under the seat. Wizz Air pioneers in returning consumer friendliness to low cost air travel: our customers praise Wizz Air’s helpful and friendly crews and products tailored for families, such as the Wizz Xclusive Club. Wizz Air will now improve the least popular part of flying – the often stressful and inconvenient boarding process. If the trial proves successful this new cabin baggage policy will be rolled out through the entire Wizz Air network" said Daniel de Carvalho, Corporate Communications Manager at Wizz Air.

At what point do we demote an airline from the BUDGET category?  Their Xclusive Club comes with a fee, but not many perks, hardly something a family would care about.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

LIfe is Short - Eat Dessert First


If you are connected to me on Facebook, you may have noticed that Ron turned 74 years young on July 1, 2012. However, he was in the US at the time, so yesterday, I had a small birthday celebration for him with a most delicious ice cream cake.

Generally, it is difficult to have Hungarian folks at our parties; they always have a dozen other things on their agendas. Our friend Anna was taking her family to spend the weekend with her brother. Laszlo is generally at his house in the country on weekends. Balazs and Edit were visiting her parents in another city. We were fortunate to have some former Fulbrighters who have not left the country yet, come grace us with their presence. We were able to include a new friend as well, so the seven of us talked for hours that felt like minutes. It was a delightful afternoon and evening enjoyed by all. 

The cake was a raspberry and dark chocolate combo that was well worth the price. So this was another happy birthday for Ron.
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Italy - Trani the Town Not the Alternative LIfestyle


Our little get-away ends today, but with a flight at 9:10 pm, we have a full day to explore further. We had heard that Trani, a small seaside village was fabulous, so we headed there. The train tickets are a super deal at 5.80 Euros for both us round-trip. The ride is less than a half hour, so it is quick too. 

Like most Italian cities, one cannot miss the religious iconography that is ubiquitous. Right outside the train station on the grounds is a huge fountain with some monk with outstretched arms. Since he didn't have any wildlife, we ruled out St. Francis. His identity was left a mystery.

Wandering away from the train station, we were almost immediately treated to the greenery of a park with dozens of Italians clustered in groups like gaggles of geese, making as much noise while trying to escape the early day's sunshine. 

On our way to the seaside, we approached the public gardens called Villa Comunale accessible from Piazza Plebiscito; the park was created in the 19th century. The spectacular variety of trees is offset with various gardens brimming with a rainbow of colors from well maintains plots of flowers interwoven with thin fountains. With the park is a section specifically for children that includes a maze with a small castle like structure at the top. If you are willing to risk the blare of the sun, there is a promenade that lines the seashore with a dazzling view of the sea.

A prominent spectacle from any vantage point on the shoreline is the Cattedrale di San Nicola Pellegrino, a church dedicated to St. Nicholas the Pilgrim, not to be confused with St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus who is celebrated in Bari. We thought we could follow the seaside walkway to reach the church, but it turned out that it led us to an elevated look-out that oversees the yacht harbor and the Adriatic. The view was incredible, but didn't get us any closer to the church.

Taking the longer and necessary way out of the park and then around the town, we came across a couple of men speaking in English, but with accents. As we passed they asked if we would take their photo, which we did. As luck would have it, they were from Budapest on the Buda side and here for a 4 day holiday thanks to WizzAir, just as we were.

Continuing on our way to find Cattedrale di San Nicola Pellegrino, we discovered another church. What a surprise, right? Well this had a twist. This 12th century church was built by the Knights Templar, the Chiesa di Ognissanti. As it turns out, Trani was on a route used by crusaders heading to and from the Holy Land. There was a hospital here for the sick and wounded. We thought our timing was unfortunate, but the church is not usually open to the public. I wonder if they let Dan Brown in?

Nearby is the Caccetta Palace, built by Simon Caccetta, a wealthy Trani merchant. It has been owned by the municipality since 1484, housing the Venetian governors until 1509 at which time it became a Teresiniani monastery and seminary in 1642 until the eighteenth century. The facade decor is late Gothic with a three-mullioned window that surmounts the main entrance.It is one of the most important buildings in this little town.

Finally reaching St. Nicholas, it was closed when we arrived. However, it dates back to the 12th century, the exterior style is Romanesque, but there is no comment on the interior. From our readings, we discovered that there are two lower levels under the main church. Immediately below is an older church that was once dedicated to Santa Maria della Scala; there are some Byzantine frescoes from that era. Lower still was yet another church that dates back to the 6th century. Not to be outdone by Bari, there is a crypt here also with the body of their St. Nick, but this one doesn't spout oil like the other. Nearby and also closed is the Museo Diocesano there the exhibit is a collection of sculpture and archaeological treasures from the local churches.

There was another wedding today. This is the third one we witnessed this trip with one on Wednesday, one Thursday, and now today. The bride and groom came to use the church as a backdrop for some of their outdoor photo shoot. 

Within spitting distance of the church is another Castello Svevo, built by or rather for the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Dating to 1249, it was to protect the land from sea invaders. Later and until the 1970s, it was used as a prison. Dreary thought as it has very few windows, so even as a castle it was not a delight. Now it is only a tourist attraction with occasional exhibitions and special events, but this too was closed at our arrival. It looked so similar to the one in Bari, it would I would be hard pressed to perceive there could be much more here than in the other castle. Frederick II must have been the father of minimalism.

Finally, our task was to find refuge from the sunshine, while quenching our drought-like conditions. We rested on a patio with over-sized umbrellas shading us, having a drink and snack. By the time we reached the train station, we found we had a half hour wait for the next train, so that called for more fluid intake. We were already bone dry from the last ten blocks walked from the last filling station.

Arriving back in Bari, we realized we needed an early dinner; we would not get home until after 10pm. Most restaurants like most everything else closes down from 1:30 to 4:30pm. Eateries sometimes do not open again until 8pm. We did find a pub open, but the kitchen was closed. What must have been identified as pathetic looks, the owner did offer us Orecchiette con sugo alla ricotta forte (pasta with Ricotta cheese sauce) and a tomato salad with mozzarella cheese. That and a couple of beers and we were all set. It was the perfect meal for a hot day and long evening.

Picking up our bags at the hotel, we said our good-byes. We would definitely stay at the Hotel Boston again. We took the bus to the train station to catch the shuttle to the airport. We had a 20 minute wait, but it is a good thing we were there early. The shuttle filled immediately and at the first stop, close to our hotel, where we had originally planned on waiting, the driver refused passengers due to lack of room. There were already 4 people standing; mind you this was a shuttle van, not a bus.

When we arrived at the airport, the displays showed WizzAir as checking in our flight at desks 12-14, but there was no 13. However, at those desks the flight for Air Berlin was checking in the Berlin flights. It approached an hour to the flight, but still no sign of WizzAir. When they finally opened, the agent told us we had already checked in and hadn't needed to do it again. Strangely, in Budapest, we have to go to the agent first since we have American passports. The Italians don't care. 

Cannoli siciliani on a plate.
Cannoli siciliani on a plate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
WizzAir, RyanAir, and easyJet have a combined 'dedicated' check-in security area in Bari's airport. Everyone needs to weight their hand luggage. It was quick and easy, though Ron's bag was .5 kg over, she waved him on by. The flight was late coming in, so we were delayed leaving. As luck would have it, our gate was directly across from a pastry and candy store. I popped in, really without any intent on buying, but found they had cannoli, my absolute favorite dessert. I bought one with the last of my Euro change, 1.30 making this the perfectly sweet ending to a sweet get-away.

To view the photos associated with this post, click here.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Lord of the Rings in Alberobello


Trulli strung along via Monte Pertica in Alber...
Trulli strung along via Monte Pertica in Alberobello, province of Bari, Italy. The whitewashed symbols were added following the restoration of the stone roofs in the 1980s and 1990s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We were convinced by the people at the tourism office that we needed to get out of town. One place of particular interest was a town called Alberobello. The train ride from Bari was a mere hour and 10 minutes, so it was an easy jaunt.

This should have been the setting for The Hobbit. The houses here are perfect for hobbit homes. The town is called Alberobello, but a group of the homes here are called trulli homes. A trulli home is a circular stone building approximately 5 meters in diameter, though some are larger.

The conical roof is comprised of flat stones that are corbelled forming the cone dome at the top, which is then painted white to set if off from the grey stone, and then ornamented with a symbolic ornamental spire. The ones we noticed were either roosters or what looked to be soldiers.

The walls are built by the setting of blocks of stone one on top of the other without mortar (dry stone building). The "chianche" forming the cupola were fixed with a special technique, creating a balance that didn't need concrete or any adhesive that could be used. A thermos effect is created by the structure and materials; supposedly keeping the temperatures cool in the summer and warm in the winter even without needing alternative means of heating other than that used for cooking. Windows are minimal if they exist at all. It resembles what one would think living in an igloo may be like.

Regardless of their claims, the trullis that we toured were damn hot and one had an air conditioner going full blast. There are trulli bed and breakfasts, but I think the novelty of staying in one would last about four hours if that, before I would go in search of something more reasonable. Anyone our height or even close would have to stoop all of the time. They are made for people under 5'8" maximum.

Interesting? Definitely! Worth seeing? Definitely! Would I want to stay in one? Never. The streets that are lined with these houses are primarily souvenir shops whose merchants are begging you to come in to browse. Like so many other touristy areas, when you have twenty stores in a row all selling the exact same merchandise, there is bound to be a glut on the market.

So what else is there to do here? Not much at all. It is Friday and most of the stores are closed, but even after 4pm, they still seem to remain closed.

We did come across a parade after visiting the church. It turned out to be a funeral procession. It seems all who attend the funeral gather at the deceased person's home and they march to the church from there.

Funerals are announced on billboards and then signs like these are placed at the address. Quite different and interesting. 

When we returned to Bari, we ate dinner at El Pedro, a self-service restaurant that is dirt cheap. The food is good, but not very hot. It is filled with locals. Again if there were no language barrier, we found out we could have ordered 'off the menu' as it were. 

Today's photos are here.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grandpa, Grandpa, Where Are You Granpa?


This was a special morning, because the first thing we were going to do after breakfast was search for the registry office, specially for the Artigraphie Office, where I was directed by the kind man at the tourism office. Ron must have a gyroscope in his head for his sense of direction is phenomenal. He knew exactly how to get to the office, but that is where all directions failed us once inside the building. 

Like most government buildings, this one had multiple purposes. After finding the initial sign with Artigraphie with an arrow, we were left to wander aimlessly for the rest of our search. I found a couple of broom closets if anyone should ever have a need for them, but the Artigraphie office was a another matter. In one section of the building, we did find a row of windows and peered in. Each seemed to have a worker behind a desk on a computer with presumably a client on the other side. This was the scene for the first four windows, making me feel like a stalker or a Peeping Tom.

Finally behind window number 4, I happened to notice that the worker was playing Solitaire and the seat across from him was vacant. I help up the paper that said Artigraphie on it. This could go one of two ways. Either he would wave me off to continue his game or he could call me in. He called me in much to my surprise. That seemed to be the end to my good fortune, because he spoke no English at all, but when he was willing to call someone else, I felt like I hit the jackpot once again. That bubble burst when man number 2 didn't speak English either. Years of living in Hungary have made me an excellent at charades and Pictionary is a close second on my list of accomplishments. 

I started with simple circles and put me in the bottom one. Then the 2nd circle above me was marked madre. On top of her was padre. Now if only they would not confuse this with a new version of the Kama Sutra, we were all set. I was not placing bets when both men looked at each other, smiled profusely, and disappeared. Were they going to practice what I had drawn, taken off for lunch and did they go for security to haul me away? 

They returned with young woman, apparently believing I needed a mother figure, which makes sense since this is the land of Madonnas. Lovely lady spoke about as much English as I do Italian. The only differences are her vocabulary could be repeated in polite company while mine couldn't. We finally communicated. She wanted me to fill out a form in Italian. There was nothing on it ever close to Spanish, so cognates were impossible. When she saw me staring at it like I had encountered a snake, she took my hand and told me what to write. When that was completed, she said 3 days to search. It may have been the sudden involuntary rush of tears that touched her heart. 

She took my wrist and brought me to the records room. She and a new gentleman took out this book of records that looked like it could have been the long lost wish list Columbus had scribed for when he met with Queen Isabella. For the thousands of times I have heard throughout my life that the name Nettis doesn't sound very Italian, let me assure you, there are more than thousands of them in Bari alone. The other common name here is Netti. They were searching with as much enthusiasm as dogs looking for that forgotten bone. That is until Ron decided to snap their picture for me and posterity. That drew their attention and ire, though it was short-lived and they continued on their search. As hard as they looked, they could not find grandpa. The woman apologized profusely like she lost him personally. She did explain that the entire region was once called Bari, but as the years went by the communities became independent, so the records could be within another community nearby, but they don't have access to those records. It seems there must be a grander scheme of things for registration, but language prevented us from finding out. Everyone in the office bowed their heads as I walked by as if to say "We are sorry for your loss." 

I had such high hopes that this was going to be a success. I was a bit heartbroken that it did not happen. The search will continue though. I have the records from Ellis Island. I told Ron maybe when they landed my great-grandfather said "Hi, we are the Nettis and they thought he meant their name was Nettis, not Netti.

 The rest of the day was spent trying to avoid the sunshine. It was in the 90s, but when close to the water, the reflection made it feel like 190 degrees. We did quite a bit of walking in and out of little alley streets, soaking up the color and if a few drops of freshly washed clothes happened to drip on us, we were thankful for it. 

We spent a couple of hours at the Castello Svevo, a castle built in 1131 by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily. It later refurbished from 1233 to 1240 by Fredrick II. Isabella of Aragon made it a royal palace in the 16th century. It is interesting to speculate that Italy was not unified as a country until 1861 and until that time, there were many kingdoms and fiefdoms dotting the lands with dozens of dialects of Italian, all Latin based. For more on Italian language and languages, see here. Later, by the sea, we ventured to a museum of art where we were the only patrons, but the guide was beside himself with joy.

For dinner we ate at a restaurant I had read about called Osteria Travi Buco, supposedly a historic eating establishment, but no details were given. The antipasto was a buffet, so sumptuous, we could have made meals from this alone. The next course was orecchiete con cima d rape, but few rape. It was served more al dente than I appreciate, so I was not thrilled with the platter, though the flavor was good. By this time, we had 1 bottle of beer, a 1/2 liter of wine, 2 antipasto, and 2 plates of pasta, but have not seen a menu. We quickly realized that those who are not language deficit were getting other types of pasta than we were. They were also getting other types of dishes than what we were understanding was available to us. After some quick calculations, we decided that our 50 Euro bill that we had may not be enough to cover the tab, so we said no to the secundo platter. Just as well, our bill was 36 Euros, so we may not have pulled it off had we indulged. There was no air conditioning in the restaurant, so the kitchen would have been way too steamy to work off any further debts, but there is a lion and column where they could flog it out of us (Colunna della Giustizia).
Photos from today are located here.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Forget the Travel Reports


After downloading some Bari tourism info, I was really hesitant about filling our time here. It turned out to not be difficult at all. Most reports state that the Italians keep Bari a secret unto themselves and it is apparent. The vast majority of other obvious tourists were either Italians or those who had a four hour city spree from one of the ocean liners docked in port. 

The city has a slew of magnificently well maintained parks filled with statues, fountains and a variety of flora. The buildings are so charmingly Italian with earthy tone walls. Due to the heat, people leave their home doors open with only corded fabric or sheer curtains covering them to let the breezes flow. There doesn't seem to be any concern about robberies. Almost all apartments above the ground level have balconies. Each balcony is decorated with freshly washed laundry providing a feast of colors to offset the rich blue of the sky and the beige of the umbrellas that some restaurants use to protect clients from sunstroke.

Our first tourist stop was the Castello Svevo, but it was closed. I will tell you more about it when we actually get it. In the meantime, we played hit and miss with the churches due to siesta time, but return trips were successful times. As you can see in the pictures, we did hit many of them. Ron views them as spiritual places of worship. I perceive them as prime examples that mass hypnosis is alive and well in the over 60 year old groups. Other than the wedding we came across today, it was an anomaly to see anyone non-geriatric or a tourist in any of the churches. Maybe when the churches get Facebook pages, someone will LIKE them again. 

As churches go, the most famous in Bari is the Romanesque Basilica di San Nicola, which dates back to the 11th century. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and here is where you will find him buried. In fact, this church was built just for the purpose of holding St. Nick's remains which are in the crypt below. St. Nick is like a gift that keeps on giving too. His body supposedly leaks an oil that they bottle and sell in the gift shop next door. They don't make claims as to what to do with the oil, but I certainly would not add balsamic vinegar to make dressing with it. I looked for the oil rig to see how the oil was excavated, but there was nothing visible. Apparently, they have not had a gusher for some time.  

There was a wedding in progress when we returned. I had to have a picture of the bride. Her dress looked like something a 10 year old would wear for her 1st Holy Communion or the star of Debbie Does Dallas would think is classy. Her attendants wore a lovely shade of green, but had on bilious blue orthopedic shoes. Honey, Milan is only a bridal magazine away. 

A similar looking is the Cattedrale di San Sabino, another Romanesque building dating back to the 12th century. Someone's crypt is in the basement here also, but no oil wells to bring it notoriety.

Not far away are two very pleasant and quiet squares littered with cafes, most that are not open during siesta time. Piazza del Ferrarese and Piazza Merchantile intersect. Fortunately for us on such a blazing hot day, we did find one cafe open to guzzle down some Italian beers. The real fame of this area is the lion statue at the base of a column called Colonna della Giustizia. This is where debtors were tied and flogged. Pictures are in the photo blog. Rumor has it that British stag party goers who make too much noise during the quiet hours are also laced up to this column for public humiliation. I put my order in for one of these columns to be delivered to Budapest.

Photos related to today's post are located here.
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Bari, Home of My Forefathers


I was not prepared for the emotional experience being here was to have on me. Part of the reason was because all that I had heard about Bari was negative. Press coverage relegated it to the pits of the earth with industrialization, dirty ports, and high crime rates. None of this proved to be true.

There was nary a moment when we did not feel safe. Even when approached by the, dare I admit it, Gypsy woman while we were in a church, did I feel threatened in any way. Just as hot as Budapest was when we left, the temperatures here were aided and abetted by the humidity coming off of the Adriatic Sea. 

Our first morning walk was needed to work off the breakfast at the hotel. We ventured to the nearest boulevard, only to find a demonstration heading down the street. At first it seemed that the marchers were cajoling bystanders into photographing their efforts, but the mood suddenly changed to one of disdain when an image was captured. The location was serendipitous as the tourism office was right around the corner. Bari is said to be a well kept secret that the Italians covet. As such, finding someone who spoke English was an adventure including the tourism office. One gentleman did speak some. When I told him I was trying to find information about my grandfather, he had a sudden mood swing rising with the speed of a space shuttle. One would have thought I was the returning son, not the descendent of one. He gave me the name and address of the official registry office where they would look up my grandfather's birth certificate. 

I couldn't have been happier if I had a just dropped some acid. All I could think about was this was the area where my grandfather learned to walk. This is where he first learned to speak. That was the extent of my early childhood revery as grandpa was 2 years old when the family set sail for the US. Knowing he was no prodigy, he could not have accomplished much here, but it was fun to daydream about the rest. Of course he was one of the younger of a herd of children, so I did have great aunts and uncles who had many more accomplishments. Tomorrow is the registry office. They close at 12:30.

The day was spent visiting churches, a major tourism attraction in Italy. What I truly treasure about church visits is the variety of artwork including the architecture, the paintings, stained glass, and statues. Each church has its own flavor of the neighborhood giving a little insight into where their alliances have been formed by what saint or supposed miracle. Just as most stores and restaurants, the churches close for the siesta hours of 1:30 to 4:30 pm. The conundrum is how to spend the time 'productively' so that one does not feel like it was wasted. Answer: find a piazza where there is one cafe open and suck down beers to beat the heat. More on the churches later.
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