LAPC #227: Home Sweet Home

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.

–Federico Fellini (1920- 1993)

This year Italy is our home. There’s a lot to learn and love about this country, beyond the stereotypes. Yes, it’s true–there’s plenty of magic here and pasta, as Fellini said. There are also some mysteries and new layers of the cultural onion that we are peeling back as we spend more time here. Tina’s theme this week is my chance to share what I’ve discovered and reaffirmed.

Here’s one mystery. Solved.

All over Florence, we noticed little windows etched into the walls of palazzos. Some were cemented over, but others, like this one have returned to their original purpose. Hundreds of years ago, they were “wine windows” (buchetta del vino), where merchants used to sell flasks of wine. Today, you can peer through this little window and order a glass of wine at different times of the day. Drinking wine on the street is a custom here. Tiny enotecas set up tables on the street where people gather to talk and drink wine–no matter what the weather.

As for other mysteries–how Italians can stay thin on a diet of wine, pasta, and a morning pastry–I’m still working on that!

I used to believe that Italian history was centered in Rome–with the rise of the Roman Empire and the Caesars. In fact, the Italian peninsula was home to the Etruscans, Greeks, and Celts long before the Roman Republic. I captured this ancient Greek temple in Agrigento, Sicily, where there are reportedly more Greek ruins than in Greece.

Another fact–a unified Italy didn’t exist until the middle of the 1800’s. Before that it was divided into maritime republics (in Genoa and Venice, for example), Papal States, and feudal territories controlled by Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Spanish, and Bourbon rulers. That’s why, when you visit different parts of Italy, there are regional variations–in dialect, food, and customs, for instance. Below you can get a sample of Italian dialects. Click on the video link at the end of this post. (It’s priceless.)

Another assumption I had was about religion. I naively believed that Italy was one of the most religious countries in the world that has remained predominantly Catholic. But I’ve learned that there is a sizable number of atheists and agnostics–24 percent of the population, according to a recent study by the The Center for Studies of New Religions (CESNUR). The Muslim population is also growing. It’s now 4 percent.

The Creator made Italy from designs by Michaelangelo.

–Mark Twain (1835- 1910)

Some of my beliefs about Italy haven’t changed. It’s a country of remarkable artistic and architectural achievement. I’ll never forget the moment that we stood before the Last Supper, the capo di lavoro of Da Vinci. Just imagine. This mural has decorated the dining hall the Santa Maria della Grazie abbey for hundreds of years and suffered the effects of humidity, peeling paint, and degradation when the room was used as a stable by Napoleonic troops.

Another belief is indeed true. Italy is a stunningly beautiful country. A few days ago we traveled to Greve in Chianti, a town surrounded by vineyards that produce wonderful wine. If you look closely at this photo, you can see several villas amidst the trees. The scene was even more beautiful than I had imagined.

Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvelous than the land.

β€” E. M. Forster (1879-1970)

As we travel all over Italy, the cultural center of Italian life is still the piazza, where people gather to shop, eat, and drink. When we spent the weekend in Padova, crowds filled the piazzas even late into the evening, despite the cold weather.

In closing, I’d like to admit that it’s not all wine and roses here. The country is full of inefficiencies and bureaucratic red tape. On the road, drivers act like they’re competing in the Grand Prix, and their political situation is in turmoil, but we must be still in the “honeymoon” phase of our Italian love affair. We still find the country and its people very charming and lovable. If you’d like to hear a small sample of Italian dialects, here’s a link to a video made by an Italian comedian who teaches English. I think you’ll laugh as much as I did.

We hope you join our challenge this week led by Tina of Travels and Trifles. Be sure to visit her site and see her stunning photographs of her favorite places in America. We’re looking forward to seeing your home sweet home from around the globe. Don’t forget to link to Tina’s original post and use the Lens-Artists tag.

A very special thanks to Jude, our wonderful guest host for last week’s Textures challenge. She inspired us to share myriads of textures in many shapes and forms. Your choices were so diverse and inspiring.

Next Saturday at noon EST, I’ll be leading LAPC #228, so be sure to stop by here and get all the details. To get your creative wheels spinning, our theme will be DIAGONALS.

Until then, have a wonderful week filled with good health, good weather, and plenty of inspiration.

63 replies »

  1. Thank you for your tour of Italy! I really enjoyed your photos! My Dad was stationed at a small U.S. Air Force Base near Brindisi in the heel of the boot when I was in high school. You can visit the end of the Appian Way there. We took many weekend trips to see as much of Italy as we could. Your post brought back many memories of those trips.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favorite memories is driving throughout northern Italy some years back. We found the people warm, the wine and food fabulous, the countryside gorgeous and the drivers exactly as you described! Our visits to Rome reinforced your comment about the piazzas which we greatly enjoyed, and the art which was everywhere. Your marvelous post reminded me of these memories and more. I so admire your sense of adventure – to pick up and move, immersing yourself in the culture as an everyday event. Your images as always are gorgeous and put us right there beside you. My favorite of this beautiful set is the image of the Italian countryside – glorious! You have truly made Italy your home!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Tina. It is all you wrote–the food, wine, countryside, drivers (!), and more….I’m so glad it brought back great memories. I’ve wanted to live abroad since I was a teenager, so this is a dream come-true. I am so fortunate. πŸ˜€β€οΈ

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    • Hi, Sarah. Isn’t that video great? An Italian friend sent it to me. I love it! Someday I’ll understand some of the dialects, but right now, I’m happy to understand just one of them! Thanks for your kind words, too. Glad you enjoyed this one!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating! Wine windows. Who knew? While there is beauty be seen in the typical tourist sights, imo the magic comes in learning about the culture. I’ve not been to Italy, but from afar, it has seemed a magical place. Beautiful photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michelle. I’m delighted you enjoyed this post. I think you’re right…the true magic is learning about other cultures and really trying to understand the people and ideas better. I hope you come here at some point. You’ve got a great attitude and will learn a lot.

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  4. How wonderful that you get to call Italy your home and discover its beauty. Your amazing images and descriptions helped me tour along with you. And I love the video. It reminded me of how varied the accents and jargon is from state to state in the U. S. Great post and tour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Anne. Thanks! I’m delighted you enjoyed the post and video. Isn’t that clip hilarious? Every time I listen to it, I have to laugh. An Italian friend sent it to me. It is true about the accents in the USA. Some are fading, though. My husband has a strong Brooklyn accent, but you don’t hear that much anymore.

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  5. Nothing beats the view of a foreigner for a honest portrait. I love Italy, it’s on my list of countries to visit again and your post just reminded me how much I’d like to do so, sooner rather than later. The video is too funny, thank you for sharing!

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  6. I share the love affair, Patti, and most countries have problems with bureaucracy and politics, not to mention the driving! The Portuguese have a style all their own. I love the notion of those wine windows and you write with such an affection for your adopted country. That photo of the countryside is so beautiful.

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  7. I LOVED every word of this. Italy is a favorite of ours as well, and I am glad you presented your post with cultural in mind. Clearly this is where you hang your heart.

    The photo of Greve in Chianti is a temptation to stop and reflect, isn’t it. I am always mesmerized that people live in those big villas.

    And I am SO grateful for the wine window. lol. next time I am going to search.

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    • Hi, Donna. You made me smile! You will certainly have fun in Greve and at the wine windows! If you come here, I can give you plenty of recommendations! You’re absolutely right…the culture and the language and the people are the foundation of my love! Have a good week! Now I’m wondering about your home!

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  8. You write so eloquently about your temporary home and didn’t even mention the fashion! I could easily live in Italy, the food, the wine, the fabulous countryside and that accent. I have learned a lot from your post Patti, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG….I forgot the fashion! I guess you can tell that after living out of suitcases for a while I have a very basic wardrobe and don’t pay a lot of attention to style for myself, but I do love looking at the beautiful outfits on others. I’m delighted that you enjoyed this post. It has been fascinating diving deeper into a culture…it’s been a passion of mine for quite a while! Have a great week… You did a great job on the challenge last week. πŸ˜€πŸ‘

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  9. Fantastic photos. But even more than the views they give, I’m glad you stated the central mystery of Italy: “how Italians can stay thin on a diet of wine, pasta, and a morning pastry” Perhaps it’s in the coffee?

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  10. I’ve never been to Italy Patti, but so enjoyed your stunning post! The Wine windows are Fascinating! my husband would love that, the pizza and pasta a lot! πŸ˜€ I can imagine that standing in front of the Last Supper must have been quite something. The video in the end was hillarious!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Having only recently spent two days in Rome, on our first trip there, I can relate to your comments on the local traffic. We didn’t get to see much of the interiors of the ancient buildings, but we did get to see our share of those iconic buildings and artistic sculptures that adorn the city.
    Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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  12. Again, your love shines through, Patti. Italy. I am so glad you take us along now and then, and this time especially! Love the wine windows, and in Spain they even had a tap in a wall where you could serve yourself!
    Love your musings, and had a good laugh at the video – hilarious! You made my day there!

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  13. How nice to live in another country for a while, the vineyard looks wonderful. I think it’s the same for any foreigner in any country with the red tape, you just have to find that right person to help you, a bit like finding a needle in a haystack!

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    • Hi, Alison. To tell you the truth, this has been a dream of mine since high school…really! I think you’re right about the red tape…every country has it. And the key is to find someone who can help. We found that out already. Very true. Thanks as always for your thoughts on the post. Have a good week, too.

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