Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Café life — or in this case, caffè life.  Here's the corner bar in San Giustino (Valtiberina), Umbria, where we lived for three months a few winters ago. Valtiberina indicates that it's in the valley of the Tiber River. There's another San Giustino in nearby Tuscany, known as Valdarno, meaning it's in the valley of the Arno River.

At any rate, as with many Italian towns, this café was the all-day hangout for the older men while the women shopped (note the shopping bag, lower-left) and then repaired to their houses to spend the afternoon cooking.  Here the sun had come out and the men were happy to move to the outside tables.

The coffee shops were often staffed by younger women.  Here some San Giustino baristas take a smoke break with one of the locals at the corner of Crucifix Street.

Here's the inside of one of our favorite cafés, Dedalo, which also served pizza.

This café is in Deruta, about an hour away, home of the famous maiolica (aka faience).

And this café is in Ravenna, on the Adriatic coast. As you can see, here are more town geezers hanging about. Some of them appear to have ridden their bikes today.

We were always happy to find a hospitable coffee shop to warm up in after tramping the frigid hilltown lanes.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Here's a selection of sticky-uppy things to fit with this week's Sepia Saturday theme.

In the summer of 2005 I escorted my son and a friend to England for a few weeks. We were staying in Oakworth - a suburb, if you will, of Haworth, which is where I spotted this abandoned woolen mill near the steam railway.  Ruin or not, it enhanced my sense of time traveling.
Haworth, 2005

The kids demanded a daytrip to Blackpool and I was happy to oblige.  While they went on rides I wandered the town and beach, as is my wont. While we were here, bombs were going off in London around the corner from what was to be our hotel in a few days.

Blackpool, 2005
Earlier the same year, I'd accompanied my son on a school-sponsored trip to Italy, a highlight of which was an all-too-brief (though stiflingly hot) afternoon in Pompeii. Antiquity which outstrips Yorkshire by a couple of millennia. That's the dreaded Vesuvius looming in the distance. I was struck by learning that, eruptions aside, the Pompeiians suffered many deaths from lead poisoning from their plumbing system which, although comparatively innovative, in an ironic twist was constructed of pipes made from lead that their British slaves had been mining - in Yorkshire.
Pompeii, 2005
I returned to Italy in the winter of 2007 with the whole family, and again those under 20 strongly urged visiting Citta della Domenica, a zoo and amusement park outside Perugia, as a break from cathedrals and museums and tiny hibernating hilltowns. Billed as a rival of Disneyland, it fell several leagues short but provided an interesting afternoon. These towers are new constructions but are reminiscent of the myriad ancient campanili in Italy.

Citta della Domenica (Perugia, Tuscany) 2007