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Thread: Just got back from Italy

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    Just got back from Italy



    It was a blast. We rented a BMW 4 from SIXT and drove around. We spent 3 days in Rome then couple of days in Rocca di Mezzo where my wife's maternal grandfather came from, then to Rossano in Calabria, close to Terranova da Sibari where her grandmother came from and then we spent 3 days in Lecce and its environs (Gallipoli, Otranto and Santa Maria de Leuca).

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    If you blindfolded me and dropped me off in the main piazza in Terranova I would be really hard pressed to tell the difference between it and any Greek village. The same καφενειο (kafenio, caffe) where old men gather to drink coffee and play cards and argue loudly about politics.

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    One major difference between Italy and Greece. Italy has a lot fewer bugs than Greece. You can sit outside in the evening and not be eaten alive by mosquitoes or spent all your time shooing away flies. As a consequence there were a lot fewer birds. You also don't have as many cicadas (Τζιτζικια, jijikia). It was a lot quieter. Also where do you all hide your domesticated animals (cows, sheep)? We only saw very few sheep and cows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsnake49 View Post
    One major difference between Italy and Greece. Italy has a lot fewer bugs than Greece. You can sit outside in the evening and not be eaten alive by mosquitoes or spent all your time shooing away flies. As a consequence there were a lot fewer birds. You also don't have as many cicadas (Τζιτζικια, jijikia). It was a lot quieter. Also where do you all hide your domesticated animals (cows, sheep)? We only saw very few sheep and cows.
    Gosh, that surprises me about the bugs. In my home village there are lots of flies in the summer, although not as many as in the woods of the northeast of the U.S. Maybe it has to do with proximity to water?

    Or could it be tied to that lack of animals? Maybe in that area people have moved away and not much farming is done anymore?

    Glad you had a good time. :)


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Gosh, that surprises me about the bugs. In my home village there are lots of flies in the summer, although not as many as in the woods of the northeast of the U.S. Maybe it has to do with proximity to water?

    Or could it be tied to that lack of animals? Maybe in that area people have moved away and not much farming is done anymore?

    Glad you had a good time. :)
    Calabria and Apulia/Salento has plenty of farming and most of it is irrigated. OK olive groves do not need as much water as everything else but the rest of the crops are irrigated. Which brings up the question, who helps with harvesting all the crops, like the olives, citrus, grapes, melons and watermelons?

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    ... hope you tried il Rustico Leccese :)

    About half of Salento's olive trees are dead or dying.
    The trees were hit by a resistant pathogen.

    Local people, seasonal legal (and non) foreign guest workers harvest the crops.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pathoge...la-fastidiosa/

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsnake49 View Post
    Calabria and Apulia/Salento has plenty of farming and most of it is irrigated. OK olive groves do not need as much water as everything else but the rest of the crops are irrigated. Which brings up the question, who helps with harvesting all the crops, like the olives, citrus, grapes, melons and watermelons?
    Flies and mosquitoes breed in stagnant bodies of water, as well as manure piles. There's no farming going on in the Adirondacks, but the flies will eat you alive in the summer if you ever go camping in the woods there.

    Bug infestation is one of the reasons I would never go on one of those Alaskan cruises in the summer, above and beyond the fact that most of the tourists on board are so old it's like an anteroom to the next life. They apparently swarm all around you.

    Many of the old agricultural towns in Calabria and other parts of southern Italy are practically deserted, as they are in my area. They're only full in the summers when people come back "home". There's practically no one living full time in my mother's frazione of Bagnone. People emigrated to the larger industrial and commercial cities in Italy or abroad. Most are still extremely attached to their ancestral areas and have refurbished old houses or built new ones, but, as I said, they only come back for extended periods in the summer. Only one branch of my relatives is still farming the land, and not commercially, although they do sell some excess products. It doesn't supply the majority of their income. They have chickens, rabbits, pigs, some cows, but mostly olive trees, grape vines, and an orchard. I have actually gone back for the harvest. Backbreaking work, but fun. :)

    It's such a huge problem that some municipalities are offering the houses free or at extraordinarily cheap prices. If your wife's ancestor's villages didn't suffer that fate, that's great. I think it's a tragedy, although of course I understand it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    ... hope you tried il Rustico Leccese :)
    About half of Salento's olive trees are dead or dying.
    The trees were hit by a resistant pathogen.
    Local people, seasonal legal (and non) foreign guest workers harvest the crops.
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pathoge...la-fastidiosa/
    E davvero un peccato.
    17 Dec.
    Paget to the Council.
    Now the Council's letters seem to imply (words quoted) that the King will keep no strangers save the Albanoys.
    Cales, 17 Dec. 1545. Signed.
    O me zhabat në moçale, o me zhgabat lart në male!
    -Petro Nini Luarasi-

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    Until a few years ago, the Women were the majority at harvesting the olives.

    An old image with people from my town getting ready to pick up olives (almost all women, young and old).





    @Laberia ... è un disastro in tutti i sensi.

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    Depending on the landscape and whether it is a big or small enterprise the methods of collection are different. Regardless, for both vines and olive trees you need dry, hot conditions with lots of sunshine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    ... hope you tried il Rustico Leccese :)

    About half of Salento's olive trees are dead or dying.
    The trees were hit by a resistant pathogen.


    Local people, seasonal legal (and non) foreign guest workers harvest the crops.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pathoge...la-fastidiosa/
    Yes I did :). I did notice that some of the olives trees were dying. The ones in Calabria looked healthy. Some of them were like 500 years old. We stayed in this B&B that is converted manor of an olive grove and citrus estate, the Tenuta Ciminata Greco. Marvelous agritourismo! Met the patriarch of the estate and his wife and of course the son. Asked him if he was of Greek descent because of the last name. He said that his folks were Serbian and came over in the 1200s. The estate was established in the 700s. Brought back some of the estate's olive oil with us. Warning, if you're going to go there make sure it's not on Saturday evening because they do very brisk wedding business.

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    Couple of other observations:

    1. No salt and pepper shakers at the table
    2. Food in general is not as salty as in the US
    3. Grilled food is absent from a lot of menus but where it is offered is very tasty. The steaks are much thinner than in the US.
    4. Octopus is very good where it is offered
    5. If you ever find yourself in Rossano do go to eat at La Macine
    6. If you ever find yourself in Rocca di Mezzo, do go eat at Fiorita
    7. Grilled vegetables were very tasty in every place I had them
    8. Calabrians and Greeks have a lot in common including throwing out lit cigarettes and cigarette packs out of moving vehicles. The lit cigarettes caused couple of fires. They also drive their trash to less travelled roads and dump it by the side of the road.
    9. Modern architecture is ugly no matter in what country you encounter it.
    10. Italy is much greener than Greece.
    11. Italian men and women can put away a lot of pizza.
    12. Salad is not consumed in great quantities.
    13. Gelato is not as sweet as American ice-cream.
    14. Our least favorite Italian word was "chiuso"

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    My wife's maternal grandfather's village, Rocca di Mezzo has become a ski resort and Rome weekend and vacation getaway place. We happen to visit there in the ski offseason, vacation offseason and in the middle of the week. It was deserted. In the surrounding valley they grow mostly hay for the cows we saw. The B&B's hostess' husband worked construction in nearby L'Aquila during the ski offseason and is a ski instructor during the ski season.
    Her maternal grandmother's village Terranova Da Sibari looked to be doing pretty well since all the surrounding fields looked cultivated. I have no idea whether they suffered from the same urbanization that has plagued most of civilized world. On the other hand it has made farming more rational rather than subsistence farming. You can actually afford to buy machinery because you have a lot more land.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    Until a few years ago, the Women were the majority at harvesting the olives.

    An old image with people from my town getting ready to pick up olives (almost all women, young and old).





    @Laberia ... è un disastro in tutti i sensi.

    Women's work song:

    Fimmene - Gianna Nannini (in Leccese Dialect :)




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    Women worked like mules. So did men, of course. I just mean there were no concessions to feminine "weakness". That was a middle class Victorian fantasy. My mother told me often that only the grandmothers stayed indoors, doing the cooking and laundry. All the other women were out in the fields or with the animals with the men.





    I think it was mostly the same everywhere.

    Le mondine, the women rice workers of the Po Valley. They were housed in barracks for the season. Their songs are famous.



    My love, don't cry. I'm coming back from the risaia. And don't cry when you see how it's ruined me.


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    1. I don't remember so much the flies or other insects in Italy as I do the number of young men and women who had nothing to do in the middle of the day but sit at cafes. Is unemployment that high? Here in San Diego there are almost no noxious insects (one reason I live here).
    2. The gelato in Italy is good, nothing in America (or France) compares. I especially loved that of Venice and Assisi.
    3. We forget how hard women had to work. Even if the division of labor meant men had the primary duty in the fields (a team of horses or mules takes muscle to manage a straight furrow), women did indeed work from before sunrise to after sunset. No one had idle hands. If women were more often consigned to the home if was because they also had children to care for. We simply can't imagine how hard life could be. My grandmothers were both big women, bred and raised to do hard labor, about which they never complained.

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    It seems Gidai is back as Popa Cristian. Crazy is crazy whatever the name.

    Do you know what reputation power means? It means how your votes affect someone else's reputation. Yours is zero.

    Move on. All you do is put yourself and your country in disrepute.

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    I think it's a nice country. Planning on going there soon again.
    I like Southern Europe the most despite I don't live there right now but planning on moving back to the South in the near future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    1. I don't remember so much the flies or other insects in Italy as I do the number of young men and women who had nothing to do in the middle of the day but sit at cafes. Is unemployment that high? Here in San Diego there are almost no noxious insects (one reason I live here).
    2. The gelato in Italy is good, nothing in America (or France) compares. I especially loved that of Venice and Assisi.
    3. We forget how hard women had to work. Even if the division of labor meant men had the primary duty in the fields (a team of horses or mules takes muscle to manage a straight furrow), women did indeed work from before sunrise to after sunset. No one had idle hands. If women were more often consigned to the home if was because they also had children to care for. We simply can't imagine how hard life could be. My grandmothers were both big women, bred and raised to do hard labor, about which they never complained.
    As Angela mentioned above only grandmothers were left at home. Men, women and children were out working in the fields. I have done some major manual work during the summer when I was a kid and young man, weeding the corn, beans and melon/watermelon fields.

    Italy has an unemployment problem among its young college graduates. Nowhere near as bad as Greece though. Part of Greece's problem is that we have way too many college graduates. For political reasons a lot of regional large towns had universities or medical schools based in them.

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