These past six months have both dragged and flown. And I realize that my sixth blogiversary is upon me. Reflecting on whether or not the time actually adds up to a year, I remind myself that we must surely be thankful for our ability to imagine, to ponder past our own backyards or as they say #DreamNowTravelLater – I’m learning that there’s a hashtag for everything. We used to call it armchair travel.
Last year for my fifth blogiversary, I was in Reggio Calabria for the Procession of the Madonna. Now, I’m in Las Vegas. Most Italians’ eyes light up when they discover I live in Las Vegas. When I taught English in Calabria, my students were amazed that someone from such a metropolis, as they saw it, would be in their little corner of the world. Funny thing about perspective.
Thinking back on the Festival of the Madonna, a symbolic phrase repeated during the celebration comes to mind: By earthquakes, in times of war and peace, this festival has been and will be celebrated!
There wasn’t a procession in Reggio this year. The Madonna della Consolazione was transported between the two cathedrals during the night, in seclusion. The virus has certainly struck a blow to festivals and gatherings around the world, but I dare say that faith may have become stronger.
Most people reading this count themselves amongst the lucky ones, the #dreamnowtravellater crowd, making necessary adjustments in their daily lives and trying to look forward to a more promising future. But then that forward keeps getting postponed and we realize that the disappointment is not so much the cancelled plans but the fact that we have stopped making plans and we don’t have anything to look forward to.
I don’t know if my mother actually told me this or if I intuited it, but I grew up under the notion that whatever happened in life, I should never become one of those women who sat around in curlers watching daytime TV.
Although my plans were dashed and expectations changed, I did my best to buckle down and used the time to complete and publish my second book Basilicata: Authentic Italy.
My father suggested I take some well-earned time off. I said, “What do you think? A couple of months?” And without missing a beat, he replied, “I was thinking more like a week.” That’s a family work ethic for you.
For all those who would like to relax and dream a bit about their next visit to Italy, I recently gave a presentation about Basilicata on Zoom for the Discovering Italy Series, which had for numerous years been hosted in a Las Vegas public library. The virtual event was recorded, so you can now see it on my YouTube page. Click on the following photo or pour yourself a glass of wine and watch it on your big screen television. My presentation highlights Basilicata’s magnificent natural beauty, rich culture and longstanding traditions – a great first taste of the region. (My YouTube page is called KareninCalabria for further armchair travel viewing.)
My book Basilicata: Authentic Italy, of course, gives much more detail and is chock full of anecdotes. I greatly appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm for this new project of mine, and I know many of you have just received your copy in the mail. (Nice comments – and lots of stars – on Amazon are always appreciated and not only help to promote my books, but also nurture interest in these lesser known and underrated regions.) A handful of reviewers had the opportunity of reading it earlier and I am thrilled with the first two professional reviews.
The Midwest Book Review writes:
“Ideal for both the armchair traveler and the on-site visitor, Basilicata: Authentic Italy is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Impressively informed and informative, Basilicata: Authentic Italy deftly showcases both the famously well known and the obscure off-the-beaten-path sights to see, places to visit, and people to meet.”
The Library Journal categorizes it in their Social Sciences section and writes:
“As a solo woman traveler, Haid takes everything in stride, and her meetings with residents are the best parts of the journey. Visitors looking for an authentic experience need not look far—everything in Basilicata is authentic.”
And sums it up with:
“An intimate exploration of an often overlooked region of Italy. Recommended to readers who appreciate all things Italian.”
You can find longer versions of the reviews together with various links to purchase on the Basilicata page of my new author website, karenhaid.com, which streamlines the information about my two books. My Italian blog on this calabriatheotheritaly.com website will stay the same.
Thank you for following me and your eager comments on social media as you look forward to my new book. I can tell you that it means a great deal to hear from those who have read and enjoyed my book(s) and blogposts. And hopefully, we can regroup as we have been forced to #DreamNowTravelLater and our future travel will be sooner rather than later. Until then, I will see you through words and images in a bit of Italian armchair travel.
The cover photo is a map of Venosa, which you’ll find in Chapter 10 of Basilicata: Authentic Italy.
(p.s. I do not have man hands; these are a man’s hands.)
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