Salvador Dalí in Matera

Salvador Dalí in Matera, Old and New in South Italy

Visitors to Matera in recent years can’t help but have noticed the oversized Dalí sculptures strategically placed throughout the historic center. The contrast between the artist’s provocative surrealism and the old-world setting, extraordinary in itself, cries out for attention in a very contemporary way. Look at me! Take a selfie! Who would have expected to see Salvador Dalí in Matera? Read More

Bronzi di Riace: 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of the Riace Bronzes

Walking on a sandy beach, most of us don’t have much more hope than of spotting a decent seashell. There are those who hunt for treasures, armed with metal detectors on land, simple goggles in shallow water and elaborate equipment further out to sea. Very few ever find anything of value, but those who do, keep the dream alive, such as with the sunken bronzes, discovered 50 years ago in the Ionian Sea just off the coast of a town called Riace in Calabria, South Italy. The body parts protruding from the sand turned out to be spectacular statues hailing from ancient times and are known as the Bronzi di Riace, the Bronzes of Riace.

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Brigand path in the Pollino Mountains

What is a Brigand?

The word “brigand” – brigante in Italian – is heard quite a bit with reference to Southern Italy, and I have noticed a certain confusion, particularly amongst English speakers, as to its significance. It’s an important term in understanding the Italian South and the history of Italy, so I thought I’d contribute my two cents to the question, “What is a brigand?” in an Italian context. Read More

Traditions and Food of Calabria Tour

Traditions and Food of Calabria Tour, A New Adventure!

Eyebrows raised when I wrote my book about Calabria, then again when I organized my first tour of the region, and once more when I branched out with a second itinerary. Somehow, it’s considered more logical to write about, read about and return to a tiny, crowded beach on the Amalfi Coast or to shop for pricey designer labels in packed tourist centers than to explore a beautiful and fascinating lesser-known region. Luckily, not everyone is the same, and as with my Calabria Cultural Tour, my Traditions and Food of Calabria Tour was a great success!

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wine grottos

Pietragalla, Magical World of the “Palmenti” Wine Grottos in Basilicata

The wine grottos of Pietragalla capture the imagination. The little cave-like structures that emerge spontaneously from the earth evoke another world, perhaps that of an ancient people or even of hobbits. They are called palmenti, and you will find this atmospheric complex in South Italy, specifically in northern Basilicata, just twenty kilometers from Potenza, the region’s capital. Read More

Matera

The Transformation of Matera

Personal integrity, cultural strength and a collective resilience—these are just a few of the characteristics that helped Matera survive its difficult past and come out the other side to be distinguished as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a European Capital of Culture. This fascinating city in the southern region of Basilicata, wedged between Calabria, Campania and Puglia, is known the world over for its “Sassi,” ancient “stone” neighborhoods carved out of the rocky landscape, made famous as the set for such films as Il vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1964) by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2003), and the latest James Bond movie No Time to Die (2021). Read More