It seems as though I just finished celebrating 2 years of My Italian Blog and my third Blogiversary has already crept up on me. On this milestone (Trust me, the use of the word is not an exaggeration, and if you have a blog, you understand completely.), I would like to reflect on the things I have done over the past years that I could never have imagined doing before my time living in Italy.
WRITING ABOUT ITALY
“Travel Writer” had never been in my master plan. My book Calabria: The Other Italy grew out of my four years living, working and traveling in the lesser-known Southern Italian region. Now, I’m commonly referred to as a writer, and sometimes both as a writer and a blogger. This distinction seems to beg an anniversary celebration. I became aware of the official term, blogiversary, only last year along with its spelling variations, blogversary and blogoversary. There’s even the Italian bloghiversario!
I continue to write about Italy, and this year I couldn’t help but notice that the NY Times also decided to focus on Calabria, singling out the region in its much talked about list of places to visit. And if blogging is judged in any way by popularity, which it undoubtedly is, my post Visit Calabria Says the NY Times in which I give a bit more insight into the reasons behind such a choice, has thus far garnered the greatest number of social media thumbs-ups of all my blogposts.
But what am I doing now? Well, in addition to working on this blog, I have started a new project. To that end, I have been spending quite a bit of time exploring Basilicata, a region that is perhaps even lesser known than Calabria. By the way, Basilicata is located in Italy’s instep between Calabria and Apulia (Puglia, in Italian). Up to now, Matera is the region’s only city “on the map” for tourists exploring South Italy, specifically the mysteriously stunning (or would that be stunningly mysterious?) Sassi di Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been featured in a number of films, most notably Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ. I found the ancient cave dwellings so captivating that I included my excursion to Matera, located in neighboring Basilicata, in my book Calabria: The Other Italy.
However, Basilicata has much, much more to offer the tourist. This past year, I returned to Matera and also traveled throughout the rest of the region; I went to numerous festivals, visited interesting historical sights, encountered welcoming locals, indulged in unique flavors, immersed myself in the varied landscape and generally soaked up the atmosphere. I am now hard at work putting pen to paper, so to speak. Another book?
SPEAKING ABOUT ITALY
For me, an unexpected consequence of my writing about Italy is that it’s given me the opportunity to meet many new people, not just from Italy but from all over the world. Additionally, I now find myself speaking about Italy, both at presentations in the United States and Italy!
For example, this past year I spoke at a school in Calabria that had adopted my book in its English classes (Meeting Students in Villa San Giovanni) and at Italian cultural societies in America. At Dorothea’s House, Casa di Cultura Italiana in Princeton, New Jersey, I got to meet Everybody Loves Italian’s original Frank Granieri, after which he featured my book on his endearingly quirky “Let’s Have Coffee” morning show, a much-followed Facebook Livestream straight out of the front seat of his car!
I was also surprised and honored to be invited to speak at a conference in Reggio entitled, “Journey to the island of Greek heritage – language, culture and land,” put on by an organization called Ìmmasto, which means, “We are” in an ancient Greek language spoken in southern Calabria for thousands of years. A fascinating subject, to be sure, and I’m glad that I worked as hard as I did on my Italian language skills over the years so that my only focus was what I was going to contribute to a discussion alongside Calabrian experts in the field.
And amazingly, I appeared on Italian TV in both Calabria and Basilicata! I was a guest on a cultural program in Calabria, which I describe in my post Reggio TV, My Appearance on Italian TV, and in Basilicata I was featured in a brief interview on La Nuova TV Basilicata, a local channel in Potenza.
BLOGIVERSARY – NEW EXPERIENCES IN ITALY
“Is that really you?” Those who know me are probably examining the photos of that person suspended in midair on Basilicata’s zip-line adventure known as the Volo dell’Angelo (Flight of the Angel). I’ve included one a bit closer, to be sure. I, too, couldn’t ever have imagined myself doing such a thing in the past, but now I’m a travel writer and blogger. I wanted the first-hand experience.
Several months earlier, I had taken the path that joins the magnificent hillside towns of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa in the Lucanian Dolomites. These craggy mountains in Basilicata are visually similar to the more famous range in the Alps. The prescribed walk from one town to the other followed the ancient trail used by villagers and their animals. I wanted to compare the hike of yesteryear, what I personally found to be quite difficult, with the modern zip-line that whisked its “angels” up to 120 km or 75 miles per hour. Suffice it to say, each had its challenges and rewards, depending on the point of view.
When engaged in an experience the likes of the Volo dell’Angelo, I’m always reminded of a T-shirt I saw someone wearing many years ago at the Okefenokee Swamp Park in southern Georgia, where alligators roamed freely in the parking lot. “If you’re skeert, say you’re skeert.”
Let’s just say, I don’t think I could get used to such adventures. Shortly after the Volo dell’Angelo, I attended a wonderful festival in the town of Accettura, also in Basilicata. I posted a photo of someone scaling a 40-meter (130-foot) high tree and an Instagram friend commented, “Dear God, that is not you, right?” Well, if ever there were the appropriate moment for an LOL, that would have been it.
Not being aware of the existence of the blogiversary, I missed my first, but was on top of the blog anniversary on my second Italy blogiversary. In My Italy Blog: Has it Been 2 Years Already? I talk about what makes something bloggable and introduce a few of the people from my book.
UPDATE: I have finished my book – Basilicata: Authentic Italy.
Browse around the other posts on My Italian Blog. Use the search for a specific topic. Popular posts from this past year include: The Festival of the Madonna in Reggio Calabria, Amantea: A Seaside Attraction, Early Women Travelers in South Italy and Lent in Italy – Corajisima, A Calabrian Tradition. If you would like to learn more about a Greek-speaking village in Calabria, go to my post Gallicianò: Greek Culture in Calabria. Do you have an interest in Sicily? Check out My Friend, the Duchess and Stromboli: A Volcano, An Island, A Movie and More.
And for an in-depth look at the beautiful land in the toe of the boot, there’s Calabria: The Other Italy, my non-fiction book about daily life, history, culture, art, food and society in this fascinating southern Italian region.
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