Archive for the 'Italy' Category

La Dolce Vita – Spirit of an Era

Monday, August 10th, 2015

La Dolce Vita – spirit of an eraLa Dolce Vita is a now iconic phrase that conjures images of the winding alleyways and Vespas of a vintage Italy. Imbued with a sense of glamorous freedom, the concept of young people living a hedonistic and self-indulgent life has long entered cross-cultural vernacular and leaves us lamenting our lack of Italian blood. Here, Michel Cruz traces the origins and inspirations for the phenomenon that has come to define an epoch.

While Britain and America were in the grip of the Swinging Sixties, Italy made its own unique contribution – La Dolce Vita. Literally translated as ‘the sweet life’, it embodies the sense of freedom, open possibilities and joie de vivre of the post war era.

We strive for permanence in everything we do, from installing new regimes to chasing the ultimate form of style, not realising that success, happiness and ideals are but fleeting moments. With the horrors of the Second World War and the sparseness of the immediate post war years behind it, Europe awoke like a flower in spring to a whole new world of possibilities. With Marshall Aid, the continent was rebuilding itself upon the pillars of prosperity and democracy as a tide of youthful liberalism and creativity swept through the once dusty streets. (more…)

Discovering beautiful lakes on our doorstep (Part 2)

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Laghi di Monticchio, Italy In my previous blog you will have read all about our adventures in and around the fair town of Potenza. If not, go right back to start and catch up before reading on…

So having chanced upon the wondrous Laghi di Monticchio after our laborious travails through the hills of Basilicata, we promised ourselves to come back and explore this little hidden paradise properly. This is exactly what we did a few days later, following the much easier route from Calitri along the gently winding valley road en route to Melfi. Well before that town, however, you turn off and upwards towards Rionero in Vulture. (more…)

Discovering beautiful lakes on our doorstep (Part 1)

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Countryside Calitri, Campania,  ItalySo there we were, on holiday in Calitri. The open French doors let in a cooling breeze and views of an open countryside of green valleys and forested hills. I was peering over a map of the region, as I am want to do when ‘exploring’ new territory.

Ever since I first arrived here and began studying the local maps, the name of Potenza seemed to be calling out to me – as it did on this particular occasion. I know, it’s just a dot on a map with a name beside it, like so many others on a fold-out atlas, but while Bari, Matera, Brindisi, Foggia, Benevento and Cassino are all still on my to-do list, Potenza had, well, the most potent pull of all. (more…)

Melfi, castle town of the Langobardi

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Lombardi castle of Melfi, ItalyThough set in the midst of peaceful rural country, Calitri is a convenient point from which to explore surroundings that include Vesuvius, Naples, Amalfi, Positano, Salerno, Capri, Benevento, Monte Casino, Herculaneum, Bari, Puglia and the Adriatic Coast, to name a few. You’ll be able to reach most of these places in little more than an hour, but if you just want to cruise around the countryside and go for a short trip to visit local towns there is also plenty to see.

At little more than a quarter of an hour’s drive from Calitri, Melfi is just such a town. Situated at the base of the heavily forested Monte Vulture, this ancient town traces its roots to pre-Roman times when it formed part of the ancient region of Lucania. Touched also by the Samnites and classical Greeks, it was long a quiet little town within Roman Italy before the fall of the Roman Empire changed the landscape considerably and added further elements to the mix. (more…)

Why Italian food is so good

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Le Cannazze di CalitriI like a lot of Italian things: cars, furniture, clothes, art, etc. What all of the above have in common is design, that special Italian flair for creating things that are pleasing to the senses, and the eye in particular. But, as in most countries, there are two sides to Italy. One is a world of elegance and sophistication, reflected in the fashion of Milan, the architecture of Florence, the monuments of Rome and the uniqueness of the Venetian thalassocracy.

The other Italy is an earthy world inhabited by real salt-of-the-earth people whose priorities in life are not being stylish and sophisticated but enjoying food, family and the simple pleasures in life. It is within this category that most Italian food falls, for where other countries have a rather clear distinction between haute and peasant cuisine, Italian gastronomy is remarkably homogenous. (more…)