• Falling for Rome

    You might say that I’m living the dream.  A few years ago I came to Italy on an extended vacation (I called it a “sabbatical” just to make it sound impressive, but let’s be honest…). 

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    Falling for Rome
  • Living in Italy

    However, Italy is not without its challenges.  When we see the movie version in, “Eat, Pray, Love,” or “From Rome, With Love,” we see an overly-simplified, idealized presentation.

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    Living in Italy
  • Dispatches from the Blog Tour

    In the summer of 2014, I set out an epic journey the length of the Italian peninsula. With wife and baby along for the ride, we traveled from Lake Como to Trapani, and everywhere in between, over the course of six weeks.

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    Dispatches from the Blog Tour

What does it mean to be furbo?

Inspired by some recent encounters with dishonest business practices in Italy, my COSÌ collaborators and I have decided to address the awkward topic of being scammed or cheated in Italy. Of course, these offenses happen everywhere, but like so many things in Italy, the subtleties are easily lost on non-Italians. Only experience can give you real insight into the specific cultural nuances.

We are certainly not the first foreigners to make the observation that, “Italy is a country with a million laws, but no rules.” Indeed, any expat who has lived here for any period of time could (sort of) explain this to you. But in nutshell, it means that laws are viewed as mere “suggestions,” and they should be analyzed on a case by case basis before deciding how (or if) to apply them. This attitude provides fertile ground for people who are “furbo” to exploit the systems. So then, what precisely does it mean to be “furbo?” Glad you asked! [Read More…]

FCI 011 – Opera and Truffle Hunting in Alba with Fidel Gamboa

truffle hunting in albaThere were a few key events in the mid 2,000’s that led to my affection for Italy, and meeting Fidel Gamboa was one of them. We worked together in my dental practice in Florida for a couple of years, and every day I listened to him talk about his dream of studying opera at one of the major conservatories in Italy.

Eventually I saw him realize that dream when he was accepted to the school in Parma. He quit his dental career, sold all of his things, and moved to a city that he had only visited during one short audition. He didn’t even speak Italian at the time. Needless to say, I was happy for him–and more than a little jealous. It took me another 5 years or so to make the leap myself, but when I did, one of my first stops was in Parma to look up my old friend to see how he was doing. And he was doing just fine, living the bohemian lifestyle, and pouring his heart and soul into his music.

Fast forward 5 more years and we are still great friends, even if both of our lives took unexpected turns. These days he has a growing business selling fresh truffles from his wife’s home region of Piedmont to all the buongustai (foodies) back in the U.S.  Now instead of practicing his arias, he’s truffle hunting in Alba and enjoying the company of his newly arrived son, Diego. However, he’s still willing to belt out a short piece of Verdi upon request. (Listen to the podcast to hear the opening bars from Che Gelida Manina.) [Read More…]

FCI 010 – An Italian in America with Emanuele Pettener

Emanuele Pettener, an Italian in AmericaI met Emanuele Pettener back in 2009, and it’s safe to say that the meeting changed my life in many ways. I was enrolled in the Italian Studies program at F.A.U. in Boca Raton, Florida where he teaches. The class was Italian Literature from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, taught entirely in Italian, which at the time strained the very limits of my linguistic skills, to say the least. But the class was fantastic, made even more engaging by our professor’s affection for the subject matter. In the process, I discovered my own interest for the works of Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Ariosto, and Machiavelli. Perhaps it was the last little push that I needed to convince me to make the long-term leap across the ocean.

In fact, it was during that fall semester of ’09 when Ema suggested that I join the group going to his hometown of Venice the following spring to study Venetian literature in situ. There, we read works by Veronica Franco, Carlo Goldoni, and Giacomo Casanova in the morning, and then visited the actual locations where their stories happened in the afternoon. Literature brought to life by direct experience. (I wrote another post about my Venetian experience a couple of years ago.) [Read More…]

FCI 009 – Sex, Lies, and Raising Children Italian Style with Andrea Timonere

andreaEven if you don’t have kids—or if your bambini are already grown up—I think you’ll find today’s discussion with Andrea Timonere from “Sex, Lies, & Nutella” extremely interesting. We sort of used child rearing as a focal point for discussing Italian society at large, and comparing those practices to their American equivalent.

First off, I admit that I sort of “borrowed” the title of today’s podcast episode from Andrea’s blog title because, well…it’s so very appealing. And actually, it seems to fit.

How so, you ask? Let’s break it down… [Read More…]

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