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Archive for October, 2008

Giuseppe Mercuri

October 20th, 2008 2 comments


I had to go all the way to Italy to find out that there exists a cousin with the same wonderful kind of personality as my grandfather but with one big difference. He likes to talk! Every time we go to Sersale, visiting HIS house is one of the highlights of our trip. He tells stories that keep everyone in the room in stitches. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand Italian, because he patiently breaks it all down for you until EVERYONE gets it. A not so funny thing about Giuseppe is that he doesn’t photograph well. Whenever he sees a camera he assumes this stone face, hardly what you’d expect from such a sweet and funny man. Once I caught him off guard and I took a snapshot. This painting is rendered from that snapshot.

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C.L.P. Piazza Garibaldi

October 16th, 2008 3 comments


There are many admonitions to people seeking to visit Napoli; the dangers, the thieves, the squalor, the traffic. But what they don’t tell you about is how hard it can be to just find a bus stop at the main train station in town. During my first visit to Naples, we decided to visit friends in Puglia over the weekend; it’s easy enough, there’s a bus that comes once an hour, and it’s about a 2 hour bus ride. We were set. What could be easier? We knew how to get to Piazza Garibaldi, and we knew where the buses were. We thought… We gave ourselves plenty of time to find our bus, but quickly discovered it wasn’t so easy. We asked people and they’d point and go away. I went to a bus ticket booth, and the man inside said it was near the Tobaccaio, mumbled a phrase I did not understand, and pointed, I went to the Tobaccaio, he told me it was at Piazza Garibaldi. We went back and forth, parsing the information we received each time from people whose first language was not Italian, but Napolitano. We finally returned to the ticket seller, and he said it again. CHEE ELLOWPEE. Now my Italian is not terrible, but I had NO IDEA what that meant. The gruff, bored man in the booth seeing my consternation (and not wanting me to come back a third time)
grabbed a tiny speck of paper and wrote in bold letters “C.L.P.” He had been reciting the letters! Armed with this incredibly valuable clue, within moments, we’d found the bus stop and eventually got on the right bus.
Two years later, I had to do it again, this time I had to find the bus called “La Manna” that would take me to Atena Lucana. I felt like a pro this time, I had an hour to find the bus, and I knew all the possible stops. Within 20 minutes, I’d found it; the bus simply appears in front of the Tobaccaio’s store, although the ticketseller there did not know about this bus and there is no sign. The wonderful looking man in the painting was standing under the sign “C.L.P.” and was waiting to go to Puglia, in the gentle october sun. I love this painting and do not wish to sell it… 🙂

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Sersale Door #3

October 15th, 2008 4 comments

I just returned from a whirlwind tour of some of my favorite places in Italy. I had the opportunity, once again to visit some of my best friends there, and some members of my family. I also had the good fortune to be given guided tours of the oldest neighborhoods in two towns, Atena Lucana and Sersale. In both towns, many of these old houses are no longer inhabited; in Atena, they were actually ruined in the earthquake, in Sersale, people just have chosen to live in newer places. This particular door really struck me because of the way it was inset several feet with this stuccoed portico.

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