Loading Map...


Written on: Thursday January 1st, 2009

A journal entry from: Nuovo Anno

Since we left the big cities of Milano and Genova behind the experience has changed quite a bit.  As we took the card into the center of town toward the Hotel Charleston we turned down narrow side-street after narrow side-street.  At one point we turned a corner and found ourselves smack in front of the Duomo.  As if on queue the church bells began to toll the first service of the new year.  From out of nowhere they started to appear: in pairs at first, then in groups of five and ten.  They walked slowly but not lazily.  The whole town was going to church.  I can only imagine how out of place we must have looked, the only people in a car, forced to the side of the road as the people streamed past.  After a few minutes they all seemed to be at church and we were able to continue trying to navigate the circular and one-way cobbled sidewalks they call "streets."

Finally we found the location we sought.  It's only fitting that, given our yearly trips to the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, that we we stay at the Hotel Charleston in Spoleto, Italy.  In all of the hotels we have patronized to date the experience was largely similar to what you might find in America.  Here was the first time we really got to experience something that feels quintessentially Italian.  The Hotel Charleston occupies a building first constructed in the 17th century to house the servants of the noble family that lived across the street.  The main room features a huge stone fireplace and the entire building is built with large timbers visible throughout.  You can see the view out the window to the Piazza Collicola below, through heavy wooden blinds that shut out the daylight as completely as a dark cave.  There is nothing light-weight or subtle about the construction.  Katharine and I particularly enjoyed sitting in the lobby enjoying the fireplace and caffes brewed at the bar across the room.  It was particularly interesting listening to the visitors pass through the lobby.  At one point I overheard a conversation between a couple who were obviously native German speakers.  They switched to Italian when talking to another couple, then to English when speaking to a woman with whom they had celebrated the new year the previous night.

I find it continuously surprising, and more than a little humbling, how well educated the people of Europe are in the way of language, and how poorly educated I am.  Granted, the necessity is more keenly felt there.  It's only a few hours' drive from Germany to Italy.  Along the way you'll pass through Switzerland, which has three official languages.  Switzerland is not unique in having multiple recognized languages.  Milano even has its own language, completely distinct from Italian, called Milanese.  While it is no longer common there are still many living today who can speak it.

For lunch we found a great restaurant in the basement of a building down town.  It had an ambiance that many restaurants at home spend a lot of money attempting to recreate, and it came by it simply out of necessity.  With the arches of the basement in place to actually support the building above and the cold stone walls around us, it was clear we were eating in what was probably a wine cellar.  The food was amazing, with the local truffles adding a distinct flavor to the pasta dishes.  Truffle is hard to describe and unlike any flavor with which I am familiar.  Katharine loved it, and while I didn't dislike it I found its unusual savor a bit overwhelming to enjoy.

Tomorrow we depart for Firenze.  Just a few days left of our Italian adventure.


From Ambler on Jan 4th, 2009

You guys keep talking about food & wine. Sounds like you are gonna need to seriously diet when you return back to real life. Betcha it's worth it.

From Art on Jan 16th, 2009

You could have fit me in a suitcase man! I thought we were friends :)

From choy on Jun 28th, 2012

Hello Patricia,Generally, I would always try and use orinagc or at least locally grown and in season when consuming fruits and vegetables in their raw state. However, some research suggests that most of the pesticides are to be found in the fibrous content of the fruit and vegetable, which is normally discarded once the juice has been extracted. This would therefore eliminate the amount you would consume. However, you can also try peeling and also washing your produce in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water and then rinsing in a solution of water and vinegar. If you can find orinagc and it is within your budget, then go for that option. If not, try and choose produce that has the least concentration of pesticide e.g. those that have a protective skin or something that can be peeled.I appreciate your comment and I hope this helps.Tamara