Please join us at our upcoming book presentation
Book Passage bookstore in San Francisco
One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111
Please join us at our upcoming book presentation
6:00pm, Wednesday, November 8
Book Passage bookstore in San Francisco
One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111
The one-hour presentation will feature a multimedia introduction to Salento, with slides, music, a video introduction to our three Salento authors, Carlo, Luciana and Lucia and brief readings from the book by our San Francisco authors, Audrey and David Fielding. Of course Audrey and David will be available to sign and dedicate your copy of SALENTO BY 5.
Out of the blue, the Facebook page for SALENTO BY 5 recently received a great message from two people we'd never met before--Steve and Marianne Silverio of Villanova, Pennsylvania. We'd like to share the exchange of messages with you below (from now on, I'm going to ask for un bicchiere di vino a'la Nubilo!).
Salve, Audrey & David! I have just finished your wonderful book and want to thank you for the time I spent reading... No attempting to absorb it, while thoroughly enjoying it! My wife Marianne and I will be traveling in the Salento in June, on our way to the Scuola Internationale di Mosca in Castel di Sangro. We have been in northern provinces and in Abruzzo, where my parents came from before emigrating to America, but never south as my father always said of the Calabrese, [le terrone] di teste dure! We are now very anxious to go and your book has made it so much more tangible and real. Molte grazie e un grande abbraccio, Steve & Marianne Silverio Villanova, PA
Ciao te Audrey & David, It was Marianne who, searching for more literature about Apulia and the Salento, found your book. It is quite a little treasure-trove of information as well as a personal view of a very unique part of Italy. Some of the stories reminded me of how my mother and father spoke of relatives in their little towns. Like the fact that my great, great grandfather, Nubilo, who collected farmer's grain in his donkey cart, had a healthy thirst for wine, eschewing any proffered glass not full to the brim. My dad used to say that if you walked into any taverna in Scherni and ordered un bicchiere di vino, a'lla Nubilo, you would always get a glass full to the brim! We would have really enjoyed nothing better than to spend a little time with you but we must travel to Castel di Sangro to be there by the 25th. for the Italian Fly Fishing Festival. I hope that someday we can meet as I can tell you that, unlike any travel book I have ever read, yours touched me in a special way. I nostri saluti più caldi per te entrambi, Steve & Marianne
Blog post by David
Congratulations . . .
to SALENTO BY 5 author, Carlo Longo, and his group BlueSalento on the release today of BlueSalento's new CD album, "Mare Tu Salentu," produced by the Pugliese label, Dodicilune.
The new album was the subject of a presentation ceremony on the evening of April 7 in the town of Taviano in the heart of Salento. The atmosphere and the characters of each sound track of the album create a tangle of emotions and memories in the foreground while reflecting scenes of the Salento countryside and its seas. The album's music and lyrics express the joys and suffering of Salento: a Syrian woman with riveting eyes in flight from war; a Albanian girl desperate to return home; a father who lost his fisherman son to the sea; a shooting star that holds together two distant lovers; the wind that carries messages to the beloved; the inevitable Salento displaying typical Salentino irony.
The sounds of "Mare Tu Salentu" are sophisticated and refined, with strong contributions from classical instrumentalists. The language of the lyrics is Salento's universal lingua franca common throughout the region, with minimal regional dialect, and with markedly Spanish-Latin influence. Words in the songs' lyrics are based primarily on their euphonic, rhythmic and expressive effects. Yet, the result is that the Salento language is preserved, evolves and lives in the songs. Salento's lingua franca is not only not disappearing, it is being reborne in the choruses of BlueSalento's fantastic new album!
BlueSalento, the group, is composed of:
Carlo Longo: Composition, lyrics, vocal and folk guitar.
Carlo is also "The Music Maker—Author" of SALENTO BY 5
Luigi Liotta: Arrangement, editing, classical and folk guitar
Salvatore Amante: Keyboard and arrangement
Umberto Malagnino: Electric bass
Rosanna Schina: Tamburello, tammorra and harmonica
Sergio Lia: Tamburelli
Massimo Liotta: Classic and electric guitars
Claudia Lannocca, Eleonora Rizzo, Carmen Maruccio: Vocals
Edoardo D'Ambrosio: Drums and percussion
Dario Cota: Accordion
Blog post by David
After visiting Salento this year, Audrey and I plan to drive to Calabria to see that region for the first time. In preparation, I have been reading the book" 52 Things to See and Do in Calabria," by Michelle Fabio, available on Amazon. I have enjoyed the book and decided to write a formal review of it. So, here goes.
So you're planning a trip to Calabria at the toe of Italy's boot. Wouldn't it be great if you had a friend who lives there who you could invite for dinner and, over a glass of wine, leisurely ask her all your questions about places to visit and things to do?
Well, Michelle Fabio is just that friend. And her e-book, "52 Things to See and Do in Calabria," is indeed the voice of a good friend. She answers all your questions and chats enthusiastically about Calabria. She not only knows her subject, but is eager to share what she knows. Michelle is a transplant from Pennsylvania who has lived for the past 15 years in the Calabrian village of Badolato (superior), the home of her great, great grandfather. Drawing on her personal experience, Michelle has gathered practical information about the five provinces of Calabria, organized from north to south. In her book, she provides suggested itineraries for 1, 3 and 7 day trips. The pages are sprinkled with helpful photographs. And, since her book is an e-book, it is completely searchable by key word (town names, churches, parks, piazzas, foods, festivals, restaurants, beaches, etc.). So, although you might prefer a sociable dinner with your imaginary Calabrian friend, Michelle's warm and friendly advice, for its thoroughness, may be even more valuable. And perhaps best of all, it is portable—you can take it with you on your kindle or tablet and have all that information at your fingertips.
From "52 Things," you learn much about Calabria's history of conquest and settlement and where to visit towns that still evidence the invaders' heritage—Greeks, Romans, Normans, Aragonese, Spanish, Bourbon, French and others. You discover Michelle's favorite towns, including Reggio Calabria, Tropea, Pizzo, Le Castella and Serra San Bruno. She recommends a visit to an 11,000-plus-year-old Stone Age petroglyph of a bull (photograph included) found in a cave above the town of Papasidero in the province of Cosenza. And you are urged to see the famous "Riace Bronzes," in the Museo Nazionale della Magna Graecia in Reggio Calabria; statues described by Michelle as, "two nude male warriors whose bronze figures lay deep in the Ionian Sea for more than 2,000 years" until discovered in 1972 by an amateur diver off the coast of Riace. In your "friendly conversation" with Michelle, you also learn about how best to visit Calabria's national parks and other geographical wonders, including one of the region's "greatest natural treasures," the Raganello Gorges. And, if you are like me, an avid swimmer and fan of Southern Italy's famously clean coastal waters, you will be pleased to find a section of Michelle's book specially devoted to Calabria's beaches with a long list of those most highly rated by a local environmental group in its Guida Blu, "Blue Guide."
My wife and I have returned annually for a number of years to an apartment in the Salento region at the heel of the boot—opposite Calabria's toe. We plan on taking our first trip to Calabria this year and are thrilled to have "52 Things" to take along. I should add that Michelle also gives her readers her email address and invites them to contact her for a current recommendation about where to stay if they intend to visit her own town of Badolato. We do and we will.
Finally, I have discovered that Michelle regularly contributes to a blog, "Bleeding Espresso.com" which is both an extension of "52 Things" and a more in-depth description of her life in a small Calabrian village.
It is impossible to overstate the value and user-friendliness of "52 Things." I am pleased to have discovered it and wholeheartedly recommend it.
One of the questions people ask us is how do we get to Otranto?
After all these years of travel back and forth we pretty much have a routine. Often we make our plans early so that we can take advantage of our United miles. Our flight is typically from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany and then from Frankfurt to Rome. Once we arrive in Rome we take a local taxi to the nearby town of Fiumicino (10 minutes away) where we stay in one of the 5 modest upstairs rooms of the Ristorante La Perla (Via della Torre Clementina). The room in the front faces the street and the canal where fishing boats are docked. At night you can hear the waves slapping against the rocking boats and early in the morning, before light, the boats chug out to sea. It's a great place to walk along the canal and the pier that juts out into the sea, breathing the fresh air after so many hours cooped up in an airplane. Italians from Rome visit Fiumicino for fish dinners; there is often a holiday feel to the place.
The next day we take a taxi back to the airport and take a one hour local flight to Brindisi, just south of Bari, on the Adriatic Sea. At the small and friendly Brindisi Airport we walk outside to the rental car agency and pick up our previously reserved car. In past years, we have taken the train from the airport into Rome and then taken the train from Rome to Lecce, a six hour ride. Car rental agencies are located just outside the city.
Once we have our car, we drive to Otranto, about an hour and a half. It helps to have good directions; Google Maps works great so make sure you have a working phone (this is something you can take care of at the airport or in the town of Fiumicino.) Of course, the best part is arriving to Otranto and having that first glance of the sea. It still takes my breath away. Yes, Otranto is far away and it takes some time to get there, which is why you want to make sure you stay longer than a week so you can rest up from the travel, explore and enjoy!
If you have any questions about all this...feel free to comment below and we will do our best to answer.
Audrey and I will be traveling once again to Salento this June and July. Here is a sketch of the view from our apartment terrace. If you turn your head to the right, the view becomes of the Otranto Bay.
Yesterday, Audrey and I left our apartment in Otranto and traveled once again to the other side of Salento, this time to the home of Carlo and Lucia in Taviano, about an hour away. The drive takes us through fields of olive groves, small white villages and country gardens, often surrounded by ancient rock walls. We’ve now made the trip across the peninsula enough times that we only get lost occasionally, and even then, enjoying the new route while finding our way back.
This time our purpose was to make a video of each of our Italian friends introducing themselves and saying something about their contributions to the book. The plan is to use the videos back home at book signing events so all 5 authors can be “present.” Everyone was prepared, perhaps over prepared. Each had written out what they would say. Lots of nervousness and laughs. But it was a grand success. The final product may not be Hollywood quality (we used iphones and point-and-shoot cameras), but each author’s personality came through beautifully—Carlo, the philosopher, career English teacher and singer-song writer; Luciana, with her creative use of the English language (a childhood surrounded by trees and rocks that made her want to fly away); and Lucia, with her twin passions for cooking and teaching English. . . . but to get a real flavor of our Italian author’s writings and personalities, you’ll just have to come to one of the book signing events!
Here’s a picture of the five of us after the shoot at the “light” lunch prepared for us by Lucia.
Italy has been on my mind. In my weekly San Francisco Italian class (Museo Italo-Americano) our assignment was to do some thinking and reading about Italian stereotypes in preparation for class discussion. This made me remember a story that Carlo has written in our book, SALENTO BY 5. He talks about the way the rivalry between northern and southern Italy presents itself in Salento. He says that the citizens of Lecce, Salento's central, in-land, university town, often refer to the inhabitants south of them as being " capu." (from the cape) meaning that the townspeople are less sophisticated, less refined than the Leccese. In turn, the inhabitants of Gallipoli and Taviano, towns south of Lecce, refer to the folks living in Ugento south of them as "capu." The citizens of Ugento say that the "capu" begins with the people of Acquarica. But when we reach Santa Maria di Leuca, a small town fronting the sea at the end of the land, we find that the townspeople are sophisticated, refined, and comfortable in their seaside villas. Che strano, no?
This year, in September, we will again travel to our apartment in Otranto. The sketch below depicts the ancient wall that surrounds the historic center of town. Our apartment is located on the wall and is shown circled in red. From the apartment terrace, we can look out at the bay on the Adriatic Sea to check whether the water is glassy and calm or rippled, from either the Tramontana or the Scirocco winds. Glassy, calm water means long, easy, warm swimming. But when one of the winds is blowing, it could mean a surprisingly cold and short swim. The winds are part of Salento's summer weather. The saying, found on signs, posters, t-shirts and the like, is: "Salento, lu sule, lu mare, lu ientu" the local dialect for the Italian: "Salento, il Sole, il Mare, il Vento" or in English: "Salento: the sun, the sea, the wind."
My mouth waters. I am rewriting the recipe for octopus cooked in a clay pot. The measurements need to be spelled out in detail. But who really needs more than what follows? Two octopuses for four people. Buy them already cleaned; no one wants to mess with octopus ink. Make sure the eyes, snout, and sinewy vein-like strings in the brain have been removed. Cut them into pieces and place them in a clay pot with olive oil, chopped onion, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper. If you like potatoes, add a few. Cover the pot and put a rock on the lid to hold it down tight. When the pot begins to make popping sounds, the octopuses are ready to eat. And always the warning: DO NOT ADD WATER. The octopuses must stew in their own juices. Say it again and laugh, because, as humans, we know what that means. Yes, we screw things up and must live with the consequences. But, unlike the octopuses, we live to tell the tale. Chaucer would have said something along the lines of fry in your own grease. In Italian, cuocere nel proprio brodo. Are there other ways of conveying this idea in Italian? What are they?