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Why is Neapolitan pizza so particular the world around? What elevates it from mere leavened bread with a choice of toppings to one of the world’s most revered noshes? Is the cook the key? Hmm, maybe its status comes from its Neapolitan pizzaiolo(pizza maker), for whom a pizza is more than a foodstuff. It can be a memory of childhood, a history of the city, a key to socialization, or a lifeboat of salvation.

Those are some of the reflections I gathered vfrom several of Italy’s outstanding pizza chefs when they came together to showcase both their talents and the local products from Campania (the Italian region where Naples is located) used to make their pizza authentic. …


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by C.Flisi

This year’s Covid Christmas is the antithesis of a dream vacation, but it won’t be as negative as my holiday from hell 10 years ago. That was an unforgettable experience, spent alone, trapped between crowded airports and empty hotels in a snowstorm, with my family an ocean away.

The nightmare began on December 22. Our far-flung family had decided to vacation in Turks and Caicos for the holidays. My sons and husband — traveling from different locations — were already there, and I was supposed to join them, flying from our home in Milan, Italy, to Zurich, then Miami, then Turks. …


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by C.Flisi

The cobras in India were less of a threat than the water buffalo, the elephants commanded as much respect as the lions in Botswana, and mad dogs were the biggest danger in Mongolia.

In other words, trekking on horseback in developing countries means you are not riding in Kansas anymore . . . or the Cotswolds, Canada, or the Camargue. The horses and gear are different, the way the animals are treated is different, and the landscapes, language, and customs are unlike anything you may have encountered before. …


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by C. Flisi

Last year at this time, my entire home looked and smelled different. The cabinets were dust-free, the chair covers and pillows were washed and fresh-smelling, the silver candlesticks were polished and gleaming. The kitchen smelled of chocolate cake, browned butter, cornbread, onion with sage. Turkey not yet; that would perfume the house the day before the feast.

One might suppose this was a normal American home preparing for an onslaught of family for the holidays. But no, not one relative among my 16 guests last year, and only one other American. …


I know that our love will continue after my body has gone.

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C. Flisi

I have to start preparing Mom for my death. She sometimes mentions how hard it was when my older brother died. She had known ahead of time but only by a few weeks. It wasn’t nearly enough, she would sigh with a sad shake of her head. So I knew I had to start the process sooner.

I began paving the way last year, to keep her from suffering the way she had with him. I got very sick, had to go to the vet for an IV twice a day for a week. I didn’t eat or drink, and moving was such an effort that I was barely able to lift my head. Thanks to the IV and a lot of TLC, I recovered from that close encounter with the Grim Reaper, but now mom was beginning to get her head around the idea of an expiration date with my name on it. …


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Wikimedia commons

Few visitors to Romania come to Snagov Monastery. Fewer still have ever heard of it, in spite of its connection to the life (actually the death) of Count Dracula, the country’s most famous native.

Technically, as a fictional character (and a vampire), Dracula didn’t live OR die. But his real-life counterpart, Vlad Țepeș (Vlad the Impaler), did end up at Snagov, maybe.

Vlad the Impaler followed a human trajectory — he was born in Romania and died there. However, where and how his death happened, and where Vlad’s body was laid to rest, is cloaked in mystery. Many historians claim that Comana Monastery, in Comana, Giurgiu County, about 37 kilometers south of Bucharest, is the most likely final resting place for the remains of the Impaler. This monastery-fortress was founded and built by Vlad in 1461 (some say 1471). …


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C. Flisi

Many Romanians vacation in Maramureș, a county in Romania north of Transylviania and south of the Ukrainian border, for the same reasons foreigners do. They are curious to see life as it existed centuries ago.

This is not a place of vampire myths. Maramureș is like Pennsylvania Dutch country in the US: horse-drawn carriages, hand-embroidered clothing, rural crafts, and lifestyles based on agriculture. The crafts are best represented by wooden gates, ornaments, and churches with pointed spires and elaborate carvings so unique that they are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites. …


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S. Bollini

Most dog guides will tell you that a Great Dane’s life span is eight to 10 years, since molossoids generally have shorter lives than other breeds, and big dogs don’t live as long as some of their smaller cousins.

Fortunately for Marian and her devoted owner, Stefania B., there are always exceptions to the rule. Marian, a striking harlequin, may not have surpassed the longevity record for Great Danes worldwide (a documented 16 years), but she may be the record-holder in her native Italy. …


A continuation of my dog’s tale about vacationing in the Italian Alps. Part one can be found here: https://medium.com/dog-tales/an-alpine-adventure-with-humans-in-the-age-of-covid-part-i-799344db0921

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C.Flisi

An afternoon walk from Baceno took us south on the main road heading toward Crodo. We took a right fork after half a kilometer as the road led up into the hills. I was feeling really engaged and pulled on my leash as if to say “Let’s get a move on.” So we moved. The road, which was like a wide paved path, twisted westward into the pre-Alps. My parents followed the road and I followed my nose. I loved the dual smells of fresh cut grass as if the color green had been condensed into an aroma, and the smell of cow (or maybe horse or donkey) poop. I adore that smell. My humans are okay with horse poop, but they could take or leave the cows. Me, I would take the cow poop any time, to eat that is. …


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photos by C. Flisi

All the problems of vacationing with humans in the Italian Alps are compounded during a pandemic. So I didn’t know what to expect in Baceno (population less than 1,000) in the Italian province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola when my humans decided to spend a week there in June. They chose it for its Alpine location — only 75 minutes from home but a world away in climate and scenery.

We drove up on a blazing hot Monday. Baceno is 665 meters above sea level: a perfect altitude because the temperature was fresh and the air crystal-clear. Our rental apartment was on the main road running north-south through town, but “main road” doesn’t mean much because there is hardly any traffic here during the week and understandably so. …

About

CFlisi

writer, PR professional, mother, dog-lover, traveler. See more at www.paroleanima.com

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