Tag Archives: Rome

To Calcata, Italy, in Search of a Holy Relic

News Editor

When does a trip become a quest? When the traveler is in search of a specific object or goal. In the case of David Farley, the goal has caused some raised eyebrows. Mike Barish, a New York freelancer who is fond of sports and whiskey, and also a TravelTalk blogger at Gadling, looks into the peculiar mission of this travel writer who has just published a book called An Irreverent Curiosity. Barish says Farley has written:

a truly enjoyable, educational and funny chronicle of his time in Calcata, Italy searching for Jesus’ foreskin…Along the way, he met a wide array of locals, each quirkier than the last. He deceived priests at the Vatican, befriended a woman who talks to birds and managed to put a tiny village back on the map.

Farley had visited the little Italian village of Calcata before, when he and his wife lived in Rome, and found a rather weird place populated by even weirder people — in the best possible way, of course — artists, mystics, actors, and other kinds of bohemians. What brought him back? Farley has written travel articles for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and quite a few other publications, and his essays have appeared in several anthologies published by Travelers’ Tales, so it’s not unusual that he should go to Italy. But what motivated this unusual mission?

We checked out David Farley’s own site, the better to, so to speak, flesh out the story. The holy relic was once in the keeping of the legendary emperor Charlemagne, but at some point in history was stolen by a soldier and somehow ended up in Calcata. Apparently, like any holy relic worthy of the name, it was responsible for a certain number of miracles, and people began making pilgrimages to the mountain town. Then, in 1983, the object was stolen. And to find out what happened after that… we would have to read the book, wouldn’t we?

Speaking of Rome, it will surprise no one to learn that Kevin Dolgin has been there, and written about it in The Third Tower Up From the Road. He has some rather unusual theories which are aired in “The Nesting Habits of Roman Cars.” The question is, has Kevin discovered a whole new field ripe for scientific inquiry? Or is all this speculation the result of too much vino? It’s up to the reader to decide.

photo courtesy of kdrack , used under this Creative Commons license

Travel Writers Reveal Useful Phrases

News Editor

International Business Times brings us a very detailed and incredibly useful collection of “Vegetarian Travel Tips for South America.” It’s written by Lauren Quinn, a Californian-American who has dined in nearly 20 other countries, and really, this article should win some kind of award. Here’s a set of guidelines on how to avoid meat, and also fish and dairy, if that’s your wish. Information is shared with a lavish generosity, starting out with how to intelligently make a plan. Quinn says:

Vegetarian ventures into the carnivorous continent of South America are entirely doable…Those who’ve trudged the roads-and ridden the rickety buses-before you may have had to learn the hard way, but you don’t have to… Graciously not compromising your vegetarian values will mean being as explicit as possible. And saying please. With a smile.

Quinn alerts us about which items can’t be found in South America, regardless of whether we consider them dietary staples. She gets down to the nitty-gritty of how to communicate your needs. For instance, simply to request sin carne (no meat) is not enough. Whatever it is that you don’t eat, learn the word for it. (Presumably, this same advice would apply to travelers with food allergies. Don’t guess; find out as precisely as possible how to state your dietary limitations, because it might save your life.)

There is also advice from a vegetarian perspective on how to pick a group tour, and what the difference is between a naturale restaurant and a por quilo restaurant. It’s full of interesting facts, such as the widespread presence in Peru of eateries run by Hare Krishna devotees. It includes a country-by-country breakdown of the best vegetarian possibilities each South American nation has to offer, and a list of specific menu items that were designed for the meat-free diet. And did you know there’s an online resource called Happy Cow that lists restaurants of the vegetarian persuasion all over the world?

For an entirely different set of useful phrases, over at Bryn Mawr Classical Review, John Bulwer alerts us to two travel guides by Philip Matyszak: Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day and Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day. Each contains a little tongue-in-cheek glossary of conversation-starters. We don’t know whether the latter guide includes our favorite Latin phrase, Illegitimi non carborundum, or “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

vegetarian dinnerNow, when it comes to French, for some reason, the phrase that immediately springs to mind is, Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir? (Would you like to go to bed with me tonight?) Because of the LaBelle song, remember? But I wouldn’t expect to find that one in The Third Tower Up From the Road. Indeed, consulting happily-married Kevin Dolgin’s “Useful Phrases” section, we found something very different. Unfortunately, his recommended phrase is not what you’d exactly call all-purpose. But it’s a great one and the story is so personal and unique, we won’t try to convey it here. You’ll just have to read the book. Here’s a hint, though. Our favorite travel writer has an interesting trait. He’ll be romping along, all funny and everything, then he’ll get serious on you, and you wind up with a lump in your throat.

By the way – Do you, dear reader, have a dietary-restricted travel tale to share?

Govinda’s restaurant photo courtesy of Os Rúpias , used under this Creative Commons license; Dinner photo courtesy of avlxyz, used under this Creative Commons license