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Archives For June 2014

2014 Spoleto Picture a Day 26

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 12 June 2014 | 9:49 am


Winding things down here – a day spent at Assisi 45 minutes up the valley, and a long walk along the streets in temps near 100. Even thought the stone staircase between the two was daunting (photo 1), the upper and lower basilicas were quite moving, with their incredibly historic and beautiful Giotto and Cimabue frescoes adorning the walls. We also visited the tomb of Saint Francis beneath the lower basilica, and stayed in that quiet place for a good while. Wish we could have taken pictures, but it’s one of the most sacred places in the Catholic faith, and this photo (2) of the entrances of the upper and lower basilicas will have to do.

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We were supposed to have a BBQ this evening out on the patio, but around 5:30 the sky opened up, and we had the first rain in over a week. So we brought it indoors, where Trish and Melanie and I cooked up burgers and hot dogs and laid out salad and cookies and chips and cheese and cherries. This as a transition meal to ease the students back into life at home. They loved it.

Later on, the rain stopped, and students parked around the villa to admire the end of our last day here (photo 2, Valerie and Lauren). We’ve been blessed with fine weather, fine students, and a fine place: Spoleto.


Now to bed — we leave here at 5:45 tomorrow morning!


Ciao —


2014 Spoleto Picture a Day 25

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 10 June 2014 | 11:38 am

Salve —

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Our last day of classes today — and here they are walking down the hill headed for town this final time (photo 1). But today, instead of walking up the corso to the classroom, we took the (secret) escalators to the top (photo 2; you can see the sequence of escalators to the right, though the upper half are inside the mountain). We held class at the outdoor cafe at the top, workshopping the last two essays by students, then spending time writing toward their last assignment, My Spoleto, a personal guide to the town. Here’s Kelsey (photo 3) and Ashley (photo 4), ruminating yet again.

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Headed home in two days; tomorrow is for packing, and a day trip to Assisi —


Arrivederci —




2014 Spoleto Picture a Day 25

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 10 June 2014 | 11:12 am

Buenasera —

Winding down our time now — we’re almost headed home.

But we decided to make one more road trip to Norcia and Castellucio for a few students who weren’t able to make the trip. What makes Norcia famous is that it’s the cured meat capital of Italy — photo 1 shoes a typical storefront in the town, and inside you’ll find whole walls of whole prosciutti and uncountable sausages (not to mention all the cheeses!). Once we got to the top of the mountain, we found it was too windy to sit at our usual perch (see day 4). Instead, we drove to the bottom of the valley and did like everyone that day: we pulled over in the van, popped open the doors, and had our own in-vehicle picnic (photo 2). As ever, the view was fabulous from the top of Castelluccio (photo 3), eliciting this awe-full response from Caroline (photo 4).

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Then back home.


Ciao —




2014 Spoleto Picture a Day 24

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 10 June 2014 | 11:09 am

I Miei Amici —

Just wanted to put up a couple more pictures, ones that make me realize we may have vastly underestimated the genuine talent and good will our entertainment industry affords the world.

As regards the talent of our broadcast thespians, I can find no clearer evidence than what we watched the other night here on our television: an entire episode of The Dukes of Hazzard in which every cast member, from Bo and Luke and Daisy right down to Boss Hogg, Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane and even Cooter spoke Italian absolutely fluently. Imagine how impressed I was when even this episode’s guest star, NASCAR icon Cale Yarborough (photo 1), carried his own without a single stammer — prompting me to reevaluate the esteem in which I hold our television stars (not to mention our NASCAR drivers). Who knew they could speak Italian so very well!

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Further, we witnessed personally the good will such gifts these talents bring to our Italian brothers and sisters, as witnessed by the Ape we saw this morning (photo 2) on our way to class. This celebration of the venerable vehicle Luke and Bo drove, the “General Lee,” reveals that the hands-across-the-ocean fellow feeling television supplies the world simply can’t be diplomatically rendered, and for this reason we salute Hollywood — hail and thank you, fair friends of the small screen!


Ciao —



2014 Spoleto Picture a Day 23

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 10 June 2014 | 11:08 am

Salve —


Questo e quello — this and that —


Photo 1 is of the shore at Senagalia, on the Adriatic coast of Italy. We took a road trip into the next province north and east of Umbria, Le Marche, and ended up dipping our toes into the Adriatic itself. This is looking south toward Ancona, the biggest port on the Adriatic; Senagalia, it turns out, is very much like Myrtle Beach — go-carts and goofy golf and families galore — but the beaches are lined with clubs you pay to get in, and in turn receive a designated spot and umbrella and bathroom privileges and etc. All very civilized.


Photo two is in Urbino, a hilltop medieval castle town in Le Marche almost to San Marino. Thought this was a funny picture of high school kids at riposo — Italy’s siesta — sitting outside a little store, all of them watched over by the old woman in the window at top right.


And photo 3 is of the high drama of the day: This is me talking to the Bancomat, into which my Spoleto program debit card had just disappeared. The machine was being serviced, and I hadn’t noticed the card port was actually empty, a thin hollow hole in the ATM. I went up to it, put in the card, let it go, then heard it plunk down inside the machine, at which point I gave out an expletive I won’t here repeat. I bent to look inside the hole, and could see inside my card right there, three or four inches down and resting atop a kind of console of some sort. Right there — right there! But the strange thing was that suddenly the ATM started talking to me, a woman’s voice rattling off in Italian (what else?), and I bent down, peered inside again, and saw a woman far off at the other end of the machine, talking to me. Thus ensued my conversation with the Bancomat. After almost two hours of going from this bank to the mother bank and waiting for a “tecnico” to drive up from somewhere far far away to open the machine, we finally got the card back. Crisis averted. But not without much sweating. At one point the bank manager at the mother bank told me it would be Tuesday or Wednesday before someone could get there to open it. But then the magic happened, the tecnico showed up (we think — we never actually saw him), and I got that card back.

Bret at the Bancomat

Ahh, Italy!


Ciao —



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