Five Fun Things to Do Next Time You’re in Italy
#1. Go to L’Agnata, the Sardegnan agriturismo run by the widow of Fabrizio De André (1940-1999) one of Italy’s best-loved, intelligent and politically engaged singer-songwriters. Don’t eat much for breakfast before you go, because you’ll be feasting on a multi-course meal that includes some of the best salami and prosciutto you’ll ever taste, local versions of pasta, the amazing porcheddu (from an entire roast pork), fresh fresh salad, and more. Desserts include wicked flaky pastries drizzled with the Sardegnan specialty, bitter Corbezzolo honey.
#2. From one island to another: drink some Donnafugata wine. They run an eco-minded and sustainable vineyard, and their wines are not only tasty but many have literary names as well. Join Mark Strand, for example, as a fan of their Tancredi. And you just can’t go wrong, and might end up telling some good stories, with a glass or two of their Sherazade.
#3. Visit Beata Ludovica, the less-visited Bernini sculpture of a holy someone in ecstasy. You can find her in San Francesco a Ripa, a lovely Franciscan church in Trastevere, a neighborhood that’s definitely worth an afternoon’s wander. The main church in Trastevere is Santa Maria in Trastevere (also worth a long visit) whose emphasis on the story of Mary gives the area a respectfully feminine aura. Speculations that Bernini’s portrait of do-gooder Ludovica Albertoni might actually be Saint Anne, the mother of Mary, getting the good news that she was going to bear the Immaculate Vessel that would then bear Christ, don’t seem so out of line.
#4. Visit Caravaggio’s Madonna di Loreto (whom I fondly call the Madonna of the Dirty Feet), another slightly less-visited masterpiece. The last time I was in Sant’Agostino, I had the chapel all to myself for quite a while, a lovely feeling, but then a large field trip of young Spanish priests-in-training came in. So I wandered over to see Raphael’s Isaiah and a lovely Madonna and Child with St. Anne (there she is again!) by Andrea Sansovino, and, after the priests left, I went back to say my farewells to the Madonna, her chubby Baby, and their dusty pilgrims. Not surprisingly, the pictures on the web just don’t do this painting justice. You’ll have to make the pilgrimage yourself.
#5. Read John Ashbery in English and Italian. What happens when you marry a translator? You roll up your sleeves and pitch right in. Damiano had been working on this substantial translation of Ashbery for years, but I came along just in time to field such questions as “Do you think this sentence means this, or this, or this?” to which the answer was, invariably, “Yes.” Ah Ashbery, such fun and such frustration. But we’re very happy to say that the book is being well received. And it looks even better in person!
So, Madam Mayo, grazie mille per avermi invitato come "guest blogger" questa settimana!
--->For the archive of Madam Mayo guest-blog posts, click here.