Sunday, October 3, 2010


Sciopero. It’s the most dreaded word to any traveler in Italy. If you hear or see the word sciopero (show-pair-oh), perk up your ears ‘cause there’s a labor strike a-coming, and it’ll probably affect your means of transportation.

Train workers, especially, tend to strike at the drop of a hat, although city transit systems are pretty prone to it as well.

The funny thing is, these aren’t unplanned affairs, and the strikes are announced days or even a month ahead of time. Strikes have a set hour at which they will begin, and a precise time when they’ll end.

This isn’t the American-style “walk out until management agrees with you” strike; in Italy they do it merely to make a point.

On occasion the sciopero is over contracts or work-related issues, but more often it’s used as a form of vague, general protest, and—although this isn’t journalistically verifiable—it’s hard not to suspect that sometimes, someone just want a day off.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A meal at Podere Terreno in the Chianti

“The best compliment I ever got,” said Roberto Melosi, passing around the homemade lasagne and Chianina steaks from his seat at the head of the communal dinner table. “Was when I asked some American guests whether it was a bother to keep driving back and forth to Florence every day.”

He paused to top off the glasses around him with more of his farm’s peppery but light Chianti Classico

“The Americans said ‘No, because when we drive back at the end of the day, it’s not like we’re taking an hour to reach our hotel. It’s like we’re driving home.’” Roberto chuckled. “And then they asked if they could stay two weeks next year.”

An elderly German gentleman, sitting at the other end of the table near Roberto’s Paris-born wife, Marie-Sylvie Haniez, nodded gravely. He had been returning to the agriturismo Podere Terreno every summer for twenty years and was in the midst of a record-setting stay: 35 days straight.