Photo source: www.robertosaviano.it

(ANSA) – Rome, January 14 – The Italian film world was dismayed by the failure of critically acclaimed Mafia drama Gomorrah to make the cut for the best foreign film Oscar.

Click on the link above to read the entire article from ANSA.it. Since I haven’t seen the film version of Roberto Saviano’s book, I can’t rightly speak about it being excluding from the Oscar race for best foreign film. I have read the book, however, and I have to admit I am disappointed it wasn’t selected. Like I said, I can’t speak about the quality of the film or its worthiness to be an Oscar contender, I can say I was hoping it would be selected in order to bring more attention to the subject of the film: the Naples Camorra. When I read the book last autumn, it was certainly a disturbing read. It was fascinating and at most times so horrendous as to render it just unbelievable. I found myself finishing a section and thinking, “Did I really just read that? Surely I made some mistake.” And so I would go back and reread. No, I did just read that. The author, a native of one of the toughest areas outside of Naples, worked his way in and out of various places within “the system” (as the Camorra is called) out of a desire to understand what was going on in world around him. What was behind the hideous mechanisms of life and death that he witnessed every day. With eyes open, he absorbed and looked until he finally understood and couldn’t stand it anymore. So he wrote. As he explains, his words are his weapon. As a result, he has proven that sometimes it is really is what you know that can hurt you. He is under government protection now, and will always live a life of fear. Within the System a betrayal is never forgotten. Not long after finishing the book, I was watching a news program in the evening and a journalist and friend of Saviano was being interviewed. He said the last time he saw Saviano was in a private room in a restaurant in Rome with twelve body guards. Twelve.

I mention the book here because it is a moving and relevant read for anyone interested in crime history, the mafia, or the current economic state of Italy and what goes on behind the scenes. For me, I have considered it in part research for working in the tourism industry here, as I continue to absorb the way of life and history of this part of the world. Many tourists ask questions about the mafia in Italy and in Naples and want to know what it is really like. But what started as a simple research interest has really become an eyeopening experience for me. I consider differently the things I see for sale in the market here and what I buy in the store. I think about the things that are left out and the things that aren’t said on the evening news. And, above all, I continue to be amazed that just on the other side of the mountains, on the other side of this paradise, there could be such hell.

UPDATE: This article explains exactly why Saviano’s book deserves the utmost attention.

Buone Feste!

It is very good to be back on the Amalfi Coast after a wonderful trip visiting my family and friends in America over the holidays. The Christmas decorations are still up in the cities along the coast, and I have been enjoying seeing many them for the first time. While walking in Amalfi last weekend, I found a lovely nativity scene in a small fountain in the Piazza dello Spirito Santo. This fountain, made in the 18th century of volcanic stone, has two faces carved in marble where the water comes out. Below each of these spouts, there was an elaborate nativity scene that continued under the water in the fountain, as you can see below.

I love how nativity scenes are often tucked into every nook and cranny here along the Amalfi Coast. This is certainly one of the most charming I have discovered so far! Here is a short video I made of the fountain:


Throw your dreams into space like a kite
and you do not know what it will bring back,
a new life, a new friend, a new love,
a new country. – Anais Nin

Benvenuti … welcome … to Ciao Amalfi! Since my first visit to Italy’s extraordinary Amalfi Coast, I have discovered just how unpredictable life really can be when you let go, when you “throw your dreams in to space like a kite.” Anais Nin was right. You never do quite know what it will bring back. In my case, it just happened to be all of the above. I am starting Ciao Amalfi! with the hopes of sharing my love of this place, its history and its people. Since arriving nearly two years ago on that first visit, this place has captivated and moved me in a way I haven’t yet been able to explain. While something inside me whispers that it is, perhaps, unexplainable, I have come to enjoy the drive I have to explore that part of myself by writing. Through Ciao Amalfi!, I hope to provide a fun glimpse into life on the Amalfi Coast, famous for its beauty, history and glorious coastline.

Buon divertimento! Enjoy!