Italian Public Holidays

Keep the questions coming!  I will try to answer then!   When should we visit Italy?  As soon and as often as you can.  What are the holidays?  Many of you have asked about Italian Holidays – well, here is what I have discovered –

It takes government action to declare a public holiday. Workers – I’m guessing full time not contract or part time – are entitled to a day off with full pay.  If they have to work – like there is a giant sale at the mall – they must be paid 2.5 times their normal rate. Do not get sick, have your car breakdown or any other emergency on a public holiday.  Very little is open and hospitals are understaffed.  No really – do not get sick in August either.

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Here is the list of  Italian Public Holidays –

January 01 Capodanno New Year’s Day
January o6 Epifania (La Befana!) Epiphany
Monday After Easter  Pasquetta Easer Monday
April 25 Festa Della Liberazione Liberation Day
May 01 Festa del Lavoro Labor Day – May Day
June 02 Festa della Repubblica Republic Day
August 15 Ferragosto Assumption Day
November 01 Ognissanti All Saints Day
December o8 Immacolata Concezione (This is the beginning of the Christmas season.) Immaculate Conception Day
December 25 Natale Christmas Day
December 26 Santo Stefano St Stephens Day

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Religious and – as Jack call’s them – 

Greeting Card and Flower Shop Holidays –

March 19 Festa di San Giuseppe St. Joseph’s / Father’s Day
February 14 Festa degli Innamorati St. Valentine’s Day
February Carnevale Mardi Gras/ Fat Tuesday
Variable Pasqua Easter
Second Sunday in May Festa Della Mamma Mother’s Day
November 2 I giorno dei Morti Day of the Dead

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   Pontelandolfo Holidays

September 19 San Gennaro Naple’s Patron Saint
May 21 San Rita Procession & Blessing of Cars
June 13 San Antonio Procession
1st Week in August San Salvatore 7 day festa, film festival, venders, rides, entertainment
August 16 San Rocco Procession

All of the small villages in our province take their holidays seriously.  There is an incredible communal feeling to be part of a procession, share a panini on the street, listen to the music and know that you are part of a larger family.

If you would like to feel like you really are living in an Italian Village – even if just for a week, take a peek at this web-site and let us create a holiday just for you.

Ci Vediamo!

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Have You Missed Me?

OMG – I flew back to the USA one month ago and went AWOL! Not really, I just got off the plane, leaped into the fray and went into culture shock. Let’s turn back the clock….

Restored Stone Italian Home
Arrivederci Pontelandolfo.

Leaving Pontelandolfo is always emotional for me.  I get a little teary eyed as I put the boxes in the storage room.  Life there is  – well – just good for me.  With our suitcases stacked on the terrace, we stuck our thumbs out and hooked a ride with the Sindaco of Casalduni and two of the consigliere. They were headed to Naples for a regional meeting on the windmills. (To remind yourselves why I hate them read – http://wp.me/p3rc2m-pp.)

These bright young men, loaded with data that defines the negative impact windmills have on their town and the towns around them, were preparing for battle.  Riding with them I felt like the fly on the wall as they revisited the travesty that is the green mandate and tweaked their presentation.  At Capodichino they pulled over, yanked our overstuffed bags out of the trunk and sped off to lend their voices to the cause.

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I pulled out my Italian passport at the Alitalia desk and attempted to check in.  Six Months ago, I entered the country on an Italian passport and figured I should let them know I was leaving.  With her heavily shadowed eyes,  the counter attendant looked at me sternly  and snarled where is your visa. Visa. Shit, I wasn’t the clandestino. She wants my visa? “Perche?” USA visa. “Oh, I don’t need one,” and  I whipped out my USA passport.  “Sono cittadina!”  She got nicer and said that she appreciated the fact that I loved my history enough to have both.  Whew. PS, she let my overweight carry-on go with a warning.

Quick leap to Rome. I had forgotten what an incredible mall Leonardo Da Vinci Airport was. It I hadn’t had to show my passport I would have thought I was at the Short Hills Mall or on Rodeo Drive. Gucci, Dolce and Gabana, Burberry, Mont Blanc…

Women with mid-western twangs sat behind me at the gate.  Here is what I listened to —

Sicily – whadda ya think?

It was Ok but there wasn’t anything you know, cute.   The shops didn’t have anything I would want. All they have are fish stores and bakeries. There wasn’t any place cute like you know Bed, Bath and Beyond… Would you come back?

Why?  We came once. How about that beach  – you know with the club? What a drop off.  Did you go in?

Yeah but in my bikini – I had to wear ugly swim shoes. Beach has rocks.  Didn’t know it was rocky and …

NO I DID NOT BLATHER AT THEM OR STAB MYSELF WITH A PEN.  I did think  – Open your bloody eyes bitches! I didn’t even turn around to see how old they were.   Well, yeah I did – Shit my age…

We love Alitalia for its Premium Economy. Cost less than First Class,  the seats are comido and it is a great bargain using air miles.

Landed at JFK on a Thursday night and hit the tarmac running.  The next morning I was meeting with the caterer and facilities manager for the the Hillsborough Jr. High 50th Reunion – scheduled for a week later.

Price point culture shock set in almost instantly.  I ordered a cappuccino and the barista said $4.75 – what the f**k – I have been paying .90 in the land of the cappuccino.

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Enough.  I’m back.  The blog is back.  You’re back.  Life is good.  Ci vediamo!

Talking For Free To Pals Scattered Around the World

Janet and Midge do Facetime

FaceTime at work!  I hate to do a commercial for Apple but I have to tell you, FaceTime is an incredibly easy way to chat with the pals at home.  Sometimes, however, the visual can be a little scary.  I mean you never know in what state of composure you are going to catch someone.  But then, they don’t have to answer the chirp.  My best bud Janet called me via FaceTime and snapped this shot of me on her iPad with her iPhone.  Facetime works really well from iPad to iPad.   What I really like is the ability to switch the camera from a shot of me to a shot of where ever I am.  There is a camera on both the display side and the back.  Or is that the front?  Apple says “FaceTime works right out of the box — no need to set up a special account or screen name. And using it is as easy as it gets. Let’s say you want to start a video call with your mom. Find her entry in your contacts and tap the FaceTime button.”  (http://www.apple.com/ios/facetime/ )  It hasn’t been quite that easy for me.  After you tap the FaceTime button you are asked if you want to use the person’s cell phone number or e-mail address.  I discovered that my friends and I had to use our e-mail addresses not cell phone numbers.  Once we figured that out it was seamless and we use it often.

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Happy Hall Family Via Skype

Skype is another service that I use to chat face to face with friends. You have to know the person’s Skype moniker and that is a pain in the proverbial butt.  I can barely remember my own name and find it tedious to e-mail pals and ask for their Skype addresses.  The Skype visuals seem out of focus or pixel yucky (note the techy jargon).  Microsoft now owns Skype and I wondered if that was why it didn’t work well with my Apple family of products.  The audio, however, is always pretty clear. Occasionally  it is a little behind the video – kind of like bad English dubbing of a foreign film. Or bad Italian dubbing of Law and Order.  I have put a few pennies into the Skype pot to make calls to landline phones and it has never worked for me.  It is pennies to call the USA via Skype and Verizon charges gold bullion for international roaming.  That said, the Skype calls never connected and were dropped.  I have read a number of reviews on line that swear that Skype calls work really, really well.  Well, I really, really haven’t experienced that.

The easiest interface to use is facebook.  All of your two thousand best buds are listed on the right hand side of the screen.  A little green dot means they are allegedly on-line.  The little green dot could also mean the computer is on line the the human is out having cocktails on the patio.  Click on the name of the friend whose green dot beckons you.  A screen pops up so that you can instant message or click on the little camera and a video call begins.  You don’t have to know their phone, number, e-mail address or shoe size.  I have used the facebook video chat a lot.

Thanks Kathy for being my communications model.
Thanks Kathy for being my facebook friend.

Facebook is how I connect with my Italian family when I am in the USA.  The video is often rough around the edges – to the point of being ghost like.  The audio quality seems to vary depending on the space the person is in – cavernous echoes have been known to happen.  I didn’t realize until I sat down to write this that Skype and facebook now have some sort of marriage.  The icons appear on both web-sites.

To summarize:  the Apple FaceTime wins but if you want to hear the voices of those you left behind any of these internet methods will work.  Happy calling!  Hey, if you know of any other ways to beat the phone companies and BS for days with pals around the world let us all know!  I’ll be calling you!