The Bittersweet Life – Episode 210: CORRESPONDENT

This week's episode {CORRESPONDENT} does not feature yours truly. Instead, my trusty co-host Katy Sewall, a deft interviewer after her many years experience at NPR, found herself in Positano on the Amalfi Coast a couple of months ago. At the Sirenland writers' workshop that is held at the legendary La Sirenuse Hotel every year, she met writer, filmmaker, and former war correspondent, Micheal Maren. Since being a war correspondent is hands-down the most extreme version of being an expat, Katy didn't miss a beat and set up an interview with him on the spot in which he shares his experiences covering conflict across the African continent.

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What To Do in Rome this Weekend — 16-17 June 2018

We’re coming up on the last official weekend of spring and some of the very longest days of the year. Otherwise known as my absolute favorite time of year. One that I savor and that passes too quickly. (It’s also my Maritino’s birthday this weekend, which makes it extra special.) rIn case you’re thinking of hopping off to some nearby beach this weekend, keep in mind, there are a slew of interesting things to do in the city this weekend. Here are my top picks:

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The Bittersweet Life – Episode 209: REPURPOSE

As anyone who has ever been on a tour with me—or any of the many friends who have come to visit and whom I have enthusiastically and indefatigably dragged around the city—knows, I am passionate about Rome's layers of history. (I like them even more then Rome's distinctive street names.) What gets me most excited is when I can see the archaic rubbing shoulders with the modern, when I spot ancient ruins that served as the shell of a medieval building that was in turn transformed into a Renaissance palace that is still in use today. It sends chills down my spine. In no other place in the world can you see the progression of time so clearly in the very stones and mortar that built the city. 

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The Bittersweet Life — Episode 208: DECAY

Rome is crumbling, just as it has been for centuries. But what does it say about us adopted Romans that we choose to live in a city's whose glory days are all in the past? Can Rome's magnificent past really make up for the inconveniences and frustrations of daily life in modern Rome? How long can a city live off the interest of its history? For Rome, maybe the answer is forever.

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Snow Day at Rome's Bioparco

Snow days in Rome are beyond rare. I've lived here for over thirteen years and (until yesterday) in all that time it had only snowed two measly times (February 12, 2010 and February 4, 2012). I guess if it’s going to snow in Rome, it’s going to happen in February, because once again, in the early hours of 26 February 2018, the heavens dumped a dozen or so centimeters of white fluff on our lovely city.If you were in Rome during a snowstorm, where would you go first? The Pantheon, to see the snow falling through the oculus (as I did in 2010)? Or the Circus Maximus to watch gleeful Roman kiddies sled down its ancient slopes (as I did in 2012)?

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For the Love of Typewriters – Olivetti Exhibit Preview

I’ve got something good for you today. To celebrate 110 years of a true Italian icon, Rome’s National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art is hosting an exhibit in honor of Olivetti—Italy’s premier typewriter manufacturer. Tracing a history of design, graphics, technological innovation, and communication, Looking Forward. Olivetti: 110 Years of Imagination, opens today, 20 February 2018, and runs until the 1st of May. It showcases more than 300 images, mostly and vintage photographs publicity posters.

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Rome for Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

Chinese New Year is upon us!! February 16, 2018 heralds the Year of the Dog! According to this handy site (where you can easily find out which Chinese sign you are), the next twelve months promise to be a year of action! An exhausting, but very productive year, if you have the energy to keep up! My favorite line: “Planning, postponing, and negligence are words you will need to remove from your vocabulary during this year.” I love that! It’s especially apt for me, as my book, Midnight in the Piazza, will be published this year! That’s got to be an auspicious sign!

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The Pines of Rome Blog Is Reborn!

For me, the New Year starts in September, not January. Being the start of the school year, September has always lent itself to new beginnings for me. The long lazy days of summer are left behind, and with it my lazy ways are sloughed off, and big plans for exciting projects and personal improvement take their place. The prospect of new office supplies (in my mind they will always be school supplies, no matter how old I get), scarves (by far my favorite accessory), tights (second favorite), soup (butternut squash, if possible), crunchy fallen leaves, crisp mornings, and endless cups of tea (Marco Polo by Mariage Frères, if you're asking) remind me that fall is the very very best time of year.

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Foodies, Rejoice! Taste of Roma Kicks off at the PDM

After months of hype, Rome's favorite restaurant festival is finally here! Taste of Roma kicks off today at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome's premier performing arts venue. This festival is a MUST for serious food lovers, especially of the gourmet variety. Let's face it, precious few of us can afford to dine at La Pergola or Imàgo every other weekend, but this festival gives us 99-percenters a chance to eat some of the very best food in the city. The highest echelons of haute cuisine come out for this event, so if fine dining is your passion, do not miss it.

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The Mystery of Giulia Farnese Revealed

Perhaps some of my most faithful bloglings remember the post I did on The Borgia Pope, Pinturicchio, and Giulia Farnese way back in 2012. I’m a little obsessed with the Borgias, and I’m very obsessed with art history mysteries. So when I heard that the Capitoline Museums were displaying a rare work by Pinturicchio called Baby Jesus of the Hands (which is actually a fragment of a larger work that is now lost), I was thoroughly intrigued. Check out that post for the full story on the fascinating mystery of that controversial (and eventually mutilated) work of art.

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How to Survive August in Rome

I'm not going to lie to you. Being in Rome in August is no picnic. The city is at once empty and crowded: empty of locals yet crowded with tourists. It's unbearably hot and humid. Your favorite restaurants are closed, you can forget about going shopping anywhere but international chain stores. Public transport is even worse than usual. Did I mention it's ridiculously hot? And miserably humid? So yeah, I'm not going to sit here and tell you August is the ideal time to be in Rome, and all those people in Sardegna or on the Amalfi Coast don't know what they're missing. But if you do it right, you can make it a pretty awesome month nevertheless.

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Rome's Unsolved Mysteries

So you think you know everything there is to know about Rome? Ok, maybe that’s asking a lot. Do you believe you can find the answer to any Rome-related question with a simple Google search? Are you convinced your heaving library of books on Rome holds all the answers? Think every facet of this city’s past has been asked and answered? Well, think again. There are, in fact, many question marks that surround Rome’s fascinating history. Let’s go on a little treasure hunt of sorts to look at some of the most intriguing unanswered questions.

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HistoryTiffany ParksComment
Rome's Top 10 Piazzas for Hanging Out

The Italian piazza is the ultimate urban living room, a visually stimulating public space (preferably void of traffic) where the city’s residents can relax, and its visitors can take a well-deserved break from the demands of the day. Bright, airy, full of glorious works of architecture, and nine times out of ten with a fountain splashing in the center, Rome’s piazzas can sometimes feel like open-air museums. Most of the city’s major piazzas can also boast a café, a bench, or at the very least some convenient church steps, upon which to enjoy a few minutes or hours of sweet idleness.

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Long Time No Blog, or What I've Been up to for the Past Four Months

This winter has been one of the busiest, most exhausting, and most exciting in recent memory. It started out with a bang as I threw a bridal shower for a dear friend in early November. She's mad about the Etruscans (and in particular bronze Etruscan hand mirrors) and so it made perfect sense to throw her an Etruscan-themed bridal shower! I may have had more fun planning this shower than the bride-to-be did attending it. To put it briefly, I went a bit overboard, making Etruscan-themed decorations, treats, and even an Etruscan Bridal magazine.

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PersonalTiffany ParksComment
10 Spookiest Places in Rome

For lovers of the macabre, there’s no more deliciously creepy place in Rome than the Museum and Crypt of the Capuchins, where the skeletons of more than 4000 monks have been used as eerie decoration. Hipbones become moldings, chandeliers dangle with leg and arm bones, and vertebrae make intricate cornices. In the last room, over a pile of bones and three reassembled skeletons sporting the famous Capuchin hood, an ominous sign reads, “What you are we once were; what we are you will become.”

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Rome's Artistic Treasures .... Hidden in Banks

As if Rome didn't possess enough spectacular sights to satisfy the greedy eyes of her art-loving visitors and residents, today we'll get a chance to see even more, like the eye-popping gold-leaf and stuccoed chapel at Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, near Campo de' Fiori. Since even the wealthiest of Rome's old noble families can no longer afford the upkeep on their ancestral palaces, the ones that haven't been turned into museums, embassies, or cultural associations, are mostly in the hands of the banks.

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ArtTiffany ParksComment
Augustus's Rome, 2000 Years Later

Exactly 2000 years ago today, on 19 August A.D. 14, Emperor Augustus, born Gaius Octavius and the first emperor of Rome, breathed his last. Throughout his long life, Octavius wore many hats, and carried many titles. He was known as Princeps (the “first” citizen of Rome), Divi Filius (the son of the divine), Augustus (illustrious one), Pater Patriae (father of his country), and, of course, Caesar, a family name that would eventually become synonymous with the term “emperor.” His official roles ranged from Consul (Rome’s highest elected office) to Pontifex Maximus (high priest) to Imperator (military commander).

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