Italy! Matera! and More! oh, my!

Italy! Matera! and More! oh, my!

Where To Start with the Italy tour, which was FANTASTIC.  So many generous, friendly people who welcomed me and worked hard to make the tour a wonderful experience.  You’ll be seeing a lot of them and of their beautiful country over the next few weeks, as I try to recap.

Some things we might talk about:

  • Lions (but not tigers and bears, sorry)
  • Italian Chocolate
  • A Day in the Life of An International Author Tour, or why they usually recommending capping your minutes of fame at fifteen minutes
  • Gelato (well, what did you expect from me in Italy?)
  • Venice
  • More Italian Chocolate
  • Oh, and More Italian Chocolate.

But we’ll start with the Matera International Women’s Fiction Festival, this amazing Festival in the heart of Italy started nine years ago by American-author-in-Italy Elizabeth Jennings, Mariateresa Cascino, and Maria Paola Romeo, all three of whom are still going strong.  The Festival has all the same wonderful energy that its organizers do!  And you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful setting.

Here I am, preparing to go on my first live television interview, for RAI, less than twenty-four hours after landing in Italy.  Notice the blue sweater and the heavy, double-layered fall skirt that I bought especially for this fall trip?  It was ninety-five degrees!  The interview was in the full sun (facing into it, priority going to the camera)!  No make-up crew!  Maybe it’s best I haven’t seen the video of it.

Getting psyched up for the RAI interview, which was filmed here a few minutes later.

How did I do?  I coined a phrase!  In Italian!  They got calls about it!  People kept asking me in interviews how I explained the “sudden” interest in women’s fiction, and I tried saying, “Hunh?” and, “By sudden, how many centuries are you talking about, exactly?”  (In European time, you know.  In a town where 200 AD frescos are so common nobody even bothers protecting them, you have to ask that kind of question.)

And none of that really worked, so finally, this was the third interview, and I just let a little indignation leak through and said, “Well, come on–era il momento di dare la voce alle donne.”  (It was time to give voice to women.)  Apparently this met with approval among some viewers.  I’m quite proud because I came up with it all by myself, in Italian, which, just in case people are interested, I don’t even speak, so you know…I get to be proud.

If I could speak Italian, I would have said, Well, it was high time, for crying out loud, and probably that wouldn’t have been nearly as good.

Also, probably there were, like, 0.5 calls, and Luigi was being nice when he told me later there were calls about it, because one thing I have learned:  Italians like to exaggerate to make you feel good.   If you say, “Me No Speak Italian”, they say, “Oh!  Parli divinissima!”

Hey.  It’s not a bad habit.  When my very Parisian husband heard about it, he, in his very Parisian way, said something very sardonic about my actual Italian level and people who might praise it.  See what I have to put up with?

My huge, divinissimi complimenti to the organizers of the International Women’s Fiction Festival, once again, because they really do dare la voce alle donne.

Here’s more of gorgeous Matera, with my wonderful Fanucci publicist Giulia Fea looking cute and wonderful and me looking very jet-lagged, but having changed into something much, much lighter.

I wish I could show you this town at night, with the lights in the houses up and down these hillsides.

Matera is home of the Sassi, old dwellings carved into the limestone.  We went into one old cave-monastery with frescos from the second, fifth, and eight century AD, just for an example.  (No photos, sorry!)  But you can see the hillside of the openings to some of the oldest caves here, in the view from my hotel.  (Oh, that hotel!  More later on that hotel.)

It is truly a magical town.  Most of us there for the first time were saying this in whispers to each other, deeply afraid that in three years or ten years, we’ll come back and find it packed with tourists.  Right now it’s a magical, real place, with just a small group of weekend visitors here or there.  But I really think that can’t possibly last.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful towns, and this one is still something special.

More about the people I met and the Great Chocolate Launch Party, oh, and That Hotel next post!  I’m still jetlagged, this time the opposite way, and am unable to keep eyes open past ten p.m.  Or closed after 2:30 a.m.  On the plus side, you can get a lot of writing done between 2:30 a.m. and breakfast.

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