Last summer we were on our way back from Berlin when we took a little detour for a one day visit to Prague. We were at the end of our vacation and didn’t expect much more from it, but after little walk in the city center I was totally hypnotized. Surrounded by wonderful buildings, lots of people partying and having good beer down in the narrow cobble-stoned streets, no cars or any other vehicle in sight and the atmosphere felt a little like fairy tales. Read the rest of this entry »
So here I am, back to Brazil one year after last trip. This time I flew TAP and had a short connection in Lisbon, just 75 minutes. Of course the flight from Italy took off 45 minutes late and things went wrong. When we landed I had already given up any hope to make it but, surprise, while descending the staircase to get out of the plane I noticed there was a little man waiting with a “Rio de Janeiro transfer” banner in his hands. Read the rest of this entry »
This weekend we climbed the mountains around Riva del Garda.
Riva is a lovely small town at the north-western end of Lake Garda, surrounded by the cliffs of Mount Rocchetta and Mount Baldo. This is a well known place for sailing and MTBing. We got there on Saturday evening, so we had time to enjoy the place, drink a Spritz in the main square and have a nice salmon trout. There were many tourists, mostly Germans. Read the rest of this entry »
This weekend I went with Fabio and Michele hiking on the mountains. I love hiking but it was quite some time I didn’t go, so I was a bit excited. Our target was Scaffaiolo lake (1775m), a place on the Appennini mountains between Modena and Pistoia, in the Frignano Natural Park area. The plan was to drive to hut Capanno Tassoni (1317m) and then walk up hill from there. Read the rest of this entry »
Here I am, just back from FEFF. I managed to watch 23 movies in 5 days. And I survived!
In the next few days I’m going to write about the movies I watched, but first I’d like to talk about a dinner we had in Udine. A friend of us, Flavia, suggested we try Osteria Lo sbarco dei pirati in the city center and I’m very glad she did. Thanks Flavia!
Lo sbarco dei pirati is a picturesque place with plenty of traditional stuff hanging from the roof, that warm feeling you get inside mountain huts and a funny owner. At first he tried to talk friulan (the local dialect) but we could barely understand what he was talking about.
After a very good goulash we ordered gubana, a traditional nut-roll cake. The owner asked if we wanted it “with slivovitz”. We said no, mostly because we didn’t know it, but that was a terrible mistake. The owner reacted as if we murdered somebody, as if gubana with no slivovitz were a criminal sin! You know, in Italy we care a lot for our traditions and if somebody tried to eat salamina without pure I would react the same. We had to quickly retreat to re-establish the cosmic equilibrium.
After eating the cake we discovered slivovitz is a strong and bitter distilled liquor and makes a great pair with gubana! Well, you have to be careful because you can get drunk eating cakes, but it’s definitely worthwhile. Eventually I researched on the pedia to find out this is the generic name for a sort of plum brandy typical of the slavic area. Good to know!
Between a movie and the next one you can sunbath on the grass in front of the theater or sit at the internal cafè. Here at the FEFF in the middle of the crowd it happens strangers will sit at your table and you suddenly find yourself doing conversation in a casual group of half a dozen people, one from Beijing, one from Klagenfürt, one from Udine, one from Villach. You can feel like you are in a global melting (G-s)pot, and that’s not just for cinephiles.
After having been to New York several times, I recently watched a movie shot in the city. When you recognize places you have been, the movie feels completely different, so I felt like watching some more and next in line came some classics like When Harry met Sally, Taxi Driver, and The Warriors.
The latter two in particular made me think. The New York they depict is very different than the one I visited. They talk about a scary place where crime is commonplace, gangs fight to control their turf, whores tease on sidewalks, walking down the street alone at night is dangerous, and taxi drivers carry a gun and prefer to avoid some parts of the city. Washington Square and Bryant Park were no-go areas for ordinary people.
Nowadays you’d never tell New York used to be like that. As Travis hoped while talking with Palantine, they cleaned up the mess. In one decade Mayor Giuliani and those who came after him made it one of the safest and cleanest places I’ve even been.
While writing this post I discovered after 29 years Paramount Pictures is re-making The Warriors movie and this time it’s going to be shot in Los Angeles. It’s expected to hit the theaters later this year.
So far the US Dollar has been the undisputed king of the currencies. A $100 bill worked like a passport in many countries of the world and dollars were used as the mandatory currency for international transactions in some markets. At the same time, when foreigners had to go the the States they always had to exchange their money because – Canadian and Mexican borders excepted – nobody would accept foreign money in American shops. Read the rest of this entry »
Do you know that funny video out there on the Internet, where two guys play kung-fu style ping pong making impossible movements and acrobatics while badly-hidden black-clothed counter figures support them, similar to Hong-Kong martial arts B movies from the 70s? It must have been an inspiring source for this totally exhilarating movie.
A former ping-pong player spent his life as a loser after failing the world championship at the final match and having his army-veteran father killed by the triads. But now, CIA recruited him to go hunt the triad’s boss, who is passionate about ping-pong, and he is determinate to get back his and his father’s honor.
To help him, CIA will have him attend lessons on a Chinese kung-fu style school, where he gets to know the true art of ping-pong, as well as a fascinating she-teacher.
This is a crazy movie and it helped me a lot on a boring 9-hour flight between the US and Italy. Not a masterpiece as Shaolin Soccer, but truly fun. And by the way, the Italian dubbing is even more fun.
I see there are lots of negative critics of this movie, they say it’s not worth an 8 euro ticket, but you know what? On a long distance flight I find this much more enjoyable than serious movies.
Balls of fury
USA 2007, by Robert Ben Garant, Comedy
Few days ago I’ve been at the Madison Square Garden, arguably the world’s most famous arena. New yorkers simply call it The Garden, as if it were the only garden out there, or worse, as if it were a garden at all! Well, actually it’s not even on Madison Square. Thanks to wikipedia I discovered the current name is just a legacy from the original arena, that one century ago used to be located in a garden at Madison Square. Anyhow entering the arena is impressive: you feel like getting into a temple, a place where people go to worship their idols. Oh wait, that’s exactly what they do there!
The show on stage was a basketball match in the College Hoops league, between St. John’s and Pittsburgh. I went with Carla, a friend from New York. She likes college basketball and taught me all I had to know and something more, e.g. that college teams usually have the name of an animal (Pittsburgh Panthers) but St. John’s is an exception (they call themselves the Red Storm). We took the obligatory beer (that they served us with a built-in pretzel) and brought it in.
Before the match started an actual singer sung the national anthem, everybody standing, hats off. Pitts were much stronger and they easily blew out St. John’s 81-57, but it’s been fun anyway. The home team had cheerleaders, dancers and a fanfare band and shot t-shirts to the public during time-outs. Much fun!
Too bad I’m already back to Italy.