We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.- D.H. Lawrence, 1928
Thinking of my mother on her birthday, thinking of all she gave me and left behind, like the little oil miniature above...
like the two more whimsical pieces she created below; she really did know how to relax, create and get into that moment.
Miss her and celebrate her often; she was just lovely...
Gore Vidal thought Italo Calvino the finest writer of his generation so you know he's worth a read. I try reading him in Italian but it's difficult but I continue and Calvino continues to please with his extremes.
Calvino writes paragraphs about how to read a wave while sitting on a beach and it will illuminate yet it's his relationship with a lawn that truly gets my attention. And those weeds. I don't even try and defeat the weeds, they feel fine underneath and I know answers are hidden in between those blades of grass - if you choose to look and Calvino does. In such a specific, touching way.
Mr. Palomar addresses his relationship with the cosmos through such seemingly mundane ideas as a lawn. This is wonderful as I do too, but Calvino has that writerly touch.
I'm obsessed with my lawn, I've made videos of me mowing my lawn. Really. So I hang on his every word. My lawn is some sort last gasp celebrating my inner Americana. And Calvino appreciates this kind of obsession. Finally! I discuss my issues with the lawn with my husband and he is simply bemused.
Italians could not care less about lawn, especially around here in the country but Mr. Palomar does. And I'm right there with him.
He discusses it's artificiality, it's cost, all that time and fertilizer that goes into something as manufactured and artificial as a lawn. This lawless jungle - yes, yes, I am right there with him, Mr. Palomar is talking directly to me. I understand.
Oh, the amount I spend on lawn product, what the Italians call Prato Inglese, but by the time August arrives there's large brown spots, far more clover than before, more and more weeds. And this is precisely what Italo Calvino writes about so beautifully, the complicity of the weeds between the grass, so thickly over-woven, the barriers relaxed, they have to, about the beauty of the weeds. Again, I understand.
To think something as artificial as a lawn, initially a part of nature, now, by the simple act of substitution; aesthetically important to the landscape. I can frame all that color I spend months creating in the summer months. I am manufacturing a painting with something as simple and profound as a lawn.
Calvino's parents were scientists and his deep curiosity comes from that, from insisting the answers surround us, like researching and writing about our relationship with the cosmos, through something so simple as a lawn. Like Gore Vidal said, he was not only fine; he was a truth teller.
The question of why we read and what books actually do for us is as old as the written word itself, and as attractive. Galileo saw reading as a way of having superhuman powers. For Kafka, books were “the axe for the frozen sea within us”; Carl Sagan held them as“proof that humans are capable of working magic”; James Baldwin found in them a way to change one’s destiny; for Polish Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska, they stood as our ultimate frontier of freedom.
But one of the finest, most dimensional inquiries into the significance of books and the role of reading in human life comes from Neil Gaiman in a beautiful piece titled “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming.”
Gaiman considers how the act of reading changes us, “what it’s good for”:
Once in New York, I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons—a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth — how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, fifteen years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based about asking what percentage of ten- and eleven-year-olds couldn’t read. And certainly couldn’t read for pleasure.
Verona's Roman amphitheater, the Arena is one of Italy's coolest musical venues. I went a few years ago, it was a one-off kind of experience. As you can see in my pic, you can listen to the fat lady sing while watching the moon the entire time. It's only 3 hours away from where we live so we drove, stayed overnite, arriving back mid afternoon. Perfect little adventure.
And, absolutely fantastic acoustics. If you happen to visit Venice, good to know Verona and the Arena live nearby; it's really worth a detour. Verona's an elegant, compact city, and it almost goes without saying; Romeo and Juliet are calling....
Last time I visited Verona and the Arena I saw Carmen, this time me and my guy listened to La Traviata. It has become a memory, and will linger a long time.
However, before it could become a memory, just before the moon took its cue, right about the same time everyone lights their candles at dusk, just minutes before the performance begins, I took a pic of the mis en scene; what an exceptional treat. I just loved it, but then I would, having a fetish for flowers and antique frames.
here's what the designer had to say about it: "De Ana’s work consistently relies on symbolic associations, and never more so than in this striking staging. Ransacked over-sized antique gilded picture frames, emptied and discarded, are strewn haphazardly over the raked stage and stone tiered steps. They remain the basic set throughout, exploiting and favouring the nature of the Arena’s spaces, form and atmosphere rather than trying to reproduce improbable bedrooms, salons or country gardens. The immense inclined central frame delimits the space in which the scenes are played out.
Everyone says Paris is different now, and then Germany, in a number of days. As Gore Vidal said, history is much ado about migration. And chaos.
However, once upon a time the father of modern art, Sergei Diaghilev introduced the east to the west through art, shocking the world in the most magical way. Ballet Russe inspired - from Stravinsky to Nijinsky, from Massine and Matisse to Chanel, Picasso and Cocteau.
And then I watched an hour of youtube coverage on the political convention, the divisive behavior was insane, and that was just between the Dems!
I wonder what Diaghilev would do, and then I remember he'd lived through bankruptcy, war, revolution and exile.
He'd just make more art...
For the simple reason so many of them feel different, even from one another. Dialects shift with each town surrounding our house, they even morph amongst the valleys. I've recently had lunch with guys from Milan and Torino, friends of mio marito; we spend hours talking how they can barely understand other regional politics, let alone sensibilities, and their language gets in the way, or so they say.
I've never thought of Italy as one country, it really is an entity filled with 20 regions. 20 separate countries. One could even argue Italy has more history than any other 'country'. It's complicated, always so complicated in this place, this state of mind they call Italy.
Alessio Colonneli's article goes into the otherlieness, the identity crisis unfolding in Europe; certainly an interesting perspective:
An 18-year-old German-Iranian has murdered at least nine people and injured 21 in Munich. Several others have also been wounded and little else is known of what happened in a shopping mall in the Bavarian capital. He is reported to have shouted out loud: “I’m German!” before killing himself.
It’s happened many times. We know the pattern. A crowd is enjoying itself and then a man appears, alone – he gets a weapon out and starts shooting indiscriminately. Or, he brandishes a knife,as a few days ago on a train – again, a teenager, and again, in Bavaria.
As people start laying flowers, the true facts behind this attack yet to be ascertained, we wonder how Germany as a whole will eventually react. The country is apparently being attacked on a large scale, like France. But unlike its neighbour, Germany has been the most welcoming country and has played a major role in trying to “normalise” the refugee crisis.
Driving is the way to properly see and feel the state of mind that is Piemonte. We take out my guy's motorcycle for short drives when we've got the time, the vineyards are everywhere; it's getting hot and the vines are growing fast. It's time to capture a couple of moments when you can.
And yesterday we took the car and drove to Liguria, took us about an hour to reach the Mediterranean, heading due southwest. I guess you're never that far from the Med in Italy but living in the middle of Piemonte, it's lovely to contrast our life with the open sea.
I'd been to San Remo which is dreamy but first time to Provinicia di Imperia, and you can see why they call it the Riviera dei fiori, flowers for days, like carpet along the highway and small roads. We had lunch with a friend who's got a flat in Ligueglietta, postcard like town, olive trees everywhere.
When I took the photo above the rooftops with the med in the background - the church bells were ringing; another lovely day in Italy to celebrate and save....
Benjamin Timothy Blaine has tried to sum up the post-Brexit Britain on Facebook and it’s well worth a read – people are enjoying it too – with over 11,000 shares so far:
So, let me get this straight… the leader of the opposition campaigned to stay but secretly wanted to leave, so his party held a non-binding vote to shame him into resigning so someone else could lead the campaign to ignore the result of the non-binding referendum which many people now think was just angry people trying to shame politicians into seeing they’d all done nothing to help them.
Meanwhile, the man who campaigned to leave because he hoped losing would help him win the leadership of his party, accidentally won and ruined any chance of leading because the man who thought he couldn’t lose, did – but resigned before actually doing the thing the vote had been about. The man who’d always thought he’d lead next, campaigned so badly that everyone thought he was lying when he said the economy would crash – and he was, but it did, but he’s not resigned, but, like the man who lost and the man who won, also now can’t become leader. Which means the woman who quietly campaigned to stay but always said she wanted to leave is likely to become leader instead.
Which means she holds the same view as the leader of the opposition but for opposite reasons, but her party’s view of this view is the opposite of the opposition’s. And the opposition aren’t yet opposing anything because the leader isn’t listening to his party, who aren’t listening to the country, who aren’t listening to experts or possibly paying that much attention at all. However, none of their opponents actually want to be the one to do the thing that the vote was about, so there’s not yet anything actually on the table to oppose anyway. And if no one ever does do the thing that most people asked them to do, it will be undemocratic and if any one ever does do it, it will be awful.
Brussel's a bit confused who to call re article 50. Europe would like to begin proceedings.
Unfortunately, Bojo's playing cricket, Cameron, thuh PM is 'not available' after asking "why should I have to deal with the hard s**t, and, to complicate matters, Labour's had about a dozen resignations, so far, could be a coup, could be the English just being funny.
And Nigel, the knob, of UKIP fame, the guy that inspired Brexit to begin with, well, never mind.
Twitter's river stream was running amok yesterday, screaming how banks were already preparing to leave London, how London's Fintech will lose steam, how Nigel Farage lied about the ad, this type of thing. But one reaction did make me smile; the tweet insisted it was just so punk for the English to leave. Well, Johnny Rotten, the poster boy for english punk ended up marrying a German heiress. So much for punk.
JK Rowlings response was to insist it's time for Scotland to get out with their own vote, again, and be at one with the EU. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain.
Some wonder whether Paris or Frankfurt will be the next european banking capital, some wonder about the other members, Geert Wilders, the radical right wing pro Israel, anti Muslim guy wants Holland out, Le Pen, from France, of course, the same.
Apparently Italy's Northern League party is already collecting signatures for a similar sort of referendum, but knowing Italy's ability to organize and gain consensus, this could take a while.
Interesting to note, for the first time, female mayors were elected in both Rome and Turin, from a very different kind of political party started by an Italian comedian named Beppe Grillo; a very anti-establishment movement that did surprisingly well in the latest elections. And yes, Italian politics can be mercurial. This new movement's called the 5 Star party, expressing what is being expressed all over the world; people are angry.
Many think Brexit equates a win for Trump, I assume, again, because of all this anger, and if displaced; that would be punk.
The lawyers will make out well, many are happy, most are stunned. With one unifying outcome; it's all going to be a bit more precarious than usual.
Just arrived back to Italy from most recent trip to Frankfurt, and after talking to a dozen bankers and fintech guys; not one single German thinks they'll leave and I agree. The Frankfurters would love to acquire The City's status, and probably could, and there's several reasons why it'd be alright if the English left. Hey, it might even be best for them, who knows.
Yet hours before the decision I bet they won't. Those lovely funny islanders do know they need Europe.....perhaps even more than Europe needs them. And it's not necessarily the most economically sound choice to leave a market of 500 million people.
The Germans do have a joke though, and I've heard it often 'how can you leave a club you were never a part of...' Of course, the Germans, in fact, most Europeans like the English, they just don't get all that worked up about it.
Aside from all the misinformation which is almost inevitable, re data and monies paid in by the English and the parliament and the politics, aside from the islanders altogether; most people don't remember what it was like for Europeans to travel before the common currency; it was a complete pain in the ass, and expensive. And most cross borders, often.
Sure, Italians may not be entirely happy with the EU experiment, but then globalization and the Chinese would have effected their economy anyway, and the French, well, they're one of the original 6 and no need to go there.
To be honest, I almost wish the English would leave, then Europe could stand on its own, without pressures from across the pond, the States; this could be quite beneficial, for them.
Either way, I'm such a europhile and after living in a half dozen of her capitals, after doing all my research on the ground, sans propaganda, there is hope for the EU, after all, it's lasted this long with a very shaky foundation and most importantly,
Europeans feel, well...European....
"Some of the girls were sobbing and hugging each other, while others shrieked. The majority appeared at the very least shell-shocked.
It was distress on a scale appropriate for some horrible disaster. Thankfully, however, I wasn’t in a war zone or at the scene of a pile-up - but in a school hall filled with A-level students.
What had provoked such hysteria? I’d dared express an opinion that went against their accepted way of thinking.
‘Generation Snowflake’ is a fragile, thin-skinned younger generation that can’t cope with conflicting views
‘Generation Snowflake’ is the term for these teens, one that’s now used frequently in the U.S. and becoming more common here. It describes a fragile, thin-skinned younger generation that can’t cope with conflicting views, let alone criticism.
Being faced by a roomful of weepy teenagers certainly isn’t the only example of such behaviour I could cite, but it’s the most dramatic I have experienced.
It happened when I was taking part in a debate at a North London school as director of the Institute of Ideas early last year."
First they ban the brown bag lunch in Seattle, now students at the University of East Anglia have banned a restaurant from giving out sombreros.
And so it goes, or rather, it snows...
They're still here writing away but harder to find amidst all the muckrakers, many of whom dwell on end times. Everyone seems to be in on the theme of fear and the 'otherly'.
Catastrophe is our bedtime story.
’Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.
Nor is it contrary to reason to prefer the sight of a raging inferno or restless typhoon to the view of a worm in one’s apple or a fly in the soup. The spectacle of disaster—real and imagined, past, present, and imminent—is blockbuster box office, its magnitude measured by the number of dead and square miles of devastation, the cost of property, rates of insurance, long-term consequences, short-form shock and awe.
Ground zero in all instances is the eye of both beholder and storm, some disasters therefore more disastrous than others—my first lesson learned as an apprentice reporter for the San Francisco Examiner in the autumn of 1957, posted to the press room in Oakland to stand watch for blood in the streets. First thing of a morning I telephoned every police station and emergency room in Contra Costa and Alameda counties to ask if anything of interest had turned up overnight—multiple homicide, heavy-metal highway accident, five-alarm fire. The worth of the story was graded by color: banner headline on page one if the victims were white; if not, three paragraphs on page twenty-eight.
We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.- D.H. Lawrence, 1928
Times change, and with them the markets in human interest and grief. We live surrounded by terror alerts projected on myriad screens, late-breaking reports of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in full stride at all points of the compass—corpses of unarmed black men on the streets of Chicago and Cleveland, jihadists massacring innocents in Palmyra and Paris, disease in Bahia, flood in Missouri, birds flying north to extinction, the economy headed south to oblivion, nuclear weapons falling into the hands of despots, carbon despoiling the atmosphere, ice abandoning the poles, drought in California, famine in South Sudan, seas rising offshore Miami and Mumbai, civil war in the Congo, concealed weapons walking around in plain sight in Texas, Syrian migrants at the gates of Vienna and Berlin, drug addicts littering the lawns of Bel Air, the end of the world coming soon to your neighborhood cineplex, this year The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio, recovered from his going down on the Titanic, up for an Academy Award.
Gore Vidal wasn't interested in being an activist for the LGBT community. He was an activist for The Constitution.
In "Sexually Speaking" he speaks with Larry Kramer, a major activist for the LGBT community. Here's part of the conversation:
"I come from an over-developed sense of justice-and not only about myself. I have a general view that this is my country. My family helped start it and we've been in political life of one kind or another since the 1690's. and I have a very possessive sense about this country, an ecumenical sense. I don't divide people into men and women, blue eyes and brown eyes. Obviously I do on some levels, we are all filled with wild prejudices and madness's that strike from time to time. But its this sense of justice that keeps me going and fuels my rage. It isn't just that I l feel upset that I've been discriminated against, as indeed I was. I was blacked out as a novelist. (after City and the Pilllar at 22) I was practically destroyed. My friend John Horne Burns was destroyed."
LK But what difference does it make what fuels the rage?
GV The difference is in the tactics you use
LK I use the same tactics as you use.
GV Except a lady stopped by here before and wanted to know what I thought about the election this year and the Constitution.
LK Well we can walk down the street and someone will stop and ask me a question.
GV but it won't be about the Constitution.
This conversation almost seems quaint today, back when the world felt more intimate. I grew up with 3 major television stations and now social media is part of the establishment. It's a world that feels fairly chaotic, this globalized world. Sometimes it feels as if there isn't enough room for everyone to breath freely, together.
Milo Yiannopoulos is a gay conservative flamethrower who happens to very articulate; definitely a clash. Between the alternative media and the left media, just listen to Alex Jones, now there's a trip, an American character that could only have been created by the state of mind that is Texas. Alex Jones can be fairly inconsistent but he's immensely entertaining and more important, immensely popular. He and Matt Drudge are two of the most powerful muckrakers. Their audience only grows.
They're all flamethrowers and they are all fierce. Milo is new to my little world but not the internet. Milo's scheduled speech at Orlando was cancelled because the police said they couldn't protect him, and his twitter account, which is immensely popular was suspended. He is not happy.
Milo also talks about the amount of gays coming over to Trump, especially after the Orlando tragedy.
And then there's Diamond and Silk. An internet sensation in a category all their very own.
...I'd recently moved to Amsterdam after living aboard our sailboat in Lignano Sabbiodoro, a resort located close enough to Venice to make it a reality, even as that town feels like a dream.
She said, "Why Bailey, all we need are the gondolas and gondoliers and we could be just like Venice."
She kinda sounded like today's technocrats and politicians, who just happened to own the world.
Article in Der Spiegel. is full of harsh words by the German finance minister, then it moves to a softer tone, reaching out, wishing to inspire them to stay:
“Germany has always looked across the Channel with some degree of envy,” it adds. “On our emotional map of Europe, the Italians were responsible for love and good food, the French for beauty and elegance and the Brits for nonchalance and progress. They have an inner independence that we Germans lack, in addition to myriad anti-authoritarian, defiant tendencies. A lot of what happened in Britain spilled over to us sooner or later, reinforcing our cultural ties.”
In a homage to British cultural exports ranging from “James Bond to Twiggy’s haircut”, the magazine’s staff writers said they wanted to offer Britain a “firm handshake, coupled with an honest, straightforward appeal: remain”.
We'll know soon enough...
Charlie Skelton explains away..."Still powerful but perhaps a bit more anxious this year"
For decades the media left them alone as the group preferred secrecy. However, we're living in a post privacy world so secrecy is not so easy. Now they've two separate entrances, one for the public and one that remains private; this is where the politicians enter, forever talking transparency. In practice; not so much.
The annual meeting remains a high level political summit, a commercially paid for globalized operation with all the transatlantic banks represented. But for the past few years the guest list is shifting to the high tech elite.
Seattle and Silicon are well represented, Google, Microsoft and Facebook's board members are now regular attendees along with anyone leading the artificial intelligence race. No longer a fuddy duddy group of old guys, replete with old world industrialists and kings and queens, after all, they want to stay smart and keep their agenda ruling our globalized world. And, per usual, Kissinger's still there, at 93, just barely, still navigating easily between political circles and academic circles, making sure everyone remains on the same page.
Brexit is certainly at the top of the list because if they do leave; TTIP will be toast. An anxious group, indeed.
I still find it quietly startling I ended up in Italy. Life happened and kept happening until it settled down. It seemed to take forever. Like now, like then, I'm grateful, truly. When I was young and living in Seattle, busy beyond belief building a consulting company, doing a lot of non-profit, engaged in all those private auctions, all those trendy parties and events, everything was just fun and then time got away; until I escaped and said, that's it, I'm done. I'd met my guy and his nomadic ways were contagious and I caught it, big time.
And then we sailed away and left all that comfort and all those contacts and the adventure began. It was never easy and even when we finally settled down in the countryside after a decade of nomadic adventures smack in the middle of so many cities, after many struggles and a few successes, after living in half of Europe's capitals in half a dozen rental boxes, even then; when I managed to find my dream home; I was in a perpetual state of panic for the first year here in Piemonte.
Our first winter was intense, the first and last snowstorm was major, it was heavy and the snow so wet it managed to take down 20 large trees in front of our gate, I was literally locked in, alone, and the electricity was constantly going out. But then the next door neighbors helped, quickly, and all was well. And then the panic began to drift away. I didn't even notice until I realized it was no longer there as seasons simply passed before my eyes. Life began to take on a kind of rhythm, probably because I stopped thinking about it, worrying about it, as all those unknowns become known, gradually.
You simply can't force it, you just can't say, I'm going to sail away and end up in Italy. Life never works that way...
No, life takes time and now, amidst networking biz trips, and lunches in Milan, in between mio marito skidding in and out giving me various tasks, I can now sit still and listen to the trees and create, and work on my projects and my garden, all now manageable. But new sensations, like envy come along every once in a while, it too startles, the kind that inspires, like the other day I drive by a local Piemontese guy tending to his vegetables, I know him slightly, walk over and watch him gently moving the soil just so, slowly transferring the fertilizer around, making long rows of basil and tomatoes, etc, taking his time as if he had all the time in the world. He didn't seem to mind as I watched.
We talk and he gives me tips and driving away I think of my mother, whom my husband referred to as serene, meeting her later in life when she truly was - she too seemed to have all the time in the world. She effortlessly split her city life on 1st avenue in Seattle with her country life; birdwatching, she loved to go bird watching. The birds seemed to entertain her as much as the Seattle Art Museum and the theater and ballet. She'd prepared her art projects and play out her routine as if she had all the time in the world. Finally I'm starting to feel like that even as time is slipping by so quickly I can't believe it. We don't really have all the time in the world, no, and yes, I still find it quietly startling I ended up in Italy, in the country, learning how to garden and listen to the trees.
I'll never forget that day. I was living in a small flat on 4th avenue in downtown Seattle. A friend was coming over, we're off to the opera or some major musical event, but for whatever reason I pulled my TV out of the closet while getting ready and by the time my friend arrived I said, "I just can't leave, I've gotta watch this." And so we did. We both sat on the couch for hours, captivated by that car chase.
And then, months later, after all that televised drama, someone brought a TV into our office when the verdict was read out loud. That was a moment, indeed.
And it continues, once again, I cannot resist, captivated by OJ, watching the John Travolta kitschy tour de force mini series, it truly felt like going back in time. It was just one of those moments you will never forget. And it continues...glaring headline today, "Will OJ finally confess?!"
She's loved by the hard left, I get that, yet her exchange with Teri Gross, rings a bit startling. Many of us grew up listening to Teri Gross; a bit of a national treasure, and we've also grown up with the Clintons, listening to Bill tout globalism in the early 90's and NAFTA, etc.
Globalism was inevitable and perhaps Hillary becoming our first female president is, as well. She's certainly got the money and corporations behind her, however charisma is not her strong suit.
Speaking of suits, her twitter feed insists, on top of being Sec of State and 1016 Presidential candidate, she's a pantsuit aficionado. Maybe that's enough...
As you reach a certain age, after a lifetime of promises, it's hard to take any of it seriously, especially the politicians.
Yet people still do.
There’s an absurdist, almost Dadaist quality to Trump’s candidacy, like Groucho Marx satirizing high society swells in A Night at the Opera or the radical Yippies trying to levitate the Pentagon at their 1967 antiwar protest. Trump routinely deploys all the subversive transgressiveness that campus Leftists claim to value. He goes straight as an arrow to the forbidden and repressed..
Trump’s boisterous, uncensored id makes a riveting contrast to Hillary’s plodding, joyless superego...Trump is a stormily dynamic change-maker who will surely win this election unless the Democrats get their house in order and nominate a figure of honor and integrity. Bernie Sanders, who represents the wave of the future, is my first choice, but Joe Biden, with his international experience, would be a solid second. If the kamikaze party wants to nominate an ethically challenged incompetent like Hillary Clinton, then I’ll be voting Green for the second time. Go, Jill Stein!
Foto: Riva del Garda
Even the smooth one starts stuttering, there must be a script, without a script one cannot be on message. And Trump does not have a scrip and he does not stay on message and he is a media maestro like no other. Normally, each election seasons' all about who's got the most money, who's the new media darling, yet this season feels a bit primal, almost animalistic ; even Gigi and Gaston are interested.
And they don't even vote.
Meanwhile, in Naples
...and appears to be loving every single minute of it. Today, it's official, Trump wins necessary delegates.
Annually the Alpini arrive from across the globe and land in their host city - this year, happily enough, held in our province of Asti. There were probably about 500,000. No one hangs out quite the Italians and when the Alpini showed up, it's a 3 day party. We drove to Asti and hit the city center - within minutes we were surrounded by a sea of feathers.
The Alpini are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world and there's something uniquely beloved about them, partially due to their expertise singing A Capella. They couldn't carry instruments up the mountains, and their songs; so sad, so lovely, in a word; emotional.
The fact they took down the Austrian Hungarian empire makes them all the mythical. And they are very, much loved, especially here, as we're surrounded by the Alpini and the mountains they defend.
Military service is no longer mandatory, as it still is in Switzerland, it's completely professional. Women are now allowed and while standing behind two active Alpini waiting to collect our lunch, I wondered if they'd be deployed along with the other troops in Afghanistan, after all, they are the finest mountain troops in the world.
We had lunch with several Alpini, retired, in fine spirits. Concerts and events were held in all the various towns and the final day is a day full of parades, from front to finish.
No one hangs out quite the Italians; it's just fun.