Thursday, January 24, 2013

Crime Writer in Italy: Week One

Winter dawn from my terrace.
I was AWOL last week.  I spent last Tuesday night and all day Wednesday delayed in Newark and Amsterdam airports waiting for broken planes to be fixed and dealing with missed connections.  But Italy makes that kind of thing up to you, and fast.  A splendid dinner and good wines shooed away the blues lickety split.

Lots more eating and drinking interspersed with visits to splendid monuments and wonderful exhibitions and time alone with the manuscript of my next book are making this sojourn quite happy.

The highlights so far:


On Monday, we invited our Italian friends to an American dinner to celebrate President Obama's second inauguration--mushroom soup, roasted turkey with all the trimmings (including cranberry sauce smuggled in in our luggage).  The dessert in the picture is a double brownie sheetcake topped with whipped cream and berries.  The Italians declared all delicious.  Whew!


This wonderful town in Umbria is very easy to reach from Florence by train.  The Duomo, its trophy church, was begun in 1290.  It took over a hundred architects, sculptors, painters, and mosaicists more than three hundred years to complete the masterpiece.  The weather was gloomy and photography of the interior not allowed, so the pictures here (most of them serruptitious) do not do the church justice.

The facade is remarkable for the color and richness of its design.  Lorenzo Maitani made the astonishing low relief sculptures that adorn the pillars.  They portray Genesis, the Jesse Tree, scenes from the New Testament, and the Last Judgment.  

Detail of the facade.  The lion, symbol of the Mark the Evangelist

Michelangelo admired these sculptures and wrote his father a letter about them while he was planning the Sistine Chapel.  When one sees the finger of God bringing Adam to life here, it is easy to imagine him in the lovely piazza of this church pondering these images and conceiving his unforgettable painting of the creation.

The interior is overwhelmingly elegant and powerful.  Take a look:

The town of Orvieto sits high above its surrounding plain.

 It is replete with historic buildings, artisans's shops, and wonderful food and drink.  In the dead of winter, the rain may pelt the visitor from time to time, but there are no throngs of tourists and the restaurants serve authentic Umbrian cuisine (wild boar---YUM!) and one of the best white wines in the world--Orvieto Classico.  Here is photo of the wall I faced while I enjoyed my lunch. 

We continue our travels, using Florence as our base.  Stay tuned for more.

Annamaria Alfieri 


  1. I love Italy!! Have a great time and I look forward to more posts from your trip!!! Enjoy!!!

  2. What a great time to be away from this stinging cold in the Big Apple that gives one frostbite after only one second!!!
    Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  3. Lovely photos, Annamaria!
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Your writing always makes me hungry! I must return to Italy again soon. It has been too long!

  5. Thank you all! More coming up from Assisi. Fortunately, it has stopped snowing there. The train ride is two hours each way, which I will spend "in Africa," headphones on, working on the draft of "Strange Gods."