Judine’s Picture Diary: Terry In Italy

September 16, 2013

We have arrived in Frankfurt, had our delicious German dinner and are turning in early for an early rising tomorrow.

The final Terry Brooks event was quite successful – about a hundred people in the tiny village of Bauladu. Lovely outdoor amphitheater. Lots of real Terry Brooks fans, including a contingent of Blue Divide folks (photo).

A contingent of Blue Divide folks!

A contingent of Blue Divide folks!

Another amazing dinner with many antipasti (SO good) and interesting company. Lively conversation.

We sadly said goodbye to our charming publicist from Mondadori, Elisa Martini, and our trusty and delightful driver/photographer/philosopher, Alessandro Cani. Strange how close you can feel to someone after spending just a few days together. Our visit to Sardinia was made uniquely wonderful by the friendliness of the Sardinian people. Not to mention the food. Thank you to all of the booksellers who have made it a mission to bring authors of all nationalities and genres to the smaller communities around their small island country. Truly an opportunity for residents and visiting authors alike.

I will share some of our impressions of Sardinia at a later date when I am a little more cogent.

September 15, 2013

We drove out to the sea today for lunch after walking around the tiny city center here in Oristano. Lovely empty beach, very good pizza, vino. Rained very hard but we were under cover so weren’t bothered. Still warm. One more event, in Bauladu, then we begin the trek home.

September 15, 2013

I should say, WAY back of Beyond. Last night we drove for an hour before reaching our turn-off for the village of Mara. Then we got lost a little, found our even smaller road till we reached the town. Then someone met us and piloted us several more miles up and down on a dirt road until we finally saw the church where the village party was going to be held later. THEN up another hill and there was the brand new hall where Terry was speaking. WHEW. May I say if I never ride in another backseat it will be too soon.

Terry’s presentation went well, may have been his best so far on this tour. I estimated there would be three people and 27 sheep present, but there were actually about 50 folks and many were fans. No sheep allowed. The ladies and gentlemen of the town prepared a huge buffet at the church for us – lots of pizzas, figs, a terrific rice salad, jug red wine, fresh tomatoes, roasted onions, and of course, the roasted suckling pig. We left around 10 PM but the party was just getting started. Many arriving as we left. There was a stage with a band, lights, the whole shebang. A pretty fine band at that. We met the family of our excellent interpreter, and many of the villagers. I’m sure they had a blast.

Conversation was pretty darn exciting, as well.

Back to Oristano for a good night’s sleep so we are ready to go again this morning.

September 14, 2013

The late arising helped considerably, as did getting out into the charming city of Nuoro. Being Saturday there was a busy flea market on the main shopping street and there were many people out enjoying the weather, the coffee shops and the shopping opportunities. Terry bought a beautiful handmade shepherd’s knife to add to his weapon collection. We had coffee at a famous art deco styled coffee shop which is a treasured historical institution in Sardinia. Who knew?

View from Terry and Judine's hotel room in Nuoro‏!

View from Terry and Judine’s hotel room in Nuoro‏!

We returned to the restaurant of last night’s feast for another enormous meal – this time all the dishes were fish – at least ten courses – rockfish, shrimp, octopus, squid, smoked salmon with apples, sardines, pecorino flan with dried and pressed roe, calimari and who knows what else? Dessert once again was delightful, this time a semifreddo of chocolate and orange. Woo-ee!

After retrieving our luggage we set off for Oristano. We are in a small village called Mara this evening – more later.

Artist Zizzu Pirisi. Very dark paintings. Charming man.

Artist Zizzu Pirisi. Very dark paintings. Charming man.

September 14, 2013

This is why this missives disappear before the end of the tour – we are really exhausted. Very little sleep last night – hot, hard bed, too much late dinner and awful pillows. Terry’s “presentation” went well, tho there were only about 35 people there and most of them were only there for the wine and cookies afterward. Ha. It was in the garden of a well known Sardinian (I seem to recall they don’t call themselves that, but can’t remember the right word) artist, Zizzu Pirisi, who first gave us a tour of his gallery. Very dark paintings, charming man.

Our dinner was the usual multiple antipasti, all delicious, but not begun until 10:30 PM. Two pastas, and a fantastic dessert.

We did have a delightful afternoon in Alghero, strolling the promenade along the city wall, overlooking the sea. Our lunch was at a wonderful restaurant – it was warm, we were outdoors, there was wine . . .

We are off to yet another hotel today but get to stay in place for two nights. Today we will explore Nuoro, have a good lunch, and be off again to Mara.

September 13, 2013

Up early yesterday to drive into Venice for a flight to Rome and then on to Sardinia. We had a lovely break in Follina at the Hotel Villa Abbazia. Flights were both late, arrived on the island at 3 PM. Had time to drive to Sassari, check into our hotel, grab a bite and head out again for Terry’s appearance in Nulvi. Nulvi is a small hill town of about 3000 inhabitants. The drive up was nothing if not remarkable. When I recover from whiplash I’ll tell you more about it!

Extremely good turnout. The hall at the monastery where it was held was full – over a hundred people. All were very excited and enthusiastic. Many brought their well-worn copies and most bought the new book.

Afterward we dined at an interesting locavore restaurant, whose name I can’t at the moment tell you, as all is packed away. Many courses, terrific bread and wine, and of course, the roasted suckling pig. I will send photos as soon as I get a chance to upload them. We didn’t get back to the hotel until after midnight and were totally wiped. Slept well, even on the less than desirable bed. Today we are off to Alghero for lunch and then on to Nuoro. When I have more time I will tell you about the program the booksellers here in Sardinia have put together to bring authors out to the folks in the small villages. It really is quite amazing.

And more about Sardinia later!

Leila & Judine!

Leila & Judine!

September 8, 2013

Italian Drivers. This is how it’s done :

Pedal to the metal as soon as you hit the motorway. Set the cruise control for 140 kph, close in on vehicle ahead then swerve around them with inches to spare. Do not slow. Occasionally reach 160 kph until passenger requests you slow down. You do not understand English.

Show no fear.

No worries.

September 8, 2013

After a very fun lunch, yes, pizza, with the Blue Divide folks, we entered the Torture by Heat van for the hour and a half drive to Bologna. OMG – no AC – about 400 degrees outside and even hotter INside!

We had time to check into our hotel and then walked across Piazza Maggiore to Feltrinelli Bookshop for the event. Lots of people and children out enjoying the warm Saturday evening. The event was in the adjoining galleria and included several Italian authors. There was a spirited discussion about books, writing, movies, etc. Again, Terry had an excellent interpreter.

Dinner was DELICIOUS. Lasagna Bolognese, what more need I say?

September 7, 2013

Today we leave Mantova and are driven to Bologna. Terry has a couple of interviews this morning, then we meet members of the Blue Divide (Terry’s Italian fans) for lunch. This is a great group whose members come from all over Italy to see T. Some of them will be in Bologna for that event, as well.

Yesterday was very tiring. For one thing, it was HOT. We were all estimating it has been around 90 all week. Terry’s on stage interview went very well. It was held outdoors at a former monastery, San Sabastiano. Both the interviewer and the translator were super. We had lunch afterward with folks from Mondadori. Sadly, the food on this trip so far has not been particularly wonderful. Nor the service. And don’t get me started on the bathrooms!

Terry's signing at former monastery, Tempio di San Sebastiano, Mantova, Italy.

Terry’s signing at former monastery, Tempio di San Sebastiano, Mantova, Italy.

In the afternoon we had a wonderful guide give us a tour of the two main attractions here in Montova – Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo Te. The first an actual palace, the home of the powerful Gonzaga family for over 300 years. Playboy Federico Gonzaga, had Palazzo Te built for his mistress and other pleasurable pursuits. The decorative scheme is amazing. One room, the Camera dei Giganti, depicts the destruction of the giants by the gods – you are surrounded by cracking pillars, toppling brickwork and screaming giants, crushed by great chunks of masonry that appear to crash down into the room. Awesome! There was also a display of the story of Psyche and Cupid that was quite interesting.

So although it just about did us in, we enjoyed our little bit of touring around. We thought we were done for the day, but ended up going out for, wait for it, pizza, at around 9:00. I guess we are becoming accustomed to the European eating time schedule.

More later!

September 6, 2013

After an extremely grueling flight through Frankfurt, we arrived in Milano and were driven by Speed Racer to the small town of Mantova, where the entire town is taken over by The Festivalitteratura. This is the largest book festival of it’s kind in Italy.

We managed to hold it together until dinner which we enjoyed with our Italian host, Elisa Martini. It is very warm here, so we enjoyed dining outside in one of the many piazzas. There are many dishes special to this region. One, which we were happy to try, is pumpkin ravioli with a sage butter sauce. Rather sweet, but delicious! Another, which I tried to get Terry to try, is explained in the menu pictured below. After all, he has eaten goat, for crying out loud! Check out the fifth item above the fish course.

September 5, 2013

This was AWESOME!

PicCollage

September 5, 2013

Ahhhh, Italy. So lovely, once you GET here. VERY long travel time yesterday – 9 1/2 hours on the plane, 4 hours in the Frankfurt airport, another hour of flying time, then two hours by speeding bullet (also known as an Italian driver) to our hotel in Mantova. The town is charming, full of umbrella-filled piazzas, bicyclists, and gelaterias. Their Festivaletteratura is the largest in Italy with MANY authors, including Margaret Drabble, Jhumpa Lahiri, Will Self and J.R. Moehringer. Managed to stay semi-cogent until after dinner when we eagerly climbed into bed. Slept well past breakfast time this morning, but ventured out for pizza and lasagna at lunch.

More later when I have photos to include. Terry is presently down in the lobby having interviews.

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