Sunday, April 14, 2013

Americans Discover Etruria

Here in central Italy this has been a week “all’americana”  with  my latest conference “La Tuscia vista dagli Americani “  at the Vetralla Library and  several visitors  from  USA. 

Fulvio shows off Vetralla's heritage 
Opening the season  was  Jamie  Stoeffel of Indiana, winner of the Irish Trivia quiz  which I ran  last month to  promote readers’   comments for  this  blog.  The best way you can  show your appreciation for  the information  I share with you each week is to leave a comment at the end of the post.  

official presentation of the Irish Trivia quiz  prize

Jamie  received  her prize, a copy of  “Travels to Tuscany and Central Italy”  with my personal dedication and then enjoyed  cooking with Fulvio and  lunch on the terrace.  

Ramona and Jamie  mirrored in the library 
She  and her travel companion, Ramona Fisher of Minneapolis, were happy to be  treated like VIP visitors  after having endured  an encounter  with gypsy pick pockets and the infamous  “sciopero”  
strikes that hit Italy’s transport system last  week.

enjoying  lunch  
Enrico Dolci, president of the olive oil cooperative,  charms le americane 
homemade cinnamon  digestivo 

They were thrilled to receive  gift bottles of Vetralla’s fine olive oil from the president of the olive oil cooperative and even the local kids wanted to have their photo taken with   le americane

with the kids of  Piazza del Duomo, Vetralla

Another group of  5 lovely ladies of  the same family dropped in for a visit during their tour of the nearby Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola. 

Ruud, Fulvio and  American visitors in my library 

They were happy to have discovered the area which offers  such beauty and hospitality, so  close to Rome and Florence  yet not touristy. 

David and Todd  interpreted early American writers 

Professor David Reinking,  actor-neighbor Todd Carter,  Lia Randazzo and Sydney Johnson students  of the USAC program  were the Americans who  helped  make the illustrated conference “La Tuscia vista dagli Americani “  a huge success   on Friday afternoon at  the Vetralla  library.

Lia signing  the guest book 
They read excerpts -in Italian-from  American writers  of the 19th century ( Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne etc.) describing   this part of Italy. 
 The  audience  of Italians, unaware of how  their land (Tuscia /Northern Lazio/Etruria)had been perceived  by foreign visitors in the past, were horrified  at  the many  negative descriptions.

a part of the  attentive audience 

a full house for  Mary Jane's talk 
 Central Italy has come a long way since  the days when American  writers described filthy streets and desolation due to malaria.    Besides  the natural improvement  of the area, we must  thank the images created by Hollywood films and writings by contemporaries living in the area  among these  
the audience came from Sutri, Viterbo, Rome, Soriano, Bracciano and a few from Vetralla
Linda Lappin's mystery novels, Eleanor Herman’s  story of Donna Olympia, “Mistress of the Vatican”  and Mark Leslie’s amusing description of life (and learning to cook )  with a local family.

 Thanks also go to social media tools Facebook and  blogs which have made journalists  and promoters of  all  those who come to  visit  and remain enchanted with the quality of life in Etruria. 
Thanks  to all these things, a special part of Italy, unintentionally  ignored by American visitors,  is finally  coming out of its  centuries-long  slumber. This year Italy has been named  as the number one destination  for adult  Americans for a visit outside their own country. 
Mary Jane presenting  "La Tuscia vista dagli Americani" 
 For the past  eight years it has held the  first and second places for best vacation destination. This was no surprise to marketing specialists  who consider Italy as the top destination for romance, culture, history,fine food and wines.
Be sure to visit  my website for  practical information and books about the area and  share with friends and  family.
Your comments and feedback are welcome.  


  1. Sorry I couldn't be with you on Friday Mary Jane, I heard it was a big success. Hope you're enjoying hte sunshine, Christina

  2. Oh, Mary Jane, how I wish I could be spending the rest of my life in central Italy!! Over many years I have visited Italy 7-8 times and even spent a summer in Sarteano. I am a frustrated art historian/artist/teacher with an MA focusing on Italian Renaissance which is probably the most popular topic of art outside of the Impressionists! Thanks you for your writings.
    Barbara Spies

  3. Just arrived back in the states.Not home yet,The VIP encounter was a dream come true Mary Jane and Fulvio!!!Thank you!!! Much Love, Jamie

  4. Just arrived back in the states.Not home yet,The VIP encounter was a dream come true Mary Jane and Fulvio!!!Thank you!!! Much Love, Jamie

  5. Thanks Mary Jane for such a great experience! It was so nice to learn more about the literary history of region we've been studying in through participating in your presentation. What a great opportunity and thanks for sharing your family, kitchen, and conversation with us!

  6. Mary Jane, we all had such an amazing time learning more about the literary history of region we've been studying in through participating in your presentation. What a great opportunity! Thanks for sharing your experience, kitchen, and conversation with all of us :)


  7. Ms. Cryan,
    We would like to thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and love of the areas surrounding Tuscia with our daughter Lia, a USAC student. Your kindness and hospitality made her feel very welcome and special at the conference. We have enjoyed reading your blog.
    Parents of a daughter studying abroad in Italia,
    Lorrene & Marco

  8. Thank you all for the comments about the talk, the prize winning, the visit to my home. It was a busy and interesting week. It so special to meet such nice American students and visitors...we enjoyed your company so much...and hope to see you again!
    And hope to meet Lorrene, Marco and Barbara in the future.

  9. I wish I was there with you all. Lovely Lia, same name as my daughter... And about the same age !

  10. Hi Jane, I wish I was there too... lucky lady to have won this prize ! Se ho capito bene, la signora è venuta in Italia per ricevere il suo prezzo ? wow... i biglietti d'aereo erano compresi nel prezzo ? comunque è stato un bel incontro. Mia figlia si chiama Lia anche e la carina studentessa assomiglia a mia figlia, è incredibile !

    1. Joanne, Jamie and Patrick answered the Irish Trivia quiz published a few weeks ago on this blog.They were both already coming and instead of sending them their prizes, I invited them to pick them up personally.
      If you would like to pass by when in the area, let me know. Sorry I cant pay your air fare, but a glass of wine on the terrace is assured.

    2. That's what I thought. The timing was perfect for her to combine a travel and an interesting meeting with you. For sure, I would be delighted to have a glass of wine with you ! Thank you for the invitation. Who knows...

  11. Hi again, your posts are so interesting and I love to hear more about this region of Italy. Thank you, Joanne

  12. Thank you, thank you for your wonderful hospitality. Jamie and I had a marvelous trip to Italy and a highlight was our visit with you.
    Hopefully we will meet again! Greet your family.
    Ramona Fisher

  13. oh my goodness! Such beautiful pictures!! Thanks for sharing. I love hearing about people’s travels! someday, I’d love to go there.

  14. Mary Jane, thanks for highlighting the not so well known parts of Italy. I'm planning a graduation trip for my grandchild and her mom next year, and these tidbits of history and culture might just add a great deal of interest to an otherwise standard fare of touristy places.