About Carla Ciccone
Carla Ciccone wrote her first story – “The Dreamer” – when she was nine years old. Although the story has since been lost and she can no longer recall the specifics of the piece, she still believes in its message – to always have dreams and work towards attaining them.
Ciccone has been a freelance writer for five years and has written articles for numerous North American publications. She recently moved from Calgary, Canada to Rome, Italy where she continues to freelance and is working on a screenplay. Her current obsessions are threefold: gelato, pizza, and cappuccino. Check out her personal blog Gypsy Lied at <a href="http://www.thegypsylied.wordpress.com".
Latest Posts by Carla Ciccone
The Jewish Ghetto of Rome is an area that I love. It’s well preserved, beautiful, tranquil and not overrun with tourists. Like nearly everywhere else in Rome, the Ghetto is full of its own rich history and charm.
Very briefly, the history is: Jewish people lived freely and finely in Rome until 1555 when a mean Pope (Paul IV) segregated them into their own walled quarter of the city and limited their personal freedoms.
They had to deal with awful rules, including a strict curfew and living in cramped conditions packed behind a wall, for three centuries.
The walls of the ghetto were torn down in 1848 and 20 years later, the Jewish people were given back their full rights as citizens.
After Italy unified in 1870, the government offered the Jews a nice piece of land on which to build a new synagogue. No thanks, they said.
Instead, they chose to rebuild it in the ghetto, where they had lived for centuries. Not rewriting history, but reclaiming it.
The beautiful new synagogue, built in 1904 is called the Synagogue of Emancipation.
Today, the Jewish Ghetto is a charming area full of shops, cafés and restaurants. It’s also the best place in Rome to get delicious carciofi alla giudia, which is a Jewish-Roman dish of crisp-fried and salted artichokes.
Some Ancient Ruins in the Jewish Ghetto
Graffiti in the Ghetto
Street view of the Ghetto
Tuscany – or Toscana – is one of Italy’s most loved, recognized and romanticized regions. Ever since the film Under the Tuscan Sun gave audiences a taste of the Tuscan lifestyle, people hear Tuscany and think: warmth, beauty, tranquility.
The thing about Tuscany, like most of Italy, is that it lives up to the hype. As you drive through her beautiful landscape, you’re greeted by fields of sunflowers, their petals following the path of the afternoon sun, vineyards sprawling over the rolling hills, and tall cypress trees swaying in the soft breeze.
Villas dot the landscape perfectly, sitting nestled in between hills, beside grape vines, and on the tops of peaks, all charming you with their unique, old beauty. History is rich in these hills.
I recently had the pleasure of travelling to the Tuscan province of Arezzo, where I worked as an English teacher at a summer camp.
I wasn’t expecting much in terms of accommodations, since the word “camp” usually implies rustic comfort, if such a thing exists. But, oh, was I wrong.
I should have known that in Italy, summer camp is done a bit differently – as in hotel-style.
We stayed at Villa Schiatti, a hotel in between the towns of Castiglion Fiorentino and Cortona. The 19th century structure has been fully renovated and has all the fixings of a modern hotel, but it still retains its historic charm.
Villa Schiatti fed us well – with different delicious Italian and Tuscan dishes every day for lunch and dinner. In addition to the delicious food, the hotel also offered comfortable rooms, a gorgeous pool, magnificent views and means to plenty of outdoorsy activities like archery, mountain biking and horseback riding.
View from the Pool
Despite all the beauty, history and amenities at Villa Schiatti, it would be just another gorgeous hideaway in the heart of the Tuscan hills if it weren’t for the generosity of the staff that work there.
From the maintenance workers to the cooks, the waiters to the concierge, all employees of the hotel are thoughtful and accommodating, and are a testament to the kindness and hard work of Angelo and his wife Giulia, who have owned the hotel since 2007.
Even with over 50 demanding, loud children to deal with day in and day out, the staff remained patient and caring.
They even went out of their way to make special meals for those children who were fussy eaters, and arranged special disco, karaoke and pool party nights, which the kids absolutely loved.
In Italian, Angelo means angel, and by the end of my two week visit to Villa Schiatti, with all of us dealing with the kids who were by then growing tired and cranky, I knew Angelo had definitely been named appropriately.
During my stay at the Villa, I also met a very interesting cast of characters who live on the grounds and are worthy of Disney movie counterparts. They included: a depressed dancing parrot, a scared of its shadow guard dog and a needy people-loving cat.
The Depressed Parrot
For those who saw and loved the movie Under the Tuscan Sun – it was filmed only 15 minutes away from Villa Schiatti, in Cortona, a charming Etruscan town that is definitely worth a visit.
View from the town of Cortona