Whoopee, biannual roundup: Favorite postcards from this blog

Above: Remnants of the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture are found at its former home on South Lamar Boulevard.

Yes, I know. This blog is suffering a bit of an identity crisis. First, 2020 abruptly cut short my boulevardier ways, and then in early 2021 we pulled up stakes and moved up the road to Austin.

This blogger entertained herself throughout much of the pandemic by posting her entire novel – An Ostrich-Plumed Hat, and, Yes She Shot Him Dead – online, slowly unfolding it chapter by chapter. A few of my readers actually followed Hedda Burgemeister all the way through her 19teens trial for murder; although, I had been hoping for a little more feedback and filming rights have yet to be sold. Others have embraced posts about our new neighborhood as we started boulevardier-ing north and south off Lamar Bouldevard.

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Postcard from Lecce, Italy: A place to slip into that dolce far niente

lecce pastries

Tarted-up pastries gifted by the landlord of our rental in Lecce

The leisurely pace of Lecce makes it easy to indulge in the luxury of sweet idleness in one’s travels. Boulevardiers and flaneurs feel comfortably at home.

Before we leave Italy, duck your head into one final museum: Museo Archeologico Faggiano.

Luciano Faggiano planned on opening a restaurant in the historic center, but his quest proved a pipe dream. Or a pipe nightmare, as it turned out.

The plumbing kept backing up, and the only remedy would be to excavate in search of the ancient sewer pipes. He summoned his two older sons back from college to help. Just for a week at most.

The pipe proved elusive. But the more they dug, the more underground chambers they uncovered. With each new opening, the older brothers would lower their 12-year-old sibling down through the hole to report back before they proceeded. The ancient stone walls contained thousands of archaeological artifacts. As they progressed, the men hauled the excess rubble away in their car.

A suspicious neighbor reported them to authorities, and everything ground to a halt. The government pushed plumbing down to a lower priority, and not a spade-full of dirt could be turned without the presence of an observer from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. Most artifacts uncovered belong to the government and are displayed in state-run museums.

The restaurant? It is now a family-run archeology museum, leaving visitors to explore several ancient tunnels and tombs which extend past the property line of this former convent.

Now, Luciano has bought the house behind it, and the excavations continue. The possibility that either will ever serve guests pasta appears unlikely. A couple enters the museum and pays about $10; a couple in a typical restaurant in Lecce would pays about $16 for two full plates of pasta. The museum business appears both easier and more reliably profitable.

These  represent the final batch of photos from our relaxing stay this past fall. But our armchair travels have assumed such a leisurely pace during shutdown that one more trip remains. Next stop: Merida in Mexico.

Postcard from Rome, Italy: Springtime

“Cupid and Psyche,” ceiling fresco by Rafael (1483-1520) in the loggia of Villa Farnesina

April has been dry in Rome, meaning, for a pair of flaneurs, it approached perfection.

One would think flowers feel differently about it. Yet bright pink blossoms defiantly cover the trunk of a tree maimed by an errant trimmer, and tiny flowers force their way through seemingly inhospitable cracks and crevices of ancient walls.

May Day arrives with showers, so no telling what blossoms will spring forth tomorrow.

Perhaps, instead of wandering afar, these boulevardiers need to devote part of the drizzly holiday admiring the greening of the thirsty plants around the patio, toasting the workers’ day off with a refreshing spring dose of Campari and tonic.