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ON THE ROAD, DOWN SOUTH

ON THE ROAD, DOWN SOUTH

By on Oct 30, 2020 in Blog | 7 comments

ON THE ROAD, DOWN SOUTH  The timing we arbitrarily chose for our Fall travel excursion by car was fortuitous. Not long after our return to Ascoli from southern Italy, the resurgence of COVID-19 infection rates has caused the government to reinstitute more restrictive measures. In the current environment of more constrained movement and activity, I’m not sure the same travel experience would have been possible for much longer. But whatever the reason behind our timing, we are glad to have had the adventure when we did.  The broad brush of history has always interested me. The cultural history of the Mediterranean is a fascinating study of the interactions of diverse peoples over centuries. Emerging cultures expanded their reach and influence by becoming Mediterranean maritime nations. The geographic significance of the positioning of Italy is apparent. Even a cursory glimpse at a map of the Mediterranean Sea reveals the long, narrow peninsula of Italy jutting out into that large body of water.  With the crisscrossing of seafaring cultures through the Mediterranean, it was inevitable that the southern tip of the Italian Peninsula sticking out as it does, would have been a stopping-off place for seafaring explorers in search of adventure and the riches they hoped to come up with. The multicultural immersion of southern Italy, with many of their residual remnants having made their mark, is just one of the reasons for it to be an interesting travel destination.      Our most recent Blog briefly reported we had made a car excursion into southern Italy. We had set out from Ascoli in early October and headed south, on the Adriatic Coastal Plain, driving on the Autostrada A-14. After some five and a half hours, our first stop was at the ancient town of Matera in the Basilicata Region. The distinguishing feature of this area is the presence of cave dwellings that represent the oldest, known continuously inhabited, cave dwellings in the world. The cave complex has been carved into the walls of deep river canyons over time.  The imprint of human existence here is very long. The granular, calciferous rock in this area is of generally uniform texture, appearing quite solidly stable while also being responsive to early human...

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AUTUMN IN ASCOLI

AUTUMN IN ASCOLI

By on Oct 24, 2020 in Blog | 5 comments

  Autumn has arrived in Ascoli. Right on schedule, with the Autumn Equinox on the 22nd of September, the air started to cool. No more going out without a light jacket. Mostly sunny days began to give way to more frequent afternoon rain showers. The wind also began to pick up signaling changes were underway. At night, the faint smell of fireplace wood smoke is now apparent in the air.  Also as predicted, the Fall has brought with it an increase in the number of COVID-19 reported new cases. This trend is being reflected worldwide and of course, Ascoli has not been spared. However, the situation continues to be relative. During the Summer, the Province of Ascoli Piceno reported generally fewer new viral cases than elsewhere. Now in October, this Province, while seeing an untick, is currently reporting fewer new cases daily than some other areas. Unfortunately, a disproportionate percentage of the new cases appear to be connected to the return to in-person school classes.  Italy was criticized in the initial stages of the contagion. Mass attendance sporting events in Northern Italy, prior to any awareness that a biologic threat was present, resulted in high levels of infection which subsequently overwhelmed the healthcare system. Perhaps, having witnessed what this unforeseen biologic disaster had done to Italy, may have stimulated a more proactive public health response in other countries – at least in those places under the stewardship of more prudent and responsible leadership.   After some initial flailing about searching for solutions for something inadequately understood, Italy got its act together and significantly reduced the rate of viral spread.  The overall result has been Italy has faired much better over the course of this contagion than some other places.  Consistent with the more prudent approach to prioritizing public health taken here, the national leadership has reimposed 24/7 mask wearing and other measures to arrest increasing infection rates. The measures are being reinforced by the imposition of fines. With this writing, the government is imposing curfews, restrictions and closings of some businesses where larger groups of people tend to congregate, becoming viral contagion resurgence ‘hot-spots’.  We are seeing an overall increase in compliance in the general population particularly in mask wearing....

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