WordPress Blogging 101, Day Two: Say your name

Today’s assignment was to edit our title and tagline. Not much I can do with the title, which is just my name, followed by a dot, and then wordpress.com. Serves its purpose and, until I find something better, I am not prepared to pay $18 a year for my site. In terms of the tagline,  that too seems to do its job: reporting from Italy, on Italy, and a lot more besides.

I am, indeed, reporting from Italy. It used to be Milan but, ten or so years ago, I moved 60 kilometres to the north and now live a short distance from Lake Lugano and the Swiss border.

I report on Italy, in several ways.

As a business reporter, I write for US- and UK-based clients on the Italian scenario, interviewing in Italian and writing in English. The topics I cover range widely, from telecoms to consumer durables, via personal care products, and medical appliances, to food, wine, and automotive.

As a travel guidebook editor, I report on Italy for visitors, with my specialty being Milan, Lombardy and the Lakes. My latest commission was for the London-based publisher Time Out, and the volume was the latest edition of the Time Out Guide to Milan,  which is set to be published on 15 January, and on which I was a contributing editor. This was the third time I was involved with this guide: I worked on both the second and third editions (2004 and 2006 respectively), the latest one being the fifth edition. As well as fact-checking and rewriting as necessary, I am responsible for suggesting and writing fresh copy. In the past, I have worked for, among others, Dorling Kindersely (Top Ten Guide to Milan, inter alia), Fodor’s, Expedia, and Gayot. One commission I enjoyed particularly was an extensive rewrite of the Milan Art, Shop, and Eat guide for Blue Guides/Somerset Books.

But my interests range further than just Italy and, indeed, I do report on quite “a lot more besides”. From trains and trams, to all means of transport (and I love transport museums!), I am also very interested in spas, food and wine, Art Nouveau architecture (also known as Liberty in Italian, and Jugenstil in German), Brussels, London, and New York, as well as writing as a skill, social media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO),  jokes, and the occasional picture of a cat.

I use the same “reporting from Italy, on Italy, and a lot more besides” moniker on Twitter, and since I am much more prolific on there — it’s easier to conjure a 140-character tweet than to write a 500-word piece — it’s probably there that you’ll see the topics I have covered on Italy, and otherwise.

Just as an example of my contribution to information on Italy on Twitter, in the early part of 2010, along with Tweetaly, I ran a series entitled “The A-Z of lesser-known Italian towns”. I will try to publish the tweets in question at some later stage. In the meantime, these were some of the places we covered:

We started with Ancona, for the Grotte di Frasassi, considered to be Europe’s largest underground caverns, Barcis and its lake in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Camogli in Liguria,  and Colletta di Castelbianco in the Maritime Alps and near the Italian Riviera in the province of Savona in Liguria. Next came Dolceacqua, near Ventimiglia, in Liguria, and Domodossola, in the Piedmont, close to the Swiss border; start/endpoint of the Centovalli railway, Locarno. Erice in Sicily was nominated for its Arabic-influenced cuisine. My idea there was Este, near Padova in the Veneto. This walled town gave its name to the powerful House of Este, whose influence spread throughout much of Europe.

Fabbriche di Careggine, close to Lucca, in Tuscany, really does qualifies as being little-known, in as much as it is seen once every 10 years or so. We also chose to mention Ferla, in Sicily, whch lies between two UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as the walled town of Feltre between Belluno and Venice, famous for frescoes, wrought-iron, and hang-gliding took care of the letter “F”.

Next up were Genzano di Roma, in Lazio, known for its Infiorata Festival, and Grazzano Visconti, a 20th-century medieval village, near Piacenza, in Emilia. The only town beginning with an “H” that I could find was Hône in Valle d’Aosta: cross the bridge and you are in Bard. At this point, we  decided to mention places that had an “H” in their name: Rho (near Milan), Santhià (near Vercelli), in the Piedmont, Ghemme, near Novara, again in the Piedmont, and Thiene (near Vicenza, in the Veneto.

Then, coming to “I”, I opted for Imbersago, on the river Adda, between Milan and Lecco, famous for its chain-ferry across the river Adda, which was designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Then there was also Ischia, the “green island” in the Gulf of Naples. Another problematic one was “J”, which is not part of the standard 21-letter Italian alphabet. We came up with Jesi, in the Marches. This pre-Roman town, and ancient diocese, is famous for its art.

The letter “K” presented another challenge, but we each found one. Mine was Khamma, on Pantelleria, a lovely island that lies between Sicily and Tunisia, hence Arabic-sounding name. Tweetaly’s pick was Kymé, in Campania, which is the ancient Greek name for Latin Cuma, a town famous for its Sybil. Another “K” was Crotone, if we go by the two-letter provincial code, which is KR. This town in present-day Calabria, was a big noise in the time of Magna Graecia. Indeed, Pythagoras had a school there. (Extra-special thanks to @Tweetaly for that one!) Next came Lecce, in Puglia, renowned for its Baroque architecture, and well-worth a visit. My pick there was Larderello, near Pisa in Tuscany,  a geothermal power plant since 1904.

Macomer, and nearby Marghine Highlands in Sardinia, followed. I came up with Maser, near Vicenza, in the Veneto, where I have visited Palladio’s magnificent Villa Barbaro. For “N”, I opted for Neive, a small town, near Alba, in the Piedmont, in the heart the premier wine-producing district known as the Langhe; Narni, in Umbria, rich in medieval art along the Via Flaminia, was the other choice. Orta, a lovely lake in Piedmont came next, along with Orvieto in Umbria and its unique Duomo.

For “P”, Tweetaly went for Padula, near Salerno in Campania, and its Charterhouse, also known as the Certosa di San Lorenzo. Meanwhile, I opted for Palmanova, 20 kilometers from Udine, near the Italian-Slovenian border, which is a UNESCO-listed star-shaped fortress town. Tweetaly’s nomination: Quarata, near Arezzo in Tuscany, with its Leonardo da Vinci connection, (the clue being  “Mona Lisa”), and my choice of Quart, in the Valle d’Aosta with its ancient castle, took care of the letter “Q”. Next came Ranco, on the Lombardy shores of Lake Maggiore, home of the wonderful Sole restaurant and, until very recently, a beautiful Transport Museum. Sappada, in the heart of the breathtaking Dolomite mountains followed, along with Tivoli, close to Rome, where the Villa d’Este, and Hadrian’s Villa await. Urbino,  in the Marches, a pearl of the Renaissance, and the birth-place of Raphael (or Raffaello as his parents called him!), and Vercelli, in the heart of the rice-growing area in Piedmont, along with Verona, in the Veneto were our choices for “U”, and “V”. The next three letters, W, X, and Y are not part of the Italian alphabet, so there was not much point in seeking further. On the other hand, if someone has some ideas, I’d love to hear from you. Finally, closing up this alphabetical listing of some of the smaller places in Italy worth visiting was Zafferana Etnea, in Sicily, on  the slopes of Mount Etna, the volcano that needs no introduction!

And that just about wraps it up for today. I know that SEO rules encourage one to use images, and I will add these later. I will also check my tags and categories, but I have included “Blogging 101” in with the former, so I can be found by fellow students on the course.