Where in the World Are You, David Farley?

Travel Blog  •  World Hum  •  09.20.07 | 2:11 PM ET


The subject of our latest nearly up-to-the-minute interview with a traveler somewhere in the world: David Farley, World Hum contributor and Holy Foreskin chronicler. His response landed in our inbox today.

World Hum: Where in the world are you?

I’m sitting on the edge of a cliff across from Calcata, a small medieval hill town about 30 miles north of Rome that’s largely inhabited by artists and creative types. This is the first time I’m using my BlackBerry as a modem for my laptop. So far, it’s working surprisingly well.

What are you doing there?

I’ve been living here off and on for the last 14 months, working on a book about the Holy Foreskin, the bizarre relic that was housed in the church here for centuries until it disappeared about two decades ago. I’m also working on a few assignments for some travel magazines and newspaper travel sections.

What do you see around you?

The village, which sits like a cupcake atop 450-foot high cliffs. The houses are made from the same volcanic stone on which they sit, making them appear as if they sprouted from the rock. Below Calcata is a verdant valley with hiking trails and tasty wild boar. 

Got a pic?


What did you have for dinner last night and where?

I ate at a great restaurant here called La Grotta dei Germogli, which is in a mosaic-bedecked cave. It’s run by a charming guy named Pancho—an American who has lived in Italy most of his life. His menu is mostly Italian-inspired dishes that refreshingly challenge the Italian palate. For example, last night I had a pasta dish with a coconut milk and tomato-based sauce followed by something called “Medieval roast,” a plate loaded with a few different types of meat, potatoes and baked apples.

What are you listening to these days?

Lots of cheesy Italian pop music. I’m also still wearing out Radiohead, Prince, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Le Tigre, Curtis Mayfield, Beck and Bjork. I just bought the new M.I.A., which I already love.

What are you reading?

Besides lots of books on relics and medieval history and trying to decipher centuries-old Italian texts, I just finished reading Matthew Polly’s American Shaolin and Cullen Thomas’s Brother One Cell—both fantastic reads. I’m about to start Mary Morris’s new book, The River Queen.

What did you experience in the last 24 hours that you’d recommend?

A friend of mine, Paul Steffen, a guy who achieved great fame here in Italy as a choreographer, celebrated his 86th birthday and we ate a long wine-fueled lunch at a truck stop on the Via Flaminia between the town Civita Castellana and the A1 Autostrada. A truck stop may sound like a curious place for a celebration, but the food there is phenomenal. I’m probably letting out a closely guarded local secret, but oh well. That’s what travel writers do, right?  For the rest of the afternoon, I lounged on church steps in Calcata’s little square saying “ciao” or chatting with some of the respected artists who live here: Romano Vitali, Giancarlo Croce, Athon Veggi and Costantino Morosin, among others. Though I’m working hard on my book, slow and satisfying days like yesterday can only be had (at least for me) in a small town in Italy.

Where in the world are you headed to next?

Starting next month, I’ll be moving on to Rome for a few months and returning to Calcata most weekends. But I’m not necessarily tied down to anywhere at the moment, so my wife and I might take off for week-long spells to other parts of the boot. Who knows?

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