Italian Classics and Italian Audiences – Perfect Strangers

Five minutes before Perfetti Sconosciuti [Perfect Strangers] was due to start, I looked it up on Wikipedia. I’d seen the trailer, but couldn’t work out whether this was a comedy, a drama, or something else entirely.

As it turns out, I needn’t have bothered, Wikipedia was no help at all. It told me I was about to watch a comedy, but no comedy I’ve ever seen has left me feeling so traumatised and disheartened (except for possibly an Adam Sandler one I watched some years back, but that’s for different reasons entirely).
Continue reading “Italian Classics and Italian Audiences – Perfect Strangers”


In Italy’s Farthest Corner – Its Darkest Place

EDITORS NOTE: I wrote this a few months back and then put it to one side. I’ve kept it in the same voice I wrote it in originally, when I was just back from the Risiera di San Sabba concentration camp in Trieste. It is not a pleasant topic and may well be upsetting, so please do bear that in mind if you’d rather not read on.

Continue reading “In Italy’s Farthest Corner – Its Darkest Place”

A Clear Statement of Vague Intent

You’ll forgive me for feeling a little pensive, self-indulgent even. I’ve just written an essay on whether or not Jews have a future in Italy (abridged version: basically yes, but hugely reduced and only in a few key communities). It’s the kind of topic that invites reflection, especially as the future of Judaism, and what it means to be a Jew, seems so unclear in Europe these days.

That’s why I’d like to talk about the bathrooms at CIELS.

Continue reading “A Clear Statement of Vague Intent”

Iowanna Make GOP Caucus Predictions Too!

The starting gun is about to be fired on primary season in the States (being America, that feels like an appropriate metaphor) with Iowans going to the polls tomorrow to have their say on who should be the Democrat and Republican candidates for President. It’s also the season for every half-wit, narcissistic wannabe political commentator to give his or her hot take on what’s going to happen, and what it will mean. So here I am, Continue reading “Iowanna Make GOP Caucus Predictions Too!”

Dear Republican Party

Dear Republican Party,

I’m writing you this letter because I care, and I want you to know that. I know you’re going through a difficult period. You’ve struggled with some painful losses recently, and now you’re not in the mood to play anymore. You want to break free, to be your own party. You don’t want to listen to what the responsible grown-ups tell you, you want to make your own decisions. But please try and listen to me, I have your best interests at heart. Continue reading “Dear Republican Party”

Why I Won’t Convert to Christianity

I am, I have to admit, a bit of an ecclesiophiliac, especially where Italy is concerned. Given a day to wander around any city, you’re much more likely to find me admiring the peace and quiet of a beautiful sanctuary, monastery or cathedral than any art gallery, museum or castle. In Italy especially, I find that churches have their own historical importance. The stories behind them, why they were built, to whom they were dedicated, the artists brought in to decorate them, are often as fascinating as the works themselves. In fact, on a recent trip to Puglia, my friend and travel companion was starting to seriously worry how he’d break the news to my mum that I was in all likelihood going to convert to Catholicism one day. I’m not though, and here’s why: Continue reading “Why I Won’t Convert to Christianity”