Italian Army is deploying to the “Triangle of Death”



(AFP) – Rome, Jan. 14 – The Italian government has agreed to send in the army to fight the mafia, which it blames for illegally dumping tonnes of toxic garbage in an area dubbed the “Triangle of Death”. Toxic waste has been buried in Campania province for decades, ever since the local Camorra crime syndicate decided to branch out into the lucrative waste disposal business in the 1980s. Instead of paying exorbitant sums to have it disposed of legally, companies paid mobsters a fraction of the cost to dump it in fields, wells and lakes.

Defence undersecretary Gioacchino Alfano says the army can be deployed “to deal with in the most efficient manner the phenomenon of the environment mafia in the area between Naples and Caserta”. Parliament is due to examine the decree but Mr Alfano says that “for the first time, all political forces are in agreement to offer concrete solutions to resolve a specific problem”.


The smoke-choked area north of Naples dubbed the “Triangle of Death” includes the towns of Acerra, Nola and Marigliano.
It is a grim sight – a short trip but a world away from the postcard images of the city’s bay and its famous cuisine.
Hidden out of sight down dirt tracks in the countryside, vast mounds of illegal and hazardous garbage, from broken sheets of asbestos to car tyres and containers of industrial-strength glue, lie rotting next to farmed fields. Periodically set alight, they billow black fumes towards neighbouring towns, but locals say the real killer lies in aquifers feeding tomato, cabbage and broccoli crops which are poisoned with chloroform, arsenic and heavy metals.

Environmental groups say the toxic garbage could affect one-and-a -half million people living in the Naples and Caserta provinces. According to environment protection association Legambiente, 10 million tonnes of industrial waste were burnt or buried in the zone between 1991 and 2013, all trucked in at night.


NSA Naples Public Affairs Office; “ITALY TO DEPLOY ARMY TO COMBAT ‘TRIANGLE OF DEATH’ MAFIA DUMPS”, January 15, 2014.
Photos from Google Images.


Our last New Years in Naples

Naples does the New Year right. The only day to be in Naples if you must be in Naples is the New Years. The fireworks started to consistently go off around 9pm, but were crazy from about 11:45pm to 1am.

We were planning on going off base to a friend’s place, but Justin was on call and we were not able to find a ride to return in time. So we packed a backpack with mimosa mixings and booze and headed for the highest point on base with a view-the roof patio of the TLA (hotel). There was surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, no one there. We had a whole huge area to ourselves, which was nice.

Our best New Year in Naples was our first one when we were in the middle of it all on our balcony at our Gricignano house. Our second New Year’s here we were on the top of a parking garage at the airport, and this last New Year’s on a hotel roof deck. The good parts about the last two spots were that we had a view as far as the eye could see of thousands of fireworks (and we did not eventually choke on smoke forcing us back indoors). But it does not compare to being surrounded by fireworks only feet away, still the view as far as the eye can see, and having to scream at each other because it is so loud.

I apologize the video is long and not too interesting, but it’s just in case you’re interested.

Ancient Pompeiians Exotic Diet

I can only assume it looked something like this:

“…Archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati have spent the past decade excavating a row of building plots in a non-elite district of the ancient Roman city. Some of the buildings, which represent 20 store fronts, date back to the 6th century B.C.

According to a Steven Ellis, a University of Cincinnati associate professor of classics who presented his team’s findings at an Archaeological Institute of America conference in Chicago on Jan. 4, many of the ancient establishments were once restaurants. Researchers recovered mineralized and charred food contents from the buildings’ drains and toilets, and analyzed their content. What they found surprised them.

“The traditional vision of some mass of hapless lemmings — scrounging for whatever they can pinch from the side of a street, or huddled around a bowl of gruel — needs to be replaced by higher fare and standard of living, at least for the urbanites in Pompeii,” Ellis said in a statement.

Archaeologists discovered remnants of food that would have been widely available and inexpensive in ancient Italy, like grains, fruits, olives, lentils, local fish, nuts and chicken eggs. They also uncovered evidence that Pompeiians enjoyed a variety of exotic foods, some of which would have been imported from outside Italy, including sea urchins, flamingos and even the butchered leg joint of a giraffe. According to Ellis, this was the first giraffe bone ever found during an archaeological excavation of ancient Roman Italy.

“How part of the animal, butchered, came to be a kitchen scrap in a seemingly standard Pompeian restaurant not only speaks to long-distance trade in exotic and wild animals, but also something of the richness, variety and range of a non-elite diet,” Ellis said….”

Ancient Pompeii Diet Consisted Of Giraffe, Flamingo, Sea Urchin And Other ‘Exotic’ Delicacies
By Philip Ross, International Business Times. Jan. 5, 2014.

Christmas in Kansas

Justin and I flew to Kansas for our Christmas break. Christmas is way more fun with family, without them it is just another day. Oh how glorious the colder weather and snow was! And reasonably priced delicious food! We are looking forward to moving back to the USA in a few months. We better get some visitors this time. In case you are unaware, our next duty station is Ft. Meade, Maryland.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Protest in Naples

When you think of Italy do you think of fresh produce and local markets? The talk of the past few weeks is all about the unsafe soil and air that have led to a cancer surge. There have been a handful of articles and studies done by local companies and the military basically informing us that we should not eat local produce. It has led to a protest, not the first and most likely not the last. There was one a month ago in our town of Gricignano, but this one was much larger and article worthy…sums up what we’ve been hearing so much about nicely.



(AFP) – Rome, Nov. 17 – Thousands protested Saturday in Naples over illegal waste dumps blamed on the mafia that generate toxic fumes.
Between 30,000 and 100,000 people braved heavy rain for the protest, according to varying estimates from police and organizers.
Demonstrators chanted “No to Camorra” in reference to the Neapolitan mafia and some protestors carried photographs of relatives who they said had died from cancer.
The protest movement is calling for the decontamination of polluted land and water and blames the mafia for creating hundreds of illegal dumps in the area.
Locals call the zone between Naples and Caserta the “Land of Fires” or “Triangle of Death” due to the toxic fumes produced by burning waste.
Among the protesters were the mayor of Naples, environmental groups and local figures including the singer Nino d’Angelo and Father Maurizio Patriciello, one of the first to hit out against the problem.
Three tons of bread baked using ingredients from “clean” fields in the region were distributed to protesters.
The organization Legambiente said that in 22 years some 440 businesses located in central and northern Italy have buried around 10 million tons of industrial waste in the area.


Bucharest, Romania

For Veteran’s Day Justin and I went to Bucharest in Romania. Sadly, inside many of the places we visited taking photos was not allowed, so I have pulled some images from the internet.

The first day we visited the National Art Museum of Romania (Romanian medieval icons and a European collection with a temporary exhibit on Paul Gavarni-excellent), the Parliament (lots of grand ball-room style rooms), The Village Museum (traditional houses from Romania over time), the Arch of Triumph, and we walked around all over the place until the wee hours of the night amusing ourselves with locally made Pálinka liquor our hotel gave us.

The second day we hired a driver and drove out of Bucharest up to the Prahova valley and the surrounding areas of Brasov to visit towns, castles, and fortresses. The Peleș Palace (the summer residence of Romanian King Carol I) was stunning and intricate. We walked around the town of Brasov (really excellent town) and visited the Black Church. The Rasnov Fortress had great views over the country side. We also visited the Bran Castle with all the Dracula lore based off of Vlad the Impaler. Our driver handed us each a clove of garlic just to be on the safe side before we went inside.

The third day we slept in late and ended up walked around the Old Center and the surrounding neighborhoods in Bucharest until we flew out in the evening. Naroc! Cheers!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sassi di Matera, Italy

Stones of Matera, Italy

Justin and I spent our Columbus day in Matera, Italy. It’s old town is known for stone houses and churches carved out of the caves and cliffs. It was also the location for several biblical films, including Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.

The sassi are famous for having been continuously inhabited since the Paleolithic era, though it has been modernized and updated to include electricity, gas, and such. Back in the 1950’s the poor used to live there next to their stable animals until they got forcibly removed by the Italian government over sanitation, over-crowding, and safety reasons. Nowadays, rich people live there and dwellings are being renovated. Not only do you have to be rich to live there now, but you have to be fairly young…there is only one street for cars, so you have to be able to climb lots of stairs.

It is not a large place to explore, but it certainly tuckered us out as every street has a million stairs or is sloped. It is easy to get mixed up in the sassi and have no clue where you are going. I guess that’s part of the charm. While in Matera, we also sampled local artichoke spread, olive oil, red pepper chips, and wine. We also sampled some gelato…always good.

Some of the pictures are from the bus ride to and from. Cheers!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.