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Off the Beaten Path

In front of the home of the first Ceramic's Artist Pirota"How did you hear about Brisighella"?Claudio has asked me this after taking me to his farm where he produces wines - we are tasting some of the wine under his label.I've been asked this several times since rolling into town yesterday.  I think being American surprises people - they don't get Americans here very often.  There are not very many visitors here ... period.And this is a beautiful town that would love to have the attention and publicity - and tourist income - of Tuscany.  It actually looks a lot like Tuscany and is only 20km east of the boundary, and has the rolling hills and vineyards and olive groves and medieval towns.  But they also have fields of peaches and apricots and kiwis.  It has castles and history.  It has national parks with hiking and mountain biking and rolling roads that are an athlete's dream. I'm in one of the true culinary centers of the world.  Incredible food, in a town with the slow pace of generations, still waiting to be discovered and wondering why the rest of the world doesn't know about them.Modern ceramic decorating the side of a buildingBut I'm selfishly glad to have this beautiful place without the herds.  In fact I like this town so much I changed all my plans and am staying put till I have to get to Rome to catch my flight.Today the very friendly hotel arranged for a local wine grape grower to pick me up and take me to his farm. Claudio drove me to a beautiful farm that was also the home of the first ceramics artist in the area - and the ceramics of nearby Faenza are world famous.  The remnants of the home of Pirota still

By the side of the Road

She looked so out of place on the side of the road. Olives and Vineyards and old towns ... but no Prostitutes hereon this tourist route in ChiantiBut then again, she had a padded chair and an umbrella for shade and she was sitting in an area that was safe from traffic.  At first I thought she must be selling something, but there were no items nearby.And then I learned what she was selling by the side of the road out in the country miles away from the city walls … she was a prostitute.Prostitution is legal in Italy.  Which surprised me since Italy is such a strong Catholic country.And due to a series of court rulings, prostitution is practiced not in the cities or homes or brothels but out on country roads.Country roads, of course, are where I have been spending a lot of time on my bike.There seem to be agreed-upon roads for prostitution – though the “red light” road designation is not showing up on my maps of course.  But clustering makes for easier shopping if you are taking advantage of these services.The first prostitutes I saw were outside the city walls of Lucca.  They were all African women – maybe Somali immigrants or possibly Nigerian women trafficked in with the sex trade.  They were all ages and sizes.  They were dressed in bright colors, but generally simply – a short skirt or leggings but generally without the revealing/blingy clothes one thinks of when you visualize a prostitute.  They sat under umbrellas to stay more comfortable from the sun.  Other times I saw African prostitutes gathering together to share lunch together.  These women always give a waive and friendly “Ciao” as I pass by and greet them.I have been told that most of these African women around Lucca