Living the Middle Ages

I posted a while back about Italian surnames as sources for fantasy character names – a recent discovery is Scannagatti (“Cat Killer”). Italian places are a source of inspiration as well, particularly for Early Medieval-style fantasy settings.

At the moment, we are visiting the in-laws in the region of Lunigiana, which covers parts of Tuscany and Liguria. There are some great fantasy place names as well, such as Ponterotto (“Broken Bridge”). The broken bridge is still there, unfixed since the 1600s, although that is not such an unusual wait for repairs in Italy… . Another favourite place name is Canalescuro (“Dark Canal”) – don’t drink the water, whatever you do!

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The Middle Ages are still very much alive here – the above photo shows a traditional cooking method still in use. Ceramic pots are heated red hot over a fire amd then removed. The food is placed in the container and cooked inside it by the heat.

This photo is from a “sagra” (traditional food festival”). People sit outside at long wooden benches. The food is rustic focaccie filled with cheese or meat, meat gnawed from the bone, etc. Probably a survival from the Lombards, Franks and other Germanic peoples from over 1,000 years ago. A small Oktoberfest with much less alcohol!

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The second photo shows Otto, the festival’s tutelary spirit. Otto does the rounds of the tables, accepting offerings from devotees, which he buries for later consumption. Otto is 11 years old and a bit gouty from all the red meat, but will probably preside for many more years!

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