I am embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t heard of David Farley or his book until I saw him on a panel at a TBEX Travel Conference that I attended over the summer. And that’s a shame really. After hearing him speak and listening to other attendees rave about his comical book, based in Italy, I knew I had to check it out!
An Irreverent Curiosity is a hilarious memoir based on David’s quest to find out what happened to an ancient Roman Catholic relic, known in Italian as the prepuzio, which the foreskin of Jesus Christ. Farley, his wife and his chihuahua Abraham Lincoln move to the tiny village of Calcata in an attempt to uncover the history of the relic and it’s disappearance from the local church – the last known site of the foreskin.
I’m not going to review the book here – instead I’ll point you to the New York Times review, which I encourage you to read.
I’m happy to report that I recently read the book and absolutely loved it, which is why I asked David if he would pop by for a quick Q&A.
David pointed out that there could be no better possible time of year to discuss a book dedicated to the quest of Jesus’ foreskin – and I am inclined to agree. So if you need a last-minute Christmas gift for an Italophile in your life, we both happen to think a copy of An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Townwould be perfect!
Here’s our interview:
1. Calcata seems like a very “interesting” place indeed. Do you think it would make a great off-the-beaten-path destination for travelers heading to Rome? What would you advise folks not to miss during a visit?
Most definitely. After all, that is how I discovered Calcata. I ended up writing an article for the New York Times about Calcata and how it makes for a great day trip from Rome. It’s best to go on the weekends when all the art galleries and restaurants are open. The place is small enough that there aren’t really any sites to check off a list–though you can see the spot in the church above the altar where the Holy Foreskin once rested; the Faliscan tombs carved into the base of the cliffsides below Calcata, and see plenty of interesting art. Really, though, the best thing to do in Calcata is eat lunch and then hang out on marble-bench-lined piazza for a little while.
2. You and I share a passion for Italy. What is it about Italy that keeps you coming back? Any plans to make a permanent move?
It’s hard to dislike Italy. Though I have to admit, after spending so much time there, I started to see through the romanticization of it and, underneath it all, Italy can be a wicked, quite intolerant place. So are a lot of places in the world, but because Italy is so aesthetically beautiful on so many levels and because the food is so good and accessible and easy to comprehend, a lot of us tend to overlook the negative things. I’d love to move back to Rome, but have no plans at the moment.
3. I’m curious about what the folks of Calcata thought of your book? Have you gotten any feedback – good or bad – from any of the locals?
I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback, actually. So I’m not entirely sure.
4. If you were stuck for all eternity on a deserted island, which of the Calcata characters in your book would you want to be there with you and why?
Ooh, good question. I’d go with Pancho. He was like a brother to me and is always entertaining and fun to hang out with. Also, he’s a chef, so he’d be obligated to do all the cooking on the island.
5. What’s next for you David? Any new projects we can look forward to? Where can we find your writing these days?
I wish I could say I had another book project on the horizon, but I haven’t found another topic that has intrigued me enough to undertake anything else. After all, it’s hard to top the Holy Foreskin and Calcata. So for now, I’m just writing for magazines and newspaper. Most of my published work can be found on my website: www.dfarley.com
David Farley is the author of the award-winning “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town” (PenguinGotham Books, 2009) and co-editor of the anthology “Travelers’ Tales Prague and the Czech Republic: True Stories” (Travelers’ Tales, 2006). He writes about food and travel for the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic Traveler, Slate.com, and Gadling.com, among other publications. He teaches writing at New York University.
Thank you so much David! It was fun getting to know you a bit better. I, myself, can’t wait to visit Calcata one day. But until then, I’ll just have to experience it through your words.
EDITED : THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED. CONGRATS TO THE WINNER AND THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!
And speaking of David’s book, he was kind enough to give one lucky reader a free copy of An Irreverent Curiosity. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post by 11:59 EST on Wednesday, December 29th, 2010. A winner will be selected using the Random Number Generator and announced on December 30th on my Facebook Fan Page.