On the road in Serie D: 4th Division Trastevere flying high in Italy’s soccer lowlands

His 35-year-old face is weathered, in kind of a rugged Italian sort of way. He has a perpetual scruffy beard. Lines are forming around eyes that have seen too many patchy soccer fields, tiny towns and lonely roads.
Stefano Tajarol has the look of Serie D.
This is the bottom branch of Italy’s soccer tree, hanging just above the rubble of amateurism. Serie D has 162 teams spread from rural Sicily to the foothills of the Italian Alps. Francavilla. Ghivizzano. Darfo Boario. They are towns you’ll never see in a guide book. They’re all trying to climb atop one of nine divisions for promotion to Lega Pro, Italy’s third division where there are higher salaries, historic stadiums and — gasp! — television.
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New Year’s Eve in Stockholm: Sauna, Swedish meatballs and a beautiful blonde

Those views changed on this trip. Stockholm will never make the cover of Budget Travel magazine or the to-do lists of hygiene-challenged backpackers. It will, however, continue to be a world leader in progressive thinking and healthy living. I couldn’t think of a better place to end the last year on earth before Donald Trump blows it up after Xi Jinping flips him off on Twitter.
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“The Young Pope” will be major smash hit in U.S. — whether I’m seen in it or not

If you’re a fan of Jude Law and Diane Keaton, if you’re a fan of Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino (“The Great Beauty”), if you’re a fan of twisting sacred institutions such as the Catholic Church, do not miss this series. Sorrentino, a native of Naples, turns the church inside out. As the real, modern Catholic Church makes major strides toward the modern world under current Pope Francis, Sorrentino’s pope wants the church to revert practically back to the Inquisition. Basically, Law plays the first pope who is a complete, 100 percent dick.
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Another Earthquake hits Italy: A prime minister resigns and the EU nervously waits

Prime minister Matteo Renzi’s resignation Monday following Sunday’s runaway defeat of his referendum has left Italy’s political future wildly up in the air. In Italian politics, that’s a little like saying the Ganges River is more filthy than usual. However, it’s true. Italy may be another domino that falls in the European Union, which is starting to reveal cracks like a windshield of a car driving through a war zone.
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Budapest: Coming in from the cold one thermal bath at a time

Welcome to life in Budapest. It’s where thermal baths are part of the lifestyle, not just a luxury taken on weekend getaways as Marina and I recently took. Budapest has had a brutal, violent past. However, it is lucky in one regard. It sits atop a geological fault where nearly 8 million gallons of water, in varying degrees of sensually warm temperatures, pour from 123 thermal and 400 mineral springs.
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Cooking Thanksgiving in Rome turns out to be a real turkey

Our Thanksgiving meal, our first venture into full-scale American hospitality, was just short of an apocalypse. I used the word “short” because I heard no documented reports of botulism. We learned that life as an ex-pat isn’t always like “Under a Tuscan Sun.” Frances Mayes never mentioned anything about cleaning up day-old chicory off a floor.
First, putting on a Thanksgiving affair in Rome is an ordeal nothing short of packing for relocation to Mercury.
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