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the restless legs reading series: gatherings for the wanderlust stricken. Don't click here.
October 2010

An Irreverent Curiosity wins a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for best book.

April 2010

NPR/Travels with Rick Steves

Listen to the interview here (starting about 32:00 in).

December 2009

Our Top Books of the Decade
--Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Best Travel Books of 2009

Best Travel Books of 2009
--Los Angeles Times

November 2009
The Brooklyn Rail

"Chase to the Cut"

Whatever happened to Jesus' foreskin?
The Apocryphal Gospels reveal that shortly after his birth, Jesus' mother gave it to an old Hebrew woman who had the prescience to preserve it in a jar of nard. Fast-forward one millennium, to a time when spiritual relics are all the rage and an idea takes hold that, in between rising from the dead and ascending to heaven, Jesus may have left a little piece of himself behind--a snippet of flesh; the Santissimo Prepuzio; the Holy Foreskin.

Click here for the rest...

August 23, 2009
The New York Times

When the American travel writer David Farley learned that a controversial Roman Catholic relic--the circumsized foreskin of the infant Jesus--had suddenly vanished in 1983 from the Italian village of Calcata, where it had been the object of pilgrimages and mainstay of the local economy for centuries, he suspected herein lay a peculiar tale, to say the least.

What he couldn't have known until he and his wife moved to Calcata in 2006 and attempted to solve the mystery of the missing prepuce, or prepuzio in Italian, was just how outlandish the truth would turn out to be.

Read the rest of the review here.

August 10, 2009
The New Yorker

"The Exchange: David Farley"

David Farley, a travel writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times and the Best American Travel Writing series, has published his first book, "An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church's Strangest Relic in Italy's Oddest Town." The relic? The foreskin of Jesus Christ, which went missing from a church in the village of Calcata in 1983. Recently, Farley answered questions about his book for The Exchange.
Click here to read the interview.

July 25, 2009
The New York Post

"Original Skin"

Post-Vatican II Catholics may not be well-acquainted with the cult of relics -- or as some irreverently call them, "praying tackle." They might be the bones of a saint (a relic of the highest order), or simply a piece of cloth that has touched a saint's tomb (a fourth-class relic.) Or it might be the foreskin of Jesus Christ himself -- carne vera sacra, the "real holy flesh."

Read the rest of the review here.

July 19, 2009
The Travel Show with Arthur Frommer
WOR Radio

Click here to listen to my interview with Arthur Frommer.

July 13, 2009

Striking a balance between being informative and being entertaining is one of the most difficult aspects of non-fiction writing. And when it comes to travel writing, it becomes even more challenging. The author needs to educate readers about people and places while also keeping them engaged in his own personal story. Thankfully, travel writer David Farley has done just that and managed to go the extra mile of writing a truly enjoyable, educational and funny chronicle of his time in Calcata, Italy searching for Jesus' foreskin. Yes, you read that correctly. He was searching for the lost foreskin of Jesus and details it in his new book, An Irreverent Curiosity. Along the way, he met a wide array of locals, each quirkier than the last. He deceived priests at the Vatican, befriended a woman who talks to birds and managed to put a tiny village back on the map. I recently sat down with Farley at a bar in New York City to discuss his adventure, how he ended up being called Gary Coleman and what it's like to be known as "the foreskin guy."

Read the questions and answers here.


What to read on vacation--selections from the five most enticing reads of summer.
--New York magazine (July 12, 2009)

"Required reading."
--Outside magazine (July 2009 issue)

July 12, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
by Tony Horwitz

In a scholarly text, you'll find it indexed under "Relics, strange." In the Vatican's view, the subject is so sensitive that speaking or writing about it can get you excommunicated. In Italian, its whispered name is Il Santissimo Prepuzio; in Latin, Praeputium. In English: "The Holy Foreskin." This snip of Jesus' flesh is also the object of David Farley's bizarre quest in his aptly named travelogue, "An Irreverent Curiosity."

Read the entire review here.

July 10, 2009
Wandering Educators

"An Irreverent Curiosity: Exploring History and Place in Italy"

We're happy to be celebrating an extraordinary new book, An Irreverent Curiosity, by travel writer David Farley. David's writing appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, National Geographic Adventure,, and, among many other publications. As well, he teaches travel writing at New York University. The co-editor of Travelers' Tales Prague and the Czech Republic: True Stories, An Irreverent Curiosity is his second book, and focuses on his quest to trace the Holy Foreskin of Jesus.

Read the rest here.

July 10, 2009
The Gypsy's Guide

"Eight Questions for David Farley"

David Farley's work as a travel writer has appeared in national magazines, web publications, and newspapers including the The New York Times, The Washington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, Playboy, National Geographic Traveler and  He has lived in some of the world's most fascinating cities including Prague, Rome, and, currently, New York.  Now his first book, An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church's Strangest Relic in Italy's Oddest Town (Penguin/Gotham Books) chronicles his time spent in a small town outside of Rome and his personal quest to solve a spiritual mystery. 

Read the interview here.

July 9, 2009
Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel

"Talking about 'An Irreverent Curiosity'"
A chat with the author of one of the season's most buzzed about travel books.

Hitting bookstores today is a travel book with an unusual story: An Irreverent Curiosity. Writer David Farley attempts to explain the mysterious disappearance of the foreskin of Jesus from the Italian hill town of Calcata. The plot of this nonfiction tale is reminiscent of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt's international bestseller about some peculiar goings-on in Savannah, Ga.
I recently spoke with Farley about the book:

Read the interview here.

July 9, 2009
World Hum

"Interview with David Farley: "An Irreverent Curiosity"

World Hum readers know David Farley's stories are engaging ("On the Perils of Travel Writing), evocative ("The Pasta Nazi") and frequently downright funny ("How to Write a Bad Travel Story").

Now, he just may have written his oddest and most intriguing story of all: the tale of his journey to a small Italian village to discover why Jesus's foreskin-a holy relic that had reportedly been safeguarded in the village for centuries-disappeared. The book is called An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Churchs Strangest Relic in Italys Oddest Town and it comes out today to rave reviews.

Read the interview here.

July 1, 2009
National Geographic Traveler
By Don George

New Books that Transport Us

I love quest stories and I love Italy, so it was almost pre-ordained that I would love David Farley's An Irreverent Curiosity--the delightful depiction of a medieval-meets-New-Age hilltop Italian town and the role of a controversial but revered relic in its history.

The relic is the foreskin of Jesus Christ, and Farley delivers a compelling mix of history, sociology, and travel reportage as he doggedly traces the tale of the Holy Foreskin's arrival in the town of Calcata and then tries to unravel the mystery of its disappearance in 1983. Told with gusto, good humor, and a healthy respect for eccentricity, Farley's quixotic account is an eloquent testament to the power of travel--and travail--to entertain and illuminate.

June 15, 2009
By Hana R. Alberts

"Christianity's Raunchiest Relic"

In 1737, when Galileo's remains were transferred from a humble grave to an opulent mausoleum in one Florence's largest churches, his body mover had an entrepreneurial idea. Anton Francesco Gori surreptitiously lopped off the middle finger of Galileo's right hand, figuring that it would be worth something to the dead astronomer's devotees.

...Read the rest of the review here.


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