Thursday, December 30, 2010

An American In Italy

I have made a permanent move to Italy. You can read more about these new adventures and travel tips and ideas at:

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Year of Pleasure and Beauty

Buy a printed copy of this blog in book form at:

Thanks and Enjoy! Karen

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saying Goodbye.....Arrivederci

How do you say goodbye to a place where you feel you belong? Although I have decided to return to the U.S. I cannot say goodbye, only arriverderci, which translates to “we will see each other again”. I have walked the streets these last few weeks with a different purpose than I started. The intent was to memorize and breathe in and make everything a part of me. Little did I realize, that has already happened, and there is no taking it away.

My memories are well documented here in my blog (with a few extras written elsewhere for my eyes only!) I have photo upon photo of practically everything in Florence. Most of these are vividly engraved on my heart and in my mind. I am already planning a return “visit” and my long term plans are to retire in Italy, although maybe not in Florence.

This place holds the most special place in my heart. I took a big risk (several of them actually) to come here and live for a year. It was exhilarating, stimulating, frightening, and overwhelming, but oh the rewards. I could not have dreamed a dream this beautiful and impactful for anyone in their life. I am so thankful for everyone that helped me get here and for everyone who stayed in touch and showed their support, and visited, and cheered me on in my adventure. I hope that each of you get to experience something such as this, in your own way, in your lifetime.

As I leave, I will turn my heart towards the business at hand, which is the same as last year in many ways... Living somewhere else, and doing something different!

I return to the States on November 28th. Ce vediamo apresto! Ciao!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Elderly in Italy

The Elderly in Italy are treated with a great deal of respect, and it’s respect they deserve. Italy is not equipped for the handicapped, so elderly folks have to “suck it up”. There are stairs versus elevators, cobblestones streets, narrow sidewalks, lots of people walking close together, and quickly. I often see very elderly folks with their canes and orthopaedic shoes, making their way to the markets, bars, or stores.

Today, I was behind a very elderly lady at the grocery store. She had a cloth bag that she used to gather her things, and then took them out to lay them on the belt. In Italy, you must bag your own groceries, and you must pay for the bags, or bring your own back to carry away your things. She of course had a huge handbag, and it took days for her to get her money out and pay. In the meantime, she had not begun to put her groceries back in the bag.

The cashier patiently started checking me out, and handing me my things to place in the bag one at a time, so the elderly woman could remove her things from the tray at the end of the belt. She asked for a bag, after she had paid, and he gave her one for no charge.

I bagged my things, paid, and made my way around the woman, who was still slowly but surely putting her things into the bag. The other people in the line waited and worked around her as she gathered her things. I pray that someday, I will be that old woman in Italy!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Christmas Decor

Right after All Saints Day, which is November 1st Italy starts to drag out the holiday decorations. Recently, the middle of November, the department stores, sweet shops and others have put up their Christmas windows.

The “streets” have garland lights across them, chestnuts are being sold from an open roaster on the street, Christmas cakes, candy and toys are everywhere. It doesn’t snow here often at all, but all of this concrete and the wind from the Arno, sure make it seem cold enough too!

I went outside the city to a mall. Alas, a mall, is a mall, is a mall.

Buon Natale!


No, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Italy. The pilgrims did not land here. Americans are shocked to find that other countries don’t celebrate this Holiday, but I am not sure why. Italians have holidays that we don’t have, and a lot of them.

Anyway, I am celebrating Thanksgiving today. I am taking myself out for one of the famous “duck” dinners. Yes, no turkey, but something here that I love very much. I am sure I will have a large plate of spaghetti with it and a nice bottle of wine as well.

When my kids were growing up, our tradition at Thanksgiving Dinner was to reflect on our gifts during the year, and talk about what we are thankful for in our lives. In keep with that tradition, I will do that here.

I am thankful for:

1. My parents good health
2. My 2 sons independence
3. My good health
4. The 3 things above plus a few other people and miracles allowed me to have this wonderful year in Italy.
5. My friends, who I have always cherished, but it is true that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. You have all been a wonderful support system and such good company on the internet
6. Taking risks (May I always assess those wisely....well, almost always)
7. Learning Italian
8. Living simpler
9. Not having so much “stuff”
10. Getting to live somewhere else and do something different again next year!

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a staple in Italy. A staple in the kitchen, and a major source of production and jobs in Italy. Olive trees line the Tuscan hillside with their sage and silvery green leaves. They are a beautiful site. The Mediterranean countries produce 95% of the olive oil in the world.

There are many types of olive oil depending on how it is pressed and when. Italian olive oil can obtain a denominazione di origini protteta (denomination of protected origin) if the olive tress come from certain areas of Italy, just like certain wines.

In Santa Croce, this weekend, there was a tent set up with different olive oil producers demonstrating and selling their wares. Olive oils, like wines, have different characteristics based on where they are grown. There is a certain way to taste olive oils.

Olive oil is said to have heath benefits because it is comprised of more monounsaturated fat that other oils. In the United States, producers of olive oil may place the following health claim on product labels:
1. Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.[10]

I love olive oil, but my pallette for tasting them is not as developed as my wine tasting pallette. I can detect the ones that are more salty, nutty, etc. Just like wine though, I pretty much like them all!

It’s no wonder that Italians life span on average is 3 years longer than the USA, and the second highest in the world (behind Japan). I have done my body a service this year with all of the olive oil, red wine, and chocolate I have eaten!