Friday, August 31, 2007

Ancora Imprare (Still Learning)

It is amazing what we don’t know in life! It’s also amazing how much a person can learn given a different situation. When I think back over the past few months, it is overwhelming. Here are a few of the things I have learned in this process:

1. You get much less for your household goods than you paid for them.
2. Identifying "hot" real estate can make dreams come true.
3. If you tell people your dreams, they will help you make them come true
4. I have more wonderful and special friends that I ever realized
5. I have raised 2 strong, independent, wonderful sons.
6. My family is supportive in all the crazy things I do, even when they question them..
7. Music and books are 2 things I can’t live without
8. I don’t need a TV
9. I never needed most of the things that I bought.
10. Eating bread, cheese, and wine is a perfect diet.
11. Walking as transportation is wonderful.
12. Talking to strangers is rewarding
13. Speaking another language is difficult, but necessary in this world.
14, People are more alike than different all over the world.
15. Air conditioning is over rated
16. Art, architecture and music need to have a place in my life everyday.
17. Variety is the spice of life.
18. There are more friendly and nice people in the world than not.
19. Bad things happen to good people.
20. My cats are happier without me than I am without them
21. Italian culture is very interesting and very different than American culture.
22. The Italian language, and some Arabic, and some French, and some German.
23. More about Ramadan than I ever would have thought
24. I am actually a night owl

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Insalata Caprese

It occurred to me today when I was making lunch, that I had to write a blog about Caprese salads, since it is a main staple in my life in Florence. These salads have always been one of my favorite, even before moving to Florence, and appear on every menu here. They are so easy to make, it seems a shame to buy one in a restaurant, and I started having them for lunch when I first arrived.

In March, the tomatoes here were already fabulous. In Southern Italy, they grow tomatoes all year, and they are sweet and delicious, and I think I could turn into one by now. I know that there are many months where you cannot find a good tomato on the East coast in the states. Not so here!

The salad is the color of the Italian flag. Red tomatoes, either large sliced or the smaller cherry or grape variety, mozzarella cheese (either the small balls, or large ones sliced to fit the tomatoes,) and slivers of fresh basil. Since I am trying to be "the good Italian", I of course have a fresh basil plant in my apartment! You combine these three ingredients, add salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and enjoy! Nothing is better on a hot summer day, that’s for sure!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Santa Croce

Tomb of Leonardo Da Vinci

Tomb of Michelangelo

Santa Croce is the name of the church and the area where I live. I think that Santa Croce is the most beautiful and interesting church in Florence.

The church is gothic style and was built in 1294. The most interesting thing about it is the fact that many famous Florentines are buried there, for example: Michelangelo, Galileo, Dante, Donatello, and Machiavelli, to name a few.

The tombs are beautiful, and of course my favorite is Michelangelo’s who has sculpted figures of Painting, Architecture and Sculpture on top of it.
There is a lovely cloister, which was designed by Brunelleschi in 1420 and it has Luca della Robbia terra cotta roundels of the Apostles.

I think many people overlook Santa Croce, because it is not on the beaten path of the tourists. The piazza is a great place to people watch and is particularly appealing in the Fall and Winter because it absorbs the sun beautifully and stays warm.

The buildings and restaurants in the piazza are also important. There are frescoes and enotecas all around, and the night life in this area is unbeatable in Florence.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Travel and Leisure Article

Just in case you think my version of Florence is exaggerated!

Cowboys, Egyptians, and Italians

Linda and I have missed our "girls weekends" when she would come to Nashville, and we would dress to the 9's and hit the cowboy bars. We always had fun with dinner, drinks, and dancing, and we expected her trip to Florence to be no different, and we were right! Well . . . there were some differences.

Two red headed women in Florence are all that the city can handle! We didn’t get arrested, but did border on "trouble." During the day we spent time going to the culture events, and in the evenings, it was pure decadent pleasure! We kept to my schedule of the afternoon nap in order to make the most of our evenings, and we did!

Just like school girls, we got ready in the evenings with wine in hand, and headed out for an appertivo. We drank wine instead of vodka. We listened to music at the various venues in Florence, classical, opera, and rock . . . but no country, and had late dinners followed by an encounter with an Egyptian man I have been seeing. "Slowly", an after hours bar (for grown ups) has an extraordinary bartender named, Luca, who filled our wine glasses on the house when they were empty. The evening was topped off with a visit to Piazzele Michelangelo, and grilled cheese in my kitchen at 3:00 a.m. just like the old days! In the mornings, well very late in the morning, we laid in bed and talked about "HBS", and other equally inappropriate topics and laughed until the tears ran down our cheeks.

Other evening adventures included very interesting discussions with Simone and Ceaserai, about how to chose women by the shoes they wear, watching "the wino" pee on the Hercules statue, drinking a bottle of wine at night while listening to music in Piazza della Signoria, meeting Asa from Kosovo, a mischievous streak when I was going to let the air out of Francesco’s bicycle tires, and he looked out the window from the hotel were he works to wave at us, and meeting Giorgio, who asked both of us to marry him and refused to take no for an answer, and finally "Finding Memo".

What a blast!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Having people in town and showing them the sights allows me to look at things once more with a "different" perspective. I can honestly say that I don’t take the art and beauty of Florence for granted in any way, and appreciate and recognize and relish all that the city has to offer everyday.

When Linda was visiting, and while she was in the Uffizi, I waited for her in Piazza della Signoria on the loggia. The loggia is a large and beautiful open building in the Piazza that contains many important sculptures, and it was built in 1382..

It was raining that day, and her admission time was at 9 a.m. and I am never in the piazza at that time of day because of school. It was amazing how crowded it was, and the rain was not keeping anyone away. The Loggia is an excellent place to sit, because it is covered, and higher on the piazza which allows a nice vantage point to see everything that is going on.

I looked around at the sculptures there, and was amazed with my surroundings. Really I have never been that fond of or interested in sculptures, but my appreciation and knowledge about them has grown here in Florence. Of course, "Il David" by Michelangelo remains one of my most favorite things on earth, and a replica of that sculpture stands in the position of the original David at the door to the Palazzo Vecchio. On the other side of the door is Hercules and Cacus (1533) by Bandeinelli. Some of my other favorites on the loggia, and the most famous, are Cellini’s Perseus-a bronze of Perseus holding Medusa’s head (1584), The Rape of the Sabine Women (1583). All of these are very violent depictions, but the motion and emotion evoked are profound.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Learning to Speak Italian

Learning to speak Italian has been a remarkable experience for me. I took Spanish for 3 years in high school, but used it sparingly over the years, and never made any headway with improving those skills.

I totally underestimated the difficulty of learning a new particular Italian which is a very "specific" language. They use feminine and masculine forms, and the verb forms change to match the person. There are 14 tenses for conjugating verbs, and there are 7 forms of speaking depending on how, what when and where, you are speaking and whether you are speaking or writing.

At my school there are 6 levels. I of course started at Level 1, and today, I am finishing level 4. I feel a strong sense of accomplishment, but also that I have far to go to consider myself "fluent" in Italian. I would say today that I can speak the language, but absolutely am not fluent.

The courses are set up in 2 week segments. Few people start at level 1 as I have and stay for 6 months. Most often people have been studying Italian for years, and come to the school to take their skills to the next level. Generally they stay 2 weeks to a month. Of course, when you come for a short period of time, you want to learn as much as possible. Therefore, the 2 week courses, are CRAMMED with material.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that "my hard drive was full" and to decide I needed to repeat some of the courses. That was really helpful for several reasons: 1. It allowed me to go at a slower pace 2. I reinforced things I had learned. 3. When I had visitors or traveled, it isn’t so stressful if I have to miss class. It has taken me 20 weeks to complete 12 weeks of classes back to back.

My comprehension, reading and writing skills are definitely at level 4. I am confident when spoken to in most situations of what is being said. I can watch TV, listen to the news, and "eavesdrop" on conversations in the piazza. When it comes to speaking, I am a little behind there.

I can carry on a decent conversation. However, most of the conversations that I have are about the same things....where I am from, why I am here, what I do for a living, my family, my friends, visitors, travels, etc. My vocabulary around speaking of these things is fine and my sentences are usually pretty simple. Books, newspapers, and tv shows usually have more complex sentences, and larger vocabularies, that when reading or hearing them, I can get the "gist" of, but if I had to say those things, would really need to know and be able to use the words correctly.

It is very strange for me to sit in a classroom of very bright international students usually no older than 24, and have them run circles around me in their abilities! It has been humbling but oh so rewarding!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Walking to School in the Rain

Today, August 23, 2007, is the first day since April that I had to walk to school in the rain! Isn’t that amazing? I think the weather this summer in Florence has been a little unusual, even though it is not usually very rainy, this summer it has hardly rained at all causing drought conditions.

This week, it has rained every day, and for a person who enjoys change, it was welcome. I never realized how much I lived by the motto "Make hay when the sunshines". I guess in my "normal" life, it doesn’t matter much, because I don’t have time to do many things outside. Since I have been here, my mentality has been that if the sun is shining(or the weather nice), I will be out and about in the city. Because the weather is always nice, this has caused me to be a little manic, and I hardly ever spend any time in my apartment, painting, reading, cleaning, watching movies, and all those other "rainy day" activities.

That’s fine by me, because you can do those things any time, right?

The thing that I thought was interesting is that even though it was pouring rain, I still thoroughly enjoyed my walk to school in the rain. Florence is beautiful in the rain, it can’t be masked and the tourists slept in! The city was quiet, gray, and oh so romantic.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Every Thing's Not Perfect

In the event that you have read my blog and think that everything is perfect here in Florence, I just wanted to set the record straight. It’s not. Even through these "rose colored glasses" some things are just aggravating. Not necessarily for me, but for a lot of people, especially Americans. For example:

1. The grocery store runs out of things regularly
2. There are long lines in the grocery and they don’t care
3. The stores aren’t open at all times of the day and night
4. Electricity and everything else is expensive.
5. It is hard to walk on the sidewalks because they are narrow, and the roads are cobblestone. You constantly have to look down.
6. The Arno is dirty
7. The city is loud
8. You always have to pay for water in restaurants
9. They never serve ice.
10. You can’t find sour cream.
11. There is horse poop on the streets
12. Sometimes the streets smell of urine because it never rains and the sewers don’t move.
13. Nothing starts "on time"
14. You always have to ask for the check in a restaurant.
15. There is no bacon and eggs for breakfast
16. The mail is unpredictable and unreliable
17. There is no parking
18. You can’t drive on many of the streets
19. There are so many tourists you can hardly breathe
20. The movie theaters close in the summer

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Street Vendors

There are lots of street vendors in Florence, and throughout Italy. It is illegal to purchase goods from these people, and also illegal for them to sell it, but the enforcement seems to be more for the people who purchase goods. It is definitely "Buyer Beware!". There are signs all over Italy, and notes in most of the travel guide books about the illegalities, but since illegal goods are sold everywhere, I think most people ignore it.

In New York City you can find these same counterfeit goods being sold on the streets. Watches, sunglasses, and handbags are the most popular items. In addition to it being illegal because they are counterfeit, I believe there are also permits required to sell things on the street, which these vendors do not have.

In Florence, the vendors are usually African or Moroccan. They carry their handbags in large white sheets on their backs through the city, and unfold them on the streets and set up, probably hundreds of times per day. There will be rows and rows of them on the street, and it is impossible for the police not to know they are there. When the police come by, they gather their sheets over the goods, and wait for the police to pass, then set up again. They do not try to hide that they are selling these things, but seem not to want to be caught actually exchanging goods for money.

I once saw a mother get yelled at by the police for buying a toy "helicopter" in the piazza for her son. The vendor was there also, but the enforcement of the law was with the purchaser.

I have bought bags from these vendors in Rome and Venice, but not here in Florence. If you do want to buy something, you have to be quick about it. The vendors watch for people looking at the merchandise and then seize the opportunity to apply heavy sales pressure. It is dangerous to act interested or to make eye contact with one of these vendors if you are not really interested in buying. The sales pressure is unbelievable. They will follow you down the street with the product trying to negotiate a price!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Basilica of San Lorenzo

The church of San Lorenzo was consecrated in 393, and reconsecrated in 1059 after being considerably enlarged. Nothing of the original buildings is visible today because they were covered up by the new work ordered in the late 14th century.

The church as it stands now was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, great Florentine architect, most well known for designing the Duomo in Florence. Work began on Brunelleschi’s plans in 1421, and was completed in 1428. San Lorenzo was the church of the Medici family who ruled Florence for hundreds of years.

The outside of the church remains as it was built during the renaissance, and is rough and not much to look at. It is a surprise when you enter the building, because the inside is quite ornate, with marble floors and columns and a beautiful gold leaf carved panel ceiling.

There are many important works of art contained in this church. Some of the most important are the Martelli Sarcophagus by Donatello, and also 2 bronze pulpits by Donatello. There is a painting of the Annunciation by Filippo Lippi, one of the great renaissance painters, and another painting by Pietro Annigone, called Saint Joseph and the Christ Child which was painted in 1964. The difference in this painting and its modern elements are immediately recognizable.
Other buildings in the area and attached to the church are also of interest and add another dimension to the outside of San Lorenzo and is one of my favorite "rooftop viewings". The Biblioteca (library of the Medici use to house the manuscripts collected by the Medici, and the Campinile, and the Cappelle Medicee. In the Biblioteca, there is a staircase made of sandstone that was one of Michelangelo’s most innovative designs. It was built by Ammannatti in 1559. Michelangelo also designed the desks and ceiling of the Biblioteca. In the Cappella Dei Principi, Michelangelo’s creations symbolizing Night, Day, Dawn and Dusk are among his greatest works and decorate the Medici Tombs.

For those who say, "to hell with Renassaince art, and the cathedrals", there is a fabulous market-the best place to buy leather and other goods in Florence. Also, the food market, Mercato Centrale, is not to be missed!

Friday, August 17, 2007

What "They" Say About Americans

People all over the world like to engage in discussions with Americans about capitalism and politics. Those of you who know me well, understand that I believe in the "Love it or Leave it" philosophy, and therefore, for the time being, have left the US.

Living here gives me new perspectives on the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of American life everyday. I see things through my own eyes, and through the eyes of others. Some of the people I have discussions with have been to the US, and others have not, but there are consistent themes and beliefs from people all over the world about the US and Americans. Some of them are not surprising and some are.

Here are some of the things that in general, I hear regularly about the US:

1. It is an easier life, with opportunity for those who want it.
2. Things are less expensive.(food, housing, electricity, gas)
3. There are a lot of "conveniences" (easy to buy anything at any time of the day or night ,dishwashers, cars, washers, dryers, )
4. There are freedoms that other countries do not have ( the biggest example of this is around freedom of speech-being able to say that you disagree with or do not like the government without fear of repercussions)
5. Bush is a war monger, he has endangered the US throughout the world.
6. Americans are not as safe as they used to be, and places where Americans are, or go, also are not as safe as a result.
7. Americans are friendly, but their government is not.
8. Americans are always on a schedule, and always have a plan (not easy to relax, or go with the flow)
9. Americans drink to the point of intoxication more than other cultures.
10. Americans do not eat well, but eat a lot.
11. Americans are unaware that places and people exist outside of the USA and do not understand the political and economic impact of decisions that are made on themselves and the rest of the world.
12. Americans do not engage in politics in their own country or around the world.
13. American music rules.

Interesting, huh?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Old Friends in New Places

It is so much fun to have visitors in Florence. Whenever I have lived somewhere new, I always want to share the joy of where I live with the others I care about. It has been so easy in Florence!

I have made many new friends here, but nothing beats the old friends who know me personally and professionally. They know my personality, my family, my quirks, my habits, and they still like me.....go figure.

Amy and I travel together often, but have never been to Florence together. I have traveled with Amy and her sister Cheryl to NYC a few times, so it has been a real pleasure having them here to visit. We are all "foodies", and Florence is an excellent places to exercise that vice.

Cheryl had visited Florence last summer and located an excellent restaurant called Garga. I had not been there before, so for their first night here, we went. Of course, I had to take them to the bridge to show them the sunset first! We had Pasta "magnifica", Risotto with asparagus, Veal and avocado, and chicken with tomatoes and basil, which was superb. I don’t even have to tell you that we drank lots of wine do I? The meal and the restaurant were very fun and enjoyable, and met all of the accolades that Cheryl had given it previously.

Afterwards, we shared a bottle of prosecco in Piazza della Republica while watching many people make fools of themselves. In particular was one couple, who we found very entertaining. The woman thought she was Paris Hilton, and I am not sure who the man thought he was, but they entertained the entire crowd by dancing with each other and themselves. We started speculating and came to the conclusion that they worked for the restaurant and were there to bring out the worst in people and gather a crowd in the restaurant.

I am having fun showing off "behind the scenes" of Florence!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Venice in the Summer

I met Amy and Cheryl in Venice this weekend. We started our visit there, and they are coming to Florence after the weekend. The weather turned out to be beautiful, even though the forecast was for rain. The temperatures were perfect, and we enjoyed strolling the canaled streets, shopping, eating, and drinking.

Our first day there, we took a trip to the top of the campanille in San Marco Square. It was a beautiful clear summer day, and the views spectacular. This was my first trip to Venice in the summer, and contrary to reports from others that the canals were "smelly", I didn’t notice it at all!

The evening prior, we attended a concert of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in a church on San Marco. You just can’t hardly top that! Good friends, good company, fabulous seafood, excellent wine, and live classical music in an ancient church in the City of Angels. Bellisima!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I think I am addicted to these beautiful sunsets here in Florence. Florence is known for it’s beautiful light and the colorful cast it sends to paint the landscape in a variety of colors that will take your breath away

Almost everyday, I head to the bridge at sundown to see the sunset. I sometimes sit there for hours. Many people gather to take photos, so it’s a good place to people watch. There is a local hang out nearby called Noir, which is also a wonderful place to grab a glass of wine and apertivo.

I might be accused of digitally enhancing these photos, but I assure you I have not. I know it is unbelievable.....but you should see it in person.

On this particular day, there had been summer showers and thunderstorms for most of the afternoon. It was raining when I left the house and went into the Center of town for a glass of wine. When I came out at 8:30, I saw the pink tinge of a cloud high in the sky, and raced to the bridge. Boy was it worth it!

A Surreal Experience-Back in the U.S.A.

Being back in the USA was a surreal experience, and I wasn’t prepared for many of my "reactions" and observations. When I came to Italy, I knew things would be different and was expecting to notice the differences. I hadn’t expected to notice so many when I went back. Here are a few of the "ah ha’s" I had:

1. I haven’t been on a plane in 5 months, and didn’t even recognize it or miss being there until I got on the plane. Odd, when you consider I flew 36 weeks out of 52 last year once or twice per week, mostly for work, but often for pleasure.
2. I cried when I left Italy
3. I couldn’t believe how "temporary" everything looks in the US. (Lots of metal and pre fab construction)
4. The menus were huge and complicated. The portions were ridiculous!
5. The roads are big and wide, and everything is spread out and huge
6. Everyone was speaking English
7. I froze to death from the air conditioning on the plane, in the airport, in restaurants, in stores, in the car, in the house
8. My eyes swelled up and my allergies started as soon as I got to Nashville. I am allergic to Nashville.
9. I didn’t hear any church bells
10. I only walked from the house to the car and back again instead of the 6-12 miles per day I do in Florence.
11. When I arrived in Philadelphia and went through customs, I felt bad for the people who did not speak English. There did not appear to be any bilingual people assisting in immigration or customs, and the signs were only in English.
12. American coffee sucks......even Starbucks.
13. Some really strange conversations can take place in the presence of pain medications and alcohol.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Chip On My Shoulder

Having returned to Nashville recently, everyone who I saw wanted to know what I missed about the USA and what I liked better about Italy. It was a difficult conversation and one that I wasn’t prepared for, so I thought some preparation for my return at the end of the year is in order.

The preparation is for me, and those who might ask the same questions. I have already been told that before I return I must "get the chip off of my shoulder", but I have come to the realization in the past few days that the chip is there to least for a little while.

I’ve had a dream for years to live in another country and learn another language. It all started with reading Frances Mayes Bella Tuscany and Under the Tuscan Sun, and telling my husband then that I wanted to sell our house in Alexandria and travel to Europe with the kids until the proceeds from the house ran out. Well, the answer was a flat out no then, but the idea remained, and grew and finally became a reality. Another prompt to move from the country was when George Bush was elected.


When I was young (too young to know any better), I was a republican, up through the days of Ronald Reagan, who I adored. Although many of my views were Democratic while Reagan was President, it was easy to see "the other side". When Clinton became President, I clearly "converted" to a staunch Democrat, and my already liberal views continued to move rapidly more and more left.

When Bush ran against Al Gore, and the polls all said it was close, I never believed it. When Bush was elected, I was shocked and appalled. I still have doubts that Bush was legally elected. ( I prefer to believe in the "conspiracy theory" than to believe that a majority of my fellow Americans would consciously make the decision to put him into office.) It was at this time that I thought....." I am not like the majority of Americans who have elected this man into office!" Also, since I believe in free will and choice, and the premise of "love it or leave it", the idea to leave the United States started to surface because of political reasons.

The second time that Bush was elected, not only did I know that I was not like the majority of Americans, I thought that the majority of Americans who made the decision to re-elect this incompetent who had lied, has no intelligence, and is the biggest security threat to Americans that has presented itself in years, were/are crazy. At this point I knew that I felt strongly enough about this that I must leave the country.

Some of you are not surprised about these comments and have heard me exercise my constitutional right of Free Speech before around this issue. I knew that if I left the country, I would get a different perspective around George Bush, The USA, and Americans. Well, it was true, I did, and many of my observations, interpretations, learnings, and conclusions are not favorable.

This does not mean that I do not love my country. I do. I also cannot say that George Bush is responsible for all of the actions that America and Americans take around policies that affect the rest of the world. Until we as Americans start realizing that it is not all about us, not only about today, and not be so concerned about how it is going to affect the conveniences in our lives, America and Americans will be viewed as "spoiled brats" by much of the rest of the world. I have man questions about the direction that we are taking, the impact on the rest of the world, concerns about how the rest of the world views us, and concerns about how our actions in the USA and outside of the USA endanger us and our future.

Seeing how other people live, hearing them talk about things they think are important, it is clear to see that people are more alike than they are different all over the world. I won’t go into specifics about my political beliefs and some of the ways that I have changed, and I will return to the US, because I have not determined what my options are about living somewhere else permanently, however, I will remain an "ex-patriot" in my heart.

I write this to you as I said, in preparation for those questions....."What did you miss?" "What do you like better about Italy?" Here are the answers. I missed all of you, and sour cream and my cats. That’s all. What do I like better about Italy? Everything.

Now, I have said enough so that you can see that I do have a chip on my shoulder, and you know a little bit about why. If you want to know more, we can have a conversation and I will defend my position and you can defend yours. One great hope I have for the future of America is that George Bush cannot run again. This is a fact and one thing that makes the thought of returning a little easier. I do have a lot of fear around who will be elected next though! Get a clue people!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Night Owls and Vampires

Who knew I was such a night owl? My current life style is very "vampirish". It’s not a schedule I have ever kept in my life, but I am enjoying it now. The weather in Florence has been absolutely complaints there. It very rarely rains. There has been talk of a drought, so maybe it is raining less than usual this year. The sun always shines. The humidity is not to bad (20-40%-remember I am comparing with Nashville).

I walk to school in the mornings and it is cool-around 70 degrees at 8:30 a.m. It heats up pretty quickly, but there is almost always a breeze blowing. It has been 85-90 degrees at the hottest part of the day, and it drops to 65-70 in the evening.

While 85 or 90 is not too bad, with low humidity, when you are outside and walking everywhere, it can be draining. Add to that the hoards of people in the streets and sidewalks making my pedestrian road rage go berserk; there are good reasons to stay inside during the day.

When I get home from school at 1:00 p.m. I eat, blog, read email, do homework, and then I take a nap. This is the time of day when I might use my air conditioner, but it has been rare.

In the evening when the sun starts to go down, and there is a lot of shade in the narrow streets, I get ready to go out for la passiegata. This is usually around 6:30 p.m. The tourists are off the piazzas by now, showering and getting ready for dinner which for them is between 7-9, and for Italians between 8:30-10:30.

There are lots of live entertainment in the piazzas. There are opera singers, guitar players, jazz musicians, painters, mimes, poetry readings, skateboarding, and really just about anything you can think of. My routine is to visit the piazzas and talk with friends, then I go to the bridge to watch the sunset. After the sunset, I might have a bite to eat (this is around 9:30) and then back out to listen to music, walk, have coffee with friends, and enjoy the cool evening breezes until whatever time in the morning I decide I have had enough.

Usually, I don’t decide I have had enough, but that I must get some sleep in order to get up for school the next morning. I walk through the quiet streets at 1-2 a.m. usually alone, with no fear what so ever. Ahhhhhh, la dolce vita!

I am sure that you can see from the photos what the attraction is to the nighttime!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


On Saturday, after visiting Lake Garda, we drove back to Verona with the intention of finding a hotel room for Saturday evening since the campground could not take the camper. We parked along the Adige River, and entered through the Castel Vecchio into Verona.

Verona is the town famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette. It is picturesque and romantic, just as you would expect, and the balcony where Juliette allegedly had her famous nighttime encounter with Romeo is a place to visit.

Verona is famous today for their Opera Festivals held every summer in the Roman Arena in the center of town. The Arena resembles the Roman Coliseum in Rome. It was built in 30 AD and is the 3rd largest in the world, after Rome’s coliseum and the amphitheater at Santa Maria Cappua Vetere near Naples. It is very beautiful and the acoustics excellent.

We had some difficulty finding a place to park the camper, but after a while located a spot by the river and walked into the center of the city to look for a hotel. We found one relatively easily and it was just steps from the Arena which was nice.

Verona is in the Veneto region of Italy, the same as Venice. The drive out of Tuscany was a remarkable change in landscape from olive trees and vineyards and rolling hills to flat plains of produce, like corn, wheat, and many fruit trees, in particular pears. Verona, like most Italian cities is very small, and we walked around for most of the afternoon to see the sites. The buildings are romantic and beautiful, and Verona has many Roman ruins, second only to Rome.
The opera started at 9:00 p.m., but the gates opened at 7:30 and it was important to be there early as our seats were first come, first serve. We arrived at 7:00, the gates opened at 7:30 and we went into the theater. The seats were stone of course, and after 3 hours of the opera were uncomfortable. The production was beautiful, and so was the evening. The vendors of course sold wine, so we were very happy.