An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Monday, October 22, 2018

What does Nonno want for his birthday? Ask Nonna.

Today is my dad's birthday, and in honor of the occasion I am sharing the following conversation from a few years ago. Try to follow along and not get dizzy.

Me: Dad, what do you want  for your birthday?

Dad: I don't know. I really don't need anything.

Mom: I know what he wants. He wants a wind chime.

Dad: I want I wind chime?

Mom: Yes, don't you remember when we went to our friends' house and they had a wind chime? It sounded so beautiful.

Dad turns and looks at me.

Dad: I guess I want a wind chime.

I look at him. I look at my Mom. And I keep my mouth shut. Later that evening I get a phone call.

Dad: I've been thinking. I really would like a wind chime.

I guess Nonno is getting a wind chime. For his birthday. For Nonna. Or something.

"So where is Vesuvius from here?" my husband asked while 
dining somewhere on the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
THIS is the response we got :-)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Accountant's Invention

Dear Jonathan,

Today is your REAL birthday, as opposed to all those "practice" celebrations we've been having all month long.

To celebrate, I'm sharing your genius invention from the 4th grade. It was such a hit, and the engineering was of the highest caliber, that we thought for sure you'd go into engineering. But you chose accounting ... which was probably smart since you will need to keep track of the revenue created by your "Clothes from Above" invention.

As you will remember, you got a 98 on the project. Two points were deducted from talking too fast.

I sent you a small birthday package which will arrive tomorrow ... just trying to extend your birthday even more!


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Like the Creepy Snake Scene from Indiana Jones

Once upon a time, after spotting a snake in our garage and watching it disappear into a hole in the wall, I wrote a post asking this question: Is it possible for snake to crawl up in the minivan's engine only to come slithering our of the air conditioning vent as I'm sitting in carpool line?

I really wanted to know, so I put the question out there.

Then I wished I hadn't. I got no reassurances whatsoever. Oh, the horror stories! A blogging friend of mine (a schoolmaster from Uruguay) summed it up like this: I'm sorry, Bia, but I think it's possible.

Huh. That will teach me to ask a question when I don't want to know the answer.

Then yesterday, I saw this outside our garage and it confirmed all my fears.

Friday, October 19, 2018

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

Yesterday I was prepping for next week's Book Club meeting (we will be discussing Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier) when I stumbled upon a web site, The House that Lars Built, which offered a free Rebecca Book Club download.

Because the printable was so beautiful, and because I wanted to be absolutely sure that I would be allowed to use it, I sent an email asking about the artwork.

Within ten minutes the Designer and Content Editor, Rebecca Hansen, sent a lovely reply. Not only was the printable free, but she updated the link to make it easier for me to download.

So next Tuesday, as we discuss the roles of dreams and daydreams in the novel, as we consider why the narrator is nameless and explore the themes of loss and exile and morality ... we will enjoy these lovely bookmarks compliments of Rebecca at The House that Lars Built.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Letters to Juliet ... Really

I have traveled all over Italy, visiting big cities (Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples) and small towns (Bassano, Padova, Assisi). I've traveled the winding roads along the Amalfi Coast, hiked through the Dolomites, and sailed to Capri. I've watched the sun rising behind a row of cypress trees, heard the rain pattering on ancient cobblestone streets, and marveled at bright red geraniums spilling over flower boxes, balconies, and windows.

But in all the boot that is Italy, my favorite place is Verona.

Verona is where my mother is from. It is the place where I rode with my Zio took on the back of his vespa, where my Nonna took me to my first opera, where I had my First Communion. Verona is where I brought my husband a few years after we were married and, later, our three sons.

And Verona is the perfect city for love; after all, it is the setting of Shakespeare's tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet -- a tale based on the Capulets and the Montagues who were prominent families of Verona.

Today, you can visit Juliet's balcony.

You can also see Juliet's statue,

and for good luck you can even touch Juliet's ...
well, I'll let my zio Luciano demonstrate.

A couple of years ago a very charming movie, Letters to Juliet, was filmed in and around Verona.

In the movie, Sophie is an aspiring writer who meets a group of women known as Juliet's secretaries. These women gather to answer letters sent to Juliet asking for advice on love.

Now, what many may not realize is that Juliet's secretaries actually exist. For more than 70 years, Juliet's "secretaries" (volunteers from Verona) have collected the notes and letters which arrive in the mail by the thousands from all over the world . . . and every single letter containing a return address is answered.

So, if you are seeking advice on all matters concerning amore, write to ...

Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House)

Via Cappello, 23
Verona, Italy

And as far as love stories go ... my parents met in Verona. They used to meet right under this clock tower.

And here, the same place 40 years later.

And under the clock tower, in the right hand corner, you will find a plaque containing
Shakespeare's description of Verona in Act III, Scene III of  Romeo and Juliet.

"There is no world without Verona walls ..."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Olaf in Pennsylvania

This afternoon Joe and I are leaving Timo in the loving care of his nonni while Joe and I head to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for weekend festivities surrounding Joe's 35th high school reunion.

Now, did I grow up in Pennsylvania? Did I go to the same high school as Joe? Will I know anyone?

No, no, and no.

But I'm excited anyway because ...

a/ road trip
b/ weekend with Joe

Seriously, temps in Pennsylvania will be in the 60's and 40's. We will be gone Thursday through Sunday and I plan to bring at least five jackets, a gazillion scarves, and lots of sweaters. I WANT TO WEAR THEM ALL!!!

Picture me as Olaf, but instead of singing about summer and sand, I'm going to be singing about falling leaves and bright, woolly scarves.

And I can't wait to see
What my Joe's buddies all think of me!
Just imagine how much cooler I'll be
In summer autumn!

Da da ... Da doo

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Lesson on Finding the Perfect Time

Several years ago I had an idea to sponsor a girls' trip to Italy. It was a wonderful idea, combining my love of travel with my love of Italy, but it was an idea I kept postponing because I was waiting for The Perfect Time. 

So I waited. 

Months passed. 

A year.

And another. 

Then one summer during a family road trip, I found myself in an art museum contemplating a Caravaggio masterpiece. As I explored the feelings evoked when art, history, culture, and travel collide, I felt Caravaggio lead me out of the shadows of dreams and into the light of reality with this epiphany: there will NEVER, EVER be a Perfect Time. It simply doesn't exist; as you wait for that Perfect Time to ... POOF! ... magically appear, time slips through your fingers. 

With those thoughts in mind, within two days of returning home from that road trip I announced the 2015 Girls' Trip to Italy to family, friends, and friends of friends. It took a leap of faith--so many details! so many worries! so many logistical decisions involved in getting from here to there! But with the date circled on the calendar, all of us did what we needed to do to create that Perfect Time. 

Exactly one year from when I first announced the trip, 23 women were standing in St. Peter's Square in Rome for the Pope's blessing. That was the first day of what would be a nine day adventure. 

We had the Most perfect Time.

Today, three years later, another trip is in the works--the 2019 Girls' Trip to Italy. The itinerary is set, travel information packets have been handed out, questions have been asked and answered. Our list of travelers is growing and deposit checks arrive weekly. Getting the mail has never been more fun. 

Just like last time, it's an exciting, scary, thrilling time ... and we haven't even left home yet. 

The Dutch have a saying: He who is outside his door, already has the hard part of his journey before him. So, if this is something you've been thinking of for a long time, contact me. Pack your bags and take that first step. 
The perfect time? How about now?

The pre-planning and packing phase ... imagine yourself there!