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

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

Friday, February 22, 2019

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 pack your bags and take that first step. 

Because sometimes the perfect time is now.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Life Lately: Sons who Travel, Poopy Birds, People who Talk LOUDLY

A little of this, a little of that. Because we're all over the place.

1- Sons who travel

Nicholas just purchased airplane tickets for a two week trip to Japan with some high school buddies. And they are ORGANIZED. They have the most awesome itinerary and Nicholas, who has been studying Japanese, can put his language skills to use. Jonathan (our college senior) and his roommates are going to Myrtle Beach for spring break thanks to the generosity of Nonna and Nonno and a Time Share they're not using. And Timothy is going to New Orleans for his spring break ... with mom and dad, of course.

We found this project of Timothy's,
and sent it to Nicholas. It was too perfect.

2- Husbands who travel

Oakland (California), Kansas City (Missouri), Albuquerque (New Mexico) ... Joe's been traveling.

3- Moms who hold down the fort

That would be me. But I'm going to Italy in September so I'm not complaining.

4- Nonni who bounce

Recently I wrote about my father who has heart disease despite the fact that he's healthy (no diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure), eats well, and exercises regularly. He had his first bypass at age 40, his second one at 50, and then six months ago chest pain led to a heart catheterization and a stent. At the time I wrote how he has the Heart of a Lion because he handles all this with courage, a sense of humor, and fierce determination.

Then this past Monday, like a groundhog day, it was all on repeat. Chest pain, heart catheterization, a stent.

And he still has the heart of a lion, but he's also like Tigger ... he bounces back like nothing happened.

My parents
Verona, Italy

5- Birds who poop

This bird loves to perch on our mailbox. He (or she) is so cute, which is why I took this photo. But he (she?) also poops. And that's not so cute.

6- Families who shop for toilet seats

This was our Wednesday evening. Good times, people. Good times.

7- People who speak LOUDLY

There is an elderly gentleman at our gym who comes to socialize more than work out. He likes loves to talk, which wouldn't be so bad except that he corners you and he's SO LOUD. One time he asked where I worked, and when I answered that I was a writer he said, "YOU'RE A WRITER?" And then he proceeded to ask a million questions and then repeat everything so loudly that EVERYONE stopped what they were doing to look (and listen). I don't like loud conversations.

Now, whenever we go to the gym as a family we tease each other as to who will be cornered that day.

This past Saturday Joe, Timothy, and I were working out when we heard the distinctive loud voice. The three of us looked at each other, stricken. Who would be cornered today? Poor Timothy, that's who. Joe and I watched from a distance, and waved to him in solidarity when he looked at us for help. But revenge is sweet. Afterwards, Timothy came over to me and whispered, "I'm going to tell him you just wrote a book."

And I was like ...

Monday, February 18, 2019


So this guy ... who once got his finger stuck in a wiffle ball which Nonno had to cut off (the wiffle ball, that is, and not the finger) ... well, we just ordered his college graduation cap and gown.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Speak to Me Sunday: Filling the Empty

Today, simply this: Tap into that sense of unease, those feeling of incompleteness and emptiness. Tap into that longing for something more ...

"Each of us carries around inside himself, I believe, a certain emptiness – a sense that something is missing, a restlessness, the deep feeling that somehow all is not right inside his skin.

Psychologists sometimes call it anxiety, theologians sometimes call it estrangement, but whatever you call it, I doubt that there are many who do not recognize the experience itself, especially no one of our age, which has been variously termed the age of anxiety, the lost generation, the beat generation, the lonely crowd.

Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God -- that this is the sound God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away.

In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him."

-- Frederick Buechner, "Listening to Your Life"

Friday, February 15, 2019

Italian 101

Once upon a time my mother taught Beginning Italian at Augusta State University. Her classes were on Tuesday evenings, and one year Nicholas accompanied her every week in order to learn Italian. The next year, it was Jonathan's turn.

Recently I came across this little paragraph that Nicholas had to write for one of the classes. The Italian is very basic (it was just the second week of class), but what's funny is that he was also taking Spanish in school so there is some Spanish mixed in. 

And he was evidently trying to use all the vocabulary words from the list AND score brownie points with Nonna by slipping in a compliment.

Ciao! My name is Nicholas! I am twelve years old. I have a father and a mother. They are Maria and Joe. My father is an engineer. I have two brothers. They are eleven and three. They are crazy. I have a Nonna and a Nonno. My Nonna is a teacher and she is intelligent. I have big muscles. I don't have a car. I like rock music. My friend is James. He is good at playing the piano. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Table for Two

As far as date nights go, it wasn't the fanciest place we've ever been to. There were no tablecloths. The menus were laminated. We were the only diners.

But on a cold, rainy, windy night it was the only bright light on Riverwatch Parkway. A beacon of welcome and warmth.

The hostess was nice, the coffee was hot, and while the weather did its blustery thing outside, we were cocooned inside enjoying breakfast for dinner for two.

Sometimes it's the simple things that carve memories on our heart.