On The Road Again

October 4th, 2012

With just one sip of cappuccino I knew I was back in Italy. It’s been three months since I experienced the joy of perfect coffee. Some people say the secret is the water; others insist it’s the milk. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that even the best coffeehouses in America can’t duplicate the silky, satisfying flavor.


A Perfect Cappuccino


Surrounded by men in tailored suits and women in stylish outfits, I finish my coffee with a contended smile and walk back into the beautiful chaos that is Rome. It’s business as usual–pedestrians scurrying through the cobbled streets only to be stopped in their tracks by guide book-reading tourists and darting Vespas.

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The Not So Old Man and the Sea

July 13th, 2012

I heard him before I saw him. Pounding his keys to a ragtime tune resembling Joplin, his head bent forward, his fingers flying. I can’t say his playing was the best I had ever heard, but his stage was the most unique I had ever witnessed. The young musician and his piano were parked on a small barge heading down the Grand Canal. These sturdy vessels normally haul building materials, boxes, and sometimes mail…but a grand piano? This was a first, at least for me, but probably not for Venice.

I inquired about the floating musician, however, no one seemed to know who he was, nor did they think his impromptu concert unusual. Canal traffic proceeded along as usual: vaporetti, taxis, gondolas, traghetti.


ice cream delivery

ice cream delivery

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Riding in Boats with Boys

July 4th, 2012

“So you pull up on your boat and the girls just jump in?” I questioned Gianni.

I thought I was trying to console a friend’s twenty-year old son after his recent break-up, however his wisdom was greater than mine. I was giving him the “There’s plenty of fish in the sea” speech, with a few entertaining antidotes, but he was one step ahead of me.

“You see, here in Venice it’s easy to get over a girl,” Gianni continued with the utmost authority. “You loose one and there’s another five hundred arriving at the train station. I won’t be alone for long.”


Hard at work, Venetian-style

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Italian 101

June 19th, 2012

True Confession: I’m a linguistics nerd.

I love languages—the soft, flowing melody of French; the challenging, puzzle-like grammar of German; the impossibility of Slovene; the soft sh common to Portuguese and Argentine Spanish. My goal was to speak five languages by the age of 25, eight by my 30th birthday, and then ease off and be satisfied with a total of ten for the rest of my life.

Another True Confession: I’m just a little bit behind schedule.


Another lovely day in Venice

Another lovely day in Venice

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A Dog Depp Afternoon

June 15th, 2012

Johnny Depp is my neighbor. What can I say? It’s true. He’s not my next-door neighbor, nor does he live down the street, but rather across the Grand Canal, only 10 minutes away. I walked by him last week, not recognizing him for who he was, but rather for his strange attire. He wasn’t hard to miss, wearing a charcoal grey fedora hat, a tailored vest, and flashy jewelry. I do believe, if my memory serves me right (which is sometimes debatable) that there were chains involved. Yes, lots of silver chains and large, stone-studded rings. Yes, rings. He was walking with an incredibly thin woman. A waif of almost nothing, dressed in jeans and very high heels. As I passed the strangers I mumbled, “Would somebody please feed her.”

When our paths crossed again later in the day, I did a double take—could it be? I have actually stood next to Johnny, in San Miguel when he was in town shooting, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” I was never introduced to him; I just stood next to him for all of 20 seconds. It was enough time to note that he was my exact height, and I was twice his width. I hate to admit it, but this is also true.


Nope, not Johnny Depp. I would never dream of doing a paparazzi number on him, so instead here's an interesting door knob.

Nope, not Johnny Depp. I would never dream of doing a paparazzi number on him, so instead here’s an interesting door knob.

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Opera Lovers and Disco Dudes

June 11th, 2012

By now you may have discovered I have a thing for impromptu dance scenes and oddly dressed eccentrics. So, with this in mind, you won’t be surprised to learn that the highlight of attending La Bohéme at the famed Fenice theater wasn’t the opera, but rather the activity at the bar next door. Before and after performances, and during intermission, the place fills up with theatergoers who order flutes of champagne and glasses of wine. They stand around talking and looking beautiful, being seen, and also seeing.


Speaking of oddly dressed eccentrics, may I introduce you to Elverace Cash (remember?? Elvis + Liberace+ Johnny Cash

Speaking of oddly dressed eccentrics, may I introduce you to Elverace Cash (remember?? Elvis + Liberace+ Johnny Cash

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Ready to Wear…and Eat

June 8th, 2012

When I refer to bright shades of red, orange, purple, and pink I’m not describing the flowers blooming in window boxes all over Venice, but rather the colors of Italian men’s pants. Add a pair of lime green and sky blue and you have their complete collection of summer wear.



“It’s red, not pink,” a Scottish friend once declared after I commented on the color of his shirt.

“Well, actually it’s almost fuchsia,” I countered, not realizing the severity of my words. “Pink, scarlet, salmon, peach…really, what difference does it make?”

“Pink is for puffers, and I’m not a puffer,” he assured me with a growing temper.



Obviously, Scottish, and most likely American men have something to learn from the Italians. Canary yellow, a bold lavender, nothing is out of their range. Throw in some espadrilles and thick white-rimmed glasses and you still have a real man, his masculinity completely intact. (Most likely this board generalization doesn’t apply to dock workers and underlings in the mafia.)

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The Beat Goes On

May 31st, 2012

Drums keep pounding rhythm to the brain…la di da de di….la di da de da

And the beat goes on…

And on and on and on and on….

Why are Sonny and Cher singing in my bedroom?

Honestly, that was my first thought this morning when I was awoken yet again by the staccato beat of sledgehammers. I knew the sound was coming from workers digging up the nearby sidewalk, but it nonetheless caught me by surprise. There’s a problem with the water lines hidden beneath the heavy stones and there’s no other way to fix it, or so I’ve been told.

When the noise begins to blend into the background of every day life, an older man in dusty overalls comes and sits by our massive front door and slowly whittles away at the wood. The abundant spring rains have swelled the door almost shut, making it difficult to use. Eventually he’ll work long and hard enough for us to come and go with ease.

In a world of water, humidity, and five hundred year old homes, maintenance is obviously a big issue.


greengrocer goes home

greengrocer goes home

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Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

May 22nd, 2012

A few nights ago I awoke from a deep sleep to find my bed furiously shaking from side to side. By the time I opened my eyes it had stopped. What a strange dream I thought before dozing off again. It had seemed so real.

When the swaying jolted me from my slumber yet again, accompanied by a loud crash, I turned over and blamed the bizarre experience on late night spaghetti alla carbonara paired with too much cabernet franc. But I had only had one glass…must be the pasta I surmised.


Violet Artichokes

Violet Artichokes

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Rialto Market and Handmade Ravioli

May 17th, 2012

By now you’re probably wondering about the food. You want details and recipes, not just updates on the rapping rabbi* and Elverace’s wardrobe, even though yesterday’s outfit earned him the surname Cash, as in almost dead ringer for Johnny Cash…if it weren’t for the receding hairline.

My local market is the Rialto.** I’m not bragging, it’s just happens to be the truth. Two minutes from my door is a traghetto–a public taxi in the form of a gondola—that takes me across the Grand Canal. It deposits me in front of the market’s famed food stalls for the equivalent of 65 cents. I’m not able to stand up for the crossing as the Venetians do, but I can now get on and off without making the boat sway from side to side, no longer causing innocent, non-seafaring tourists to panic.


Venetian traghetto crosssing

Venetian traghetto crosssing


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