June 5, 2019 2019, diario/journal, italy

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In the image on the right, the foreground piece is a Medieval angel hanging from a nail on the fence-slat. What I like best about the sculpture is the wings.

And there are two elements in the photographs that I really like:

– the fade from the super-focused angel, to the grey Sprite, to the out-of-focus, white structure in the far back, and

– the delicate, almost-open, tiny, cerise flower-stem in the bottom left corner.

I said to my sister, who left for Toronto this morning, that we are taking our youngest sister’s kids to the land of their Nonno and Nonna; to the land where their uncle and aunt were born; to the land that is part of their DNA; that is part of their heritage. We leave for Italy Saturday. (Our youngest sister died of breast cancer on June 30, 2001.)

As we get ready for the trip, let me add a piece of serendipity that I’ll probably came back to throughout the posts.

When my family came from Italy in May, 1957, we landed in Halifax and then traveled by train, with our fellow immigrants – relatives and neighbors – to Montreal.

The Montreal rail-yard and the park across the street from the station are images that I can still see in my mind’s eye – I stick my head out the train window and see a young priest in his black cassock and wide cloth belt, crossing the tracks; in the park, in the shade, our group from Aprigliano is sitting and eating panini americani – Wonder Bread sandwiches – as we wait to transfer out.

It was in Montreal, that the group from Aprigliano, after crossing an ocean together, split up. My family got on a train and headed north-west to Sault Ste Marie; my cousin – the young man sitting on the far-left – got on a different train and headed south-west to St. Catherines.

It’s 2019 and on the outbound leg, we have a layover in Montreal. And once again, after 62 years, Connie and I will transfer out of Montreal, but this time we’re going east. This is her first time back to Italy. (In the sepia print, my sister is the small child between my mom and dad.)

leaving on a jet plane

first-post – toronto
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Christian looks like he just rolled out of bed/gutter; Seane just rolls her eyes at us all; Connie is anxious beyond beyond, she hates plane-travel and has never flown over-seas; and I’m there with my salmon hat, black Calvin, AppleWatch, skinny jeans and new Balance. Let’s go!

The group is ready to go to the airport, even if it means we’re there early. (Christian is the only one who would rather go at the last minute, but it’s 3 against 1.) The pic is in the Thorman’s driveway and Isabel is the acting photographer.

Have never flown Air Transat. It’s one of the charters, out of Montreal, that in the winter months shuttles Canadians south to the Caribbean and in the warm months ferries them east to Europe. The price – Toronto/Rome return – was $600.

                             Left-to-Right – Christian (26), Seane (23), Connie (63), Mario (70)

uncle & aunt

second-post – orvieto
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seane with her uncle and seane with her aunt

We’re still in our traveling clothes – Seane is minus her shoes – but how can you pass up an opportunity to show off Orvieto – our first stop. (Christian is behind us moving the car. And Connie is hiding her cigarette; she didn’t want a pic with her holding a lit cig.)

The B&B La Magnolia is a wonderful place; we’re 100 feet away from the Piazza del Duomo, on a pedestrian-only cobblestone street. Connie and the kids are in an attic apartment across the way and I’m in the main house.

By 6:00, the street is full of locals out for their evening passegiata. We’re sitting at a bar watching the Italians in their amazing clothes.

behold the gates of mercy

third-post – orvieto
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The 3 front doors, of the Cathedral of Orvieto, are recent additions; the original wooden doors were replaced in 1970. The new bronze doors were designed by Sicilian sculptor Emilio Greco. And my favorite pieces of the side-doors are the angel door-handles. In the image, Seane is holding onto the angels’ legs and feet. These are the pulls-and-push to open and close these massive side-doors.

Equally amazing are the frescoes by Signorelli in the Cappella di San Brizio – San Brizio side chapel. Signorelli, who lived before Michelangelo, creates a visual choreography between the Last Judgment, the apocalypse and the redemption. I like these frescoes more than those that cover the Sistine.

I’ve told everyone that in Florence we will not get the same quality of food that we’ve had the last two days. The reason is that even though Orvieto attracts a large number of tourists, most come in and leave after visiting the Cathedral. Florence, on the other hand, will be filled with tourists who stay in town, and the restaurants cater to this trade. (My only hope is that the people at the Airbnb will offer suggestions of restaurants owned and operated by locals.)

in the hills of tuscany

fourth-post – florence
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On the drive from Orvieto to Florence, the car GPS took us into the Tuscan hills. And we loved it. Seane saw a peacock and Connie insisted we stop; I saw a field of poppies and I insisted we stop; Christian deciding that he needed to climb the wall surrounding a derelict villa, turned off the car and made for the wall. The care abandoned, the destination forgotten, we just played.

We realized the GPS took us to an area north-east of the city – Fiesole – and once we corrected for the mistake, we were back on the road towards the city of The Medici.

Coming into Florence at 4:00 in the afternoon, on a hot day should be forbidden. The place was crawling with tourists indiscriminately walking and locals rushing to get home. It was not a pretty site or an easy situation.

After negotiating the technology to get into our Airbnb, rush-hour traffic to find a parking garage and luggage lugging up 3 landings, we headed to Piazza della Signoria. (Seane is the navigator, and she’s excellent at it; I can co-pilot – read the Italian street signs, point to where we need to go and explain what we’re seeing – what I can’t deal with are directions and figuring out how from point A to point B. My mantra is, “We need to go this location; get me there and I’ll take care of the rest.”)

We get to the Piazza and it’s set up for Salvatore Ferragamo men’s wear presentation. The entire area in front of the Loggia and the Palazzo Vecchio is sectioned off and guarded my a small army of men in black – security squeezed into skinny-fits jackets and pants.

“No fashion show has ever been allowed in Piazza della Signoria before,” . . . It was also the first show with the designer – Paul Andrews – in the role of creative director of both the men’s and women’s lines, and the first time that Ferragamo staged a fashion show in its hometown of Florence.

The label contributed to the recently completed restoration of the majestic Fountain of Neptune, which dominates Piazza della Signoria. 1

1 Vogue Runway – Spring 2020 Menswear

on the roof of the uffizi

fifth-post – florence
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We began the morning at the Uffizi. (It’s probably my least favorite museum. It’s art collection covers such a narrow period that after a while I think, “How many more Marys; how many more crucified Jesuses do I need to see?”) However, the Medici palace, that is the museum, is an amazing place; it’s a precursor of Versailles. And the views of Florence, out of its massive windows, are spectacular. (I have to wait until I get home to post some of those images, because they are in the camera hard-drive not on a removable memory card.)

We did have to have coffee at the cafe overlooking the Piazza della Signoria. It was worth every Euro (3 coffees, 1 Pepsi, 1 cognac = €27) maybe not.

the tipping point …

sixth-post – pisa
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I’ve avoided Pisa for 20 years, but given that this was Connie’s, Christian’s and Seane’s first time here, I gave in and we went. OMG, what an absolutely amazing place. (I’m referring strictly to the complex that is the Cathedral, because we saw nothing of the town.) The Duomo complex has been all restored – the Bell-tower glimmers, the white marble on the Cimitero arches are crinoline elegant and the Baptistry and Cathedral sparkle under the Tuscan sun.

Everyone – Asian, Indian, African, Canadian, American – takes selfies holding up the leaning Bell-tower giving the place an atmosphere of playfulness and just plain fun. Seane mentioned that she’s seen these selfies all over the place, but had no idea how much fun it would be to create them.

the rich and the dead

June 12, 2019 2019, diario/journal, italy

seventh-post – pisa
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The Cimitero – cemetery – is one of the four structures that make up the Duomo complex in Pisa. The Cimitero straddles the northern flank of the complex between the Cathedral and the Baptistry. The image on the right is the courtyard of the Cimitero.

The cycle of life is represented within the complex. You begin as a child being baptized in the Baptistry. (Baptism is evidence that you now belong to the ‘club’.) The bells ring out for the new member; the bells also mark the hours and on Sunday call you to Mass at the Cathedral. At the end of your life, you are carried into church and after the funeral Mass, the procession makes its way to the cemetery, accompanied by the tolling of the bells. (The Catholic Church organized and managed everything in Medieval times.)

The complex has green grass in between the buildings which adds to a sense of frivolity and serenity. (Missing is the hassle and bustle that is Florence.)

In the above image, I was interested in capturing the amazing blue sky through the lattice stone-work. (How do they make stone look so delicate, so ethereal?)

It is fun to remind Connie that she’s in a cemetery; that she’s walking on top of people’s graves.

some of my favorite things-1

eighth-post – pisa
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  • The host at the restaurant last night, told the wait-staff that we were a Milanese family. When the young server came over, she was confused that we were all speaking English, especially the one person in the group that looked most Italian. (That would be Connie and she was very proud of that comment.)
  • My sister wanted to buy something that she could say, “I got this in Florence.” She decided to buy a print from a street vendor. We tried to warn her, but NO, she was determined. The street vendor’s buddie started hassling the rest of us for discouraging her and we walked away. The vendor she was negotiating with took her €2 coin and wouldn’t give back unless she gave him more money for the print.
  • Christian has decided that no matter how miserable Italian drivers behave, he’s just going to act his Canadian self.
  • We get to the Airbnb in Bologna and Seane has me give her my phone and she is able to figure out how to get into the locked gate. Me, I would have been there cursing a blue streak.
  • When Connie goes into a church, she goes up to one of the side-niches and lights 3 small votive candles. One for our sister Jo’, one for our father and one for ‘good luck’. In Bologna, I was there with her in the Cathedral when she lit the votives and I told her that she needed to leave an offering. NO – she was not leaving an offering and her father would agree with her, because them Catholics have enough money. And it wasn’t like they were giving the offerings to the poor.
  • I purposely packed the Not Today T-shirt and several times throughout the two weeks people game me a thumbs; one woman from New York City asked if we could take a pic together.
  • Once we got to Venice, I insisted that we go up to the train-station so I could see Santiago Calatrava’s foot-bridge – Ponte della Costituzione. It was time to laugh at the old man, who up to that point had tried to meet everyone else’s expectations and was now demanding that his be met. “Yeah, I was in Venice and I’m an out and proud Calatrava groupie, so yes I want to go see the bridge. Everyone get changed now, because Seane is taking us there.” Lots of ribbing and laughing followed, all directed at me. Who cares, we’re going to see a Calatrava bridge.
  • The night of the 17th, we walked down to San Marco all ready to dance to Billy Joel’s Keeping the Faith. (If Venice was going to be out backdrop, then let’s pick San Marco.) We had Billy on my phone; Christian had his 4D camera going and we danced. A fellow tourists, enjoying the music joined in. (I’ll post the video as soon as I get it.)

the mists of avalon

ninth-post – bologna
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We’re staying at this amazing Airbnb in the southern hills of Bologna; it’s a 3-bedroom apartment. There’s a park – Giardini Margherita – across the street. (On our way into town, we went food shopping and had a picnic in the park.) The apartment building is nestled in the hillside surrounded by sumptuous villas and giant ever-greens. From the balcony, I captured the image on the right. The Romanesque bell-tower is down in the flats, in the city proper.

Bologna is a respite from the craziness of Florence; it breaks up the drive to Venice; and we can eat some of the best food in all of Italy. We went out for gelato; it was so good that we decided to try out their granita – amazing. We then walked over to Restorante Alice and made reservations for tomorrow night. Restorante Alice was one of the reasons to come to Bologna. (Rose, Derrick and I first ate at Alice some 15 years ago and we’ve coming back whenever we’ve been in this part of the country.)

My mother’s generation knows Bologna as a premier medical center; my group knows it as the foodie capital of Italy.


italy – 2019
tenth-post – bologna
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laundry, gelato, mortadella and alice – part one

I planned Orvieto as an alternative to Rome, that way when we got in we wouldn’t have to deal with the craziness that is The Eternal City. I planned Bologna as a place to decompress after Florence and a place where we could do laundry. (How gouache would it be to dry your undies on a balcony in the city of Lorenzo de’ Medici?) Also in Bologna, we could have amazing gelato, as often as possible, and we needed to have dinner at Ristorante Alice.

The other thing we needed to do while in Bologna was buy mortadella at Ceccarelli’s and eat it in the courtyard of the Palazzo Communale – City Hall. It was 2012 and my cousins – Rose and Derrick – bought mortadella and when we went into the courtyard, they decided that they had to have a snack. I remember being aghast at their audacity, but when it comes to good food these two will break all protocols, all sense of civility. (The middle image, in the triptych, is of Rose and Derrick.)

It’s 2019 and the four of us proudly followed in their footsteps.


italy – 2019
eleventh-post – bologna
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laundry, gelato, mortadella
and alice – part two

This post has two goals – explaining the various foods and explaining the hands grabbing the bowl of Parmigiano.

We’re at Restorante Alice on the edge of the University quarter. We ordered the buffet and by mistake added a tortelleni-al-brodo and a tagliatelli-a-ragu.

The buffet is what Ristorante Alice is know for. It’s a series of amazing delicious tapas – zucchini grilled in a balsamic reduction, eggplant wonderfully charred and drizzles with olive oil … but the all time favorite is the ricotta. It’s so creamy we were wiping the side of the bowl with our fingers and bread, because we weren’t going to let any of it go back. And the small bowls just kept coming. There was cured sausage, cherry tomatoes in olive oil, a sweet cabbage, grilled red and yellow peppers, mortadella. (Seane and I were trying to distract Christian from eating his creamy ricotta, but he wouldn’t cooperate.)

The last item of the buffet is fresh pecorino scooped with a spoon and served with 4 amazing toppings – pumpkin jam, fig jam, local honey and onion jam. The jams are made by the chef. (The very first time Rose, Derrick and I were at Ristorante Alice, the server brought us the pecorino wheel and a spoon stuck in the middle along with the jams. We didn’t know what to do. But we learned quickly.)

Reaching for the Parmigiano
We discovered that Connie loves her grated Parmigiano. She will literally move heaven-and-earth to get to the cheese. We first noticed in Orvieto when she told the server that he could leave the grated pecorino; he gave her such a look, but he left the cheese bowl. Our standing comment was that Connie like some brodo – broth – with her cheese. But let’s be clear, the emphasis was on the grated cheese.

At Alice we ordered two additional dishes – the tortellini and the tagliatelli – by the time they were served we were already bursting, but Connie was not going to pass up a pasta dish that allowed her to add grated cheese. In the above image, Connie is reaching for the cheese bowl.


italy – 2019
twelfth-post – venice
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la serenissima

My favorite explanation for why Venice is referred to as La Serenissima is:

In addition to being prosperous for the wealth it held, it is said that Venice was particularly tolerant of foreigners who went to the city for commercial reasons. Thanks to the incorruptible system of justice, in force at the time, a real climate of peace and serenity had been established in the city, for which the lagoon would continue to boast this name – La Serenissima – in the following centuries.

The last time I was here was some 20 years ago and we did day-trips, because we couldn’t find accommodations over Easter. (Venice was full of Italians who travel during the Easter break.)

This time, we were coming into the city through the airport. (I figured returning the rental at the Venice airport was easiest.) And the Airbnb in Venice gave me a list of options for getting into town. There is public transportation – boat – for approximately $20 between the Marco Polo Airport and the center of Venice. It took an hour to get to the Rialto Bridge, a central point on the Grand Canal. And our Airbnb was a ten minute walk towards the Mercato – the farmers’ market area of town.

The above image was shot from the airport-boat taking us into Venice.


italy – 2019
thirteenth-post – venice
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a voice in the wilderness

As soon as we put our suitcases in the rooms and changed, we headed into the calle – allies – and canals of San Polo, Santa Croce and the Dorsodouro. In one of the many small piazza, Seane spotted the graffiti about bombing and fucking.

For someone with little sense of direction and a need for visual landmarks in order not to get lost, the beehive that is Venice doesn’t bother me, mainly because no matter how deep into the maze I am, I can always reach the Grand Canal. And as long as I know that, all the disorientation of the twists and turns don’t bother me.

I used the title, because it was somewhat of a shock to see in very plain, very correct English a pertinent announcement. It’s not necessarily a new message, I’ve seen variations before, but it was a shock to be reminded of the hypocrisy we live with, and it was a shock to see it in Venice.
Let me get something off my chest. I dislike Florence; I prefer Venice. And I believe the tourist industry and the cultural cognoscenti push Florence over Venice. Florence is pretty; Venice is falling apart; Venice stinks; Venice is full of graffiti. I say, Florence is pretension and attracts the pretension. I never saw so many men in salmon colored suit-jackets, so many over-coiffed peacocks strutting around; so much artificial cleanliness. To me, Florence is a mausoleum being jealously guarded and excessively polished. It’s a glorification of wealth; it calls out to the wannabes telling them that they too can bask in the Medici’s leftovers. It’s Americans watching Downton Abbey and believing that they are part of the Upstairs people.

Venice is alive – the graffiti, the Bienales, the people still living in the calle, on the secondary canals. La Serenissima is still subject to the whims of nature, the pull of the moon. You can never forget that the sea is a punitive mother; you never forget that old dowager is fading.


italy – 2019
fourteenth-post – venice
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through a glass darkly

We’re at the Peggy Guggenheim. The collection is housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, an 18th-century palace on the Grand Canal, which was her for three decades. It is one of four Guggenheims; the other three are in New York City, Bilbao and Abu Dhabi.

The last time I was here, the Wertheimers went to the museum and I went to the cemetery on the Isola di San Michele; I went to find Stravinsky’s grave. I even collected a handful of small pebbles from the grave-site and still have them on my desk in a shallow bonsai pot.

I want to write that it was a simpler time and Venice wasn’t yet over-run with foreigners using its majesty as a backdrop for their selfies – ME on the Rialto bridge, ME in front of the Campanile, ME in San Marco square. But that certainly sounds hypocritical given that I took home rocks from Igor’s grave.

In the image on the right, the small poured-glass figurines, on shelves in the window, overlooking the Grand Canal, are sculptures from sketches by Picasso. The grand palazzo in the background was once home to Caterina Cornaro, the daughter of an ancient Venetian family.

The Marino Marini sculpture – L’angelo della cittàThe Angel of the City – in the entrance courtyard, is silk-screened on all the museum’s T-shirts and as much as I wanted to buy one, walking around Pittsburgh with an line-drawing of a man on a horse with a hardon just wouldn’t work.


italy – 2019
fifteenth-post – venice
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magical mystery tour

We began our last day in Venice riding the elevator to the top of the Campanile. What an amazing vantage point. (We had expected to walk up, but that is no longer an option.) And to top off the experience, the massive bells began to toll while we were up there. OMG!

Our next stop was the island of Murano. We got to see a glass-blowing demonstration, but Murano is very commercial and very touristy. After walking into a few stores and seeing the extravagant prices, we opted to get back on the boat and head up to Burano – the northern-most, peopled island in the lagoon.

Muraon is glass; Burano is lace. What we didn’t expect were the outrageously painted houses. We went off the main canal through an archway and headed into the small town and what we found was house after house painted in the most outlandish colors. It was Disneyland like. The above image is in town on one of the smaller canals.

What I liked best about Burano were the regular people going on about their everyday lives. I stopped at a small Frutti e Verdura – fruit and vegetable market – and everyone in line spoke the Venetian dialect.

All the boat-rides – Rialto to San Marco, San Marco to Murano, Murano to Burano, and Burano back to Rialto – as well as the boat-ride to the train station the next day cost us €20 per person.


italy – 2019
sixteenth-post – venice
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The Venice train-station deserves its own post.

This brief history of the train-station if from Wikipedia. – The current station building is one of the few modernist buildings facing the Grand Canal. It is the result of a series of plans started up by the rationalist architect Angiolo Mazzoni in 1924 and developed by him over the next decade.

In 1934, a contest for a detailed design for the current station was won by Virgilio Vallot. Between 1936 and 1943, Mazzoni and Vallot collaborated on the construction of the station building; Mazzoni also designed the train hall. The final implementation, however, was undertaken only after the Second World War. In 1952, the station was completed on a design which had been developed by another architect, Paul Perilli.

In November 2009, work began on the renovation of Santa Lucia station. The renovation would include improvements to the use of spaces and the flow of internal transit. In addition, certain architectural elements would be recovered and restored; the atrium would be altered to house several retail spaces. This project was completed in 2012 with a cost of 24 million euros.

Throughout Italy, train-stations tend to be in the older, poorer sections of town; well not in Venice. Throughout Italy, train-stations are riddled with graffiti and garbage; not in Venice. Throughout Italy, train-stations are areas that attract pickpockets, migrants and the homeless; not so in Venice. Throughout Italy, train-stations are cruising areas, pick-up spots and venues for beggars; not in Venice. Throughout Italy, the old, 19-century train-stations are being torn down and replaced by soul-less concrete coverings; the Venetians renovated their pre-war station for modern times. The Santa Lucia train-station is elegant, clean and well run; it has cafes and small restaurants that are efficient and reasonably priced. And Venice is on the newly built, high-speed – Frecciarossa – train system. (I decided that I wanted to travel at bullet-speed and in comfort, so I bought tickets in the QUIET/Business carriage of the Frecciarossa; we enjoyed our 4-hour ride to Rome.)

Using our 24-hour pass, we boarded the #1 vaporetto to Santa Lucia at 8:11 and by 10:30 we were speeding towards Baroque Rome. We made 3 stops – Padova, Bologna and Florence. Only the Bologna station was as clean and as graffiti free as the Venice terminal; the rest fit the stereotype. The Florence train-station was particularly dirty, graffiti strewn and surrounded by dilapidated buildings.


italy – 2019
seventeen-post – rome
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rione i monti

We arrived at Roma Termini on time and after realizing that we were 10 minutes from the Airbnb, we decided to walk.

Rione I Monti is Rome’s hipster neighborhood. It’s also one of the few remaining areas that is home to actual Romans not tourists. It’s also Rome oldest neighborhood.

Monti is an eclectic neighborhood in the city center, with both bohemian and classical elements. Archaeological sites like Trajan’s Markets and Nero’s Domus Aurea palace occupy its southwestern edge. Family-run trattorias, hip wine bars and funky vintage boutiques are tucked in its piazzas and back streets, and draw a mix of expats, students and locals. (from the web)

Our Airbnb was on via dei Capocci – Cabbage Street – and the small square down the street from us was Piazza degli Zingari. My last name in a form of zingari which in Italian means gypsies.

The Airbnb – I Capocci – was the best accommodations of the entire two weeks. It was a two-floor apartment beautifully renovated. The bedrooms were substantial, the kitchen/dining area were wonderful spaces to cook eat and socialize. (Such a contrast to the place we had stayed in Venice.) Even though the Colosseum was down the street from us, and the massive Santa Maria Maggiore was up the street, the area was quiet and felt like a neighborhood instead of a heavy trafficked tourist thoroughfare. Also, we were nowhere near the Vatican with its swarming sycophants and its men and women prancing around in Medieval dresses. (Oh tell me your surprised by my comments.)

BTW, we went nowhere near a church while in Rome even though San Pietro in Vincoli with Michelangelo’s Moses was only a short walk from us. We were in town for a day-and-a-half and I decided that we would do Outdoor Rome, rather than museums and churches. We walked 14 miles in our day-and-a-half visit in temperatures in the 90’s. (Here’s a generational comment – Seane and Christian drank and filled their water-bottles from any outdoor fountain they could get near. Their old uncle wouldn’t touch the water coming from the hundreds of fountains. It’s still in my head that the water isn’t as clean as the water here at home.)

None of the images on this post are mine. Because we were visiting locations that I had shot several times before, I didn’t take any new pictures. And we were in Monti for such a short time before we headed to the tourist sites, that I didn’t get to walk and shoot the neighborhood.

The image on the left is Piazza della Madonna dei Monti a hot-spot for hip young Romans and a couple of block down from where we were staying. In the image on the right, in the middle background, is the monumental Santa Maria Maggiore.


italy – 2019
eighteenth-post – rome
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62 years later

We began this morning at the Colosseum. We were there early and still had a long wait, because once they reach a capacity of 3,000 in the amphitheater, they slow the lines down until some leave. From Monti, we walked to the Pantheon to see the oculus, (I refuse to acknowledge that the amazing Roman temple has been turned into a church.) then onto Piazza Navona and then across Ponte Sant’Angelo and into the Vatican.

In memory – sixty-two years ago – Spring, 1957 – Ciccio, Mafalda, Mario and Connie sat in St. Peter’s colonnade and had lunch. We were in Rome for our physicals, a requirement before we could emigrate to Canada. And in my memory, it’s always the right-side and the area as soon as you go into the of the colonnade.

After our picnic, we went into the basilica and touched St. Peter’s foot – a certain good-luck-charm of the time. We even bought a small statuette of St. Peter, from one of the many hucksters outside the colonnade, to give to my grandmother when we got to Canada. (The thumbnail on the left is the statue inside the church. The left foot is so worn, from pilgrims touching it, that it no longer has toes.) And I remember that when we got to Sault Ste Marie, I gave grandma the small gift. She displayed it proudly and I can still see it on the dresser in the living room that had become my grandparents’ bedroom. (Ciccio, Mafalda and Connie had taken over their old room.)

And that’s where we are, 62 years later, under the right colonnade and away from the white, Roman sun. No food this time only water.

Connie suggested we do a generational pic – the two of us and Seane and Christian – and the composite is those images. (The two images are slivers, because I had to remove a family who was sprawled in the background.) When Connie told Mafalda about our re-enactment, my mother said she had no memory of having gone to the Vatican. All she remembers of the trip was that she had worn heals to “look good” and her feet were so sore that she stayed back in the hotel room when we went on our trek across Rome.

italy … final thoughts

June 21, 2019 diario/journal, italy

italy – 2019
final thoughts
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reflections and memories

This is my favorite picture from the trip. (I like the frame of the second mirror behind Christian and I like the green of Seane’s shorts in the lower right corner.) We’re in Murano at a glass factory and the gilded mirror, created by the factory glass-blowers, was hanging in the hallway.

from the prologue – I said to Connie that we are taking our youngest sister’s kids to the land of their Nonno and Nonna; to the land where their uncle and aunt were born; to the land that is part of their DNA; that is part of their heritage.

I’m writing this entry on June 30, 2019 the eighteenth anniversary of Jo’ death. This is my toast to someone I still miss very much.

It was great having two weeks with the kids; and I can honestly say we had a lot of fun. Connie’s sense of wonder allowed me to see Italy through an unfiltered lens; Christian’s focus on safe-driving made the trek to Venice enjoyable and gave me one less thing to worry over; Seane’s navigational skills always got us where we needed to go, removing all anxiety about finding ourselves lost.
Maneuvering the ancient alleys of Orvieto in an over-sized Ford van, finding great pasta in the side streets, the kids in their blue capes, in the Cathedral, looking like penitents or super-heroes
      — Ferragamo in Florence, the Medici Chapel, the cannabis shop, a street-vendor
      hocking God-and-Adam’s hands, and a beautiful Armani sweater
A leaning bell-tower, a Cimitero, and the gleaming white of Pisa’s wedding-cake Duomo
      — santo stefano gelato and mint granita in the university quarter, mortadella in the courtyard, a picnic in Gardini Margherita,
      and then Ristorante Alice
The Peggy Guggenheim on the Grand Canal, the vaporetto to Murano, dancing in Piazza San Marco, and the painted houses of Burano
      — The cobble-stoned streets of Monti, Piazza degli Zingari, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s colonnade, the Airbnb on via dei Capocci,
      the home-cooked meals and the sparkling white wine
All amazing