Category Archives: History

Villa Carlotta’s Beautiful Gardens

There is a wonderful town along Lake Como, called Tremezzo.  Most people have heard of Bellagio, which sits on the exact shore opposite Tremezzo, but the lesser known town is a true gem with far fewer tourists crowding the streets.  Tremezzo is home to a couple of our favorite restaurants and gelaterie (ice cream parlors).  It is also home to Villa Carlotta, a 17th century treasure that has been beautifully restored and maintained.

Villa Carlotta

Jen and I have been wanting to visit Villa Carlotta since we moved to Como.  The beauty of the villa and the gardens are well known in this area and attract thousands of visitors each year.  We had planned on going in March when my aunt and uncle were visiting, but the villa is not open to the public until the 15th (just a few short days after they departed).  Since the gardens are the main attraction, the preservation society wants to ensure all the flowers are in full bloom.  Jen and I decided that since my mom is a big fan of gardens, we would visit while they were here (read about the first part of their trip HERE). Continue reading Villa Carlotta’s Beautiful Gardens

Recreating a Photo 63 Years Later

I’ve always been amazed by my father’s dad, even though I have very few memories spending time with him.  My “Poppy” was a career photographer for National Geographic.  He was born before the turn of the century (February 24, 1898… have you ever known anyone from the 1800’s?!) in a rural town in Delaware that even today only boasts a few hundred residents.  He raised his family in Washington DC and got to travel the world for his work (long before traveling the world was something you actually did).  These are all things that I find particularly fascinating and I have discovered we even have a few parallels in our lives.  Except, he was a rather short man and I’m basically what you call basketball height (5’9″ is about the tallest you’ll see on the court, right?).
A scene along Lago di Maggiore

Of all those attributes, his long-standing career with National Geographic is probably the most interesting to me (and one I’m happy to brag about).  On a whim one day (several years ago), my sister-in-law, Jessica googled his name and was surprised at the results.  Over 400 of his images appeared on websites like art.com and others (I’m still researching how I can lay claim to the royalties… lawyers feel free to message me).  Jessica conspired with Jen and they surprised me with an huge print of one of his 1950’s Washington DC images (I was living downtown at the time).  Since Jen’s parents, Dominic and Diane had just purchased their condo in the Lake Como, Jessica and Diane also purchased one of his more famous 1950’s lake images in order to surprise me twice, as well as Jen.  When the gifts were presented, my dad, beaming with pride ran out of the room for a moment and came back with the two original copies of National Geographic magazines that contained those exact images.  I kept one magazine with my image at my home in Washington DC, and we took the other magazine to Dominic and Diane’s condo in Italy to be with the print that now hangs above our bed.

My grandfather’s photo that appeared in the August 1950 issue of National Geographic

Continue reading Recreating a Photo 63 Years Later

Make My Order Of Haggis a Double, Please

Jen and I recently went to Scotland with her family (HERE) and had a fabulous time exploring the Scottish Highlands.  We saw Aberdeen and quite a bit of the Scottish countryside.  Next on the agenda was a trip to the country’s capital, Edinburgh.  The original plan was to make it a day-trip, but we felt that there was too much to see and do in just one day (not to mention a two hour drive each way), so we planned an overnight stay.

Country road in Ballater
These dry stone walls have been used as field boundaries for well over a thousand years in Scotland
We set out early in the morning from our cottage in the charming town of Ballater, and headed south (still on the wrong side of the road) toward Edinburgh.  I was simply amazed to see how the landscape could change so quickly from one part of the country to the another (the colors went from a lush, fertile green to a more rustic, almost coarse landscape – beautiful in it’s own right).   Continue reading Make My Order Of Haggis a Double, Please

Scotland – Where Real Men Wear Skirts

No, I didn’t wear one myself, but only because we were already half-way through our trip before I came across a store that sold them.  Real men also eat haggis (sheep’s heart, liver and lungs encased in it’s own stomach) – I did do that!  Of course, so did my two-year old daughter… and she probably had more than all of us combined.

A scenic shot of the River Dee in the Scottish Highlands

Since living abroad, we’ve been able to get in touch with most of Jen’s roots.  Her father is Italian (hence us living in Italy) and we’ve gone to many of the places where he has or had family.  Since he grew up in Africa, we still have that left to do.  Jen’s mother grew up in Ohio, and having crossed that off the list multiple times – it was time to go a bit further.  Diane’s lineage is a mixture of Irish (we went to Dublin in March, HERE) and Scottish.  Now, it was finally time to go to Scotland!  And since Jen’s parents and sister were here visiting us, we would all embark on this adventure together. Continue reading Scotland – Where Real Men Wear Skirts

Fin

Since I’ll never be a movie producer, I finally have another outlet to satisfy my life-long dream to wrap something up with the simple phrase…

I think this is a fitting title to end our trip in France, which you can read about HERE, HERE and HERE.

Our little family recently journeyed into France for a visit with some wonderful friends, Michel and Shirley (read his blog HERE).  We spent a few days with them in their home in Sablet, France.  They were wonderful tour guides, packing in many activities that they knew we would enjoy.  After a day spent touring some of the most beautiful villages in France, we had a serious thirst to quench.  So the next day, we took advantage of our prime location in the Côté du Rhône region of France (arguably one of the most well-known wine producing regions in the world) and drank our way throughout the area.

Cool street art just outside of Sablet

Continue reading Fin