With World Cup fever heating up, I find myself torn between my two favorite teams – America and Italia. Thankfully, the teams are not in the same group and so I can root for both squads guilt-free (hopefully all the way to the finals). As I was comparing and contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of both teams; it occurred to me that perhaps I had stumbled onto something much more important. I realized that it might be fun to compare America vs. Europe… not just the ability to move the soccer ball around the field, but “bigger picture” things. What common sense things do Europeans do that Americans fail to recognize?
For the purposes of this first post, I will focus solely on the items that appear in the “win” column for Europe. I will follow-up a little later with another post listing America’s “wins”. It seemed only fair to publish the posts in this order since Italy logged their first World Cup win before America.
Some background… OK, this piece is not a serious look at which place is “better”. I’m not weighing in on art & architecture, natural beauty or economic importance. I’m not comparing the food or the people. I’m only noting a few of the systems in place that perhaps we would do well to share with one another. Without further adieu… Continue reading Seven Systems Europeans Use That Make More Sense→
Jennifer and I simply love outdoor markets. Jen holds on to the belief that she’s going to stumble across a vintage Louis Vuitton handbag or uncover that perfect piece for our future living room. I’ve got much lower (and more realistic expectations); I’m just thrilled that I get to eat “street food”. Nothing is better than a porchetta paninio (pork sandwich) from a food vendor with freshly fried zeppole(Italian donuts) for dessert. I love sandwiches, I love eating outside and I love feeding my entire family for less than €20!
Jen has been trying to get to the Mercatone dell’Antiquariato del Naviglio Grande since we moved here nearly a year and a half ago. “What’s the big deal – why is it so hard to make it to a market”, you ask? Well, this particular market only takes place on the last Sunday of each month (except for July). For those of you that aren’t math wizards, that’s just eleven chances a year to make it to Milan for this 80-year-old Milanese tradition. Our first attempt was foiled – we set out one day in January of 2013, but got derailed when we couldn’t find parking. It was ambitious of me to try so soon after moving to Italy – had I known then what I know now, I would have just thrown my car on the curb like the hundreds of other locals. Instead, we stopped for lunch and found an amazing sandwich place, which I blogged about HERE. After lunch, we lost the motivation to go back and agreed, “we’ll try again as soon as we get the next opportunity”. Well, travel and other obligations delayed that opportunity fifteen more months. Continue reading Mercatone dell’Antiquariato – Milan’s Outdoor Antique Market→
Man, do I love the bad puns in my titles or what? Probably about as much as I love posing rhetorical questions to my readers…
Roughly twelve days ago, I was as proud of myself as Arvind Mahankali when he successfully spelled knaidel to beat Pranav Sivakumar and secure the championship title during the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee (apparently, this particular Indian-American knows a thing or two about Jewish comfort food). Why was I so pleased with myself, you ask? Well, I thought that I had finally caught up with our stories on the blog. And then a whirlwind of activity commenced in a flash as Jen’s sister arrived for a visit with her boyfriend. We had such a nice time traveling and eating with them (really, is there anything else you would want to do in Italy?) that now I have a ton more to write about. Additionally, we left them to their own devices while we embarked on a rewarding road-trip, which I cannot wait to tell you about. So, now once again – I am behind the times again faster than you can spell prosciutto.
When I was looking ahead toward the next 5-8 posts, I realized that I would be remiss not to step back and mention our visits to Pisa and then Massa in northern Tuscany. When I last wrote, I detailed our trip to Lucca (HERE). During the drive home we detoured to marvel at the Torre pendente di Pisa (Leaning Tower of Pisa) before getting back on the road. We hadn’t traveled too much further when our perfectly timed Italian stomachs told us it was time for lunch (at first I thought our three stomachs growling in unison was a tractor-trailer honking furiously at me). I was more in the mood for a leisurely lunch than a quick stop at an AutoGrill (picture a rest-stop along the NJ Turnpike with better food and espresso). I turned to my trusty “TripAdvisor” cell phone app and searched for a restaurant near us. I discovered Il Fatty (yeah… you guessed the translation; The Fatty) in the city we were approaching. With a name like, “the fatty” – how could you go wrong?! I took the exit toward Massa and headed into the center of town. Continue reading You “Massa” Check Out This City (Massa, Italy)→
If you read the title of this post with your best impression of an Italian accent, then you probably nailed the pronunciation of one of our new favorite Italian towns. Lucca has been on our bucket list to visit for quite some time and now we can happily say we’ve been.
The city is renowned for many things, not the least of which is the giant annual gathering of comic book nerds and fantasy film geeks. Lucca plays host to Europe’s version of Comic-Con, the Fiera Internazionale del Fumetto (International Festival of Comics) or as it’s commonly referred – Lucca Comics and Games.
If you’ve been a loyal reader of this blog or have spent a little time playing around on the pages, you’ll see that I’ve started a “series” that highlights some of the differences between Italy and our native America. Some of the differences are strange to us, many of them make perfect sense and others are just plain silly. If you’d like to see where the series began, take a look back here:
If you’ve been a reader of this [travel] blog for sometime, I may have convinced you about the benefits of cruising. You might even think that I’m lobbying for a job with one of the major cruise companies… and seeing as how I’ll need to resume gainful employment sooner rather than later, you may just be right. If I haven’t yet convinced you to book your next vacation on a massive floating wonderland, let me quickly state my case once again. Cruising offers you the opportunity to be pampered day and night while visiting far-off locales in multiple countries without unpacking more than once. You can soak up culture, splurge on shopping, enjoy theatre, gamble in the casino, relax in the spa or simply sit in your room and enjoy room service while taking in the most magical of views.
On top of all that, you will enjoy delectable cuisine any time of day or night. In my opinion (which, I’ve found is more fact than opinion since I’m right 98.8% of the time… just ask Jen), one of the best things about cruising is the food. I once read that the weight gain for your average cruise-goer can be up to a pound a day (do the math for a two week cruise). If the food can be the star of the show, truth be told – it can also be the downfall of your vacation if you’re served meals that are no better than bad banquet food (and you thought you had a lousy meal at Moritz Rosenstien’s bar mitzvah?). That is why careful research about your cruise line (and more importantly, the specific cruise ship) is of the utmost importance. We chose our most recent Mediterranean cruise on one of Celebrity Cruises newest ships, the Silhouette based on the itinerary and overwhelmingly positive reviews of the food. We were not disappointed.
It’s been nearly a month and a half since my last meaningful post and I am once again faced with the monumental task of getting caught back up. I’m not sure how or why I allowed myself to get so far behind, but I do know that I have left myself a lot of work. The wine, cheese and salami will just have to wait (well, I suppose it can’t hurt to have a little wine while I write). I would like to apologize to my readers for this delay and I would like to acknowledge one loyal reader in particular; Helen actually reached out to me through our Contact Us page and basically said, “what the hell, Greg – where’ve you been?!” Helen and everyone – even though it can’t excuse the lack of content, we just got back from a two-week trip to the States where, in my capacity as Best Man, I roasted my good buddy Josh and toasted his beautiful bride, Abby (read about Josh and Abby’s trip to visit us here and here).
While we were home, I rediscovered some magical things – burritos, quality customer service and Netflix. We haven’t watched as much TV over the past year as we did over the past two weeks. I became obsessed with the Netflix original series, House of Cards – an amazing drama starring, Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a cagey and politically ambitious congressman who is constantly scheming and conniving to reach the next rung of the political ladder. If Frank Underwood can work through all hours of the night and stay ten moves ahead of his opposition, surely I can bang out a few extra blog posts in the next couple weeks.
Wow! We did it! SIPPING ESPRESSO officially turns one today. I distinctly remember starting our blog one year ago today. Jen had the idea to use a blog in order to maintain a “virtual journal” of our time in Italy. She also wanted a vessel to share our photos and stories with family and friends. I was intrigued by the idea of maintaining some sort of project and so I was happy to jump into the blogosphere. Over the past year that we have been posting – our tiny, insignificant blog has grown into something much, much more…a little, insignificant blog.
Over the summer, we took a cruise that concluded with a goodbye letter from the captain, along with “fun facts” about our time at sea. For example, they listed the number of crew on board, the amount of food consumed in terms of weight, our nautical miles traveled, etc. It gave me the idea that it may be fun to also look back at our own blogging voyage and break down the numbers from this past year.
Robert Downey Jr. will be the first to tell you that you never go full Italian. But if you’re planning on living in Italy for more than a few months… the chances of going “full Italian” are pretty strong. Truly being an Italian is rooted deeper than the country in which you live or the ancestors to which you are tied. Being Italian is a state of mind. It will affect the way you think, the way you eat and the way you love. Did I mention that it will affect the way you eat?
If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve gone “full Italian” – here is a list of telltale signs. The longer you live in Italy, the more susceptible you are to each and every point. If you’re happy with the changes (perhaps the improved fashion sense and appreciation of wine) – stroll in to your favorite enoteca and plan to stay a little longer. However, if the changes scare you (perhaps the increased volume at which you speak or your daily critique of the food you’re eating) – well then, hop on the first olive oil freighter and high-tail it home (there’s one leaving now… there’s another one… and another one…). Continue reading 10 Signs That Confirm You’ve Gone "Full Italian"→
You can have your two front teeth – I’ll take the Lamborghini!
Oh yeah, that’s the one I want!
Periodically, my father-in-law will send me Italian Groupon deals that he thinks we may be interested in acquiring. Through this site, we have found good deals on restaurants and hotels. Just like Groupon or Living Social at home – some of the deals are interesting, others are not. Some are phenomenal values – others are just cleverly packaged marketing schemes. Recently, he sent me one item that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing tall. The opportunity to take a Ferrari and/or Lamborghini out on a race track and really “open’er up!” Continue reading All I Want For Christmas is a White Lamborghini→