Category Archives: Photography

Trieste… Italy’s Most “European” City

So, I’m back here on Sipping Espresso… blogging.  Weird.  I’m in America.  I’m blogging about Italy from America.  Can I do that?!  Is that even allowed?!  Well, I promised you in my Final Blog Post From Italy that I would finish our tale of overseas adventure and intrigue (OK, OK – more like overseas adventure of gluttony and transparency), so I suppose that I’ll have to make good on my word.  For those of you that are sick of hearing about these adventures… I’m sorry, but I’m OCD and I am not much good at leaving things unfinished.

"Well, get going already Dad and tell us this story"!
“Well, get going already Dad and tell us this story”!

So, let’s flash back; way, way back to this past spring when Jen’s sister came to visit.  Just as they departed for Venice and Rome, we took our own leave from Como and headed toward the metropolitan city of Trieste.  When I think about what brought us to Trieste, I finally understand the word bittersweet.  We undertook the four-hour road trip to Italy’s easternmost city so that I could run in the Maratonina d’Europa (Europe’s Half Marathon).  Despite having to add the somewhat embarrassing “ina” suffix to the end of Maratona (changing the meaning to “very little”), completing my first half-marathon was a very “sweet” accomplishment for me.  However, the impetus behind the race was a very “bitter” one.  Jen and I had started listing all the things that we wanted to do before our time in Italy came to an end.  This particular road trip checked many of our boxes; competing in a race in Europe, a visit to the city of Trieste, time in the region of Friuli–Venezia Giulia, capped off with a visit to Slovenia (upcoming post).  Now, that checked a lot of boxes, so careful planning began and hotels rooms were booked.

Julia and I stand in front of the glasses they had set up for the race
Julia and I stand in front of the glasses they had set up for the race

Here’s how I would sum up Trieste – it is a MUST-SEE city.  Sometimes I find myself guilty of trying to label a city by comparing it to another city.  “Rome is like New York, but much older and without the high-rises”.  Sometimes, you’ve just got to stop and appreciate where you are for what it is.  Don’t try to “label” the place or put it in a box; its easy to fall into that trap with Trieste.  A city that has bounced back and forth between Slovenian, Austrian and Italian rule leaves us with a place today that is proud of its blend in architecture and attitude. Trieste is a city not at all confused about its confusing identity.  With a rich mix of Slavic, Germanic and Latin influences – I am simply content to label this magical place as one of the most “European” cities I have ever visited. Continue reading Trieste… Italy’s Most “European” City

“Lucca Over Here… This Tuscan Town is Amazing”!

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.

Lucca, Italy
Lucca, Italy viewed from the Torre Guinigi
Torre Guinigi - Lucca
Another angle from Torre Guinigi
Lucca viewed from the city walls
Lucca viewed from the city walls

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.

Some participants of Lucca Comics.  Photo courtesy of Francesco Petrucci
Some participants of Lucca Comics and Games. Photo courtesy of Francesco Petrucci

Continue reading “Lucca Over Here… This Tuscan Town is Amazing”!

No Capri-SUN On The Island of Capri

“The journey should be fun, but if you haven’t learned anything along the way, you’ve not yet reached your final destination.”

If you can find Kim Kardashian quotes online, then certainly I should be allowed to try my hand at it!

"Excuse me... did you just try to author a quote?!"
“Excuse me… did you just try to author a quote – that’s my domain!”

There is a point to that quote however, apart from just trying something new.  Our journey abroad has been a wonderful and wild ride.  I have had a blast blogging about it and I appreciate all of my readers for tuning in.  But more importantly, I’ve learned a thing or two over the past year.  As it relates to blogging specifically, I’ve learned a lot. When I look back at my older posts and blogging habits I cringe.  I used to spend ages loading photos, and have just recently learned a shortcut that saves me hours.  I moved from Blogger to WordPress, which I would equate to a jump from junior high directly to college (my MBA is awaiting the day I can build my own website).  I have learned that Top Ten lists and featured images of scantily clad women get you the most page-views.  I used to write posts that seemed to go on for days (and you thought I wrote a lot now), but recently I am attempting to keep each post specific to one topic (as opposed to combining multiple cities and multiple food related stories all into one post).

"Tell me about these 'shorter' posts, daddy"
“Tell me about these ‘shorter’ posts, daddy”
"I think it's a good idea in theory, but let's see if you can really stick to it!
“I think it’s a good idea in theory, but let’s see if you can really stick to it!

Continue reading No Capri-SUN On The Island of Capri

Michael Corleone Says Ciao to Taormina, Sicily

Sicilia (Sicily) was the birthplace of the original Godfather, Don Vito Corleone; its shores harbored his son, Michael Corleone and recently the island hosted Don Greggorio and his small family.  My only disappointment in visiting Sicily was that my wife, Jen wouldn’t let me wear a white suit and hat while walking around passing out fruit like I was Don Vito himself.  Oh well, there’s always next time…

The sun rises over Catania, Sicily
The sun rises over Catania. How can you be expected to walk around without a white suit?!

I was so excited to visit Sicily because I’ve wanted to see this unique part of the country for as long as I can remember.  This region of Italy is so far south from where we live that I wasn’t sure if we would ever get the opportunity to explore the island while living here.  Sicily boasts a plethora of interesting facts that I couldn’t begin to detail in a single post.  However, perhaps the most interesting few points are that the island is the largest in the Mediterranean, archeological evidence dates human inhabitants are far back as 8,000 BC and the terrain has changed hands dozens of times (from Greek to Byzantine to Roman and all over again and again).

Coastline along Sicily
Coastline along Sicily
Ìsula Bedda is local dialect for Isola Bella, or Beautiful Island
Ìsula Bedda is local dialect for Isola Bella, or Beautiful Island

Continue reading Michael Corleone Says Ciao to Taormina, Sicily

Thanksgiving in Italy

Can you believe that they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Italy?!  They also don’t celebrate the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day!  I know weird, right?!

Our Thanksgiving table is set
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  Of course I love the spirit of Christmas, the fun costumes of Halloween (another holiday that they don’t really celebrate), the fireworks of our Independence Day… but nothing can match the guilt-free ability to gorge on delicious food all…day…long!  And if that wasn’t good enough, you are then permitted… nah, encouraged to lay on your duff and watch football until it’s time to re-heat a plate of leftovers. Continue reading Thanksgiving in Italy

Would You Like To Join Me For a Run?

I have a love-hate relationship with running.  I love the feeling of finishing a five or six mile run.  I hate the agony I get in my calves the next day.  I love pushing myself to run a distance further than I’ve ever run before.  I hate pushing myself through that first mile after foolishly taking four months off during the winter.  Currently, I’m learning to find a proper balance in my on-again off-again relationship with running.  Since living abroad, I’ve discovered a renewed commitment to running.  I am lucky enough to have some of the most amazing routes in my own backyard – a benefit that definitely keeps me on the trail a little longer.

“Please, come join me along my run”
Julia loves to join me on an occasional run

We have been really lucky with some wonderful weather this fall.  Just this morning, I went for a jog in shorts and a lightweight jacket.  I understand it’s a lot colder at home, so I would like to invite you to “come for a run with me”.  I have several routes that I take on a regular basis depending on how long, how far, or how much of a vertical climb I want.  Or sometimes, I’ll just go out and try to find something new. Continue reading Would You Like To Join Me For a Run?

The Perfect Recipe – Great Friends, Food & Tons of Fun

Sometimes living abroad is hard.  Like when you miss a good friend’s wedding in upstate New York – an event that turned out to be the social gathering of the year (according to Facebook pictures and word of mouth). Thankfully Dave and Jill completely understood when we declined to come.  Or when one of your best friends tells you that he’s planning on “popping the question” via email, because there’s really no easier way.  Those are the types of conversations that should be reserved for a late night in a neighborhood bar, complete with lots of back pats and free rounds for the groom-to-be.  Thankfully, Josh was great about keeping me in the loop, sending us pictures of his wonderful proposal to Abby in Charlestown earlier this year (and even calling us via FaceTime shortly afterward).  So, yeah – living abroad can be hard when you miss these special moments in your friends and families lives.  However… when we’re able to host our friends and family here, we are always grateful for the experience abroad.

Abby, Josh, Jill, Dave, Jen and Julia

For that reason, we were absolutely thrilled when we heard that Josh and Abby were going to come visit us.  We coordinated the timing of their trip so that they would be visiting during a beautiful time of year and the start of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.  As soon as they booked their airfare, I reserved our train tickets to Munich, which I’ll write about in the upcoming post. Continue reading The Perfect Recipe – Great Friends, Food & Tons of Fun

Our Final Days at Sea

We recently had the most amazing vacation aboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam  and I have had a wonderful time writing about it.  I have discovered even more about each destination as I’ve researched them further and I have had the pleasure of reliving it all over again as I post the pictures.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed your time aboard with us.  Sadly, I will close this chapter of our overseas adventure and move onto the next story in an upcoming post.  There is still plenty more to come in the blog pipeline…

“Dad, wrap this up already – you’re putting us all to sleep!”

If you joined us thus far, you’ll know we visited Venice, Olympia and Athens in our first post and then Istanbul and Lesbos in the second post.  The final leg of our cruise transports us to Kuşadası,  Santorini and Argostoli.  As always, we’ll include some of our shipboard life and hopefully you’ll be able to stick with me – I’ve got a ton of pictures in this final post. Continue reading Our Final Days at Sea

Come Here, You Turkey!

In my most recent blog post, we embarked on a cruise throughout the Mediterranean.  I’d love for you to continue the adventure with us as we head to Istanbul, Turkey and the beautiful Greek island of, Lesbos.  I’ll finalize our voyage in an upcoming post that will include the final ports of call and some more stories about our shipboard life.

“Oh, tell me… tell me all about it!”

When I last left you, we had visited Venice, Olympia and Athens.  By this point in the cruise, we really hit our stride and had fully immersed ourselves in everything Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam had to offer.  We were overeating delicious food (and then trying to work some of it off in their state-of-the-art gym), spending time in the casino (maybe too much time… literally every casino worker knew me by name), taking in shows and making friends all over the ship.  We found a couple of other families with small children, but for the most part – we were in the minority (not fitting into your typical “cruise-goer” demographic).  I’ll tell you what… if you ever want affirmation about your kids cuteness – go on a cruise with thousands of grandparents missing their grandkids.  They were all so happy to pay us compliments about Julia that it made us excited to take her anywhere on board. Continue reading Come Here, You Turkey!

"I Would Sail 2,700 Nautical Miles and-a I Would Sail 2,700 More…"

Admit it… you sang the title in your head, complete with the voice raising on the “and-a I”

I love to cruise.  Jen loves to cruise.  And now… Julia absolutely loves to cruise.  We have very few experiences aboard cruise ships, but each time we’ve been on one of these massive floating hotels (or mini-floating city’s… I couldn’t choose between adjectives – you pick your favorite), we feel like royalty.  We know that we will chose this method of vacation many more times in our lives.  Cruising requires little planning and you are always rewarded with the very best customer service, the opportunity to see many more cities than you normally could in a given time period, endless activities aboard the ship, wonderful food, the benefit of unpacking only once and perhaps best of all – a very affordable vacation (you can get very good deals if you hawk the last-minute deal sites).

Our ship – Holland America’s MS Nieuw Amsterdam

The first time that Jen and I took a cruise was on our honeymoon.  We spent three weeks sailing around South America (from Buenos Aires, Argentina all the way around Cape Horn and on to Santiago, Chile).  I chose Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) for our first cruise, primarily because the itinerary was perfect and I found it to be reasonably priced.  I wasn’t nearly the internet-nerd I am today and so I did little research beyond that.  We had a wonderful vacation, ate way too much food, enjoyed some lovely scenery (I have thousands of pictures to prove it) and had an absolute blast.  However, I had no idea how amazing cruising could really be until we recently boarded Holland America’s, MS Nieuw Amsterdam (pronounced, n-e-w); one of the newer ships in their fleet.

Boarding the Nieuw Amsterdam

Continue reading "I Would Sail 2,700 Nautical Miles and-a I Would Sail 2,700 More…"