Category Archives: Sipping Espresso

A Culinary Odyssey of Epic Proportions!

No, we didn’t oversell it in the title.  This meal was

LEGEN…wait for it…DARY!

Like Odysseus who fought heroically in the Trojan war and embarked on a long journey rife with cyclops, lotus-eaters, sea monsters and hostile giants; we too fought our own heroic battle of hunger and embarked on a journey rife with wrong turns, communication challenges, unpaved roads and hostile baby cries.  In the end however, it worked out better for us than Odysseus.
We decided to visit the neighboring town of  Lecco and grab a bite to eat.  When I quickly opened my browser and selected a restaurant from Trip Advisor based solely on someones comment “good food, family friendly” – we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  We plotted our course in the GPS and set out to eat at Osteria Belvedere Montalbano, a thirty minute-minute drive.

Lecco – a lake town on the east “leg” of Lake Como
A panoramic of the lake that I stitched together – the view on our way to the restaurant

Thirty-five minutes later, we pulled up.  To a house.  This couldn’t be right.  We tried again.  Twenty minutes later we ended up in the woods.  Hmmm???  Twenty five minutes later we pulled up again.  To another house.  How many Via (Street) Montalbano’s could there be?!  Jen dug a little deeper and translated a few google posts.  She discovered that the restaurant is in fact, in the woods.  So we were right when we were in the woods???  We tried that route again and hit a dirt path that looked to be traveled only by horses.  As frustrated as you are reading this, you can imagine our displeasure.  We’d had enough… time to throw in the towel. Continue reading A Culinary Odyssey of Epic Proportions!

A Sunday Stroll

What’s a good thing to do on a Sunday?  We thought a stroll by the lake might be the perfect activity.  Jen’s uncle Franco had been telling us about a lake nearby that is an exact 5k and perfect for walking and stroller pushing because it has a paved walkway.
Lago di Segrino

Jen and I had ventured off on our own half a dozen times this past week trying to find this nearby lake. First, we went to Lago di Alserio, because that was the closest.  We discovered a charming new town and another “happy hour” place to try – but alas, the lake was not suited for walking.  Next, we tried Lago di Montorfano and found a place to rent boats and a fun-looking beach bar for the summer time.  But no walking trail.  After a few more failed attempts, we realized that we were never going to find this place on our own, given that this area of Italy is often referred to as the Lake District of Italy.  So Sunday morning we asked Franco if he would show us on google maps the location of the map.  Instead, he volunteered to join us and personally direct us in the car.  And fortunately, Claudia offered to stay home and cook us lunch for our return! Continue reading A Sunday Stroll

Julia’s Favorite New Food

Christmas in Italy

OK, we realize it’s nearly February and people are more inclined to think about Valentine’s Day than Christmas… but it’s still cold and snowy and hey, who couldn’t use a little holiday cheer any time of year?!  So, if you’ll forgive us for posting about Christmas at the end of January, than you’ll certainly excuse the fact that these pictures were taken last year!

Christmas is such a special time in Italy.  We didn’t want to miss a posting about this wonderful event and some of the local traditions.  When we arrived  on January 4th, all the lights and decorations were still present but we didn’t have an opportunity to photograph anything.  Therefore, we had to use some from last year’s library.

Lake Como’s Duomo – lit up at night

Starting in early December, you’ll find lights and decorations sprinkled throughout each piazza and cobblestone street you encounter.  In front of every church you’ll see a presepio (nativity scene)  that is always presented wonderfully and illuminated each night.  If you venture into the suburbs (or look up toward the windows in most cities), you’ll see hundreds of little Santas trying to climb their way into someone’s home.  And you’re sure to hear “Buon Natale” (Merry Christmas) at every turn. Continue reading Christmas in Italy

Fourth Time’s the Charm – Our Cell Phone Experience

Whoever said the “easy-going” Italy lifestyle is “easy” was pazzo (crazy).  Take for example our experience in obtaining cell phones.

We thought it would have been simple.  We both have unlocked iPhones that only required a TIM card (the same as a SIM card in the U.S., you just have to slide it in… batta-bing, batta-boom).  We had been briefed that there are no cell phone plans; you simply pre-pay for the week, month or year.  We had decided to get plans with voice, data and text – just enough to help us find each other if separated and maybe find a good trattoria (restaurant) if we were in a new city.

So one nice day (maybe 3 days into our trip), we decided to walk across the street to the local TIM store.  The woman did not speak any English and we didn’t feel comfortable picking a plan blindly.  So we did what we always do… we asked Jen’s uncle Franco (who lives upstairs) for his help.

Touching Down in Italy

We knew the deadline was coming for months… January 3rd was staring us in the face for a long time.  January 3rd rustled up feelings of excitement (me and Jen), nervousness (Jen…ok, me a little) and stress (mainly me).

It got here before we were ready.  We still had a list a mile long on January 2nd and I don’t think either of us were as prepared as we thought to say goodbye to our friends and family.  Jen’s girlfriends threw an incredible send-off hosted at Mike and Aubrey Ciatto’s home.

Aubrey and Mike’s beautiful home – nice touch with the flag

And then… all of a sudden, we woke up on January 3rd.  We hugged our first set of goodbyes to my parents, Julia’s “Pop-Pop and Grandma” in Darnestown, and got a little misty when my usually stoic parents both shed a couple tears. Continue reading Touching Down in Italy