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→
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→
Julia has officially been our favorite little peanut for two years now! It seems like just yesterday that we were having fun at her first birthday party in DC and only a blink before that when she first held my hand in the hospital delivery room. And now it was already time for another birthday!
Our birthday girl one year ago
What a difference a year makes!
Also, what a difference a country makes – birthday cake last year, tiramisu this year!
Jen’s parents and sister were happy they were here for the big day. We’d already had tons of fun together, which you can read about HERE. We had just gotten back from a trip to Abruzzo the day before (HERE) and we had to make quick work getting everything together for her party. It was going to be low key – just some family over for a few snacks and cake. If you know my wife and mother-in-law, you’ll know that “low key” was not easy for them. Dominic and I had to keep reminding them it was just a small gathering – no need for their always impressive party-planning skills to be put to the test. Continue reading Our Piccola Principessa Turns Two→
Recently, Jen’s family came to visit (HERE) and since we’re not the type of family that does well sitting still, we planned a couple trips within their trip. One of these week-long sojourns was an impromptu visit to Civitella in the Abruzzo region- Jen’s nonna’s (grandma’s) hometown. The official name of this gem of a village is actually, Civitella Messer Raimondowhich is home to less than 900 residents. Jennifer and Jessica grew up going to visit their nonna and family friends in Civatella during many of their summers abroad. Since I had never been to see such an important part of my wife’s family history – I was excited to go.
Civitella Messer Raimondo – the place where it all started!
I don’t know who was more excited… Jen to see her parents or Jen’s parents to see their granddaughter. It was close, but judging by the suitcase of presents exclusively for Julia, I would give the edge to Jen’s mom, Diane. Of course, this suitcase (along with the 42 other suitcases Jen’s mom, dad and sister brought) got lost somewhere over the Atlantic and didn’t arrive for another two days (the airline had to hire a Mack truck to deliver everything in one trip).
Julia playing with Nonna on Day One
As you’ve no doubt surmised from above, Jen’s family came to visit recently. They wanted to see the country they love, their second home that has been overtaken by three squatters, their kids and their granddaughter (not necessarily in that order). And we were thrilled to see all of them. Since the timing was right with their work schedules and nursing school (Jen’s sister, Jessica had just graduated), they were able to stay a full month. We had plenty of down time relaxing and plenty of time on the go-go-go. Since so much happened during this month, the story of their visit will most definitely be broken into a few posts.
Here is something my Mom, Greg and I all have in common…we love Pizza. And pizza in Italy is the best! Pizza originated in Italy and they have continued to perfect the art ever since. When my Mom was in town we decided to make our own versions of our favorite pizza’s at home. We had so much fun and Julia even got in on the action.
Rolling out her dough
When I told my uncle our plan to try to duplicate our favorite pizza’s at home he gave us a brief history lesson on the pizza. As it turns out, pizza started as a flatbread consumed by many people in Europe. In 16th century this was a common meal sold on the streets to the poor throughout Naples. It was an inexpensive dish that offered many different types of toppings. Credit for the first Margherita pizza is given to pizza maker Raffaele Esposito of Naples. The story is that in June of 1889 to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, he created a “Pizza Margherita” for the Queen (I had to get that from Wiki – History of Pizza) . This pizza consisted of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Thank you Raffaele! Today people around the world enjoy this simple but delicious pizza.
Jen picked a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Verona, romantically hidden from site, lending the feeling of authenticity (as opposed to “touristy”). We were visiting the amazing city for the day (read all about our visit HERE) and had pre-selected, Ristorante Greppia as our place for pranzo (lunch).
The small street leading to Ristorante Greppia
We were instantly taken in by the charm and warmth of the restaurant. The wait staff elevated our excitement for the meal to come by extending great courteousness and hospitality (indulging me as I took photos with this blog in mind). Continue reading Eating Brains Will Not Make You Smarter!→
I know its really, “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” but it’s not his home in the middle of Verona that draws thousands of visitors each day; so I took a little creative liberty with the title. More on our visit to this popular tourist destination in a moment. Let’s back up and set the stage…
Soaking up the view
Verona is a beautiful city in the Veneto region of Italy, in the Northeast Italy. The capital of Veneto is Venezia (Venice) – the world famous city built on canals. While Venice is usually one of the most well-known destinations in this part of the country, it should not overshadow Verona – a charming and breathtaking city unto itself. Since Jen’s parents bought their home in Como a few years ago, Verona has been on our “bucket list” of desired destinations. Continue reading Wherefore art thou Julieta? Oh… Your Home is in Verona→
Our little bumblebee has been busy buzzing all over town – and we were right behind her with cameras and video rolling! Here are a couple of her recent adventures. Coincidentally, both stories fit in with the Easter theme perfectly; a fortunate blog occurrence given the upcoming Easter holiday.
Our little family likes it’s morning rituals. Jen and I enjoy drinking our American coffee (probably the one habit from home we don’t want to give up). Julia likes to chose her own breakfast and then eat it herself (even though half ends up on the floor). Continue reading Who Needs Petting a Zoo?→