I played with various options for the title of this post, ranging from “Italy’s Most Hidden Treasure” to “Italy’s Best Kept Secret”. Really, any of those title would be apropos. Bergamo is all of those things and so much more. Ultimately, I went with “most underrated” because it seems that most people would rather bypass this northern Italian city for the sexier Venice, Florence or Rome. Heck, even neighboring Verona pulls more visitors than Bergamo. As a matter of fact, I had never even heard of Bergamo until I moved here and I had visited nearby Como plenty of times leading up to this adventure.
Getting to know Bergamo was truly a blessing, because it is the type of place that we will continue to visit over and over. The distinguishing feature of Bergamo is that it is really two cities in one. There is the older, medieval city at the top of the hill (Città Alta) and the much more modern city (Città Bassa) below. Incidentally, I use the term “modern city” quite loosely… most notable development is still several hundred years old. Continue reading Bergamo – Italy’s Most Underrated City→
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→
Since the moment my wife Jennifer laid eyes on her baby sister, Jessica, they formed a strong bond that has only developed over time. Sure, Jennifer usually acts more like her mother than her sister and yes, there have been a few lively battles resulting in a couple “boo-boos”, but they are as close as any two sisters I have ever known.
That’s why we were thrilled when we learned of a last-minute vacation Jessica planned with her boyfriend, Matt. We were doubly excited because not only were we going to spend time with Jessica, but we were finally going to be able to meet Matt. Living in Italy comes with its obvious benefits, but we do miss out on a lot at home and so we are thrilled any time “home” comes to us. Continue reading Our Lil’ Sis Comes to Visit→
When you are young, the world is your oyster. You can do anything… be anything. Many kids have grand plans to become a cowboy or a princess or even travel through space and time. Most kid’s plans become a little bit more grounded in “this” world as they get a little older. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be grand. I specifically remember sitting in my seventh grade Spanish class, penning a list of activities that I absolutely had to do in my lifetime. This list included activities such as climbing Mount Everest, sky diving and hang-gliding, running with the bulls in Pamplona and skiing the Swiss Alps. I think even then, I knew that I would be lucky to complete more than a handful of the activities. The one activity that persisted most in my mind was skiing the Swiss Alps. All throughout high school and college, my friends and I spoke of the day we would make this dream a reality. But after a decade and a half of dreaming, I started to believe that was all it would ever be. Sometimes the real world (jobs, kids, schedules, finances) just get in the way. Continue reading A Lifelong Dream, Realized At Last!→
I have celebrated the year changing exactly thirty-four times. That is a lot of ball drops, backward counting and champagne toasts. In the thirty-four times I have seen the calendar progress another year, I have experienced elaborate dinners, small family gatherings, massive ballroom parties and cozy nights in. I have had “the night of my life” and “the disappointment of a lifetime.” In all this time, I have learned that a valuable life lesson. When you place an unhealthy amount of expectations on any one thing (in this case, an evening), it is hard to meet or exceed the vision you’ve created in your own head.
Fireworks light up the sky behind Milan’s Duomo
Fortunately, disappointment was not the theme as we rang in 2014. The stakes were at an all-time high and the night came together as well as anyone could have hoped. Continue reading New Years in Milan→