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→
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?→
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→
For quite some time, Jen and I have wanted to open our home to our readers. We have had the extreme pleasure of hosting some of our family and friends – but there are still a good number of you that have not seen our home in person. For that reason, we have wanted to open our doors for quite some time.
Our soggiorno (living room)
You’ve heard me say it many times (if you’re a reader of the blog) – but I feel it’s of the utmost importance that I say it again. When I say, “open our doors“ – what I really mean to say is, “open Dominic and Diane’s (Jen’s parents)doors.” They have graciously allowed us to live in their pied-à-terre for the past year. Without them, this trip could not have been possible. Continue reading Want To See Where We Live?→
I don’t know anyone in their thirties that really goes around saying, “I’m Greek” because he or she was in a fraternity or sorority – but it was certainly fun to be a part of Greek Life during college. Jennifer and I were both “Greeks” while we attended Virginia Tech together and we each established lifelong friendships that have opened world’s of opportunities.
Lauren and Jen in front of Lake Garda
One of Jen’s sorority sisters, Lauren recently came to visit – and they instantly fell into their old college routine. We welcomed Lauren at the train station; she was arriving from Switzerland having visited another friend living abroad. We went to downtown Como and had a nice dinner, before enjoying a few drinks in the piazza while a live band entertained us. Continue reading Two Greeks in Italy→
There is a wonderful town along Lake Como, called Tremezzo. Most people have heard of Bellagio, which sits on the exact shore opposite Tremezzo, but the lesser known town is a true gem with far fewer tourists crowding the streets. Tremezzo is home to a couple of our favorite restaurants and gelaterie (ice cream parlors). It is also home to Villa Carlotta, a 17th century treasure that has been beautifully restored and maintained.
Jen and I have been wanting to visit Villa Carlotta since we moved to Como. The beauty of the villa and the gardens are well known in this area and attract thousands of visitors each year. We had planned on going in March when my aunt and uncle were visiting, but the villa is not open to the public until the 15th (just a few short days after they departed). Since the gardens are the main attraction, the preservation society wants to ensure all the flowers are in full bloom. Jen and I decided that since my mom is a big fan of gardens, we would visit while they were here (read about the first part of their trip HERE). Continue reading Villa Carlotta’s Beautiful Gardens→
I’ve always been amazed by my father’s dad, even though I have very few memories spending time with him. My “Poppy” was a career photographer for National Geographic. He was born before the turn of the century (February 24, 1898… have you ever known anyone from the 1800’s?!) in a rural town in Delaware that even today only boasts a few hundred residents. He raised his family in Washington DC and got to travel the world for his work (long before traveling the world was something you actually did). These are all things that I find particularly fascinating and I have discovered we even have a few parallels in our lives. Except, he was a rather short man and I’m basically what you call basketball height (5’9″ is about the tallest you’ll see on the court, right?).
A scene along Lago di Maggiore
Of all those attributes, his long-standing career with National Geographic is probably the most interesting to me (and one I’m happy to brag about). On a whim one day (several years ago), my sister-in-law, Jessica googled his name and was surprised at the results. Over 400 of his images appeared on websites like art.com and others (I’m still researching how I can lay claim to the royalties… lawyers feel free to message me). Jessica conspired with Jen and they surprised me with an huge print of one of his 1950’s Washington DC images (I was living downtown at the time). Since Jen’s parents, Dominic and Diane had just purchased their condo in the Lake Como, Jessica and Diane also purchased one of his more famous 1950’s lake images in order to surprise me twice, as well as Jen. When the gifts were presented, my dad, beaming with pride ran out of the room for a moment and came back with the two original copies of National Geographic magazines that contained those exact images. I kept one magazine with my image at my home in Washington DC, and we took the other magazine to Dominic and Diane’s condo in Italy to be with the print that now hangs above our bed.
My grandfather’s photo that appeared in the August 1950 issue of National Geographic
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→
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.
On May 4, 2013 a tornado touched down in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. A path of chaos was carved throughout the area best known for a city that inspired a processed meat in the US nowhere near an authentic representation of it’s namesake – Bologna.
One day prior, a different type of tornado touched down in the Lombardia region just north of Emilia-Romagna. Our friends, Nathan and Danielle landed in Milan and a whirlwind of food, fun, wine was about to begin – our own path of chaos would be carved throughout northern Italy.
Our very good friends, Nathan and Danielle
I picked them up at the airport while Jen stayed home to prepare a proper welcome – an Italian pranzo (lunch) done right. We greeted them with an aperitivo (an alcoholic beverage used to stimulate the appetite) and then began stuffing them with salami, prosciutto, lardo (cured meat – basically just pork fat thinly sliced), cheese and olives. Then it was on to the pasta course, with a simple red sauce before our secondo, veal Milanese. Next of course were the salads and then dessert – fresh fruit and pastries we bought that morning. Plenty of wine flowed throughout the meal and we finished with grappa. The only problem… our large lunch had an effect opposite of our intention to keep them awake and perky in order to stave off jet-lag. They were both crying out for a nap, but we were merciless with our plans. We whisked them to downtown Como, where we walked off lunch and eventually made our way to a bar for happy hour outdoors under the sun. Continue reading Tornado Touches Down in Italy→