So, I’m back here on Sipping Espresso… blogging. Weird. I’m in America. I’m blogging aboutItalyfromAmerica. 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.
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.
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→
Could that title be any more depressing? I almost cried just typing it. What happened?! Our “year-long sabbatical” in Italy came and went in a flash. But that shouldn’t matter… we extended our overseas adventure another six months. Wasn’t that just a few weeks ago?! How is it that our return airline tickets have today’s date on it? We still haven’t seen the trulli huts in Puglia. We never got the chance to visit Jen’s nonno’s town in Calabria. I never proved my “Italianness” by grilling a branzino on our BBQ. Heck, we never ate at that joint down the road that I’ve always wanted try!
Truthfully, I have been aware of the impending move back to America and it turns out… I am a guy capable of emotions. Expressing them is something else altogether; but perhaps I’ll try. Here it is – I am excited to move home. I am eager to spend time with my friends and family. I am anxious to begin working again (and especially eager to earn a paycheck). I am pleased at the thought of a bit of “normal”. At the same time I am also exceptionally sad to leave. I am sorry to abandon our friends and family here in Italy. I am mournful at the thought of missing the food and wine. I become melancholy when I think about the mountains and the lakes I won’t see daily. Perhaps most of all, I am heartbroken that I won’t spend every day/all day with Jennifer and Julia and that I’ll never have the same uninterrupted bonding experience with my second daughter (who will be arriving this September). I’m more mixed up inside than a perfectly stirred risotto.
Before I continue with this post, I feel that it’s important to comment on the status of the blog. Sipping Espresso will continue publishing posts about travel, food, and of course, a little more nonsense (at least for a period of time). In an ideal world, I would have published a post every couple of days and been completely caught-up, allowing for this to be the final post. Of course, I’m nowhere near finished blogging about our recent adventures. I have a good twenty posts in the pipeline and I won’t let myself or my three loyal readers down by cutting our stories short. Sadly, this will be my last post written from the comfort of my “Italian blogging chair”.Continue reading My Final Blog Post From Italy→
It’s been nearly a month and a half since my last meaningful post and I am once again faced with the monumental task of getting caught back up. I’m not sure how or why I allowed myself to get so far behind, but I do know that I have left myself a lot of work. The wine, cheese and salami will just have to wait (well, I suppose it can’t hurt to have a little wine while I write). I would like to apologize to my readers for this delay and I would like to acknowledge one loyal reader in particular; Helen actually reached out to me through our Contact Us page and basically said, “what the hell, Greg – where’ve you been?!” Helen and everyone – even though it can’t excuse the lack of content, we just got back from a two-week trip to the States where, in my capacity as Best Man, I roasted my good buddy Josh and toasted his beautiful bride, Abby (read about Josh and Abby’s trip to visit us here and here).
While we were home, I rediscovered some magical things – burritos, quality customer service and Netflix. We haven’t watched as much TV over the past year as we did over the past two weeks. I became obsessed with the Netflix original series, House of Cards – an amazing drama starring, Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a cagey and politically ambitious congressman who is constantly scheming and conniving to reach the next rung of the political ladder. If Frank Underwood can work through all hours of the night and stay ten moves ahead of his opposition, surely I can bang out a few extra blog posts in the next couple weeks.
I present, for your viewing pleasure… the BRAND NEW,
Please fill in your email address in the “subscribe” field on the left, especially if you were a previous subscriber (all subscriptions were terminated in the move). Also, PLEASE, PLEASE click on the CONTACT US page if you care to give feedback. I would like your suggestions on continued improvement, notes on errors I’ve made or just any general feedback (you can also leave a comment on this post itself… but please be nicer in that location, they are visible to the public). I’m sure that I’ve made some mistakes (many late night hours are at work here) and I’d love for you to help me catch them.
In the meantime, thanks for your continued support and ENJOY your test drive on our new site! For those craving new content and not just a “filler” piece, you’ll be happy to know I’ve added more favorite photos to the PHOTOGRAPHY page.
You can have your two front teeth – I’ll take the Lamborghini!
Oh yeah, that’s the one I want!
Periodically, my father-in-law will send me Italian Groupon deals that he thinks we may be interested in acquiring. Through this site, we have found good deals on restaurants and hotels. Just like Groupon or Living Social at home – some of the deals are interesting, others are not. Some are phenomenal values – others are just cleverly packaged marketing schemes. Recently, he sent me one item that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing tall. The opportunity to take a Ferrari and/or Lamborghini out on a race track and really “open’er up!” Continue reading All I Want For Christmas is a White Lamborghini→
Most people visit Europe in the spring or summer. Of course, these are great times of year to see such a magical and historical place. But may I suggest to you a unique alternative?
Come in December, when the weather is at it’s coldest and the people are their warmest. When the cobblestone streets are strung with lights and the ancient buildings are trimmed with garland. Imagine your most magical place for the holidays – a winter wonderland, if you will. You will be sure to find something that fits your image here in Europe. There are amazing markets and festivals across the continent. Some countries boast cities that are particularly renowned for their holiday cheer. Finland, Germany and Austria are at the top of the list. Denmark and Switzerland are there as well. And of course, our personal favorite place to be for Christmas is right here in Italy. Before you plan your next Christmas vacation, add Europe into the running.
“Boy, Clark – I think we should go to Europe next year”
You may have recently read that our Christmas spirit was put into gear when we attended a Milanese festival early in December. We continued our drive toward Santa’s big day by slipping into second gear and crossing the border into neighboring Switzerland. Our Christmas spirit grew as we set out to enjoy one of the things we love most about Europe in December – the Christmas markets.
Christmas trees like this are in cities all over Europe – this is in the main piazza of Lugano, Switzerland
It just so happens that one of our favorite things about living in Italy is access to wonderful markets year round. In the spring and summer, we can stroll the markets to buy fresh vegetables and aged cheese. In the fall, we can purchase delicious homemade jams and carefully crafted grappa. However, the winter markets are undoubtedly our favorite. The backdrop is perfect – streets framed with Christmas lights. Good cheer around every turn. Wonderful food and beautiful artisanal goods at each stand. Beyond that, it is perfectly acceptable to walk around drinking the specialty drink of the season, vin brulé. This cooked wine is seasoned with sugar and spices – designed to warm your hands and belly as well as comfort your soul. No market visit on a cold December day would be complete without a cup (or two). Continue reading The Christmas Markets of Switzerland→
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”… and that means so many things! It means snow flakes and Christmas lights. It means cold weather and hot chocolate. It means Santa Claus and stockings stuffed with goodies. When you live in Europe, it also means tremendous Christmas markets and delicious vin brulè (cooked wine, usually sold on the streets). Over the past couple weeks, we have been taking advantage of it all! Because Christmas is only four days away – I will spend the next four days posting about our Christmas fun. In order to do that, I have to bend my “unbreakable rule” and publish blog posts out of order. I’ll fast-forward to Christmas and then flash back to some exciting posts that I have in the pipeline.
Oh bej! Oh bej! No, you don’t have to say “gesundheit”! I didn’t sneeze. That is the name of a festival held each year in Milan, spanning from December 7th through the following Sunday. How did it get that wonderful name, you ask? “Oh bej! Oh bej!” means, “oh so nice! Oh so nice!” in the Milanese dialect. It is by far, the most important Christmas festival held in Milan. December 7th is the day of the Patron Saint of Milano, Santo Ambrogio. The festival is said to date back all the way to 1510.
Jen has been pushing me to work harder on my writing; she’s hopeful that one day I can earn a little discretionary income. I have little faith that it will yield any positive results – but on the off chance a publisher is reading this and wants to take a chance on an untrained, unknown, first-time blogger… contact my agent. My agent is Jen. She takes 100% commission.
Julia helps me write on the blog
Since I promised her I would do my best, I recently came across a helpful set of rules to improve my writing skills. I’ve seen this list floating across the internet a couple times and now seemed an appropriate time to re-post it. I’m sorry that I don’t know who to credit as the author – so thank you, you witty SOB, whoever you are.
HOW TO WRITE GOOD
1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid cliches like the plague. They’re old hat.
4. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
5. Be more or less specific.
6. Writers should never generalize.
Seven: Be consistent!
8. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
9. Who needs rhetorical questions?
10. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
Thank you anonymous poster that created this list of unbreakable rules. I’ll be sure to follow them to the letter of the law!
Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow – here is a suggestion of something you can do to dress up your leftovers.
Risotto is a favorite of mine; winter, spring, summer or fall. While cooking risotto, I like to use fresh, seasonal ingredients – and with fall comes all things pumpkin. So, this was my chance to combine one of my favorite dishes with one of my favorite fall flavors.
Risotto con zucca (Risotto with pumpkin)
However, when it came to the Thanksgiving dinner we just had, I knew it would be too much for a first course. While risotto is relatively simple to prepare it is time consuming and requires my undivided attention for at least 20 minutes. I decided instead to create a new family tradition. My plan was to serve pumpkin risotto the day after Thanksgiving, along with all of the other delicious leftovers. I think it’s a perfect way to add a new element to a meal we’ve already eaten a couple times over by lunch the next day. I had plenty of left over zucca (pumpkin) from the soup course, which worked out perfectly. I have officially converted Greg into a pumpkin/squash lover. If you want to add some Italian flavors to your holiday meal this year, check out my simple recipe. I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do. Continue reading Adding Italian Flavor to Your Thanksgiving Leftovers→