Monday, June 6, 2011

Eat. Pray. Love to Travel.....

"You don't speak Italian with your mouth, you speak it with your hands."
---from Eat Pray Love

Well, finally.... hello! Or make that yassas! since we've now arrived in incredible Athens! Already caught our first glimpse of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis... spectacular!

But first ... we made a couple of stops on our way here, so I'll post a bit about those. I plan to blog from the road as we continue our odyssey through Greece tho. I think the frequency will depend more on my energy level than on my internet connectivity, LOL. So far, we've had great WiFi access, but as much as I enjoy sharing, most nights I'm just too wiped. And please forgive typos or any photos that aren't 100% edited....

Anyway ... our journey began with a few days in Philadelphia ... the City of Brotherly Love was just that! Sal and his brother Paul got a chance to visit and catch-up. And Paul's sweet family, his wife Ruth and daughters Gina & Dana, were such hospitable and generous hosts. Ruth even put together a "goodie bag" for me containing my favorite snacks and some travel-themed scrapbooking supplies, OMG! how thoughtful was that??? Thank you so much, Ruth, I'm enjoying some of those Skittles right now! They sure showed us a good time, including a stop at their neighborhood Philly pretzel store ... OMG, so authentic and yum yum yum!

I went with Sal, Paul, and Maria (Sal's cousin) on a day-trip to New York City, we had a blast! Maria & I bought tickets 6 months ago to see Mamma Mia! on Broadway, it was spectacular! The Winter Garden Theater was so elegant. Our seats were on the orchestra level, 2nd row, center....awesome!Maria & I both loved the movie (which we also saw together back when it was in the theater), but the live show was so full of energy, very entertaining.
And of course we had to indulge in some NYC pizza....
We purposely planned to be in Philly for the Memorial Day weekend so that we could attend the annual Lepore Family picnic/reunion. So Sal got to see lots and lots of la famiglia, all at once!Sal and his cousin, Gioelle:
Sal's Aunt Mary & Uncle Roy:
Sal's Uncle Samuele playing the accordion while his Aunts Tina, Lidia, and Michelle sang Italian songs:
Sal and his cousin Danny ... don't they look alike? they both have such strikingly beautiful eyes!
Me with Sal's cousin Claudia (she's perhaps the most faithful reader of Where In The World? !!):
Sal's cousin Susan and her husband, Wayne (she's the owner of Susan's Decorated Sweets!):
Sal and his cousins enjoyed a friendly game of horseshoes:
Our nieces Gina & Dana:
And Gina's fun patriotic feet!I'd like to send a belated Memorial Day "thank you" to our military and their families, for their sacrifices past and present. They make our freedoms possible, including my ability to travel the world, which I so appreciate!

......A Rome With a View......

Then came the tough good-byes to everyone in Philly ...and we were off to Rome, Italy. Sal gave a seminar and met with research collaborators at the University of Rome's Chemistry Department. He had such a successful and productive visit, and his host professor invited me to join them for lunch. That's so like the Italians ... even in business: include the family and take time to get to know one another over a meal.

Our hotel (actually a charming guest house) was Relais Maddalena and our big window opened onto the quaint Piazza Maddalena. Here's a quickie video tour of the piazza from our window:
And if you loved the Eat Pray Love book and/or movie, you'll be interested to know that the author's favorite gelato shop, Il Gelato di San Crispino, was right outside our window! Apparently, EPL fans show up there clutching copies of the book, wanting to check it out. And our hotel owner remembers seeing Julia Roberts and the film crew in Rome. And like Julia's character in the movie, my jeans were starting to feel a bit tight from all the Italian treats. {wink}

Some more glimpses of Italian gastronomic delights:
(that's raspberry gelato I'm eating ... OK, I also had lemon, mango, banana....who can resist?)
We had some time to stroll around the city too. This was our 3rd visit to Rome, so we've been to all the famous "biggies" already ... the Vatican, the Colosseum, Piazza Navona, etc. With work to do at the University, we didn't have much time for sightseeing, and that was OK ... we just enjoyed taking in the vibe of daily Roman life. We did, however, make a point of re-visiting one of our favorite places in Rome, the Trevi Fountain.It's a spectacular work of art; the incredibly detailed sculpture appears to be oozing from the hulking mass of marble. When you visit Rome, be sure to visit La Fontana di Trevi in both the daytime and at's lit up beautifully and is so romantic! And don't forget to toss a coin over your shoulder to assure that you'll come back to Rome...we did!
A few more glimpses of Rome:
Hangin' with Rome's finest....
Dinner with local Romans:
The Spanish Steps:
Since gas is the equivalent of $8 (U.S.) per gallon in Italy, there are scooters galore!...(that's the Pantheon in the background):
I really gave my Italian language skills (if you want to call them that?) a workout this visit! I'm getting better, I can feel myself improving since our first visit to Italy back in 2000. Sal is fluent, but I summoned the courage to order our meals, buy postage stamps, even hold short conversations. A taxi driver even complimented my Italian, I was beyond thrilled! But at times, I'd start a conversation and the Italian resident would reply SO rapidly, or with an accent that I'm not accustomed to, and I was a total deer-in-the-headlights. A blank stare ... Non capisco, mi dispiace. I've got some more learning to do! Or maybe I just need to wave my hands around more when I talk ??

Whenever I travel, I really make an effort to become a "temporary local", to open my mind to new ways of thinking and living. But I have to admit that in Italy, and elsewhere in Europe, I really miss having a COLD beverage! OMG, they never use ice! They serve soda, sparkling water, etc. ever-so-slightly chilled or even at room temperature. I just can't get used to it !!(I've heard Italians complain that when they visit the U.S., the restaurants put so much ice in drinks ... so I guess it's whatever you're used to). But after a long, often hot day here, I really crave throwing back a cold Coke. So, my polite requests for ice (vorrei un Coca-Cola con molto ghiaccio, per piacere) were often met with a waiter's curious wince (why do you want that?) say that Italians are expressive is an understatement! Then he'd go off somewhere (not sure why, but sometimes it takes a while to locate some ice --- perhaps they're chipping it out of a freezer that needs defrosting? LOL)...finally returning with my cubes of frozen delight "presented" in a pretty bowl with a spoon. As if it's a dessert! Makes me chuckle every time .......

We saw a scary incident while in began to rain, the cobblestone streets were slippery, and a woman fell off her scooter while turning a corner. We ran over and Sal lifted the scooter off of her and I moved it out of the road while he helped her get up. She seemed OK, her ankle was sore though. A waiter from a nearby restaurant came running out with an ICE pack for her ankle ... go figure! I'm still wondering where they found that ice so quickly ??? ....kinda funny!

Not sure that I've ever mentioned how I love to wear what I call my "travel jewelry" ... my dual timezone watch (that I bought in Venice 11 years ago, LOVE it!). With a quick glance, I can see what time it is wherever in the world I am, and back in Florida. And my lira coin charm bracelet (the lira is no longer the currency of Italy; instead, they're using the euro, so my bracelet is quite a conversation piece):

I'm missing Buddy & Aruba terribly ... but I know that they're having fun at "Camp Grandma & Grandpa", LOL. I hear that their fur got a nice brushing this morning. XOXO to them!

While in Athens, Sal gave another seminar and discussed his research with the chemistry professors at the University of Athens. Tonight we talked all about his wildly successful day on campus while lingering over a delicious Greek dinner. Before we arrived at the restaurant, I looked-up how to say "ice" in Greek....



Momofboys said...

Oh I was giddy when I opened up your blog and saw a post!! Yippeeee!! so excited for you both and I'm so so glad you were able to rearrange your trip to make a stop in Philly too =) It was so nice to see you and Sal and it looks like you are enjoying the European life...the food is so yummy there you can't help but eat!! Enjoy the rest of your travels and can't wait to see the pics from Greece...I hear it's gorgeous there!!

daysease said...

Wow, Susan. Your trip to Greece looks just beautiful. You both look well, and like you are having a really good time. Was wondering... Would it be okay to post your picture of the lira bracelet on my blog?? it is so neat!

Thank you for sharing, about your trip and all. Hope you are well. Any plans to come visit Southern Italy (family) again soon? Let us know... We will be in PA this summer. You coming up at all?

Would love to see you if possible. Well, Love from all of us!


e_susan94 said...

Wow what a great post from Memorial Day and going to Rome afterwards. I love that the business man invited you guys to eat with him, that's wonderful hospitality that I love from that country. I love the ice story from the restaurant, that is so true. And that pizza, I can taste it through the screen. I haven't been there in almost 18 yrs so I smile when I see other people I know visit there and just live vicariously through the photos.

e_susan94 said...

Forgot to thank you for posting my "Sweets" page under our photo from Memorial Day. Thanks Susan. :)