Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato - Madonna and Child

Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato – Madonna and Child – Italian, 17th Century

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Black smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel. The cardinals haven’t made up their minds, or maybe they can’t operate a wood stove.

Here is another method of choosing, more to our own traditions and times. That’s a comment on our traditions and times, by the way. The Catholics know what they’re doing.

General warning about this video: Don’t be drinking milk or any other beverage while watching.

And watch it past the credits to question #4 and more relevance to our times.

Credit: Lutheran Satire, whose motto is “Teach the faith by making fun of stuff.”

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Good to be home

Jeri and I were away for a week and a half, visiting Daughter Number Three in Italy.  The place is beautiful, it’s early spring over there, and the art and architecture are fantastic.  But it’s good to be home: 

To our humble abode on Maple Ave:

not really... this is il Duomo, the cathedral in Siena, just a few streets above the apartment that we rented


And to the harbor at Islesford.  That’s the Mailboat leaving after dropping us off:

Im joking of course. And I also stole Heathers photo of Venice. We didnt go there.


And to our faithful dog, Gracie:

This is really a bronze wolf, not a Husky-Lab mix. Shes nursing Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. These statues are everywhere in Siena.


And our precious cat, Little Sal:

All right, this is French, not Italian; but le chat noir is a tourist item even in Italy. And Little Sal really is black.

[Important disclaimer so I don’t get sued (or maybe now I will, for having admitted this):  None of these photos are mine because I haven’t uploaded  from the camera yet.  But these are probably better anyway…]

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In case you missed it last time, or even if you didn’t:  The dinner scene from the movie Big Night.  Great music, great visuals, great humor and the best food you’ll ever…see.  




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Well, half-Italian at least.  

Buon giorno from…Ireland?  No, Italy.  I think they have Saint Patrick’s Day over here. 

il Duomo di Firenze

By the time this posts, Jeri and I should have landed in Firenze (Florence) and we plan to stay here for three nights before taking a bus to Siena to visit Heather for a week.  She’s been here since January because her college is making her do a semester abroad.  College is tough nowadays.  When I was in school…

I know I have cousins over here somewhere.  My mother’s parents emigrated from the south of Italy to Hartford, Connecticut about a hundred years ago.  It would take a little work, but I could probably find people who look just like me but speak with a different accent (in Maine we don’t pronounce the “Rs” but over here they make a big, big deal over them).

Maybe next trip I’ll go look for them and tell them to lighten up on the trill.     

Jeri is here for the architecture as well as to see Heather.  She studied much of this in college, particularly the cathedrals of Florence and Siena, the two cities where we’ll stay.  When we first decided we were coming she trotted out her textbooks and photocopied the plans of il Duomo, the cathedral in Siena, which turns out to be around the corner from the little flat we’ve rented.  We’ll be right in the old city, in the center of things, which means cafés, museums and fine food within a short walk, and that suits me fine.  We’ll probably take a few bus trips to neighboring towns like San Gimignano, but we wont have to.  That’s the good part.  And maybe we’ll do an overnight trip to Rome.  Not driving.  Not driving.  I hear they’re crazy over here, even though we’re related.

Heather has been getting around the country quite a bit since January and we’re counting on her as a tour guide and travel agent.  For photos and more about her travels see her blog by clicking here. 

See you in Maine.  Ciao

il Duomo di Siena, early 13th century. Click once or twice to enlarge.

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Italian field trip


Heather went to Pisa over the weekend and tried to help:


And while she was there she went to church:


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An Italian Party

We didn’t really throw a going-away party for Heather before she left, but we did manage to pop a bottle of champagne (and yes, put the date on the ceiling next to the dent) and watch Big Night, one of our new favorite movies (1996, rated R—but not for nudity, as there is none.  They nailed it for profanity, but even that becomes comedy because those Italian immigrants don’t really know how to swear).

I really recommend Big Night.  A modern classic.  Lots of fun, great music, and the best food you’ll ever see—and not be able to eat.  What a pity.   

And Heather—if we had thrown you a party it would have been JUST LIKE THIS:



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It’s official.  After a paperwork mixup, Daughter Number Three finally made it to Italy, the first of our family since her great-grandparents emigrated from there a hundred years ago. 

We hadn’t heard from her since Tuesday after she cleared airport security  in Boston.  But, unless she had been wandering around the airport like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, we assumed that she made it OK. 

We just received an email from her this morning, Friday:

Hi mom/dad,
I’m here, it is fabulous!!  I have limited internet access; this was the first time I was able to send out an email.  To keep it short though, all is well and Siena is beautiful!
love you,

Heather will be studying in Siena this semester, her second year in college.  Siena is located somewhere between Florence and Rome, so she will have no excuse to be bored. 

What will she study?  Italy, of course.  It’s a semester abroad, after all.  Italian language; art history; and literature ( I think).  Dante, in any case, because he lives there: 

La gloria di colui che tutto move per l’universo penetra, e risplende

"Dante and Beatrice" by Ary Scheffer 1851


Nel ciel che più de la sua luce prende

fu’ io, e vidi cose che ridire

né sa né può chi di là sù discende;


perché appressando sé al suo disire,

nostro intelletto si profonda tanto,

che dietro la memoria non può ire.


Veramente quant’io del regno santo

ne la mia mente potei far tesoro,

sarà ora materia del mio canto. 

(The opening lines of Paradiso, Canto I)


Longfellow translation: 

The glory of Him who moveth everything

Doth penetrate the universe, and shine

In one part more and in another less.


Within that heaven which most his light receives

Was I, and things beheld which to repeat

Nor knows, nor can, who from above descends;


Because in drawing near to its desire

Our intellect ingulphs itself so far,

That after it the memory cannot go.


Truly whatever of the holy realm

I had the power to treasure in my mind

Shall now become the subject of my song.


That’s about it.  Study well, Heather.  Maybe we’ll see you over there? 

Love, Daddy


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