Most of you who are our friends and family know that each year Kay and I spend the last two weeks of July attending the annual conference of a literary society. Each year it is held in a different European venue. This year’s was Vico Forte, a small village with a large church in beautiful Piemonte (“foot of the mountain”) of northwestern Italy that borders France and Switzerland. This is a rich, bountiful region, and although our conference activities kept us intensely busy morning, noon, and evening, our program did include group visits to sights we might not have discovered on our own. Continue reading Piemonte

Sicily: It’s All Good


October 30, 2009

On a recent Sunday evening in Agrigento on Sicily’s South Coast, Kay and I left our hotel to walk along the single narrow street of the city’s medieval quarter. Traffic there was at a standstill, and we noticed that the stuck cars had the air of having been sitting for some time. Most of their drivers had shut off their engines and were reading, chatting with other drivers, or dreaming idly. The scene was calm; there was no horn blowing. Kay and I kept walking and eventually got to the cause of the jam. A city bus was wedged between a building and an illegally parked car’s rear fender. The bus driver and a group of men stood discussing the matter loudly as they do in Sicily. We kept walking and a short time later the bus roared past us followed by the rest of the traffic. Did the driver of the parked car show up and move it? Did a group of men physically pick up the car, move it a bit sideways, and give the bus clearance? Or did the bus finally just plough ahead and crush the rear of the parked car? We don’t know. It’s just one of many mysteries we encountered on our trip to this fabled island.

Others included the seemingly random store opening hours. In Turkey, as in the U.S., stores are open all day and often late into the evening. This kind of convenience is the norm. By contrast, in Sicily storeowners seem to measure success by the least number of hours they can stay open and still remain in business. And on the subject of stores, how can there be so many selling clothing, shoes, jewelry and watches? These merchants outnumber others ten to one. ‘Looking good’ must be preeminent.

Continue reading Sicily: It’s All Good

Learning Italian in Lecce

In July of 2003, Kay and I spent two weeks at the Domus Aurea language school at Lecce, in the Italian province of Apulia. I regret that I wasn’t keeping my journal at the time, so I don’t have the kind of day-today record of what happened that I keep nowadays.

Looking over my photos of the trip, I see that most are of sites we visited on weekend excursions sponsored by the school. It’s a shame that neither Kay nor I can remember the names of the classmates that appear in some of the photos.

Anyway, before I lose any more of my memories of our stay, I want to put them down here in no particular order.

Continue reading Learning Italian in Lecce

Bella Italia

In March of 2002, Kay and I along with friend Kathy took a trip to Italy. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a journal of this trip, so what I’m writing here years later are a few things that I remember. Looking at the photos of the things we saw, memories of the trip have been on my mind.

Continue reading Bella Italia