Sunday, June 28, 2009

La Dolce Vita

Or as the Italians like to call it, "the sweet life." One particular way in which Italians revel in the sweet life is with their gelato. Back in the 13th century, Marco Polo learned of the Chinese method of creating ice and milk mixtures and like the copycat he was, brought it back to Europe and--poof--gelato was born. Unlike ice cream, gelato is whipped with hardly any air so the flavors are intensified. And intense it is. So intense that we had it daily. Okay, sometimes twice daily but that was only to test out a new flavor. Vacation calories don't count, right?

Of all the cones in all the cities, Siena was by far the best! They had us at ciao when we looked at how authentic their display was. Check out the real strawberries in there......just for show!

After we all ordered our favorite flavor we sat in the campo and devoured the gelato. One sticky, messy, lick at a time.

I remember looking up and noticing the sky was a perfect shade of blue.

We people watched as friends laughed with one another

and embraced each other

and stopped to catch a breath

and stopped for a drink of water

Unfortunately, my people watching was interrupted by two high octane sugar highs. And I don't mean Eugina's. I redirected my focus and watched again as friends laughed with one another

and embraced each other

and stopped to catch a breath

and stopped for a drink of water

I sat in that campo watching two inseperable sisters explore a new world together. I wondered if they will have this much curiosity in the future? I wondered if they will continue to depend on each other as much as they did today? I wondered if they will have the same passion to travel in the way that we do. Will they borrow each other's clothes? Will they wait for each other after school? Will they fight over boys? Will Bella learn to share the spotlight? Will Mia ever stop biting?

I can't wait to find out.

What could be sweeter than that?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Dying City

After doing research for our honeymoon 4 years ago, I stumbled upon an article by Rick Steves (travel guru) that blew me away. I stored it my memory and was lucky enough to pursue this adventure this time around. It was the highlight of our trip. Unfortunately, my words cannot do it justice, so I hope you don't mind but I am borrowing yours Mr. Rick Steves. Especially that part where you so poetically wrote:

"People who've been there say "Civita" (chee-VEE-tah) with warmth and love. This precious chip of Italy, a traffic-free community with a grow-it-in-the-valley economy, has so far escaped the ravages of modernity. Please approach it with the same respect and sensitivity you would a dying relative, because — in a sense — that's Civita."

"Civita teeters atop a pinnacle in a vast canyon ruled by wind and erosion. The saddle that once connected Civita to its bigger and busier sister town, Bagnoregio, eroded away. Today a footbridge connects the two towns."

"Inside the gate, the charms of Civita are subtle."

"Those looking for arcade tourism wouldn't know where to look. There are no lists of attractions, orientation tours, or museum hours. It's just Italy."

"Civita is an artist's dream, a town in the nude. Each lane and footpath holds a surprise."

"The warm stone walls glow, and each stairway is dessert to a sketch pad or camera

"Sit in the piazza."

"Smile and nod at each local who passes by."

"It's a social jigsaw puzzle, and each person fits. The old woman hanging out in the window monitors gossip. A tiny hunchback lady is everyone's daughter."

"Explore the village."

"The basic grid street plan of the ancient town survives, but its centerpiece — a holy place of worship — rotates with the cultures: first an Etruscan temple, then a Roman temple, and today a church."

"At Trattoria Antico Forno ("The Antique Oven"), owner Franco serves up pasta at affordable prices."

"He also rents rooms. This place used to be called "Trattoria Al Forno," but Franco got tired of being called Al."

"Spend the evening. After dinner, sit on the church steps with people who've done exactly that for 60 years. Children play on the piazza until midnight."

"Towering above its moat, Civita seems to be fortified against change. But the modern world is a persistent battering ram. Civita will be great for years, but never as great as today."

And on a side note, only 10 people live in Civita. 10!!! And I think we met half of them--truly unbelievable!

Interested in reading the full article?

Interested in viewing the town's website?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Heart of Italy

Bella Bellagio. Bellagio will always live in the depths of our hearts--a place of unconditional love. We still wonder how this tiny place could hold a lifetime of romance. It was here, back in July of 2003, that Eugene and I knew we would be together forever.

It's also where we decided to make our life-long promise on May 31, 2005, in front of our closest family and friends.

Four years later to the day, we are here in Bellagio showing our daughters where we said, "I do."

They loved the views as much as we did.

They loved the gelato as much as we did.

They got tired walking up hundreds of steps, just like we did.

In our past trips the beauty of Italy was found in the ancient buildings, the Renaissance artwork and the irresistable cuisine, this time we experienced a deeper type of beauty---the Italian people.

As I mentioned, we were so excited to show the girls where we got married and introduce them to the people that made our wedding so special.

These people showed us the true heart of Italy.

Barbara showered the girls with a thousand kisses and a few pairs of posh Italian shoes.

Bruno insisted that we taste his new batch of chilled Primitivo wine and local fish from Lake Como.

Gulia opened her heart and her kitchen so that Eugene could learn firsthand how to make the best Bolognese ragu.

Nicoletta told us that of all the weddings she's planned, she'll never forget how much love our families had for one another.

We spent our time really getting to know these people and rediscovered just how beautiful Bellagio is!

Here are a few of my favorite Bellagio pictures, courtesy of Eugene.


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