Gelato – the Base of the Food Pyramid!

Gelato Sign

I don’t know how they make this stuff. I go to stores where that claim they have it. I try it. I am deeply disappointed. Only in Italy do them make the real thing. And it is simply remarkable! I have no idea what their secrets are, but I am sure there is some magic to it. Two of my sons are lactose intolerant, and yet they ate and ate and ate Gelato and thrived. My eldest son holds the tour record for 23 in one day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack – it doesn’t matter.

San Gimingiano Gelato

The Gelato flavors are nearly surreal. From Chocolate to Kiwi to Pistachio to Rice (Riso – my favorite) to any fruit you can imagine and some you can’t, it is a divine delight. So when in Italy dive in. Look over the amazing variety. Be daring and adventurous. There is more to life than chocolate and vanilla (although I always have some). Then, when you come home and go the ice cream aisle of you supermarket you will pause, look rather sad, and utter a forlorn sigh. Gelato – the foundation of the Mediterranean Diet!!!!!!

Bostone Gelato

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It’s Beautiful Over There

 

Burano Colors

Europe has a beauty that is diverse and breathtaking, from the natural to the man made. North or South, East or West, everywhere you go there is so much that is just inspiring and, well, beautiful!

Pantheon

Perhaps one of the most beautiful, most perfect buildings is the Pantheon in the heart of Rome. Built by the Emperor Hadiran in about 170 A.D., it is the only Roman building remaining intact. When Germanic tribes swept through Rome to despoil it of its treasures the Pantheon stopped them in their tracks. They refused to destroy it. They were in awe, as we are today, of this spectacular building. No picture does it justice. It is one of those places you just have to experience for yourself.

Eiffel Tower

They were going to tear this down when the World’s Fair was over. Parisians hated it. Beaudelaire would eat lunch in the cafe on the first floor every day because, as he said, it was the only place he could go in Paris where he didn’t have to see the thing. Well, Parisians are not the only ones today who cannot imagine Paris without it. It is one of those monuments that is so much more impressive in person. You finally realize – it is BIG! Really BIG!

Jungfrau

¬†And then there is the beauty of nature. On a clear day in the Swiss Alps it is hard to imagine anything more sublime. The Swiss love their mountains and spend a lot of time in them themselves. They also work hard to preserve them. We join them in their love of their mountains with a hike of our own right here at the base of the Jungfrau. If the weather cooperates you’ll never forget your day in the Alps.

Burano Flower
But not all of Europe’s beauty is found in the grand. Much of it is right at your feet! So don’t always be looking up. Keep your eyes and ears open to everything around you and you are bound to fill your travel with beauty. It will enrich you trip immeasurably!

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Awake in Rome

Back again at last. It all feels very comfortable these days, having spent so much time here over the years. I am reminded why it is my favorite city in Europe on my jet lag walk – the first thing I do after dumping my bags at the hotel.

The familiar tourists are here, but not in the droves of past summers. Seems the economy took its toll. But some are here just the same, the serious ones who are here to learn something, the college kids taking a break (or unable to find a job right now) the fun loving and the crass. The Romans take us all in stride, and after a day or two or rummaging around town I have yet to talk with a Roman who is exasperated at our presence.

It is warm. Summer his here, and with it the high temperatures and the humidity. Taking a break during a busy day, drinking lots of water, seeking some shade, all make Rome much more enjoyable this time of year and are a must if one is to survive the gauntlet of must-see attractions in this incomparable city.


Rome is a city of churches, nearly every one an architectural jewel in some way or another. Stoping in on what looks like a rather unpromising church from the outside you can be taken aback with wonder at mosaics and marble, at paintings and tombs. Never judge a Roman church by it’s cover. Then again, there are some spectacular facades on nearly every street as well. It’s all just a bit dazzling.

 

All of this was taken in during my mid day stroll on my first day back in Rome. A stop at the grocery store for fruit and juice and bread and cheese, and it was off to one of the quietes parks in Rome, the trees and grass (weeds, really) surrounding the ruins of the baths of Trajan. It seems the Romans have taken to the whole Family Home Evening thing, for the park was filled with laughing children, happy parents, and ond coupled arm in arm on benches, still very much in love. It was an idyll of family life and love in this incredible city of cities. Ancient Romans kept the idea of family sacred. Modern Romans, the few who are having families anyway, seem to meto treasure them as much as ever. When I got back to my hotel I called my wife in far away Utah, to share a few moments of the same feeling.
It has been a good day – a really good day. A good day to be back in Rome.
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Won’t Be Long Now!

In 24 hours I’ll be somewhere over Nova Scotia on a flight across the Atlantic bound for Rome. In my minds eye I can see the beautiful Umbrella Pines in the fields around Fumacino Airport – those unique trees that first caught my eye in 1989 as my plane approached the runway on my very first trip to Europe. I’ve never forgotten that sight, and the 23 times since that I have landed at Fumacino I always look for those pines. I know then that I am back – back to my favorite city in the world!

Rome is a baptism by fire. It is an intense first taste of Europe, loud and busy and warm and crowded, full of ruins and churches everywhere you look, and at the same time serene and sublime and beautiful and magnificent. Rome overloads every one of your five senses, and even encroaches on your sixth, as you wander back in time to the first Romans, then the early Christians, then the marauding bands of Germanic warriors, then the ascension of the Catholic church with their Baroque churches, and finally modern work-a-day Rome.
But through it all the Romans, the people that live here, still take time for a long lunch and slow evening stroll after a late leisurely dinner. They don’t live to work here in Rome, they work to Live. For the fine art of living in a bustling urban center, you can’t beat Rome.
And so it is to Rome that I first take my tour groups. I go a couple of days early to soak in the European lifestyle so that I am a good teacher of how to be a temporary European. When my group arrives and I greet them at the airport, it is with that goal in mind that we begin our wonderful journey through a part of Europe together. I love every minute of it. I can’t wait to get on that plane, I can’t wait to see my Umbrella pines!
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