Showing posts from 2015

See Naples and Write

Last summer, while I was teaching Travel Writing in Rome, the universe kept telling me to take a side trip to Naples.  I kept bumping into displaced Neapolitans who told me how wonderful their native city was, how I absolutely needed to see it.

I'd been meaning to someday get to Naples--I'd even changed trains in its station once--but somehow I hadn't managed to really visit.  This time I went, and promptly fell in love--with the electric blue Bay of Naples and the view from Castel Sant'Elmo:

With its colorful streets:

With the quirky sights to be seen around every corner:

The picturesque Spanish Quarter:

Not to  mention the food:

Most of all, I fell in love with the people I encountered there, people who seemed instantly familiar--like extended family members.  Maybe that's not too surprising, considering my great grandmother set sail from the port of Santa Lucia  in 1909, my two-year-old grandmother in her arms.

To think how much I'd have missed if I'd stayed aw…

Philly When the Pope's in Town

For a vibrant, world-class city, Philly has a bit of an inferiority complex.  How could it not, in the twin shadows cast by those heavyweights, Washington D.C. and New York City?  

Maybe that's why Rocky Balboa resonates so much here.  The scruffy, down-on-his-luck prizefighter who gets one shot at the big time?  That was us this weekend, when the World Meeting of Families brought Pope Francis to our city.

For Catholics and the many non-Catholics who admire this Pope for his vision, his humility, his heart, and his willingness to shake things up, Philly was--for a shining moment--Caput Mundi.  

Here's what you experienced if you braved the Popepocalypse:

--Deliciously car-free streets.

--Singing in unexpected places.

--Pilgrims from around the globe.

--A rainbow of habits, vestments, and robes.

--Bobbleheads and Hug-a-Popes:


Enthusiastic college students:

--Eager but remarkably civil crowds.

Seriously beefed-up security:

--including Secret Service agents and even rooftop snipers.

Flashback: In Fair Verona

A friend recently asked me where in the whole world  I would live if money and job were no object.  I didn’t have to think hard about the answer: Verona, Italy.

Until last summer, I’d only been there once before, on my very first trip to Europe, when I was 22, travelling solo with a backpack, a Eurail pass, and an International Youth Hostel Card.  I fell instantly in love with Europe in general and Italy in particular.  

And of all the Italian cities and towns I visited, Verona--charming, romantic, easily crossed on foot—struck me as the one in which I could most vividly imagine making a life.

I adored the medieval streets of its historical center.  I especially loved the way Verona’s citizens take their evening passagiata around the Roman colosseum in the center of Piazza Bra.  

Families strolling, small children kicking balls around, friends laughing and philosophizing, lovers arguing and embracing.  The happy commotion that continues until late into every summer night.

On that first tr…

Carried Away Once More

I'm thrilled to report that former poet laureate Ted Kooser has chosen my poem "Carried Away" to feature today on his website American Life in Poetry.  Please drop by and give it a read!  

"Carried Away" may also be found in my second poetry collection, This Bed Our Bodies Shaped, from Able Muse Press.

Flashback: Milano

There's a soft spot in my heart for Milan--probably because it's the first European city I ventured into, twenty-two and travelling solo.  Some specifics are lost to time, but others are still vivid:

Riding the metro.   Coming above ground in Piazza del Duomo.   Seeing that enormous melting wedding cake of a cathedral.  Crossing the square through a crowd of tourists, locals and pigeons.  

Feeling terrifyingly, deliciously alone.  

Trying out my beginner's college Italian.  Wandering through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle.

Since Andre left the itinerary of our recent trip up to me, and since the trip from Les Arcs Draguignan to Venice necessitated a transfer in Milan, how could I resist stopping there a little while, showing him the places that loom so vividly in my memory?

While there, we saw an amazing retrospective on Leonardo da Vinci at the Palazzo Reale.

But first we reacquainted ourselves with the joys of Italian food...including the breakfast of champions.

Flashback: Disarming, Enchanting Venice

Since my travel writing class in the Saint Joseph's University study tour program in Rome is reading Marlena De Blasi's lush memoir A Thousand Days in Venice, now seems like a good time to look back on the Venice portion of my own trip.

In sensuous, poetic prose, De Blasi tells the story of a wild and spontaneous romance that begins and ends with the city known variously as La Serenissima and Bride of the Sea.

Here's her description of her first glimpse of a city she had long avoided:
"The doors are open and I step out into wet rosy light, onto a sweep of wide shallow steps.  Shimmering water glints from the canal below.  I don't know where to put my eyes.  The Venice of myth is real, rolled out before me.  In straw hats and striped shirts, the gondoliers are sculptures of themselves fixed on the sterns of glossy black boats under  around yellow sun.  The Bridge of the Barefoot is off to the left and the sweet facade of the church of San Simeone Piccolo hails from ac…

Flashback: The View From Fox-Amphoux

As I settle in here on Viale di Trastevere, I'm hoping to catch up on recording the first bit of my trip--the vacation part with my husband, Andre, and, for the first few days, with our friends Howard, Melissa, and Artemis.  We had the great pleasure of staying with them in their home in Fox-Amphoux, a quiet village in Provence.  And I'm not using the word quiet casually.  When we stepped out of the car, in the middle of a little cluster of homes, the first thing I noticed was the profound quiet--a thick, rich quiet like cream poured over everything, in which the loudest sound for miles around were the cries of the swallows that swooped and soared overhead.
From up on the roof, the view stretched on for gorgeous miles.  Just ask Artemis.

A brief hike in the neighborhood brought us to this chapel, carved into the mountain by a sailor who narrowly escaped a shipwreck:

We also wandered and ate in nearby villages, like Aups, where we peeked into a lovely church:

And in Cotignac, we cl…