Being Dad in Italy

July 13, 2006


This photo provides the best description of my job as dad during the entire trip.  Keep in mind that many other people on the trip were carrying her.  A special thanks to them (Dan Crem, Brett, Jilly, Drew and Ty.)  This was the toughest part of the trip.  I managed to adjust my man-purse so that Gianna could sit in it while I walked with her.  This took the pressure off my arms but then all of the pressure of her weight sat on my neck.  At least I could alternate between the arms and the neck to postpone the exaustion further in the day.


(yes I have a man-purse!)

Arrivederci Roma

July 13, 2006



The vacation of a lifetime sums up this trip in a nutshell. I’ve never seen such beauty, tasted such incredibly delicious food, and laughed so hard with my family (and fellow passengers). I could have done without the jet lag, but that was nothing compared to what I saw in the most gorgeous country in the world. If you’re thinking about a visit don’t hesitate  It’s worth every penny


Some people can forget about work while on vacation, but I’m not one of them. I noticed a very important name on the soap dispenser in this restaurant’s rest room. It’s Circle the Globe Circle the Customer even in Capri, Italy How cool is that?




The drive to Sorrento took six hours, but it was beautiful. We passed through Naples where my grandmother was born. Ruth said the unemployment is 20% and crime is high. It’s not really a popular destination for tourists, but she expects that will change in the next few years.

Sorrento is absolutely stunning. It’s high above the sea (we took the cliff-top road) and looks right out of a movie. Ruth mentioned that many celebrities like to holiday (they don’t call it vacation) in Sorrento. The weather here is summer-like all year long, so the beaches are always full. Our hotel is a picturesque resort called the Grand Hotel Vesuvio and you gotta love the name of the hotel director: Salvatore Acampora.


Our Fellow Tourists

July 13, 2006

There are forty people in our tour group from many different locations: Australia, Canada, Louisville, KY, Anaheim, CA, Fort Myers, FL, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and the Cremisino’s are the total number from Minnesota. There are couples with and without children on the tour. I must say this is a very fun group with some interesting backgrounds. Mitch played football for UCLA in the early 1970’s; he was the center and Mark Harmon (the TV actor) was the quarterback. Earl Jones played football for five years with the Atlanta Falcons in the 1980’s. Vince and Rita are first-generation Italians from Toronto. Those two are really funny and they bicker constantly. It’s always entertaining to sit by Vince and Rita on our bus excursions. There are three couples from Louisville–siblings and their spouses. They all live in the same sub-division and the husbands are best friends with each other.

I’ve previously forgotten to mention our tour director, Ruth. She is Welsh (father) and Italian (mother), but even though she lives in Italy she doesn’t sound like it. She does speak fluent Italian though her accent and speaking voice are clearly Welsh. We also have a bus driver named Marcello. He gets us everywhere we need to go. Our journeys can take hours, but Marcello always gets us there safe and sound.


We are home!!

July 12, 2006

The postings have been a bid lean.  I apologize for that but the schedule has been pretty full the last few days.

Between traveling and Italy winning the world cup of soccer it has been hectic.  We will be posting more about the travels and putting up more pictires.


Florence, Italy

July 10, 2006


Florence is…  Wonderful

The night before we left for Florence there was a terrific thunderstorm.  I mean WoW   We were told that this was a storm that was needed because of the extended heat.  It also guaranteed a perfect day weather wise.

As we arrived our first stop was at the Florence Gold Shop.  Nice pieces of jewelry but for the most part nothing that I would wear.  That is until, Nomination.

Now I would like to say to everyone that for the most part I do not wear any sort of jewelry.I had a short stint wearing earrings and until my wedding band was too big I wore that.  For the most part, I have not been a fan of wearing ornaments.  That is until I saw the Nomination charm bracelets.

These are stainless steel bracelets that are very much like a watchband with every link either being a plain connector or you can swap in charms and symbols as you like.  I had one made that has a charm for each of the stops that we made during the vacation.  I love it and have no intention of taking it off.  Jenn had one made for herself too.

The next stop was the leather shop.  Jenn and I did not stop because we were getting our bracelets made.

After the leather stop we toured the church where Michelangelo is buried.  It is quite nice.  It is also the same church where the people of Florence would like their Honored Son Dante’ buried too.  However, he was exiled from Florence with a death sentence hanging over his head for writing the divine comedy “The Inferno.”  There is an empty tomb there in his honor along with a large statue out front of him.

After that we walked to the art institute where Michelangelo’s David is on display.  We had reserved tickets so we got in immediately.  His attention to detail and perfect display is astounding.  If you ever get the chance to see his work in person at the Vatican or at the institute please do so.  It would be worth the expense.  A copy of Michaelangelo’s David is at the park overlooking the city.  You can see that one for free.  But they like to paint him when Italy wins the world cup.

The fake David

The remainder of the afternoon was spent wandering about at our leisure.

After Florence, we had an impromptu adventure.  Through the entire trip we have barely had a moment of free time.  It has been regimented and scheduled to the nearest moment.  This is a good thing as we are able to see as much as we want without losing track of time.  But it becomes a real pain when you need to do laundry.

So Dan V, Deanna and myself all packed our dirty laundry in a suit case, asked for directions to the nearest Laundromat and began hiking our way a cleaner set of clothes.  The directions we were given were the simplest.  Go down the street three blocks, turn left, go three more blocks, turn left again, and walk until you see it.  We got there quickly.

After a moment of confusion on the operation of the machines, we had them up and running.

There is a quality about most Italian cities we have visited that I truly enjoy.  The real neighborhood bar.  It is a place where you can get a beer/wine/drink and sit to enjoy the moment.  They are family places.  There was one two doors up from the laundromat and we enjoyed a beer while waiting for the clothes to be finished.

Once done, we found the faster way back to the hotel.


This is Marco, he is 92 years old.

Okay it was not that far over the top but… Here is the story.

We spent 2 nights in Montecatini. It is a nice town near Florence. On the first night we went to a vineyard that also presses their own olives for olive oil. Marco, our guide mentioned some of the benefits of using pressed and filtered olive oil that included a long life (hence the joke of the picture)

Our dinner started at a cellar that housed 5 different barrels that aged the red wines. At dinner we sampled 4 different wines. We alternated between red and white. All 4 were fantastic No biting flavor, sweet and smooth. We tested several bottles of each. Then we started the dinner courses of a bread, meat combination and crostini (and more wine.) The soup was a traditional soup from the region with spelt grain (and more wine.) It was great (so was the wine )

After the soup, we were moved out under the picnic shelters. It seems that the weather was threatening to drench the festivities so they started in the cellar. Outside we were served pasta (and more wine, ) followed by a meat and potato platter (and more wine.)

Dessert was a traditional almond cookie served with a 5th wine that was fermented with grapes that were allowed to dry for about a week before being bottled. As a result it had a higher alcohol content and strong flavor. We were told to dip the cookie, eat the cookie, drink the wine. This was done repeatedly by most everyone.

Following dessert we were served Grapa. As our host, Marco, said Italians love Grapa. They drink
grapa with lunch, and before lunch. They drink it before dinner and with dinner. It is consumed before breakfast and with breakfast. They even drink grapa before they drink grapa. We enjoyed that along with more wine.

On a side note, Blandi, a local working at the farm said to Jilly, “Tell your mother what a beautiful daughter she has.” The flirting continued and a few photos were taken. Including this one.

Everyone brought back the opened wines to the hotel. We figured that since we paid for it we would get our moneys worth. The ride back was uneventful except Dan Crem spilling of a bottle of wine in the bus. Marcello may set him up for a hit.


This is a pet peeve of mine!


If you notice, this clown is talking on his cell phone while rowing.  Now if there is anything in this world that sets me off is talking while rowing!  it took all the energy I had to hold back my anger and not yell at the top of my lungs, “HANG UP AND ROW!!”

Boat rage!!  It almost happened!


Ahh Venice

July 8, 2006

The trip to Venice was interesting.  Gianna and I sat in the front seat of the bus during the 5 hour trip there.  The view from the front allowed me to wonder in awe how Moncello, our driver, handled the road without A) killing us and B) going off in a bout of road rage.  Drivers in Italy are horrible.  If only they had an inch of snow every week during the winter.  That would show them who the real men (and women) are

As we arrived in Venice we boarded on a water taxi to go to the dock that was closest to St. Mark’s square.  We off loaded and walked towards the Hotel Daniele.  From there we walked through St. Marks Square and went to the Venice Glass Blowers.  We watched a master make a pitcher in about 5 minutes.  It looked far too easy but I have never dealt with molten glass and made anything useful.  That was followed by a sales pitch for some of the glass.  Neither Jen or I was impressed enough to buy.

Back in St. Marks Square Gianna went to feed the pigeons.  You can buy about .20 E worth of grain for 1E.  We ended buying like 5 packets worth.  I showed Gianna that if you put a handful of grain in your hand that you can lure the birds to land on your hand.  She was able to get one on her hand before it started getting her so excited that she would shake them off.  I was covered with birds.  Unfortunately I was not able to show Gianna how to use the digital camera in a timely fashion to get a good picture.

After that Gianna and I wandered off together to see the sights.  At a small fruit stand I spent 2.50 E  on an apple for G.  She ate the thing down to the core and would have eaten the seeds if I didn’t stop her.

We did go on a Gondola.  It was pleasant but Jilly wanted to listen to the Ipod and not partake of the event and the history we were examining firsthand.  Bah, kids

We made it to the hotel at about 5 pm and had dinner at 7 pm.  The food was great and the wine was out of this world.  The house wine was cheaper than any wine they had in bottles and was far better according to everyone.

After dinner we strolled through the pedestrian streets to see the sights.  Most folks were watching the France/Portugal soccer game.

All in all I enjoyed Venice but it reminded me of a sweaty armpit.