Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Greek Thanksgiving

By Claire
We are enjoying our week driving across Greece on our way to Turkey but I have to say, it’s the food that drew us here. We love Greek food at home so naturally we had to come. Our fridge is now stocked with our most important staples: Kalamata olives and feta cheese. Our diet now consists of Greek salad with Greek yogurt and honey for dessert. Oh my God. We are in ecstasy. The yogurt is so thick you can literally stand a spoon up in it.

We really enjoyed Camping Chrissa back in Delphi even though we were the only ones there. The owner and another guy were doing some work around the place, but other than that and the occasional buzz saw, it was very quiet.

Camping Chrissa

We were in a location 6 km from Delphi with Mt. Parnassus looming above us. I didn’t expect so many mountains. It feels a bit like Idaho or Arizona.

Our next stop was a tiny village called Variko which is connected to the town of Litochoro at Camping Stani. It doesn’t have a web site but I did find out that it’s open year round. Well, kind of. No hot water and in fact, no water at all! We do have electricity and we are again, the only ones here except for a very large man who seems to be the caretaker. The owner is across the road at his farm with multiple very large chickens, and dogs and cats. There are about 15 of the cats and a few dogs here at the campsite. We started noticing the large number of stray cats and dogs when we arrived in Pompeii, Italy. They all look well fed and they mostly just sleep but clearly, spaying and neutering is not encouraged. I don’t have a photo of this place because it’s pretty much a dump. We’re just glad to find someplace safe and off the road.

In fact, we would never have found this place on our own. It had no address, just Litochoro, Variko, Camping Stani. We drove into Litochoro, Chuck spotted an ATM, I jumped out and was able to get €300. Just as I was making my way back to Homer where Chuck was double parked, I spotted a young guy and asked if he spoke English. He nodded and I asked him if he knew where Camping Stani was. He told me to follow him and we walked across the town square into a restaurant where he worked behind the bar. After some shouted discussion with his two colleagues, one of whom was thrusting a bottle of Johnny Walker Red as a pointer, he drew me a map heading in a direction that seemed all wrong. He told me to go to Gritsa, find a hotel and ask there. We ignored the advice and found several campgrounds but they were all very bleak and completely dead. We couldn’t rouse anyone and I didn’t like the vibe. So we decided to try his directions. We came to a hotel and I ran in to ask about camping. The guy there spoke reasonable English and directed us further down the road to the Village of Variko (ah ha! It wasn’t a street at all!) where we would fine lots of campgrounds. We did! They all looked closed so we continued on and found ours. What relief. It’s so nice to be snug in our “homer” where we can kick back and read and relax.

We left early the next morning for the town of Kavála and after the usual driving around in frustration over the meager directions given in the camping book, we finally located Camping Bati and once again, we are the only ones here. The beach is gorgeous but it took awhile to get them to turn on the electricity. We are assured that we have hot water. It comes with free WiFi but that means outside in the sun by the café, which is closed. Ever try seeing your monitor in sunlight? How about that cursor? Almost impossible. We plan to stay here for 3 days then cross the border into Turkey.

Lonely campsite

Campground beach

Along the way, we saw the usual smoking fires but this one was just too much.

The roads are incredible. California, eat your heart out.


We left this morning to explore the town of Kavála and to find the perfect place for a Greek Thanksgiving feast. We started with finding a parking place. Impossible! We drove all the way through town and to the other side where we finally found a place on the side of a road and nervously left our Homer there, hoping he wouldn’t be broken into.

Off we went to find the Tourist Information—we couldn’t believe this town even had one—to get information about the local castle. Armed with our map we made the climb up the steep lanes, stopping at some interesting things along the way.

Water at Kavála

Old Town Kavála with castle at the top

We made it to the castle, with the help of an old gentleman walking down the street who greeted us with gia sas! (yah sahs—hello!). He asked “German?” but we had to say “no, American.” “American!” “Have you seen the castle?” We assured him we were on our way and he told us about Mehmet Ali’s home with the statue of a horse in front. This was told mostly with basic words and hand gestures. Chuck figured out he was talking about a horse. The castle was a very reasonable €2 each, no discounts for age or teacher cards. We wandered around and took in the views on this gorgeous day of perfect blue sky.

Harbor view—our campground is on the point sticking out in the background.

We wandered back down through the old town, found a taverna and went in to check out the menu for our feast. The vibe just wasn’t right and although we found some of the appetizers we wanted, we couldn’t find a good main course. So, we handed back the menus and said goodbye.

Walking a few steps, we came upon the perfect place. We were greeted by the owner who turned out to have lived in Canada for 20 years. His English was good and we talked about his life and Greece and where we were from for awhile. He presented us with menus and we studied it over and quickly determined the proper ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal, Greek style. The wine was the only question mark. House wine? He said it was a bit sweet and recommended a local wine if we wanted dry. Otherwise, it would have to be white. Since we both prefer red wine, we went with his recommendation. What a good decision! I have to say, it was the best I’ve had on the whole trip.

A plate of grilled bread was brought out immediately, along with a pitcher of ice cold water.

Next came the appetizers: tzatsiki (the white stuff--cucumber, yogurt and garlic), eggplant salad (the green dip) and stuffed vine leaves along with a Greek salad. We were a bit astonished at the generous amounts.

Soon the main course arrived, souvlaki.

Greek music was playing, we were outside in the sunshine with awnings overhead, the food was the best I’ve had and we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves and counting our blessings. A large crowd of people started arriving and the owner and his son moved motorbikes and arranged parking all up and down the narrow street. Turns out it was graduation day for the local college. It was nice to be surrounded by other people. The off season has the disadvantage of being very, very quiet.

Naturally, we had to finish it off with a pair of Greek coffees.

When we complimented the food to the owner’s son, he told us his mother had made everything herself. We could tell; it was all so fresh.

After our 2 hour lunch, we decided to go shopping for bread and yogurt so we could have a snack later tonight with the leftover eggplant salad and tzatsiki.

Chuck managed to slip in quite a few dessert type things from one bakery, while I got two loaves of fresh bread, one round and one long,from another. We even have a little less than half of the bottle of wine left to go with our evening feast.

Walking back to Homer I felt so happy and content. I couldn’t resist this photo of a cat on a roof.

Cats are literally everywhere. I had two with me in the bathroom this morning, purring, meowing and circling around my legs, rubbing up against me. There were a couple at the restaurant too, looking like mother and daughter hoping for handouts. At the town square there was a small park and I noticed a sheet of paper with cat food on it and lots of cats indulging themselves.

We’ll be here another day then move closer to Turkey for one more day.


Forever on Thanksgiving Day
The heart will find the pathway home.
~Wilbur D. Nesbit

Monday, November 23, 2009

Journey to the Center of the World

By Chuck

I have waited 35 years to return to Delphi. When I was last in Europe, there were initially only two things I really wanted to see: The cave where Socrates drank the hemlock and the site of the Oracle at Delphi. I never saw either. I got to the modern town of Delphi on that occasion, but was too tired to walk down to the site – even though I could see part of it from the edge of town. Today, we corrected that omission.

I agonized over where to park: spaces are small, Homer is large, shifting is challenging. Since this is off-season, we picked a spot in the middle of the sites along the (only) road, locked him up tight and ventured forth. We had the usual problems of figuring out where the actual start of the (book) guided tour began; but, we had fun trying to figure out which remains corresponded to our text. The lower ruins are not so interesting; but, I wanted to be thorough this time.

The Oracle at Delphi had a run of about a thousand years of having the great, mighty and small come to have their destinies predicted. Alexander the Great is reputed to have asked if he would be successful in conquering the world. He didn't like the unclear response; he grabbed the Oracle by the hair and demanded an answer. “You're unstoppable,” she replied. “I have my answer,” he grinned.

Sanctuary of Athena

We then moved up to the upper side of the road to the main sites. There were a number of treasuries in the site, each provided by various city-states, islands or countries to honor the Oracle for services rendered. I suppose this, clearly original, engraved stone was meant to keep looters away from those offerings.

The most imposing site is the Temple of Apollo, where they used to display all the booty from recent victories. But, the most interesting object, for me, was the Omphalos. This is a bullet shaped stone marking the navel (center) of the World. The legend is that Zeus released two eagles from the opposite ends of the world and noted that they met here.

Temple of Apollo

Omphalos--the center of the world

The Treasury

The outdoor theater near the top of the site was primarily built to host song contests every four years! If you didn't care for the hymns to Apollo, you could always enjoy the natural beauty of the place.

Singing and dancing at the theatre

The topmost area was the site of the Phygian Games, second only to the original Olympic Games in prestige. They were held for a week in the middle of a 3 month truce among warring cities in order to allow contestants to train, compete and safely travel. The grand prize was a wreath of laurel leaves – just like Apollo used to wear.


Even without the history, the view from here is stunning. Also, Claire was charmed by the resident cats.

View of the theater and temple

Greek kitties

At the encouragement of the ticket seller, we bought the combo-ticket – no discounts for age or status; she assured us that, even though they close at 1430 in the off-season, there was plenty of time to see both the upper sites and the museum. We were glad we saw the museum, despite a couple of tour groups who intruded upon our privacy. One of the disturbing sights there was the Melancholy Roman: You'd be melancholy, too, if you lost your arms and penis!

Melancholy Roman

Discovery of the Melancholy Roman

Sphinx of Naxos



On our way through town on our way back to the campground, we had two goals: ATM and shopping. But, first we had to park; finally, I just pulled over to the far left side of the street near the end of town and stopped; there is only so much patience I can bear. Shopping was a minor challenge; most stores were closed for the mid-day break and those open were poorly stocked. Claire got some items at one store, while I went to search for the ATM. I had to traverse the entire length of the town to find, on the lower street, the National Bank of Greece in modern Delphi; it was hidden inside the front entrance and I am used to finding ATMs facing the street directly. We finished our produce shopping by locating the mobile produce truck I had seen while searching for the bank. We got oranges, cucumbers, red and orange peppers, and an onion – all for 2,50 Euros.

The search for money and the ATMs which dispense it has been an ongoing challenge. You cannot withdraw an amount exceeding your daily limit until 24 hours have passed. So, we try to get the money early in the day so we have more access hours for the next time, and the next... But, the Bank of Sicily refused to accept our card on a number of occasions; the message indicated it was not authorized to permit international withdrawals. The message should have said, “We do not allow withdrawals of that amount; please specify a lower amount.” We now try for the max and then work our way down to an amount the ATM will allow. We were surprised, today, to find that the ancients also had these machines and, likely, the same kinds of problems that we had.

Ancient Bank of Sicily ATM

By now we were famished and we had seen a little Gyro shop on our spree; we hurried back and got two pork gyros with tzatsiki, tomatoes and onions, wrapped in pita bread and stuffed with french fries along with two soft drinks for a total of 7 Euros! This included the right to sit and rest at the same price as walking away with this treat. We both have very fond memories of this Greek dish and it was delicious. We were, then, glad we had refused to get the coffee freezes sold near the museum at the outrageous price of 3.50 Euros each! Lunch was a fitting ending to a lovely outing.

Gyro--we took the french fries out and started eating before we remembered to get a photo

We feel like we've fully acculturated now that we've had our first Greek salad for dinner. We picked up a couple of loaves of bread on our shopping spree and with that and Gino's bottomless box of wine it made a great dinner.

Claire's homemade Greek salad

Think not on what you lack as much as on what you have. ~ Greek Proverb

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Arrivederci Italy

By Claire
According to Rick Steves, driving in Greece is not for the faint of heart: The speed limit can be hard to ascertain on backcountry roads. Making matters even more confusing, half of all Greek drivers seem to go double the speed limit, while the others go half the limit. As Greeks aren’t shy about passing, cars stay in their lanes like rocks in an avalanche.

Passing on a curve. I love the dog kennel on the back of this car.

And so, we have arrived in Greece. But let me back up just a bit. Isn’t it great when you can laugh about things after the fact? We left Sicily heading towards Brindisi, the port town where we were to catch our ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece. It is about a 6 hour drive which means 8-9 hours for Homer. Along the way, we stopped for lunch near another camper and started chatting with them. They are from Austria and Chuck had even met her doing dishes at one or two campsites back. They told us about a campsite that sounded good and I was all for stopping and getting a good night’s sleep rather than pushing through. Chuck came around pretty quickly. That was our first mistake. We set up Susanna, now referred to as “Susanna the Bitch”, and merrily went on our way to find Camping Thurium, €11.50,located just inside the arch of the boot of Italy. Her first announcement of “you have reached your destination” was just wrong. We decided to continue on with the hope that the GPS coordinates were off by a couple of kilometers. Nothing turned up so I re-programmed her and the next thing we knew, we were driving up a narrow road to the top of a mountain into a tiny hill town. When we got to the top and it was quite clear that we had NOT reached our destination, I jumped out and asked a man if he spoke English. Of course he didn’t. Nor did his friends. They looked at Homer in fascinated horror. When I said “camping?” they all became agitated and began waving their arms. By now, I just wanted to know which road would take us out. We made it but some expletives were used in the process. Chuck will have to teach me those words in a calmer situation.

We took off down the road, dreading the idea of having to free camp somewhere when Chuck suddenly said “isn’t that the campground?” There was a large sign with an arrow pointing down a road. This was many, many kilometers from where dear “Susanna The Bitch” had told us to go. Never mind, we were ecstatic. We found our way, had a long discussion at reception (these things do take time) then wriggled our way between the millions of trees to a spot that seemed right. We were the only ones there until we ran into our German friends from Camping Jonio and Camping Rais Gerbi. Small world! I danced with that man!

Up early for our departure at a promised 7:30, we found out that the gates would not be opened until 8:30. Ah, communication. But, we were on the road again and on our way to Brindisi after sleeping for about 10 hours. I swear, when it gets dark so early, we are like hibernating bears.

We made it to the port, slightly panicked at how to manage getting tickets and figuring out where to go. It was all so easy. I saw a sign out front of a ticket sales office saying IGOUMENITSA and we parked and went in. We asked about tickets and the guy looked at the 11:20 am clock and said, yes, there was a ferry leaving at 11:30. Naturally, we jumped at it and wanted him to hurry up! We grabbed our vouchers (we thought they were tickets, but I’ll come to that in a minute) and rushed to Homer. At the last second, I shouted to a guy who had been there and helped with the language problems asking where we needed to go (it was now 11:25). He offered to lead us there and off we went. We would NEVER have found the embarkation on our own. Believe me. He happily left us at an official looking place but the guy there shouted at us that we needed to go somewhere else. Luckily he threw out a name that escapes me at the moment, and off we went in a cloud of diesel fumes to the tune of The Lone Ranger. We were really down to the wire now and this was a ferry that only runs twice a day. So, racing along hysterically, trying to read multiple signs when your brain can only take in so much information, we managed to roar up to a likely looking barrier with an official within. He took his time coming out (it was now 11:30) and shouted at us that we needed to get the tickets from the ticket office while pointing back about 50 meters. Apparently we only had vouchers. So, squealing tires, Chuck peeled out doing one of his finer 6 or 7 point U-turns and I jumped out, raced up and stuffed the voucher under the little window. The guy inside could NOT have cared less. He was joking with his friends, talking on his cell phone and eating a banana. He seemed mildly irritated that I was interrupting him, printed out the tickets, slowly stapled them together and shoved them through the opening (it was now 11:33). We screamed over to the ferry where we saw numerous vehicles all lined up to get on the ferry. Ahhhhh, we breathed a sign of relief. “Just made it!” We started stuffing things into our new backpack—Kindles, water, cookies, Kleenex—when I realized the Bulgarians in front of us were having a leisurely lunch off the back of their car. So, we yanked some food out and started wolfing down some cheese and crackers. We could barely swallow we were in such a hurry (it was now 11:36). And then, there we sat for another hour until slowly, slowly, the trucks and then cars were loaded on. I won’t even go into the shouting and screaming of directions by the officials that went on in that ordeal.

We stumbled around looking for a way out of the diesel-fume infused area, finally managing to make it up to the passenger area. We expected to find something like airline or bus seats but the only seating available was in the café, the bar or in a side room where we snagged two club chairs, worn beyond belief but marginally comfortable. We began to get excited about finally heading to Greece and then to Turkey. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. I went up to the Purser and asked what time we were leaving. He said it was up to the Coast Guard. I asked when that would happen. He said “Only God Knows.” At 3:05 pm we finally pulled out with no fanfare. Thirteen and a half hours after arriving at the ferry we arrived in Greece. We managed to get off the damn thing without any drama and drove over to where some trucks were parked on the dock, pulled the shades and got into bed. The roar of diesel trucks does not lull you to sleep but somehow we managed to get about 4 hours.

Homer at the port

So we are now in Greece, the sun is shining and we decided that with a week to kill before we have to be out of the EU and into Turkey, we might as well take a side trip to Delphi. I knew of a campground there that is open year round and the idea of wild camping all the way across Greece just didn't appeal. Greece is as beautiful as I remember.

Greek Village on the water

Café on the road. Chuck really needed a Greek coffee. He was given a frothy, iced coffee. Delicious!

I never got around to mentioning all the unfinished houses in Italy. Apparently, they build as much as they can afford, with the hope or plan of continuing at some future date. They leave the rebar in place so they'll be ready to add the second or third story. We're seeing this same phenomenon in Greece.

Unfinished house

All was going so well using a map rather than Susanna, who has been banished to the hiding place in Homer. Not because she was bad, although she was very bad, but because she doesn't work in Greece or Turkey—the visa requirements were just too difficult. Eek! We studied the map, wrote down the names of towns along the way and headed to Delphi. However, when we approached a crucial point we should have turned left rather than going straight, and found ourselves on the bridge to Patras. Fortunately, they were very nice at the toll booth about getting us off and back to where we wanted to be. It took some doing, and some paperwork but they pulled it off. We were so glad it was a Sunday with little traffic.

Rio-Antirrio suspension bridge, €12 toll

One problem we have discovered is finding LPG (propane) at the fuel stations. Most don't seem to have it and the one place we asked said no. We've seen a Greek word with a price of .59 which is what it was in Italy; so we are hopeful. We will try again today. We need this for our stove and our heater....

We did make it to Camping Chrissa, €20, and we are enjoying the best FREE WiFi of the entire trip. It's just like home. Fast, responsive and 24/7. Amazing! We are off to see Delphi.

It is good to be out on the open road, and going one knows not where. Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither nor why. ~ John Masefield

Italy—Reflections and Observations

By Claire
As you’ve probably figured out, we REALLY love Italy. Having the full 5 weeks we planned has allowed us to immerse ourselves to see more than we were able to in France.

As we entered Italy for the first time, we started noticing the letter “I” on the license plates. Believe it or not, we began discussing which country it represented. Let’s see, Ireland? Iceland? We started going through every country we could think of and just gave up. I think it was about 20 minutes later that the light bulb went off. ITALY! Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees!

Signage is terrible. Or maybe we just can’t find our way. It’s either nonexistent or there are so many your brain can’t take it all in. I think one of the reasons people were falling in Florence is because they were looking up to find street names or the occasional directional sign to major sights. It’s quite frustrating when you know what street you’re looking for based on a map but there is no street name posted. Or, we’ll find a street name but then it isn’t on the map! Bus stops are the hardest. Even if the stop is marked, it’s almost impossible to see it from the bus window that is either steamed up or too low to see the sign posted about 5 feet above the bus. Navigating is definitely challenging. But, it does get us to interact with local people by asking questions. On the other hand, I saw a stop sign that had a paper sign pasted on it warning you that there would be a stop sign in 50 meters. You could even see the upcoming stop sign while reading this warning.

Speaking of falling, I have almost slipped several times and did fall once. Because of the combination of rain and marble, we learned to walk with great care. Maybe this explains why we hear and see so many ambulances racing past.

And then there are the drivers. Navigating across any street is death defying. We have learned that as with all things Italian, you just have to do it. Cross the street? Start walking, hand up and they stop. Wait at a crosswalk for the cars to let you pass? You’ve got to be kidding. It will never happen. We have ridden in buses and on private shuttles from campgrounds and I’ve just stopped looking. We’ll either survive or we won’t. It’s out of my hands. Horns and hand gestures seem to be the way to get around. Maybe the frequent sound of ambulance sirens has something to do with the driving as well as the falling. Here is a typical Italian driver. Why pick one lane when you can take both.

Gas stations are quite interesting. Italy has full serve which means you pay about €.10 a liter more just to let some guy put the fuel in. They do have self serve but those are always blocked off or closed. We paid €1.06 to €1.19 throughout Italy. Add €.10 anytime you have to pay for service. I must say though, we really enjoyed those €1 cappuccinos, standing up at the bar and knocking them back and then hitting the road again.

Queuing up to get on a metro, train, or bus or waiting in line to buy a ticket or get into the WC is just ridiculous. I’ve learned to just muscle my way in, hoping Chuck is not far behind.

We have found the people of Italy to be almost always friendly and helpful. Even if they can’t help, they really try. I bumped into a tiny little old lady in a very compact market and she took my hand and apologized over and over in Italian. I wish I knew what she was saying. She was so sweet.

The gelato is amazing. We have a gelateria in Davis so we are not unfamiliar with it. I never dreamed I’d be eating it almost every day and sometimes several times a day.

At home, I am a daily exerciser and hike as often as I can. I have not established an exercise routine here as I planned. However, many days we are on our feet and moving for 6-8 hours at a stretch. We sleep very well.

I really love this lifestyle. We have a comfortable bed, toilet and running water. What more do we need? Just this morning, we decided to do a load of laundry in a washing machine (€6 to wash and dry), a big deal for us. It seems like a hassle dragging our laundry to another location at the campsite, but because we are living such a simple life in the camper, and everything is concentrated in one place, cleaning up and accomplishing needed chores just seems easier. We have been forced to be super organized so everything to do with laundry is in one place. I’m sure it’s possible to live in complete chaos inside a camper but we would not survive.

I have found that rain is just another kind of weather. We have everything we need to stay completely dry and warm. Sunshine is of course preferred, but rain just doesn’t stop us at all, I’m happy to say. Well, maybe trying to read a map without an overhang to protect it is a little challenging. I’m so grateful for my hat, rain jacket, rain pants and waterproof shoes. I’ve stopped caring about how ridiculous I must look. A young woman got on the metro in Rome wearing a sheer purple blouse stopping just short of her midriff which spilled over her tight white jeans covering her fancy heels. In one hand was a suitcase size purse and in the other was a tiny, folding umbrella. I must admit, she did look good. The makeup and hair were exquisite. Maybe she had just gotten up and hadn’t faced the elements yet. I mean, how long could that look last in the pouring rain?

Italy is so green and beautiful, even in November; we have enjoyed seeing the change of colors as we drive through the country. However, they still burn their rubbish and brush and it can be awful with lots of stinky smoke that ruins the clear sky. Sometimes there are small fires going all over the hillsides.

This is smoke—not fog.

The late legislation of divorce and the recognition of rape as a crime only in the 1990s reveal just how far women have come in Sicily in the last couple of decades, according to Lonely Planet, our guidebook for this area.

I was most moved by the Pietá in the Duomo in Orvieto. The grief expressed in Mary’s face was the most compelling I have ever seen. It was carved from one piece of marble in 1579 by local artist Ippolito Scalza. Is anything ever carved from more than one piece of marble?

Italy is the land of tunnels and bridges. There are dozens upon dozens of tunnels and many, many bridges. There is also an amazing amount of construction of more tunnels and bridges going on. Perhaps it’s EU money? There are also many, many old stone houses just sitting on the hillsides. Beautiful.

House on hillside

It’s fun driving past the big trucks. Many have either their name posted on a big card in the cab for everyone to see or a lit up crucifix. We’ve seen Aldo, and Nello and Nicola 17—don’t know what that means...his girlfriend?—Francesco, and Papa Franzio, to name a few.

The public bathrooms are a trip. In one, there was a man sitting on a chair reading the newspaper, ready to collect your €.50, only about 3 feet from the stall I was in. In another, Chuck and I both went into the same bathroom with side by side stalls. We even shared the one sink.

With Italians, we’ve found it necessary to always remember to ask. We checked into a campground just for the night and after we got settled in, we went to investigate the bathrooms, a regular routine for us. I noticed that there were coin boxes for tokens for the showers. Some campgrounds have turned them off during the off season so we can just run the shower as long as we want without coins. These had no way to turn them on. I walked back to reception and asked about the showers and she gave me some tokens. I’m glad I found out the night before rather than at 6 am when the office is closed. We have learned that information is held tight unless you ask but how do you ask if you don’t know what to ask? Signs are the same. You get one sign and that’s it. If you come to a fork in the road you just make a guess and hope you’re heading in the right direction. This all adds to the adventure.

Sicily turned out to be quite an experience and we are grateful we had 11 days there. It’s different from mainland Italy in ways that are hard to express—Much poorer, without question, but the importance of family was very clear. The people we interacted with were so helpful and friendly. It was interesting to see the formal and hierarchical style with which they do business. Chuck went into Reception one day and the “boss” would only speak to the assistant who then told Chuck what the boss had just said, even though it was in English. At the Fiat Dealership, the “boss” came over occasionally when we had communication problems, once even saying, “what’s the problem” but only speaking through the service manager, Michelangelo.

Goodbye Sicily

We will really miss Italy: The food, the wine, the people, the climate, the beaches, the gelato, the food, the countryside, the bread delivery, the beautiful language, the food. I think you get it.

Chuck with Gino’s nuovo wine, celebrating San Martino—this stuff was great and can only be found in Italy.

Chuck bringing home the morning bread

Chuck—connecting with Gino and Denise
Claire—hiking Mt. Etna with Gino and Denise along. Also, the Cinque Terre hike.

I love the language, that soft bastard Latin, Which melts like kisses from a female mouth, And sounds as if it should be writ on satin With syllables which breathe of the sweet South. ~ George Gordon Noel Byron

Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life. ~ Anna Akhmatova