A Few Photos from My Travels

I love to travel. It is a big passion of mine. Whenever I can go anywhere out of town I become excited. I prefer to leave the state of California, but with the kids being so young it is hard to hop on a plane to Europe, especially when you need $6,000 just to begin your journey in the summertime. With that being said California has a lot to offer too! I still have not seen all of the central and eastern parts of the state. One day I hope to travel more outside of the state- but for now I plan on going to visit that last “local” California mission (San Gabriel) before the year ends.

Below are a few photos from my two favorite cities – Paris and San Francisco and a country that I have grown to love and appreciate even more since meeting and marrying Max- Italy. I am proud to say that that I have been to 38 states and 19 countries at the age of 41. I hope that by the age of 61 that I can raise these numbers including visiting another continent or two with Max and the kids who also love to travel!


Notre Dame

Tour Montparnasse



North Beach

Golden Gate Bridge

Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco

the beach

Tribunale Ordinario di Firenze

Lucchetti dell’amore

Ponte Vecchio


(day 364)


A Day in Photos- Italy (part 2)

It was fun putting together this post on Italy- soo many photos to chose from! You can view part one of this series here. I live by the Pacific Ocean and am a big beach fan- so visiting the cities of Castiglione Della Pescaia and Porto San Stefano along the Mediterranean Sea reminded me a bit of home with totally different landscaping! In the south of Italy I truly enjoyed Naples and Sorrento, two cities also on the coast.

Milan is the only Italian city that I have visited by myself. It is a very sophisticated city – big business, well dressed people, fashion, and lots of shopping. I had a great time here. For me visiting Italy and not seeing Rome is a shame. Yes, there are tourists everywhere, but you just have to see all the famous landmarks here- even if it is just once…. and me, I was able to visit here twice!

Enjoy the photos…..

the Colosseum

the forum

the forum 2

Rome. The Colesseum and the Forum in black & white. I can only imagine how it would have been like to live here way, way back….

boats at sea

on the vespa

the coast-sorrento

I have posted on Naples and Sorrento before- so here are a few more shots from the cities that I accidently ended up visiting – and enjoyed soo much. There is something to be said about straying from your itinerary. I thought that the little girl on the Vespa was adorable. I took her photo while we sat outside eating lunch at a restaurant in Sorrento– the restaurant where I first ate “carbonara style” pasta (yum.. with eggs, bacon, cheese).

il duomo

men at work statue


cimitero storico di milano

I took the train to Milan for a weekend getaway when I live in St. Maurice, Switzerland. After the 3 hour train ride I made my way to the Duomo and found a pensione (hotel) where they spoke French since at the time I spoke no Italian. I talked with the hotel attendant and we came up with a rate for a two night stay that I agreed upon. I really enjoyed my time here- I met a few locals- wandered around… almost got locked in the cemetery.. it can be a lot of fun to travel on your own sometimes!

the beach

beach time

the tuscan coast

The Tuscan Coast is amazing. Visiting here twice in the summer with Max’s family was so much fun! His mom is such a nice person, and the rest of his family is great too. Nothing beats a morning swim in the sea, hanging out with family, eating great food, spending the day at the beach, taking naps after lunch, and just relaxing. These shots are in Castiglione Della Pescaia and Porto San Stefano.

(day 346)

A Day in Photos- Italy

Italy (Italia) is a truly magical place. There is quite a bit of chaos, but the people really are beautiful (and real). The history of the country is amazing and the story of this country goes back way farther than the United States. I have visited here 6 times I believe- and there is still soo much more to see and experience.

The furthest north that I have been (off the train) is Milan and the furthest south that I have been is Brindisi to catch a ship to Greece. I have also been pretty far east to Trieste just miles from the Solvenian border. Having married an Italian from Bologna we tend to spend time in the north, but Max has family from just south of Rome too.. and I have to tell you although the people are very different in the north verses the south (same as here in the United States) I really enjoy everyone in a different way. I also traveled to Italy 3 times before I met my husband so on those trips I explored other areas of the country.

Trying to locate a few photos to post today from my trips to Italy I only revisited one of my trips here- my first trip with Max (before kids). I have so many great photos from this trip that I looked no further. I will try to post on Italy again in the next week to visit more cities since each is so different. Today I have photos from Bologna, Florence (Firenze) and Venice (Venezia). I find all three towns unique and beautiful, each with its’ own very distinguishable characteristics. I bet that you will too….

i portici (arches)

Bologna Football Club Stadium

formaggio (cheese) at the market

Bologna- architecture, the soccer stadium, and cheese!

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

the duomo- florence

 the Uffizi Gallery (outside)

ponte vecchio (old bridge)

view from Fiesole

Wine! (grocery time)

Florence- La Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (inside and out), the Uffizi Museum (outside), Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), view from Fiesole (just outside of Florence), and wine. On this trip we climbed 400+ steps to visit the dome of the basilica and it was worth every step!

Canal Grande

gondolas galore

Ponte dei Sospiri

inside the mask shop

On the canals of Venice and in the mask shop

(day 341)

Just thinking again… about Nutella!!

I read an interesting post the other day by Lucrezia about the Ferrero Company. They make and distribute Nutella (a wonderful chocolate hazelnut spread). On her post she informed her readers about free Nutella stickers with your name that the company is giving out. I was so excited to hear this news. That evening I sat down with Max and went on the website to check out the offer. Everything is written in Italian so I definitely needed a little help filling everything out. If you want to check out the website go to: http://nutellaseitu.it . We now have three stickers ordered and today I am ordering my nickname. Since the stickers have to be shipped within Italy we put down addresses for some relatives to forward to us later.

I can’t wait to see the stickers arrive and stick them on a glass jar of Nutella!!! By chance just yesterday Malina had some fresh Nutella on a warm croissant. It was her breakfast request and easy for me to put together before heading out for the day. As I was thinking about what to post on today I ran across a few old photos of my little monkeys enjoying some Nutella and bananas and thought I would let you all know about the promotion too. Although I can’t order stickers for you feel free to enter the contest on Lucrezia’s post for her small blog giveaway of your very own Nutella sticker too! (http://learnitalianwithlucrezia.com/2013/11/05/your-name-on-a-nutella-jar-2/)

nutella- take 1

nutella- take 2

nutella- take 3

(day 332)

The Best Way to travel abroad- Stay with a local

My Porpetto House

I had the wonderful experience of staying with an Italian family in Porpetto, Italyregion Friuli-Venezia Giulia, while traveling through Italy with my friend Lisa before I ultimately settled in Switzerland working as an ‘au pair’. Lisa’s friend set us up with this family when she heard that we would be in northern Italy during our European adventure.

Porpetto is a small town, population less than 3000, 66 miles north of Venice. At the time there was one person that we knew of in the town who spoke English, the mayor. And guess what? When we arrived to the train station the mayor was there to greet us! You know you are in a small town when the mayor greets your train! Lisa had been studying a little Italian at the time and had a better chance of understanding the language since she spoke some Spanish. I could speak decent French and luckily our host spoke limited French from his days of studying it in high school.

So here we were two Americans in a small Italian city with a wonderful Italian family. It was one of the best travel experiences ever. We communicated somehow and were welcomed into this family, and truly were a part of the family during our stay. There were two sons, a mom, and a dad. With our new family we were able to explore the region of region Friuli-Venezia Giulia all the way to the border of the former Yugoslavia which was to the east of Italy.

I saw some amazing small towns across Friuli-Venezia Giulia including: Trieste, Palmanova, Aquileia, Grado, and Udine. I also was able to truly experience what it is like to live with an Italian family- even if it was only for a few days.

I would like to share two experiences that remain in my memories some 15 years later……

Italian pizza. Pizza to me at that time was Pizza Hut, truly American style. It was the weekly ‘pizza Sunday’ in the house and everyone (family and friends) came over to order and hang out. I really did not remember that pizza was an individual thin crust item that you ate alone. I was thinking we’d have four or five pizzas total that we would share. When they asked me what I wanted on my pizza I looked up in my dictionary ham and pineapple, which is called Hawaiian style. Ananas is the word in Italian. Everyone began laughing and I was surprised that my simple ingredient of pineapple was so funny to everyone. Apparently Hawaiian pizza had not been introduced to Italy at the time. To say the least I had to change my toppings.

Italian Soccer. That same night I learned about the power of soccer, or as they call it — ‘il calico’ in Italy. The local team is Juventus and everyone in this town loved this team. I enjoyed watching the game with my family: all the energy, all the spirit, and the fact that the players were easy on the eyes did not hurt either. To this day Juventus is still my favorite European team – although I have a Bologna FC (Football Club) sticker on my car.

The visit to Porpetto was priceless. We met a wonderful family and I truly soaked up Italian culture. As we left town our Italian mother kissed us on both cheeks and presented us with two little porcelain dolls dressed in native dress, and yes, I still have those dolls. Now I have an Italian family of my own and have seen the love and passion of Italians first hand once again, but I find it absolutely amazing that complete strangers welcomed me into their home and made me a part of their family so many years ago.

(day 216)

Bella Napoli e Sorrento (Italia)

Castel Nuovo aka Maschio Angioino

I must admit I ended up in Naples (aka Napoli in Italian) by complete chance. It was not on our itinerary as we travelled across Italy. We were supposed to visit the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’, in the town of Pisa- region Tuscana. That never happened and I still have not made a day trip from Bologna (Max, my husband’s hometown) to see this monument since Firenze and Venezia are always calling my name!

Back in 1998 I spent 1.5 weeks in Italy with my friend Lisa, way before I knew I would marry an Italian one day. We took the Eurorail around the country and ultimately made our way to Rome; as the saying goes “All roads lead to Rome”. That is where the itinerary was changed. Instead of heading north we continued on south to Napoli. I knew nothing about this city. Lisa picked it after reading about it in a guidebook. It sounded interesting so we hopped on the train and off we went.

traffic worse than LA

Arriving to the city we picked a cheap hotel that was advertised at the train station and that is when I learned that Neapolitan’s are the craziest drivers that I have ever encountered. The streets were bumper to bumper with cars and no one stopped at the stop lights. It absolutely amazed me and to this day I still recall us both having to just close our eyes and walk across the round-about blindly to make it to the other side. No one hit us and it seriously was the only way to make it across the street.

Other thoughts on Napoli:

Amazing pizza! They really know how to make it here. I know there are many great pizzas across Italy, but something about this style is just incredible. Seriously the best pizza I have ever had was here.

climbing rocks

Napoli is a port city with a beautiful coastline with amazing buildings to experience as you explore. We even somehow found ourselves amongst the rocks going down to the water; go figure- youth is what I call it.

picturesque Sorrento

Lisa continued her research and we ended up taking a day trip to Sorrento which is south of Napoli and is a charming town also along the Mediterranean Sea. I remember taking in some amazing views as we explored this town. This is where I first learned that Italians put eggs in their pasta! What? They call it carbonara and I tried the eggs with cream sauce dish and loved it! The other thing I was introduced to here was limoncello, an after dinner drink with a lemon base… yummy! I was sold.

I still love carbonara and limoncello and enjoy having both from time to time here in Los Angeles, but I will never forget the first time I was exposed to these items in Italy. I have not visited the region of Campania since that trip I took with Lisa, and look forward to returning one day, this time with my family.

A few more photos:

Italian Arch

Castel dell'Ovo

seaside view

Around Naples

breathtaking views

breathtaking views 2

Around Sorrento

(day 215)

A rare treasure – the Nutelleria (Bologna)

outside the nutelleria

On my first trip to Bologna with Max (my husband) we discovered a wonderful little place for treats while walking around downtown. It was in a restaurant behind a statue some guy riding a horse. When I asked Max who that was on the statue he said proudly, Guiseppe Garibaldi. Garibaldi was a famous general and politician in the city.

The restaurant was called the Nutelleria and everything in it was made with Nutella (a delicious hazelnut chocolate spread)! Can you say yummy?? Max and I spent time trying out different items on the cheaply priced menu. Everything tasted great.

I don’t know why but we didn’t make our way to the Nutelleria again until summer 2011. Perhaps we were too busy to check it out again on our previous trip, but to our surprise as we approached the Garibaldi statue there was no Nutelleria to be found. It was closed. Our daughter Malina wanted to cry; she is the biggest Nutella freak in our house.

the menu

For now we must rely on either Canadian Nutella in a plastic jar that we buy at the American grocery or Italian Nutella in a glass jar that we buy from the Italian market near the beach. Wherever the Nutella comes from I must say I am glad that I did have the chance to experience the Nutelleria that once thrived in Bologna.

Update: Doing a little research just now I have discovered that the Nutelleria is still alive, just in a smaller reincarnation without a sign. Had I known this we would have found our way here with the kids! So now that I know about the new location I will make sure that we catch a bus downtown to try out the new place next time we are in town!

**see this blog for the current location of the Nutelleria**

(day 167)