Over the next several posts you may notice a French theme laced throughout our stories, for good reason. Our plan to “get out of Dodge” (see the previous story called “Taken for Granite,”) landed us in the beautiful city of Lyon, France, which is the heart of the southwest region of the Rhone Alps. For sure, each day brings a new experience. Add being a stranger in a new town, and you’re pretty much assured of stories everywhere you turn. The tough part is choosing which ones to write about. Last weekend, the magic transpired in a delightful neighborhood park called Place Sathonay. (more…)

Without thinking.

I sat down at the computer—completely in the moment, and a word unexpectedly popped into my head—spontaneity. “Why not write about that?” I thought.  “Okay!” You are now reading the words that flowed onto the page from that stream of consciousness.

The word spontaneity triggered an image of my friend from 40 years ago, Jed Free. Yes, that’s a real name! I have no idea what ever happened to him, but he was clearly a “free” spirit, so to speak, an unusually independent person, a loner of the nth degree. He only spoke on rare occasions, and when he did it was in a rather cryptic but meaningful way. Mostly, he just silently shuffled along with shoulders rounded, as if clutching his latest Bob Dylan album to his heart—always looking down in the vicinity of his frayed gray sneakers. I can’t say that I ever really made eye contact with him, but in some strange way, I have to admit that the guy actually changed my life. (more…)

In the Ligurian town of Rapallo, along the northern coast of Italy, three brothers are making a name for themselves and their restaurant.. They attract a diverse crowd at their popular place called K2—but that’s only the beginning. More than a mere meal, what really happens behind the driving beat, the flashing big screens, the delicious food and great conversation is a real Italian experience—Sicilian style!

While visiting the famous and beautiful coastal towns of Portofino, Rapallo and Santa Margherita, we discovered that the main attraction for us was the restaurant, K2 (Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli, Rocco and his brothers). Here the brothers Costanzo charm your socks off, and give you a first-class lesson in following dreams and values. Our first dinner was a magical evening that made the visit not only fun, but memorable—perhaps even life-changing. (more…)

Yesterday we spent the entire day in Florence.

Every once in a while, we have so many things that need to be done, it just takes all day. There’s no way around it. So we dedicated Monday from 6 am to 7 pm to make everything happen. Yes, we said 6 am—as in the morning. But we’re happy to report that we not only made a clean sweep of it, but enjoyed an extra surprise along the way. Little did we know that our burger day had finally arrived! (more…)

Belonging is really important to us, although we’ve never been joiners in any traditional sense. We never had a desire to be Italian, even though we joke about our quest to become “true Italians.” That, of course, could never happen. Nor do we intend to become naturalized citizens even though we could. However, what we’ve always wanted from this journey is the chance to dig deeply into the real life experiences of another culture. We wanted to go so far in, that we’re changed at the core of who we are. Becoming and belonging takes years, if not decades to happen naturally. After years of personal investment, conversation and shared experiences, we begin to really “belong” somewhere. Italy is like that for us. Our lives have become delicately interlaced with the lives of others, in ways we don’t really understand—yet it matters. (more…)

My Italian lawnmower and I have a long and rich history together. But, I have to admit that I was ready to part ways when it’s tattered grass-catcher-bag snagged the top of the sprinkler head, shearing it off and subsequently chopping it into hundreds of tiny unrecognizable pieces scattered across the lawn. I was really angry with my favorite little IBEA push-mower and was forced to take a “time-out” to cool down a little. (more…)

We just spent a delightful weekend under the “D” in the Hollywood hills. That famously gi-normous word that hovers on the side of the mountain, has recently been refurbished and is even more white, blocky and ever-present than before. Although it’s actually a rather crude and corny adornment, over the years it has become an icon known the world around as the symbol of star-studded glamor and movies that have changed people’s lives. (more…)

Simone and Alessia arrived around mezzogiorno, noon the other day for lunch with us in the country. The sun was bright and the air was clear with that unmistakable fall crispness. We hadn’t seen them for over a year, so it was especially fun for us to have that time together to sit and talk awhile. And even though we enjoyed our conversation, there was a bit of a distraction that occupied most of our attention. As you might have guessed from their pictures, they were not alone! (more…)