Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to create super sports cars to compete with Ferrari, which already had a 16 year head-startan almost impossible challenge. He was 47 years old at the time, and already a famous Italian entrepreneur. People thought he was crazy to risk his fortune to build specialty cars that were clearly an unjustifiable extravagance. But the strong-willed businessman was already a proven success. He reasoned that if he could amass a fortune making tractors, why not sports cars? In November of 1963, he unveiled his first masterpiece—the 350GT. The rest is automotive history. (more…)

We needed a replacement grill. The one we bought years ago rusted through, dropping fire out the bottom faster than we could sear our chicken breasts. That’s a dangerous scenario during the dry days of August. The trendy Big Green Egg is touted as the ultimate grilling experience, but they just don’t exist here. Perhaps something simple, like our classic Weber. But wait! Wouldn’t it be nice to replace our charcoal model with a spiffy propane powered grill? Regardless of the options, we decided that “buying local” was the thing to do. So, we went hunting. (more…)

Legends are made of high drama. Some have a smattering of gruesome details. We find both in the story of Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy).

As the patron saint of Sicily’s ancient city of Syracuse, Santa Lucia’s image is scattered around the city. We didn’t think much of it until we spotted the strangest delicacy in a window of the local pasticceria, pastry shop: eyeball cookies. (more…)

Imagine a hiking trail 100 miles long with no particular destination. Sound strange? What if you could actually see the focus of your wanderings, yet never arrive there? What if the trail encircled the most magnificent symbol of the Italian Renaissance—the Duomo, Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore—the main cathedral in the heart of Florence? Now, this is really getting interesting. Well, there is such a trail—where the real destination is a deepening of the magic and mystery of that special place known as Firenze—the heart of Tuscany—an experience like no other! (more…)

Over 2,000 years ago, the comic playwright of ancient Athens, Aristophanes said: “Let each man exercise the art he knows!” We think he had it right.

Yesterday, we were having lunch in Fiesole. It was balmy in the shade of the street-side cafe. We were fascinated, watching the installation of a new sculpture, a colorful contraption, on Piazza Mino. Made of hundreds of small brightly enameled pieces, all fastened together into a collage; much like one of those erector set creations of 50 years ago—wheels, gears, nuts and bolts, angles and edges. The sun really made this one pop! It was playful and riveting. We liked it. (more…)

“If you get pure beauty, you get about the best thing God has to give.”

The quote is attributed to an anonymous artist long ago, cited by the British writer, Charles Latham in his 1905 book, The Gardens of Italy. The sentiment sums up the intention of the Italian villa—pure beauty! And Villa Gamberaia, set in the peaceful hills overlooking Florence is certainly no exception. This incredible garden in the Tuscan landscape has been studied and celebrated by architectural historians and garden designers throughout the centuries. In fact, the painter may have been standing in Gamberaia’s garden when he first spoke those words that captured Latham’s imagination. (more…)

“St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come down
Something is lost and can’t be found”

We have a great friend, Zia. We’ve worked with her for years on various projects, and whenever we needed something that seemed to be lost, she recited this little prayer to Saint Anthony. Miraculously, it always seemed to work. Once, in fact, she located something missing in our own home because Saint Anthony told her it was on a specific shelf in the dining room cabinet. I thought it was an unlikely place, but Em encourage me to immediately go home to check it out anyway—and there it was, just like Zia said. Or just like Saint Anthony said. That experience made us believers, even though we’ve rarely used the prayer since . . . except for one particular day in France! (more…)

One empty bench beckoned us from across the park. We had been hiking a bit, so we were ready to sit down and relax for a few minutes. All the other benches were occupied, so we felt lucky to find the last available seat in the “house.”

As we approached the bench, Em said, “Oh, there’s the reason this one’s empty!” He was referring to the paint that had been drizzled across the wood slats. But, to me it looked like dried, glossy enamel, which can often give the appearance of being fresh. So I took my right index finger and lightly touched the paint. “Argh! It is wet paint!!” I declared. I then took a tissue from my pocket and wiped my finger. To my surprise, the wetness came off, but the violet color remained. My finger was semi-permanently dyed. I went into a nearby restroom to wash my hands. Nothing phased the stain. I examined more closely. My finger made it look as though I’d recently voted! I showed Em. And suddenly, I felt pleased with my dyed finger. (more…)

A few months ago, we came across a program called “Workaway.” It’s an online organization that allows people who need help to find those people who want to help. Or conversely, people who want to help, can find someone with an engaging project. The idea is simple. If you want to spend time in Norway, then find a project and volunteer. How about New Zealand? South Africa? Peru? Just send them a message and see what happens. You might be surprised. We were. (more…)