According to the classic story of the Velveteen Rabbit, becoming REAL is everything in life. And if that story has a thread of truth in it, then Brandi Carlile is well on her way. At 30-something she has talent and insight beyond her years, as anyone who listens to her storytelling can attest. We enjoy her music and have been trying to catch one of her concerts for years, but we were never in the same place at the same time—that is, until last Tuesday. (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…)

We like to play a little game called Follow That Thread. It’s really simple and great fun because we never quite know where things are going. It’s also good exercise for slowing down, paying attention and trusting the process. It leads to the most curious things, but to make it work, judgment has to be suspended—accepting whatever shows-up. It feels like wandering through back streets and alleys to discover new places and things.

Here’s an example of a thread I followed a couple of weeks ago. (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…)

Sometimes a pair of shoes becomes way more than just a pair of shoes!

About 12 years ago I bought some rather odd looking slip-ons, and wow . . . they were way more comfortable than I ever  imagined! As we eased into pre-tirement, we decided to move away from public view and dress codes, into sole-full comfort in a casual sort-of way. And at that transitional time, we happened onto a pair of brown leather cartoon shoes, and I was hooked. For me they symbolized a life-style change and a different way of being that meant the world to us at the time—and still does. (more…)

Quietly closing the door, he began his descent down the stone stairway located just behind the grand saloni, salons of his royal apartment recently reconstructed within the Palazzo Vecchio, Old Palace on Piazza della Signoria in the heart of medieval Florence. He made his way effortlessly through the hidden corridors leading to the small exterior door, opening onto the inconspicuous side street, Via della Ninna. Carefully glancing both ways to insure that he was alone, Duca Cosimo I de’ Medici made his departure from the Palace without anyone even suspecting. (more…)

We went to the Teatro Odeon the other night to catch the new movie called A Dangerous Method starring Keira Knightley, Vigo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender. We were excited to see their depiction of the two pioneers of psychotherapy, Freud and Jung because we’ve always been fascinated with their incredible contributions to the field of psychology. In fact, many of the concepts, therapies and ideas we take for granted today were products of their fertile early 20th century minds. (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…)

Well, autumn is just around the corner and it’s mating season here in Italy for the Caprioli, Roe Deer. We hear them in the dusky hours every evening and in the misty dawn, making their unusual call of the wild. What a sound! It’s unbelievable. Seriously, the Roe coughs out a disgusting guttural grunt/scream noise that would put a halt to any possibilities. The first few times we heard it, we thought there must be some monster of the woods—some creature both dreadful and loathsome. We wanted no part of it. The only deer references we had were 1.) the sweet, docile and perpetually hungry ones that live in Indiana and Ohio; and 2.) Bambi. (more…)