12:21 pm Wednesday—message through WordPress from Carolina (previously unknown to us) in Capetown South Africa: My Mum lives in Tuscany and I received a letter from her where she wrote about Monteloro and the only restaurant of the village. I googled it up and I came across your blog . . . Do you know by the way, Trattoria La Casa del Prosciutto (House of Ham), in Ponte a Vicchio? (more…)

Bicycles have clearly been a major mode of transportation in cities around the world for decades—especially in Europe. Nothing new about that. But with each great idea comes a few new problems to solve. For example: theft, maintenance, safety, storage, and more. But those problems are becoming a thing of the past with the latest version of Bike Sharing. The third generation systems are successfully in use around the world. And, the fourth generation is arriving soon! (more…)

Walking down a narrow side street in Lyon, on my way for a morning coffee, I (em) caught a glimpse in my peripheral vision of what appeared to be a small salon de coiffure hommes, which basically means barber shop.

Committed to living on the dazzling edge of intuition and spontaneity, I instinctively veered to the right, and found myself standing in the doorway, face to face with Henri B. I didn’t really need a haircut, but the spirit moved me, so there we stood, in close proximity. He was a pleasant man with a gentle demeanor, but spoke no English whatsoever, nor did he want to try. Mostly, we agreed to talk intermittently without any overriding need to understand each other. (more…)

This story is about creativity, cooperation, openness and risk-taking.

The door was open, so I looked inside.

Romain greeted me with a broad, friendly smile. I asked, “Do you speak English?” Out came a resounding “YES!” And so our happenstance encounter evolved into a conversation and tour. (more…)

Every once in a while we run across an absolute gem—something completely unexpected that makes us breathe a collective, “Ahhhh!”

In early June we encountered such a gem: a lovely bed and breakfast in Ronchamp, called La Maison D’hôtes du Parc.

By now we are pretty capable travelers, having stayed in a range of places. Sure there’s been an occasional dive—some place, somewhere in the middle of nowhere with only a hope to sleep through the night. But generally, we find places that are worth a return visit. And some, warrant and guarantee many happy returns. (more…)

Where do science and religion intersect?

According to artist Cornelia Parker, the two opposites are currently merging in the corner of a room in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. She calls it Anti-Mass, and the work of art is currently housed at the de Young Museum, gallery 16, to be exact.

Recently, when a soulful Southern Baptist Church burned to the ground at the hands of arsonists, Cornelia, with permission, collected and reclaimed the charred timbers of the once-vital wood structure. And then, without permission, she began her magical transformation that would, in her own artistic language, fuse science and religion; mind and heart; tangible and spiritual; grounded and otherworldly; violence and reverence into a powerful image, to lure people out of dualism and at least momentarily, into an awareness of the underlying unity of all things. (more…)

California has a reputation. It’s laid back, casual. Beachy. Of course, those of us in northern CA are not beachy, but tell someone that you’re from CA and immediately they say, “Oh, perpetual summer. Beaches. Bay Watch.” In fact, California’s reputation can lead some to think that whatever happens in CA is “lite.”  But we can be a pretty serious lot. Take our holiday decorations, for example. No one in their right mind would want to miss the 1.5 mile winding drive through the Vasona Lake Park. Why? To totally immerse themselves in the very serious lights display. (more…)

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…)

One of our favorite morning walks in California takes us through the gardens of the beautiful Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts. You never know what you might find around each wooded turn because they’re constantly changing the outdoor sculptures, providing that element of surprise. One day we found an artist constructing a fairly large house out of sticks. Another time we came upon a new fortress in the front yard made entirely from stacks of paper (even more interesting after it rained). Then there were the strange heavy, unexplained floating objects. And let’s not forget the creepy giant cocoons the size of a small car, we found laying by the path up the hill. But today, our  sculpture hunt was a little more challenging—like up in a tree! (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…)