Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Business in 2013 Was Pretty Damn Good

Assessment: This was a big year for me. I made some significant life decisions that will have an impact on me for the rest of my life that I am very proud of thus far. Looking back at 2013, I can honestly say that it had more ups than downs and that I have been following along the set path I put in place. This is all about business in 2013.

Working Out: I finished 90 days of Tapout XT from July to October. It is the first time I have finished a workout program that I set my mind to. However, I did not finish the year out strong with working out and feel as though I fell backwards. The good thing is that I know for 2014 that I have the discipline be consistent.

Italiano: I learned a lot this year and only finished about 25% of the Italian Rosetta Stone. I dedicated hours and hours of my time during the first half of 2013 and used my knowledge in Italy. Heather, my family, and I had an amazing time there and we really miss it. I am disappointed that I haven't studied more Italian Rosetta Stone since our trip but the truth is that I had bigger things on my mind like...

Investment Property: I purchased a house in Pennsylvania and am happy to say that things are going well thus far. My house has been profitable and I have treated my tenants very fairly. I've maintained an open line of communication with them and have a property manager attending to any needs that arise. My father and my uncle helped me through the entire process and I'm happy to say I surrounded myself with talented individuals who helped in the decision making process.

Looking To The Future: I can say that when it comes to my future, I have set the groundwork for success. Real estate has been a lucrative opportunity that several people I know have enjoyed. I'm excited to be following in their footsteps after doing hours and hours of research, planning, and finally executing. This purchase is one of my proudest moments in 2013 and overall in my life.

Pod-casting/Writing: Something that got lost in the shuffle of the second half of 2013. Vinny and I were on a role with staying on top of our pod casts which was an excellent opportunity to get on the same page when it came to writing. I can say that personally I fell off due to various other project like the aforementioned house purchase, Rosetta Stone, etc. While we dedicated 2013 to the year of content, I feel as though I fulfilled that declaration with the house purchase, learning a new language, and 90 days of working out without missing a day.

There are projects I would still like to complete.

Going Nowhere: We finally released the first two episodes of our project that has been years in the making, Going Nowhere. While we did not film nearly as much as we would have liked to, we did finish episodes 1-5. This is a major accomplishment that took so much time and energy to complete. The disappointment there is the lack of filming and what feels to be a waning desire to finish the project. Most of the episodes were written more than two years ago and have yet to be filmed. Each day that passes that we don't film, the older we get.

Acting: Acting is an amazing thing and it has shaped me into the person I am today. I miss it. Unfortunately, time is critical. Working full time including the weekends completely cuts into my ability to film on that days when almost everyone else is off. Even if I wanted to do some acting locally or some projects, due to my schedule I can't. I feel as though my love and passion for being on stage or in front of the camera is just wasting away, sitting dormant. It's sad but necessary for now. I need to work hard and lay the foundation for the rest of my life so that one day I can dedicate the majority of my time to doing what I love like acting an brewing beer.

Brewing Beer: This year I went into the all-grain system of brewing beer which is a smaller version of how the big breweries make their beer. I brewed around five batches of beer this year and also showed my friend Danny how to brew with his start-up kit. I'm still getting used to the new method which is more time consuming yet yields a finer product. I'm happy with my work so far and can say that I brought my game to the next level. My dad and I even built a giant thermos from a plan online which was tough but fun.

Last Year I Wrote This: "I just need to keep it up on all fronts. Progress is the name of the games and what keeps me going. I strive everyday to better myself whether it's as simple as learning one more word in Italian or something a little more involved like studying the impact of different grains on a beer. I just have to continue moving forward and things will continue to fall into place". Mission accomplished.

Happy To Say: I stuck to the plan and created a new one. I was consistent enough when it came to getting things done that needed to be done. I put in a year of hard work at my job which I'm hoping will earn me a promotion to management soon. In 2012, I was dead set on going to law school. I decided not to go near the beginning of 2013. Obviously I will never know what my life would have been like had I decided to go forward with it. I can say that the decision not to may be the best decision I ever made. Instead, I bought a house which has been profitable ever since. Instead, I got creative.

Successes: Purchased an investment property, began learning another language, went to Italy, brewed several beers with the all-grain style of brewing, completed 90 days of Tapout XT, released the first two episodes of Going Nowhere, discovered Doctor Who, made the Best of Bob's and sold $935,000.00 in furniture, and began seriously interviewing for advancement in the company.

Disappointments: Did not complete the scripts I began, stopped doing pod-casts, did not continue studying Italian after Italy, did not play open mic night with Mike and stopped practicing with him, purchased a bow but never went archery shooting more than once, still living at home (in order to save which is part of the overall plan.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013



Just 83 days ago I decided to undertake a challenge that would push my mind and my body to another level. I decided to purchase a program called Tapout XT which I can honestly say changed my life for the better. 83 days of working out every single week, for 6 days and 1 rest day, has been a great challenge that I am proud to say I have completed. While I may not be in the same shape as the guys or girls in video, I can say that I feel better than I have in the past few years. I have lost fat and gained muscle, my waist has shrunk, my clothes fit me better, I never feel sore or achy, I'm never out of breath, and I know that I can do anything I put my mind to. However, the truth is that I still have work to do.
 Finally Finished With Tapout XT

Finishing Tapout is just as rewarding to my mental state as it is physically. Now, I am ready to push myself to the next level and try something new. I did P90X a few years ago and never finished the program. I got through about 50 days before I stopped for whatever excuse I came up with at that time. Now that I'm in great shape when it comes to my strength and endurance, undertaking P90X is the best step I can take it. 

It's important to not fall back into the bad habits in laziness that I faced before, the months going by where I would not do a single thing to maintain my health physically. I did think that Tapout XT would help me lose more of the wait then I actually did, but to be perfectly honest I ate pretty much the same way I did before I started the program. I don't eat fast food or anything too bad like that, but I do eat big portions and of course I love to drink beer, brew beer, and do anything that has to do with beer. That is going to be a challenge to overcome in itself that I don't know if I ever want to overcome. I would prefer 2 do what I do now because I know that I can maintain the fairly healthy diet I am on now. Sure, I could fast and eat only proteins and low carb foods, but you and I both know that as an Italian American citizen I will always enjoy my breads cheeses meats and prosciutto. There is simply no getting around it and I'm perfectly happy with it. Unfortunately the Mediterranean diet does not translate very well to an American lifestyle where always do is it computers and drive everywhere. Back in Italy everybody walks to wherever they need to go and I'm pretty sure they don't even have gyms yet are the skinniest people I have ever seen. Obviously the prosciutto, mozzarella, olive oil, fish, and figs must be pretty damn good to the human body.

So now I'm excited. I've proven to myself that I can complete a 3 month program despite my busy life. I know I can do it I am ready for the next challenge. Even though it appears as if I was in better shape 4 or 5 years ago than I am in even now, Tapout XT did help develop muscles that I have never concentrated on. My abs, my shoulders, and my core. I always concentrated on my chest, back, and arms. Now that I have improved my core, I feel like my overall success with P90X will be better than last time. I also feel as though I am more mature and can complete the program this time. I'm going to take a week off to allow my body to recover from the three months of strenuous training, and then I'm going to start hanging out with my old friend Tony Horton again in P90X.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Special Thanks To You

The first thing I want to do is say thank you to everyone and please give yourselves a hug from me. Okay, go on give yourself one more hug.

Good, now here's why I'm saying thanks. Everyone that I have some sort of contact with, whether it's family, friends, coworkers, or random people I have met along the way, have had some sort of impact on my life. Each day that goes by is an opportunity to interact with all of you; maybe it's an in depth conversation, a high five, a "like" on Facebook, a text message, etc. Sometimes days, months, or years could go by without us seeing each other. We may never see each other again. The point is that I'm happy to be a part of your lives and I'm happy that you are a part of mine, whether it is in the past, present, or future.

Time is something that most people perceive as linear. Moments in time occur until another moment occurs. Every single person or moment in our lives have led us to this exact moment, making us who we are and presenting us with what we feel in this particular moment in time. So in effect, everything that has ever been has made us who we are today including every person we have encountered, every place we've been, and every feeling we have ever felt. I don't know about you, but it makes me feel good that we've all been a part of each others lives.

With each day that passes, I appreciate this more and more.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Venezia - Our Vacation In Italy

Venice was very different from Sorrento. Touristy, hot, and expensive, yet romantic and intimate. Venice was the last city we visited in Italy.

Well of Ezio Outside Corte Canal

Day Number 12:
This was a very rough day. From Sorrento to Napoli we took a local train and from Napoli to Venice we took an express train with a connection in Bologna. The travel time at that point was about 9 hours. Getting from the train station to our bed and breakfast was no easy task either. We carried the luggage over a big bridge which took out almost all of our remaining energy. When we arrived at Corte Canal we were very upset to find out the conditions.

Dad, Sarah, Katie, Heather, and I walk the streets of Venice

I might as well knock out all the bad stuff first so that the rest of the blog is enjoyable. The description for our room includes a double room and a quadruple room with breakfast every morning. Well this room was in the attic and had zero separation between the alleged rooms. The mattress Heather and I slept on was maybe 4 inches thick on no box spring. Breakfast consisted of wrapped up pound cakes and juice boxes that sat there for the entire four days. We were located on the fourth floor essentially and there was no elevator. So, we got to drag all of our luggage up several flights of stairs. Katie tripped going up the stairs on a loose piece of molding and fell forward into the room. The maid didn't make the beds or bring in new towels or do much of anything. Needless to say this was not a good first impression of the city.

 Our View from atop the Rialto Bridge

After several deep breaths and muttering my breath, we decided to get some dinner. By this time we were starving and I felt sick from not eating. We found a place called Taverna da Baffo. Our waiter Maximus recommended a special bruschetta bread twisted with arugula, prosciutto, and mozzarella di bufalo. Delicious stuff. We also had pizza and I ate seafood risotto. I'm pretty sure that this was the best restaurant in Venice that we ate at and I do wish we went there one more time. That night we walked to the Rialto Bridge and got gelato.

Heather being super cute at the Rialto Bridge
Day Number 13:
I will say that as unhappy as we were with the conditions of the bed and breakfast, we were happy with the location. For our first full day in Venice we had breakfast just down the block from Corte Canal at a pastry shop. After that we took a Vaporetto boat to St. Marks Square and Basilica. It was very hot that day and was for the most part while we were there. Some line cutters made me lose my temper and I cursed at them very loudly for a while.

View from atop St. Marks Basilica's Balcony

St. Marks was very cool. The whole church is like one big mosaic piece of artwork. The view of St. Marks square from the top of the basilica was very impressive as were the works inside the building. 
Afterwards we did a bit of shopping and then ate at a Rick Steves recommendation for traditional Venetian food known as cicchetti. The restaurant was called Osteria ai Storti. I had grilled cicchetti which was a plate of small, boney fish served from head to tail. I'm proud to say I finished everything.

 Inside St. Peter's Basilica where NO pictures are allowed

After lunch we split, Heather and I split off to do some more shopping and take it easy. She found a little fabric shop and bought her brother Patrick a Chef's Hat. The guy at the shop sewed on the words "Little Chef" right in front of us and it was really cool to watch. We made our way back down to St. Marks and took a vaporetto boat to the Rialto bridge where we got some delicious crepes. We walked from there through the Jewish Getto which is an island in Venice where the old Venetians forced Jews to live. Yes, it really was and still is called the Jewish Getto and is apparently the place where the word ghetto came from.

Traditional Venetian Fish Dish

We picked up some figs, black cherries, and dates along the way back to our bed and breakfast. We took a short nap and then rode the vaporetto boat back to St. Marks and back to see the city at night by boat. Unfortunately, the boat got very crowded which made it difficult to really enjoy it. It was cool though to see the water on the canals go right up to the doors. I tried to imagine what the city looked like before the water levels had risen.

Day Number 14:
Despite Heather and I declaring that we were totally "Museum-ed Out", I realized that we hadn't seen the Scuola di San Rocco. We decided this final landmark would be worth paying a visit to and now we are glad we did. The Scuola di San Rocco is considered the Sistine Chapel of Tintoretto, a painter during Michelangelo's time in the Renaissance. His works are magnificent and the Scuola was a site to see. No photos were allowed inside and this time I listened to the rules (most people don't).

Scuola di San Rocco in Venice by Tintoretto

After the Scuola, Heather and I ate lunch and headed back for a long nap. The heat was very strong in Venice the whole time we were there and it took a toll on us. After we woke up, my family, Heather, and I went out to dinner. Afterwards, we had gelato then found a large picnic area where food was being served and a band was playing 70's music. Heather and I had a few beers and turned in for the night to get ready for our last day in Italy.

The band playing Greg Carr Music in the Picnic Area. 

Day Number 15: 
Heather and I had a nice, long lunch along a canal near the Accademia section of Venice. Then we walked to St. Marks square to a shop where we bought a nice stamp with our initials on it and I picked up my final souvenir.

 Looks like I'm kind of wide for some of the streets in Venice

We hurried back to our bed and breakfast, showered, and did a Rick Steves recommended tour with Alessandro Schezzini where we tried out local Venetian foods and drank way too much. Alessando was a lot of fun and gave our group of fourteen a taste of what Venice is all about. We went to the oldest bar in Venice which was called Cantina Do Mori. We met some very cool people from all over the United States including New York. The one downside was that Heather and I wanted to do a gondola ride but we drank too much. This means that we will have to return at some point.

Alessandro Schezzini discussing red wine

Day Number 16:
The journey home was a long one. We woke up, still a little drunk, around 7:00 am to start. We brought all of our stuff down at 8:00 and the trip home began. The flight, the walk to the bus, the stupid crying babies on the plane, another Guiness in Ireland, and the return home took around 18 hours total from door to door. It's a day later and I' still feeling the effects of the jet lag.

The Trip:
My parents, Katie, Sarah, Heather, and I really enjoyed ourselves. Visiting relatives and being embraced by them, seeing new places, trying new foods, meeting new people, and just enjoying life are some of the things we really got to enjoy. I hope to go back again soon to see more of the southern part of Italy. I fully intend on completing the Italian Rosetta Stone that Vinny let me borrow so that the next time I go I can speak even better. I do love Italy but it is nice to be home now.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Feel free to comment with any questions about anywhere we went or add your own stories if you've visited before. To go back to the start......

Go Back To Roma

Sorrento - Our Vacation In Italy

Sorrento is a wonderful place. The people, the food, the music, the history, the weather, the limoncello, the fruits, the seafood, the sea, and the view all make up this paradise. I wish we could have stayed there longer and I wish I was there right now. The classic song "Come Back To Sorrento" says it all. Our host Carmine made us feel at home as his wife served us a breakfast of croissants, cereal, and cappuccino each morning.

Can you tell that I love this place yet?

 View of Lemon Grove From Casa Correale

Day Number 6:
From Rome to Sorrento. We walked from our apartment to the train station which was a small 20 minute hike through cobblestone streets and locals buying items from street vendors. The train ride was only an hour and fifteen minutes to Napoli. Our driver Fulvio (ask for him if you go!) from Benvenuto was awaiting us and promptly made our experience in the south that much more enjoyable. Fulvio told us about the history of Napoli as he drove us down the coast, about how it was richer than any country due to it's merchants and excellent location on the Mediterranean, and the sad story of how the Queen of England teamed up with forces in the north to takeover the land through the false pretense of the unification which destroyed the southern economy. This is one of the many reasons why my family immigrated from Napoli to America. Never had I felt such a true impact from history as I did while he told us this. Remember, the winners write the history books. He dropped us off at Casa Correale, our home for the next week, in Sorrento.

 Our room at Casa Correale

That first night in Sorrento, Heather and I went to a highly recommended restaurant called Basilica. I had some of the best ravioli of my life followed with a delicious cut of swordfish which was the first one Heather has ever tried. She may have been spoiled because that was the best I've had and now, no swordfish will taste like that for her! For dessert, a rich sponge cake covered with limone froth and of course limoncello. We then walked to a piazza in town overlooking the Baio di Napoli. What a view. Maybe the most romantic place we have ever been.

 Heather drinking wine at La Basilica in Sorrento

Day Number 7: 
Our first full day in Sorrento, we made our way down the the beach. 60 Euro, pretty steep, got us lounge chairs on the pier and a private beach. I got a tan for the first time in like 5 years and we spent the whole day there. That night we met up with our cousins Enrico, Maria, and Giacomo. Enrico treated us as we got gelato at Primavera which was the best gelato we had in Italy. The Italian I studied came through once again as we were able to communicate very well with our cousins. They brought us gifts from Enrico's linen factory that were beautiful. Again, Enrico and his family showed us the same kindness he had shown Gabe and I when we had visited in 2005. After our cousins left we went to a restaurant run by our host Carmine where I ate more delicious pasta, pizza, and limoncello.

 Sunset over the Baio di Napoli from Sorrento

Day Number 8:
Due to the heat, sunburn, and traveling from the days prior, Heather and I decided to take it easy and sleep in late. We got lunch at a delicious place called Pizza Aurora where I had a pizza with arugula, prosciutto, and mozzarella. Wow. This was the second best pizza I had in Italy. Heather had pineapple on her pizza which was almost as good as mine. I doused several slices with their delicious spicy olive oil and red peppers.

Spicy Olive Oil from Pizza Aurora

We did a little bit of shopping after that and bought limoncello, candies, souvenirs, and figs. Then we went to a place called Inn Bufalito which serves different cuts of Buffalo as well as different Buffalo cheeses. The bread they served it with was homemade of course and the wine was excellent. The tastiest thing there was ricotta with a chestnut sauce. Unreal. I think Heather and I had dreams about it later on that night.

Different Cuts of Buffalo Meat

After that, Heather and I stopped at a place where they do legno intarsio. Intarsio is the inlaying of wood in a frame to form beautiful designs. I bought one with a sailboat on the water along the coast of Sorrento. Heather got a music box that plays "Come Back To Sorrento" when it's opened. After that, we had gelato and turned in for the night at around 7:30 which was by far our earliest night of the trip. We were exhausted and I think we really needed it.

 Fresh Figs from a Vendor in Sorrento

Day Number 9: 
We took a very long bus to Positano down the Amalfi coast. Very crowded which was not so pleasant. However, the view was stunning. The peninsula where the Amalfi Coast is as well as Sorrento were formed do to volcanic eruptions long ago and the water is pristine. The approach to Positano is awesome because the town is built up the cliff side down to the water. We did some shopping as well as picked up some lunch for later in the day.

A Dome through the Trees in Positano

We went to the beach in Positano which may have been the hottest beach I have ever been to. The rocks burn if you touch them so I had to wear my sandals in the water. It was also a public beach and I will say that in Italy, there is a lower level of respect for people and rules are not followed. People think New Yorkers are rude. When parents let their kids run over peoples towels and personal belongings without uttering a word, you know something is off. All I know is we don't do that here in America. That being said we enjoyed Positano for the most part.

 Heather and I overlooking the water in Positano

Carmine set us up with his friend who owns a boat so we got a free ride back to Sorrento by sea. The view from the water is a must see. The downside of this day was the intense sunburn that Heather got. I felt really bad for her but it seemed to go away pretty quickly. That night, Katie, Sarah, Heather, and I let my parents go have a night to themselves while we went to a delicious restaurant recommended by Rick Steves called Ristorante Pizzeria Lanterna Due where we had pizza with Mozzarella di Bufalo. It was the best pizza I had in Italy. Of course, the night ended with gelato.

 Beautiful View of Positano by Sea

Day Number 10: 
There are a few islands off the coast of Sorrento. The more popular/expensive/crowded one is Capri which is where Gabe and I went last time. This time, we decided to go to Ischia. The best parts of this island are the natural hot springs. We went to a beach club style resort that had all sorts of different hot springs and pools at varying temperatures. The baths are said to contain a certain healing attribute which is nice. We defintely felt very relaxed while using them. Heather and I intended on getting massages but they only had one person there the day we visited and they were all booked up. Still, my whole family enjoyed the spas.

The Beautiful Island of Ischia with Thermal Baths

After we got back to Sorrento, Heather and I went to a restaurant where Carmine's brother and cousin work. Her pork was raw but they brought out another dish afterwards with free limoncello and dessert on the house to make up for it. We had gelato then went to the discoteca after where they had a glowstick party going on. This is where we got this gem of a picture. Could the raw pork have had any strange effects? I joke, I joke.

After lo discoteca in Sorrento, here is the result.

Day Number 11:
Sigh, our last day in Sorrento. Heather and I slept late again knowing that the following day would be exhausting. We checked out the Correale museum which had a lot of cool artwork from the Renaissance and masonry work from the Greek and Roman empire. The ancient cultures used marble to build their structures in the same way we use wood to build today. Incredible. After that we had lunch outside of a church where a couple was getting married. Lots of tourists were waiting around just to see the bride.

Performers from the Sorrento Musical at Teatro Tasso

That night we went to Teatro Tasso to see the Sorrento Musical. What an amazing show! A cast of thirteen, the performers played classical Italian music from the south. "O Sole Mio" was so intense that people in the audience were weeping. The six of us enjoyed the show so much and I have to say that our time in Sorrento couldn't have ended in a better way. We stopped once more for gelato and turned in for the night. 

"Torna A Surriento" This is how I feel right now.

Continued in Venezia

Roma - Our Vacation In Italy

We have returned! The epic vacation that spanned three different cities in Italy has come to an end. Made it home safe and sound with awesome memories, an irresistible urge to eat gelato every night, and the focus to pick up from where I left off in 2013.

After departing New York at 5:30 our connecting flight took us to another one of my favorite countries, Ireland. I enjoyed a quick Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, sausage, and toast topped off with two delicious Guinness pints. Soon enough we were in the air again for 3 more hours until we hit our first destination, Rome.

Rome is special due to the various landmarks that are over 2000 years old. The modern Rome has sprouted around these ancient ruins which have slowly been uncovered throughout the centuries. The Colosseum inspired me to become a history major in 2005 when I was attending Stony Brook University because it made me realize how important our past is in determining our future. Rome is a wonderful display of organized chaos. Overall, I truly enjoyed our time in the city and was happy with the amount of time we spent there.

 The Roman Forum ruins still standing today

Day Number 1:
We were dropped off at the apartment by a car service but the problem was that our host Edoardo was not awaiting us at the time I gave him. Thankfully, the Italian that I studied immediately came through. We meet Vasili, the awesome dude who runs maintenance in the building. He doesn't speak a work of English, only Ukranian, Russian, Italian, and another language. He let us in and we finally were able to settle after several hours of travel. The apartment was great; big rooms, cross ventilation, a kitchen, and two bathrooms. The first night consisted of delicious pasta, gelato, and wine which would become an everyday occurrence during our trip.

 View from our Apartment

Day Number 2:
I woke up very early since the time change of 6 hours was messing with me. I had a cappuccino, then picked up some fresh mozzarella di bufalo, prosciutto, and bread. After a delicious breakfast, we decided to knock out one of the longer days by going to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the tomb of Victor Emmanuel. It was my second time at the Colosseum and it felt just as awesome to return. Walking in, the soundtrack to Gladiator immediately commenced in my head and I got chills, thinking of Maximus and the true Roman gladiators of the past. Just thinking about the millions of people that have walked through the arches is mind-numbing.

 Over 2000 years of awesomeness and Maximus

The arch of Constantine resides next the the Colosseum which marked a huge moment for Christianity. The significance is that Constantine had the arch built and Christians would no longer be persecuted for their beliefs. The forum is incredible too and almost as impressive as the ancient stadium. We saw what remains of the many structures and temples, including that of Julius Caesar where his body rested after his murder on the Ides of March. We ate at a little restaurant called Carbonara afterwards, very good. After, the evening ended with delicious gelato.

No more slaughtering of Christians, yay!

Day Number 3:
We met family on my mother's side. Sabatino, his brother Americo, and Americo's wife Dina. It was a little crazy getting together at first due to the language barrier and miscommunication but once they found us and took us to their apartment, all was well. After an aperitif beverage (bitter orange from Sicily) Dina cooked a delicious meal of penne and asparagus, then veal cooked two different ways. That may have been the best pasta ever and you all know how much pasta I've eaten in my life! With fruit, espresso, grappa and homemade limoncello afterwards, we were spent. We finished off the evening sharing pictures and doing our best to communicate. Without Rosetta Stone, let's just say it would have been very awkward. Even though it was our first time meeting them, our family treated us like kings and it was a truly wonderful experience.

View from Americo's Apartment

Day Number 4:
After a delicious breakfast of fruits, pastries, and cappuccino, my family, Heather, and I went to the Vatican. Beautiful as ever, the papal state with it's infinite treasures and art is a must see. The Sistine Chapel and the work of Michelangelo brought tears to Heather's eyes. It is the definition of the words "masterpiece" and "perfection". After touring the Vatican museum and St. Peter's Basilica, Heather and I split off from my family to enjoy some time to ourselves. We had a lunch of prosciutto and melon with pizza with tomato and fresh mozzarella.

Lunch near the Vatican with Heather
Afterwards we walked past Castel Sant'Angelo, through Piazza Navona and Campo Dei Fiore, sampling gelato along the way. We wound up at the Panteon which is unreal. We finished by returned to St. Peters at sunset and then ate at a delicious restaurant called Perdincibacco where I had Spaghetti alla Carbonara. We had to rush back to the subway afterwards since it stops running at 11:30. I think we caught the last train which was an adventure.

Taking a lunch break in Rome near the Vatican

Day Number 5:
We saw the statue of Moses in Chains by Michelangelo. That statue was yet another masterpiece. Just beautiful. After that we went through Baroque Rome and saw the Spanish Steps, the Fontana di Trevi, and went inside the Panteon. The dome is amazing. It's mesmerizing as you study the ceiling and ponder how it could still be standing after 2000 years. We then had delicious granita iced espresso at a Rick Steves recommendation called Casa del Cafe. Awesome stuff. We walked back through Piazza Navona and ate at Campo Dei Fiore. Then we went down to the Trastevere district and saw the Church of Santa Maria. Absolutely stunning. We ate at a place called Cencio la Parolaccia which was crazy. They put on a show in the restaurant and then complained that we didn't tip them enough (even though we couldn't understant 95% of what they were saying). Despite that, the food was good and our server was a lot of fun. We finished up by walking back to the Fontana di Trevi to see it at night and catch the subway back home, ending our stay in Rome.

Heather and I near the Spanish Steps

Continued in Sorrento

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Italy - Here We Come

They day has arrived! We are leaving for Italy today!!

It has been a very long wait. I feel like I've prepared myself as best as I possibly could with learning as much Italian as possible. We have mapped out our destinations and the 17 Day trip will consist of 3 cities. Rome, Sorrento (Outside of Naples), and Venice.

We will be visiting family in both Sorrento and Venice so I really hope I know as much Italian as I think I do. As long as they speak slowly, I should be able to understand. I know I can ask for directions so that's a step ahead from where I was last time.

My goal is to embrace the Italian culture with Heather and my family and allow ourselves to get swept away in the traditional lifestyle that my ancestors lived. This trip will combine site seeing with relaxation and I'm happy in the way we decided to break up the trip. The chaos of Rome, followed by a week in southern Italy in Sorrento where we can relax, ending our trip in crowded Venice.

Time to get snacks and pick up a book.

Buon viaggio per noi! Arrivederci!