Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Blogging in the U.S. of A

Well I have been away from the blog for a while now. I’m home for the holidays, sort of. Right now I’m in Indianapolis and my family is in Cincinnati but I’m close. It’s been a great time so far. My flight back on Saturday was fine but my luggage took a little delay and didn’t make it back until Sunday. It was a happy reunion because nothing was broken in my luggage (several bottles of wine, olive oil grappa, and ceramics). I have managed to see many of my friends already. Then Monday I drove to Detroit to renew my work visa. I was amazed when I arrived at the Italian Consulate and there was no one waiting. I went straight up to the window and turned in my paperwork and I was back out on the street in 10 minutes. I never thought that would happen. Last time I waited about an hour and half and there were only about 6 people in line. Then today I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get my expired driver’s license renewed. This too went very well and didn’t take nearly as long as I expected. I had visions of needing to take the driver’s test again (even though none of my research supported this). I was even considering studying for the written test last night, just in case. So after this I decided get another errand done and I purchased a cell phone to use while I’m in the states. Now all this is done and it means I need to go into work and get some real work done tomorrow. This plan is not a sure thing because our friend mother nature may not cooperate. The weathermen are all getting tons of airtime predicting the end of the world. It’s after midnight and she hasn’t unleashed her fury yet as the weatherman is predicting. We’ll see.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Old Photo Album

I have a little more time to add to the blog from the weekend now that things are a little quiet at work and my sister and company have headed up to Venice and Florence. Last Sunday we stopped at a little street antique sale in Monopoli. I don’t usually look too closely but everyone else was so I lingered a little longer than normal. I made the most interesting purchase in a long time. I bought an old photo album. It is photos that a German man took between 1935 and 1938 on his trip from Germany to California, Mexico then to Brazil. It’s incredible. It’s missing some photos but the ones it has are all stories in themselves. They are all small black and white photos about 2 inches square and usually the pictures feature everyday people or landscapes. They are so interesting. There is one of a boat that has a banner that says “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer” (One people, One rule, one ruler remember the time this was taken!) and then another boat that says “American Legion”. Who was this guy and what was he doing? The photos all have titles written by hand in white ink on thick faded black cardboard pages in German. I really could not be more excited about buying something. Maybe I’ll scan in a few pictures but I don’t even want to disturb them in the album. There are 4 photos that are not mounted in the album so maybe I’ll scan them. I feel this album is already worth 10 times what I paid for it, 20 euros!!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

THE STROLL along the beach. I don't think I would mess with this crowd. Posted by Hello

Visitors from another land

The weekend is wrapping up and I need to blog but there is too much going on. Work has been hectic to say the least and now I have more visitors than ever. We stayed very busy this weekend but it doesn’t seem like we’ve seen that much. Saturday we went to Otranto as this continues to be one of my favorite places to go, then we played ultimate with the SalentoDisc crowd. After this we went to Lecce to study their wild architecture and eat. I think we set a new record, even for Italians, by not eating dinner until 11:30 PM. Then today we strolled along the beach at Torre Gauceto a park just north of Brindisi. Monopoli held our attention for most of the day (antique street sale, castle, and Frederico ask the ladies). This town has a great walk along the sea and then you duck in an alley and you’re in the middle of a quiet white washed town. We finished up our thick hot chocolates at the Caffè Venezia and then went on to Locorotondo. We strolled around the perfect-whitewashed alleys for a while but being inland and on the top of a hill it was rather cold. Then we took a wild ride back to my house for dinner at the Windsurf. Now the weekend is over for me but their vacation is just starting. More later… I also need to put up some photos.

Friday, November 19, 2004

What are the odds?

What a night. I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been really busy at work. I have two people here for one part of the project and two people here working a separate issue. I have been trying to be a good host and tonight was a good example of that. We had a great big dinner with everyone (about 15 people from both companies) then afterwards a few of us headed to my favorite stop the Big Ben Pub. When we arrived the place was packed and it was for a good reason. On this night the band was playing the traditional music of Salento. This music has a specific dance called the “pizzica, pizzica” that is hard to explain. It is a kind of shuffling of the feet with very little arm or hand movement and dancing is close to your partner but only rarely touching. It seems like a seductive stare down while you’re dancing. It seems like a combination of Middle Eastern dance and an English ballroom dancing and I love it because it shows the influences that are here in this region. I was really happy that my coworkers were able to see this truly unique part of the area. The “what are the odds?” part comes in because one of my coworkers met THE one person on the plane from the US to Rome and then to Brindisi. This one person was a rather beautiful woman who happened to be at the same bar we went to. Everyone knows everyone in this town. Gianvito at work knew most of the same people I know. Combine that with how this guy from Indiana runs into the only person he knows in town. I’ve never lived in a town like this so I never knew what it was like. It’s like I’m getting two experiences in one. Anyway, I think everyone had fun and tomorrow we have a more work to do so I’ll cut this off here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Parking 101

Here is where I parked the first night in Rome. If you look closely there is a skid of potates on the driver side that make it impossible to get in the car. That wasn't an accident. Posted by Hello

My First Miracle

This weekend I drove to Rome to play some Ultimate. I brought with me Pedro, Gianluca, and Stefano. The drive up was pretty uneventful with us arriving about midnight. The first thing we did was drive to Termini (thetrain station) to pick up Valeria (Pedro's girlfriend) because there wasn't room for her in the car for 5 hours. We then drove across town to the place where we were staying. Little did I know that in true Ultimate form we were staying in a small apartment with about 15 other people. BUT, it was a free room in Rome. It was about 2:00 AM by the time we found the place and no one was home. I parked in the only space available and the next morning I found the following sight (see photo above). My car had become part of the neighborhood fruit and vegetable store. After talking nicely to the owners of the store I was able to get out of that spot. Then I had to follow 2 cars as we zigzagged through Rome to the fields. We were split up maybe twice before we arrived and I was proud of my offensive driving which was needed to stay with them. We played Ultimate all day then it was the same desperate drive back to apartment. We went out for dinner and at this hour the streets were getting pretty busy and it was harder to stick together. It was ok because my confidence was growing. Dinner was an amazing thing in itself. We had the full meal for 15 euros (everything including wine, limoncello, caffe, dolce!) I have never come close to getting a deal like this in Rome. Somebody knew somebody because I know where the restaurant is but I know I can't get that deal myself. After dinner, traffic went from bad to worse. I thought we were heading back to the apartment but in fact we were heading to the Piazza Novona. So when they said find a place to park and we were in the middle of Rome at 11:30 PM I thought they must have been joking. They weren't and I got very angry because it really seemed impossible. After about an hour of squeezing through tiny streets and trying to run tourists down I finally squeezed my car on to a piece of open sidewalk and we had a short walk from the Piazza. I was still angry at this crazy idea when we met up with the rest of the crowd. All that work and all we did was throw Frisbee on the Piazza until about 2:00 AM. I will say that my anger slipped away pretty quick because there is something about throwing in the middle of city like that. Lori, Kent, and I threw there last year and it was just a blast for some odd reason. The other people in the piazza must have thought we were insane because for a while we doing a "mac line" (and not very well). Sunday we played some more Ultimate at the same place only in a light rain, which made the field nice and soft. In the end I arrived home at 1:30 AM Sunday night. I consider it a miracle that I did all that driving through some of the tightest situations ever(twice I had to use the passenger side door to get in and out of the car) and the car didn't get a new scratch. I feel like I at least deserve an Italian driver's license. I never committed so many moving violations in my life.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

All Saints Day

I don’t remember this day being very special but in Italy it is. The Italians never stop amazing me. November 1st is always “Ognissanti” or “All Saints Day” in Italy and a day off of work if it’s on a weekday (they don’t move their holidays to the closest Friday or Monday!). The focus of this holiday is remembering loved ones that have passed away. So on this Monday I was invited to Pedro’s house where the small town, Carpignano, has a huge festival to go along with the day. What a contrast. As I was leaving Brindisi I passed the cemetery and it was pretty early but the police were already out directing traffic and roping of areas to park for the crowds just starting to swell. I felt really moved by the respect they have for their loved ones. There were whole families going to pay tribute and remember. I know I’m going to appreciate my family more when I return to the States. When I arrived at Pedro’s house I realized this was a big lunch, but I didn’t know exactly how big. We walked to town and surveyed the scene. Vendors selling everything and I mean everything; pet shops, clothes, food, farm tools (I particularly liked looking at the equipment to harvest olives, there seems to be several ways to get them), toys, and on and on. After walking around for about 2 hours we finally bought some things needed for lunch castegna nuts, Parmesan cheese, and (of course) olives. When we got back there were 22 people (including myself) in a small 2-bedroom house. Sheer pandemonium. Everyone went about their chores and I just kind of watched and put out a plate here and moved things from here to there trying to stay out of the way. When the meal started I played it better than Daniele’s house and didn’t eat too much at first so I was better off in the long run. Wine out of bottles with no label and castegna nuts roasting over burning pinecones on the back porch, I wanted to have each and every one of you there with me. All this and I committed a horrible mistake. I took the battery out of my digital camera to charge it up and you guessed it. Realized this the moment I picked it up at his house and it was felt way too light. Only my mental images and a hope that I get a chance for something like this again. After dinner the 20s and 30s people went for a walk it was Pedro, myself, his brother, two of his 3 sisters, and one of the sister’s boyfriends. We walked down his street with low crumbling stone walls on either side. Pedro and I were throwing Frisbee between the olive trees. Me trying to impress Pedro’s sisters (yes I know Frisbee skills rarely, ok, never impress the ladies), and Pedro was showing off the fact that he knows someone who is crazier about the Frisbee then him. I think his parents were happy to see this affliction is worldwide. After a short walk we went back for desert, which included the famous pasticciotto. It’s hard to explain and this post is long enough already so I’ll save that for another day. In the end it was the contrast between the sadness of remembrance and joy of what you have, now. You could say it’s their Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Taglia di Zucca

Happy Halloween! I found a pumpkin here so I made the traditional Jack-o-lantern. The zucce (pumpkins) here arn't made for carving. This walls are too thick. I could only do the most basic shapes. I also need some pumpkin recipes. This thing cost 10 euros so I plan to eat it after tonight. Posted by Hello


Bring me my coffee, it’s time to wake the dead

“Coffee Song” by Gordon Bonham Blues Band

I think I have officially joined the millions addicted to coffee. Before I moved to Italy I had never drank a cup of coffee. I didn’t even like the smell, but at work it was hard to keep explaining this every time everyone went to get coffee. Eventually I was having one a day, and it was a cappuccino (frothy milk and sugar to kill the taste of the coffee). Then 2 in the morning and now I’ve added 1 in the afternoon. Cappuccino has given way to coffee and sugar only (of course you can’t have a cappuccino in the afternoon, anyway, it's morning drink they say). Now the final straw, I have bought a Bialetti Moka Express coffee machine to make my own on the weekends (I had been going out for it). This machine is so simple and ALL Italians agree that it is THE machine for home coffee brewing. So I have been completely assimilated into the Italian coffee drinking world.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Waving Lollipops

I haven’t blogged in a while so here’s a little update. Right outside my window the Polizia have set up a little checkpoint. If you haven’t been to Italy (I think some other European countries are like this too) then you haven’t seen how the police will stand by the side of the road and wave a big lollipop at you. They have this white wand with red on one side and green on the other. And it’s just best described as a big lollipop. When they want you to pull over they wave the red side at you and point to the curb. I’ve never been pulled over by the police so I don’t know what they are doing. If you’re not speeding then you’re in the way of everyone else. And most street signs and lane markings are just keeping the place looking orderly. It seems like whom they stop is a pretty random thing. Now, I have been pulled over by the Guardia di Finanza. I call them the “Finance Police” but they are really more about customs and I guess fraud. The guy who stopped me just checked my truck to make sure I wasn’t carrying drugs or something illegal. Considering it was 2:00 AM and a deserted highway, I guess he had a right to think I might be trying to ship something illegal. Of course, who stands by the side of deserted highway at 2:00 AM waving a big lollipop. In his defense he did also have a small automatic machine gun if the lollipop didn’t work. So you have to take these guys seriously and thenl I saw their gunboats and armored personnel carriers. The Finance Police are pretty tough, all this hardware and they also check receipts, even for something as small as an ice cream cone you must get a receipt, which reminds me. I need to go get a gelato. Ciao.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Urchin News

Well it’s Sunday evening so routine dictates a blog. Latest things since Friday… More Ultimate, Pedro organized a practice yesterday. I’ve never been so excited to do drills. It was great. There were two new kids with some height, which was good to see. One of them seems to have a good sense for the game already. Also there was a little kid with good throws that could be a natural handler. It seems the class in Lecce will happen, yeah, but as the Italians say “presto detto” (easier said than done). Pedro now is trying to work out the day and time and the other specifics. More on this later.
I’m watching the calcio highlights and Lecce has won again! 4 to 1 over Messina! They are second in Series A, which is incredible since they were near the bottom at the end of last year. Someday I’ll say that about the Bengals, but I won’t hold my breath. Today I won, by finding a sea urchin at the sea for my tank. It wasn’t easy to catch especially for something that moves so slowly, but now I have a big black sea urchin for the tank. Most Italians would eat this guy but I would rather watch him in the tank. Maybe I’ll but up a photo later. That’s all for now.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Live Music Night

Here is Municipale Balcanica. Now, I counted 9 people in the band but you can only see 5 of them here. Posted by Hello

Balkan Music

Another concert at the Big Ben and it seems worthy of writing about. No, I didn’t get drunk this time and I still had a great time. This week it was a band called “Municipale Balcanica” which means Balkan Government, I think. For people in Indianapolis just imagine a band like “Polka Boy” only from Yugoslavia and they stick to “their” music. No singing just horns and drums and at a pretty hectic pace. The place was more crowded than I have ever seen and complete strangers were talking to me like they never have in past. Maybe my Italian is getting better or maybe it was the festive atmosphere. I have a picture of the band this time and I’ll put it up. Allessandro was telling me that only the Big Ben has bands like this. Other places don’t have live music from other areas. I still have to admit that the crowd was the most unusual I’ve seen. I mean this because Italians do tend to look alike down here and I think even they will admit it. But this group had more piercings, tattoos, dreadlocks, and less mainstream clothes. I don’t think a single guy was wearing a green and yellow shirt that said “Brazile” on it. Unbelievable , I know.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Zucchini and a Meeting of the Minds

The “Meeting of the Minds” refers to Pedro and myself. Today I met with Pedro to talk about the Beach Ultimate Frisbee Tournament he runs here in the south every year called Pasticciotto. He has already made a good start and seems to have everything under control so I started this webpage to let everyone know what was going on:

He amazed me even more as the University of Lecce (about 30 minutes away) may offer a course in Ultimate this winter. Pedro is meeting with the president of the university on Friday. If successful then Lecce would be only the second university in Italy have a team. Bologna is the only university that has a team right now. I would like to help him but he seems to know what he’s doing. He had the president of University of Bologna call the president of University of Lecce to tell him how the team has worked out well and all the positive aspects. If this works out then I will have a place to go, practice Ultimate, and help out with the new team. This would be incredible. Pedro himself may move to Lecce but not until September of next year, so I would help out with the team and he would continue with SalentoDisc until he moves. All good news!
The other topic of this is zucchini. I went overboard at the farmer’s market this morning. I think the price of san marzano tomatoes is at it’s lowest (1 euro for 3 kilograms!) so I bought too many tomatoes and the zucchini looked great so I went overboard there too. Now the tomatoes I can make into sauce and freeze but the zucchini I don’t know how to store for a long time so I’ll be eating them all the time for the next few days.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Delete this later

Well it's rather late and I'll be interested to read this tomorrow. Tonight I went to the Big Ben Pub and much to my delight the rockest blues band in Brindisi was playing. This three man band is just bass, drums, and lead guitar and I'm not sure they have a name. I gather from the groupies (about 12) that this guy is probably the best guitarist in Brindisi. I will say he seemed pretty dam good and I'm pretty sure it's not the beer talking, but I could be wrong. He did very clean guitar solos and I was particularly taken with their version of "Hey Joe" unfortunately they really couldn't sing but this problem was solved when someone from the crowd joined theme for a song or two. With this band brought a crowd of people that meant that Daniele ("e" means a guy) and Octavio needed help. This meant Daniela ("a" female) was working for the first time since the Big Ben opened after the summer. For some odd reason I saw it as a good time hit on her for most of the night. NOW I know she has a boyfriend, although I would saw that too I think with how I was acting. Daniele and I were "moshing" at some point to blues. Anyway it's getting later and I had a good night. It's hard to believe my 33rd birthday is right around the corner. Maybe that had some influence. That and the monumental agreement we made at work the other day. I hope I don't throw up later....

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Second Place

Here is the second place winner. This is a lantana flower on my balcony. The bush was covered in them until a windy day made most of the flowers "imperfect" except this one. This plant has done well over the summer. I have even seen humming bird moths visiting it from time to time. I hope it makes it through Christmas without me around to water it. Posted by Hello

Fish Picture Winner

Here's the winner of the picture contest. I saw this fish Sunday morning while at the Torre Gauceto park. I believe this is the same species of fish that I have in my tank except the one in my tank is much smaller and doesn't show the colors that this one has. Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Sunday Ramblings

Well it’s a slow Sunday afternoon so I thought I would add a little from things I did or noticed this weekend. Saturday afternoon I went for a run. I go from my apartment up the Via Appia to a park. I do 3 laps around the park and then come back. For the most part it’s a quiet easy run if you go between 1 and 4 when no cars are on the road. I also marvel at the stores as I go. A couple of interesting things I pass are a prison and a butcher shop that specializes in horsemeat. Now the prison isn’t that obvious. It could be a police station or other military post but I translated the writing on it and it’s a prison. The butcher shop with horsemeat also reminds me that I have had horse at least twice that I know of so far. It seems pretty good, nothing special, certainly too good to be dog food.
Speaking of food. Is the Atkins diet still the rage in the US? I hope not. Look at Italy. These people live on the ANTI-Atkins diet. Pasta, pasta, bread, cheese, and coffee and yet they are a lot thinner than Americans. I could only say that it’s because they get out and walk around, every night. I think we Americans have to build our cities in ways that we can walk from place to place or something. I can’t stand the idea of us as a nation being fatter in the future. I won’t have it!
Enough ranting. On a lighter note, maybe this is a positive difference between Italy and the US. I heard a song on the radio that sounded kind of familiar. Now I know why, it’s Duran Duran with a new album out and they have a song in the top 5 over here. Please tell me this isn’t happening in the US. Another song that I like is from REM’s new album, the song is “Leaving New York” and it’s getting a lot play here. So we have positive and negatives to every side.
I’m going to try a poll here. Let me know if you would like the next picture I post to be either:
A) a close up of a lantana flower on my balcony or
B) a picture of a fish I saw this morning while poking around in the sea.
Vote by Wednesday for it to count.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Ostuni sunset

Here is another photo for everyone. This town is Ostuni which is called "La Città Bianca". It's about 30 minutes north of me and it's a perfect place to watch the sun go down. I was trying to top the photo I took from this very spot when Lori and Kent were here, but I don't think I have. I still like the photo. I also know the way to this spot without driving all over town now. Someday I hope to get up early and get a sunrise shot because I bet it looks great with the first light hitting the buildings on the hill. Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Jeff back in Puglia

Well I'm back at home after visiting most of the great Greek temples located in Sicily. It was nice to see Laura again and kid around with Americans. I'm sorry but my humor is lost on Italians, but I'm working on that. On the way back here I passed Mt. Etna at night. I saw an incredible sight of lava glowing orange down the side of the mountain. Unfortunately, it seemed everytime I could stop on the Autostrada there wasn't a clear view for a picture. I hope to have another chance later, but it was a very eerie sight. It didn't surprise me to see this because I read about such things on: . Just click on the "breaking news" and it tells you everything that is happening with volcanoes around the world. Right now it's covering Mt. St. Helens more than what you read in the news.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Selinunte Group Photo

This is a group photo at Selinunte. The kids from Alabama weren't "templed out" yet, but there was more in store as we hadn't been to Agrigento yet. Posted by Hello

Welcome to Sciacca

Cousin Laura and I pose for a photo because this is town our grandmother's parents were from. We drove through town but evidently it's a one way town because before we knew it we were through. Then we had to catch up with her group. I didn't see anyone that could be a relative...Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Palermo and Cousin

The last post was written last night. Today I walked to the top of the rock that Cefalu (Salute) is named for. It was a tough hike with legs were aching on the trip down. The town is also very nice but a little touristy.
A short drive to Palermo and now I'm at the Hotel Moderno waiting for my cousin to arrive and I'm hiding from the midday sun. It's only really hot in the sun. In the shade or with a breeze and it's fine, so I'll relax a little and wait for the shadows to get a little longer before heading out. I'm tempted to put some photos up but I don't want to be on the computer that long. I just like the idea of using my wireless internet card to bog from almost anywhere I go. Technology is so cool... When it works...

Jeff not in Puglia

I’m writing this from Cefalù. Excuse me. Doesn’t this town sound a little like a sneeze? Actually it’s a neat town on the north coast of Sicily and Cefalù is greek or latin for head. This relates to the town because there is a big rock behind it that could look like a head at the right angle. How did I get here? By driving, a lot. It was fun except for a few things. I didn’t like being stuck behind the pig trucks on the A3. They smell bad and I think I was stuck behind 2 different trucks through 2 construction zones. Shouldn’t these pigs be headed to Parma to be made into ham? Then I learned that the A20 doesn’t go all the way to Palermo. I wouldn’t have minded but it added time to the end of the trip, which is always the last thing you want to do. You think you’re almost there and the road ends. Instead of cruising at 140 km/hr you’re stuck behind a bus going 40 km/hr. Splitting headache. Time for a pizza and beer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Spaceshipone DAM GOOD JOB!

Hey, I'm an aerospace engineer so I would be crazy not to throw something in my bog about how excited I am with the success of Burt Rutan and his rocketship. Finally someone is doing something new and exciting. I'm a little upset because here in Italy they are showing Roberto Benini on the news. Please tell me they are going to say something about this historic event. I'm already saving my money for the day I can go into space. I saw a little of the flight on the web and they had a guy from The Guiness Book of World Records there. He said exactly what I feel. When I was a kid and I dreamed of going into space but in the last 10 to 15 years I've been getting more cynical that nothing is going to happen, until now. This is not some giant government effort. This is a guy, one guy, that got Paul Allen to give him some money (yeah 25 million) to do something we seemed to have forgot we could do. Invent something new!!!! Take a look at Burt Rutan's company website and see some of the other things he has done and continues to do: . I'm excited and I can't wait for the next flight.... And my own flight!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Nice Boat

Here is a great boat that happens to be in harbor tonight. I feel a little sick but nothing keeps you from getting the picture (and a gelato). Check out the full moon right between the masts. I really like this shot and I hope you do too. Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Shopping for a New Garage

Today I went shopping for a garage. Isn't that exciting. The garages near me were supposed to be done in November of 2003 but, hey, there was no hurry. All this led up to today when I was able to stroll around and pick the garage that best suited me. In the end I picked number 12. It's just a little wider then the next best one. I've scraped the car a few times trying to get into the current garage (which is actually my landlords, I was just borrowing it) so I was looking for the widest one I could get. It's sad that my next guests won't get to see the great maneuvering I have to do these days.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

No Stress Band

One more photo today. This is out front of the main duomo in town. This is the "No Stress Band" playing some swing and big band music for the slightly older generation. No, this doesn't happen everyday it was part of the festival to celebrate the town saints, San Teodoro and San Lorenzo. Posted by Hello

Big Ben Pub

Here we are at the Big Ben Pub. A damn good place for a beer. Can I say that? Daniele is moving too fast for my slow exposure shot but that's what makes this shot so good. I think I'll go tonight for a drink. Posted by Hello

Looking out my window

This is where the Via Appia enters the old part of town. This picture is taken from my apartment window. There is a webcam across the street so you can see what's happening right now!!! Just click here: Posted by Hello

End of the Via Appia

This is where the Via Appia ends at the sea. Only one of the two columns is intact. The rest of the other is said to be in Lecce but that's another story. Also there is a very good place for gelato near here, called "Bar Betty". Posted by Hello

Via Appia and Brindisi

One of the most interesting things about Brindisi is it's history. The ancient road Via Appia went from Rome to here and was finished in 190 B.C. What makes it so incredible is all the art, history, and ideas that traveled down this road from Greece to Rome. This was part of the main passage from Athens to Rome (and still is today for some). The photos with this post show the Via Appia today. Enough with the history lesson.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Weekend Fun thanks to Southern Italian Hospitality

This weekend very interesting. I went out Saturday night with a new friend at work and his wife. That alone might not sound so great but there was also with us was another married couple and TWO single women about my age. I don't need to spell out what that was all about. Now my Italian is still not very good and neither of these young ladies spoke English so on one side is was great (as they both seemed very beautiful and interesting) and on the other side it was horrible (so tough to communicate). We had a simple night of pizza, beer, and gelato in Lecce. Afterwards it's very interesting to look back on it, at the time it seemed so difficult. I can't say too much about it as I plan to go out with one of the women again and I don't want to write anything I'll regret. Maybe I'll update this story as it progresses. We'll leave it at that.

Another Item for the blog was spending Sunday with this same new friend his wife and few other people (some from work). It was just like you imagine a Sunday afternoon in Southern Italy. We went to the store for wine (we even had farmers bringing in grapes outside as we were buying wine inside) then back to his house for meal that his wife made that took probably 3 hours to eat. Everything we had I liked (although I didn't eat the dish with green peppers). I didn't have dinner that night and I barely felt like having breakfast the next day. It could have served as a Thanksgiving dinner. After lunch we headed the sea (at about 5:30 PM) and to my delight I had 5 people to throw Frisbee with (the others watched and took care of the one toddler along for the fun). This blog is for friends and family so you know how much I appreciated having people to throw with. All of them showed improvement just in the time we were on the beach. An element of risk was added when a stray dog thought the Frisbee was meant for him and he proceeded to attempt to steal it for a good 20 minutes. When it finally got too dark to throw we strolled around the temporary vendors that were setup to make some sales before the weather gets cooler. Then we had the necessary gelato, but no one was thinking about dinner. All in all it was a great day. I would have to say one of best experiences in Italy so far. One I will not forget.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Valley of the Temples

Temple of Concordia in Agrigento, this is in the south western part of Sicily. In this area there are the remains of 9 Greek Temples and other ruins. It is an incredible sight that I'm amazed that I never heard of it in history class. Do you like this "foliage framed shot" with the olive tree? I love this type of shot so you'll see more like it in the future.Posted by Hello

Me at Pompeii

I usually don't like pictures of myself but Doreen caught me off guard with this one and I like it for some reason. Unfortunately the Ray Bans have disappeared. Posted by Hello

First Post

As this is the first post it is more of a test of the setup. I've been in Itay for a year now before starting this blog so I guess I will attempt to update you on all the things that I have done as time permits. Right now I'm watching a TV show about a Tharros in Sardinia. I was just there a few weeks ago. More on this all later.