About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Roman Ruins in Peril

This news article caught my attention, since we will be heading towards Rome on Friday: Nero's Palace

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Monday

It's a beautiful Monday morning in Vedano. It was a little tough waking up. Those of you in the US have a two week jump on the rest of the world with daylight savings time. I wonder why the US has to be different from the rest of the world?

I had a great bike ride this morning, heading to Lurago di Erba and back. I made the 40km roundtrip with my fastest time yet, a whole 15 minutes faster!!! It makes me wonder what I was doing all those other days? Or, what was so different about today?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010


We woke up to a sunny and warm spring day in Vedano. Katrina had to leave early for her driving exam. She actually took her drivers test today! I asked to her do a 'guest' blog about her experience, so I will leave the details to her.

Katrina arrived back home around 9:30, about the same time Mike showed up at our place. We were all heading to Brescia today.

Brescia is an industrial city located about 1 hour east of Milano. It is the capitol of the Lombardian province. It is less famous for its history and art than for its role as a primary manufacturing center. The large factories produce weapons, including the famous Beretta pistols, and cutlery and kitchen accessories. This industry had brought tremendous wealth to the city that it has expanded beyond its boundries to the point of creating an entirely second city with a very unimaginative name - Brescia 2. They didn't even use "Brescia Nuovo" (New Brescia).

Brescia 2, the name gave us all a good laugh.

Once in Brescia, we parked and walked towards the old city center. We love to wander the streets, look at the architecture, the shops and watch people.

For the motorcycles fans, I spotted this one parked on a side street.

Quick break in a piazza.

Brandon and I were hungry, so we found a small restaurant on a side street and had lunch. Mike had a pizza. Brandon had pasta con pomodoro. Katrina and I tried some true Bresciano food - canoncelli, homemade tortellini with beef, served with burro vesato (dropped butter), sage, and Parmigiana. Very rich, but very tasty.

Ok, this picture proves that food photography is an art form all on its own. The dish was very tasty and so much better than the photo portrays.

Brandon and Mike having one of their usual conversations related to science. I think this one was about how nuclear reactors work.

After lunch we wandered through town a bit more, deciding to make our way towards the castello. Along the way we discovered a few very interesting finds.

Happy boy!

Interesting architectural elements

Up a narrow lane we found this building. The architecture was amazing, a combination of 'modern' building with 2000 year old Roman ruins. I'm inpressed with how they incorporated the ruins into the building, and even more impressed that they didn't just level the ruins to make way for the building.

The Roman building was once the Roman basilica that formed the southern end of the forum. The single large rectangular hall was used for various forms of business and administration of the city. In "Brixia" the basilica was both a symbol of independence and imposing power.

Around the corner from the basilica ruins is the piazza with more Roman ruins. When Brescia was under Roman rule, the square was the center of political, religious and commercial life. The forum dates to the first century of the christian era. It was surrounded by the Capitoline Temple and the basilica.

Small part of the Forum ruins

The Capitoline Temple was raised in 73-74 after Christ on top of the remains of the sanctuary dating back to the period of the Roman Republic. It was then demolished between the 5th and 6th centuries and buried due to a landslide. In the first decade of the 19th century a renovation plan was initiated with excavation and restoration works.

Narrow streets of Brescia

We made our way up the steep streets and paths to the castello. Dating to pre-Roman times and last fortified by the Venetian overlords of the 16th century, the city's stronghold houses museums of armory and of the Risorgimento - Italy's first struggles with independence and unification. The castle also offers fantastic views of the Alps and the city of Brescia.

Remnants of Venetian power, the Venetian Lion

Does anyone remember, from previous castello posts, what this is?

View of Brescia and the Alps

Taking a break and enjoying the view...and the beautiful weather.

Katrina spotted his doorway. Apparently there is a model train club in one of the lower rooms of the castle. Unfortunately, it is only open to the public on Sunday afternoons. I may need to make a trip back to Brescia.

We also found this old steam locomotive in one of the castle gardens.

After walking all around the castle, we made our way back down to the city. Brandon and I wanted to check out a hobby shop we spotted earlier. It had a lot of interesting things on the shelves, but nothing I really wanted to take home. It's still fun to browse occasionally.

We found the old Roman ampitheater on a side street near the model shop.

It was nearing 4pm and we were getting tired from all the walking. Our last two goals for the day were to find the Duomo Nuovo and Vecchio, and find some gelato. We managed to find both on the way back to the car.

The Duomos stand side by side. The big church is the new Duomo, built 150 years ago, with the third largest dome in Italy. The old Duomo is pre-renaisance, had a massive stone dome and 12th century crusifixes.

New and old Duomos side by side

Inside the new Duomo

Italian flag

Brescia comes alive after lunch. There really wasn't anyone out before lunch.

We found gelato then headed for home, a car full of tired sightseers. Mike ended up having dinner with us - burritos and spanish rice.

I love these day trips. They take us to new and interesting places with cool old towns, castles and food.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Train Blog

I know I don't post nearly enough train related blogs or pictures for my friends at the CSME, but I do what I can.

Last week I was driving through Linate when I spotted this interesting scene. Thank goodness for roundabouts. I was able to do an easy U-turn and backtrack to take pictures.

It's an old wood boxcar on a steel frame. It looks like it has hatches for ice on top, but it was hard to tell from the ground. The trailer it is sitting on was interesting. Notice that it has tires on the outside and in the middle of the trailer.


Its a rainy drizzly day in Vedano.

Several people have been mentioning a sporting goods store called Decathlon, so I thought I would go check it out. What a great store! It's kind of like a Walmart for sporting goods. They don't necessarily have big brand name goods, but they have Italian goods and great prices for every sport you can think of, recreational or competitive. I found some great fitting cycling jerseys and some hiking pants for Brandon (the light weight pants that zip off into shorts).

I spent a good part of the afternoon trying to come up with a plan for our Croatia - Slovenia road trip at the end of June. To hit all that we want to see, time it with a couple of the ferries we need to take and be able to get home in time has been a bit of a puzzle. I think I have a basic plan figured out. Hopefully all the details (hotels specifically) will fall into place.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Back To School

Brandon is healthy and ready to go back to school today.

It's a drizzly morning in Vedano, and it feels very humid. I have windows for some fresh air but it feels sticky.

I had a meeting at school this morning. It's time once again to start planning for the school residential trips. Last year Brandon's class spend two nights in a castle near the Po River in the Piedmont region of Italy.

This year they will be going into the Alps, just west of Torino. They will spend their time working on maps, orienteering, making treasure maps, learning about the ecology, hiking, canoeing and more. Brandon had a blast last year. He is really looking forward to this year.

I spent the afternoon working in Brandon's classroom. Instead of listening to them read, Ms Partridge had me play a game with different groups. It's a board game about recycling. Here are two questions: 1)The energy it takes to produce one aluminum soda can is equal to the production of how many recycled soda cans - 10, 20, or 30? 2) When you open the refridgerator door for 1 minute, how long does the compressor need to run to return the refridgerator to its proper temperature - 1, 2, or 3 minutes? The answers can be found at the end of this blog entry.

It's finally spring in northern Italy. Apparently is arrives much later than it does in Corvallis, Oregon. The trees are full of buds and some are starting to grow leaves. Brandon and I spotted a row of daffodils blooming along our walk home from school today.

Answers: 1) 20 recycled cans, 2) 3 minutes

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sick Boy, Day 3

Brandon is home from school again today. He is feeling much better and his fever is gone, but he needs to stay home for 24 hours after his fever breaks - school rules. He should be going back to school tomorrow.

I spent a good part of the day working on details for our Rome trip. We leave on April 2nd, spend two nights in Pergia, two nights in Orvieto, and 5 nights in Rome. It's shaping up to be a great trip.

Although Brandon is feeling better and will be back in school tomorrow, we postponed his birthday party until after spring break.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sick Boy, Day 2

Brandon was still sick last night, so he is home again today. I sure hope he gets better. His birthday party is scheduled for Thursday after school.

Katrina had another driving lesson this morning, so Brandon and I dropped her off and went hunting for a thermometer - termometro in Italian. Ours died a sudden death last night.

It is election season in Italy. From what I understand, the elections are regional, not national. All the markets, piazzas and public areas seem to have booths or posters or people handing out fliers. Elections will be held on April 2 & 3. Public schools will be closed, since that is where the voting stations are located.

Vote, Vote, Vote!

Brandon is still not feeling well this evening. We can't seem to his temperature to go below 100f - about 38c. He will be home from school for a third day tomorrow. Tomorrow is the deadline for cancelling his birthday bowling party. I think we will be postponing it. At this point it will probably take place after spring break since we (and many of the school families) will be travelling.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sick Boy

We woke up to cloudy and rainy skies again. At least the daytime temps have been in the 50's.

Brandon went to bed early last night with a 101 temperature. This morning he woke up and still had a temperature around 100, so he stayed home from school.

We spent the day watching cartoons and a movie. I fit some housework in as well.

This afternoon Brandon still had a 100 degree temperature, so he took a cool shower. He was aweful quiet as I work on hanging the laundry. This is how I found him.

I guess tomorrow is going to be another day home from school.

Brandon the Street Performer

Brandon and I spotted this street performer near the Duomo near Milano. There are many street performers who dress up as statues, but we thought this guy was unique and interesting, so Brandon gave him a few coins. The next thing Brandon knew, he was being turned into a statue. He played along really well and the crowd loved it.

I'm sorry about the sideways shot. I turned my camera sideways to film(I should know not to do that!!) I found a way to rotate the video, but then it won't load onto Blogger. So, here is the sideways video. Our neck muscles need some occasional stretching anyways. Enjoy, it makes me smile each time I watch it.

Ok, here is a new version I just added. I think it's a bit better

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekly Count

48 Week Gelati Count: 202
48 Week Wine Bottle Count: 55


It's a cloudy Sunday morning in Vedano. The forecast is calling for rain showers throughout the day.

Katrina has decided she wants to head into Milan to see and art exhibit. I'm torn between just hanging out at home or heading into Milan with her. Hmmmm???

We ended up heading into Milan via the Metro. Brandon and I got off the Metro at Porta Venezia. Katrina rode a few more stops to the Duomo. She wanted to visit a Goya exhibit. Brandon and I were in search of a hobby shop I found on Google maps.

Brandon enjoys a Germen 'Bretzel' while we head down into the Metro

We exited the Metro and had to jump on streetcar #5. Once we got to the correct stop, we couldn't find the hobby shop because the navigator (Brandon) left the directions at home on the table. We looked around for a couple of blocks then ended up backtracking on the streetcar and Metro to the Duomo to meet Katrina.

Typical snack stand in Piazza di Duomo

Its a drizzly day in Milano

Brandon enjoys some Frutti di Bosco gelato

Piazza di Duomo

Brandon loves finding these maps in the cities we visit.

These are public bikes that you can pay to use and ride all around Milano. There are bike racks like this all over Milano.

We wandered around for awhile until Katrina was finished, then headed back home.

Its been a drizzly day in Milano. It's getting warmer each week, but I could use a little more sunshine.