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, November 30, 2010


It's Tuesday.  On Tuesday mornings I volunteer in the ISM Transition (preschool) class.  Most of the time Ms Partridge has me reading with the children.  It's quite a bit different than reading with 5th graders. 

5th graders read to me so that they can practice their English, and their reading skills.  In Transition, I read to the children one on one, if there are words in the book.  Then we work on telling the story ourselves.  The children are getting pretty good at this and seem to enjoy it.  I know I do.

I drove Katrina to work today.  She had a late work related dinner and thought it would be easier to catch a ride home. 

After school I took Brandon to the toy store.  He had some money saved up and wanted to buy a space set - some figures, Apollo ships and a Space Shuttle.  They just finished a unit on space and he's all excited.

With sadness we leave November behind.  This was our last November in Italy and it was a good one.  My parents visited at the beginning of the month.  We also had a fantastic Thanksgiving with friends.  I guess all I can say is...bring on December. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

C'è Sole

It's sunny!  We woke up to 3 degrees celcius and sunny skies this morning.  It's Monday again.  While today is a quiet day for me, the rest of the week is looking to be fairly busy.  I have my usual volunteering time in Transition, grade 2 and grade 5 this week.  I also have my weekly meeting with Mr. P, as well as a class rep meeting.  Friday is a half day of school and we, the class reps, are again offering a movie day.  This time we will be showing Toy Story 3.  Plus, on Wednesday Katrina's mother will be arriving from the US.  We are taking her to Naples with us on Saturday, so we also have vacation planning to get done. 

I spent a good part of the morning doing laundry, catching up on PAB issues and organizing. I then spent most of the afternoon working on details for our Naples trip and future trips. 

I still cannot get used to the early darkness.  At 5pm it was totally dark.  I can't wait for longer days. 

I made pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs for dinner tonight.   

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekly Count

83 Week Gelati Count:  308
83 Week Wine Bottle Count:  103

Domenica in Casa

Sunday at home.  Its a cloudy, cold and rainy Sunday in Vedano.  We had our big Thanksgiving dinner yesterday with friends, so today we are hanging out at home:  relaxing, cleaning up after yesterday, watching TV, reading and playing on the computer. 

Katrina's Mom arrives on Wednesday afternoon.  Then on Saturday we fly to Napoli.  We will be staying in Sorrento for a week, with day trips to Naples, Pompeii, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. 

We normally setup the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.  We setup the tree and decorated the house.  This year we have 0 'generic' ornaments.  They didn't even make it out of the box.  We managed to fill up the tree with ornaments from our trips all over Europe.  We definitely need a much larger tree next year when we are back in Corvallis.

This evening we had Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner and watched the second Harry Potter movie.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Saturday

We are having our Thanksgiving dinner today.  We have 7 friends coming over, so we will end up with 10 people when we sit down to eat. 

We woke up at 7am to clear sunny skies and a temperature of -.8 C.  Brrr.  At 10am it made it to 0 C, with a high of 2 C today. 

Katrina and Brandon worked on the stuffing while I ran to the store for a few things we needed. 

Our friends Paul, Karine and Sebi were the first to arrive.  We quickly set out the chips, veggies, salsa, and humus they brought and started munching.  They also brought some beer, wine and two types of brownies for dessert. 

Mike showed up next.  He brought cranberry relish, mashed potatoes and wine. 

Fabio, Cristina and Federica arrived soon after Mike.  They brought some wine and a spinach dish for dinner. 

The turkey smelled really good.  We had a few power outages during the afternoon.  Trying to cook multiple items is difficult under normal circumstances.  With the power situation here in Italy, its more challenging.  Each time Katrina turned on the water boiler or the microwave, the power went out.  I think this happened about 3 or 4 times.  We managed and the turkey was taken out of the over around 3:30pm.  Then it was time to 'reheat' the potatoes, spinach casserole, and the stuffing, as well as make gravy.  Paul made an excellent gravy. 

We finally ate around 4pm.  It was delicious and so much fun to have everyone to enjoy it with.  We all ate until we were stuffed, and as Katrina commented, "feeling comatose".  Everything was good.  The turkey was juicy.  The stuffing was savory.  The spinach casserole was very popular.  The mashed potatoes were excellent. 

Katrina made some excellent pumpkin pie and with homemade whipped cream.  I can say it was excellent because I don't normally like pumpkin pie.  It was great.  We also enjoyed quite a few brownies.  The 'blondies' were the best.  Karine made the brownies. 

We all hung out and chatted for awhile before it was time to go home.  Mike ended up sticking around to watch a movie with us.  We watched the first Harry Potter movie, which he had not seen. 

Our second and last Thanksgiving in Italy was fantastic.  Great food and great friends to share it with.  My only dissappointment for the day is that I didn't take more pictures.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ha Nevicato la Scorsa Notte

It snowed last night!  We woke up to a dusting of snow and 1 degree celcius.  Cold!   We didn't know if Brandon's school field trip would be cancelled or not, but no messages this mornig, so off he went to catch the bus.  Grades 3 - 5  are went into Milan to see an orchestra perform. 

I ran a few errands in the morning, stopping at the Macellaria to pickup our turkey - 6.4 kilos/14.1lbs for 7 adults and 3 children.  I also stopped at the post office and the supermarket.  The snow kept coming down in big flakes, mostly melting on impact.  They are big wet flakes.  I think its wetter than when it rains!

I spent a good part of the afternoon working on hotel plans and reservations for our Madrid / Lisbon trip in January.  Now I need to make plans for a weekend trip to London.  Yes, we hope to go back to London for a few days.  Our time to freely travel in Europe is beginning to run out.  We have so much we want to see. 

This evening Katrina and Brandon made two pumpkin pies for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.  Last night Katrina made cranberries.  Tomorrow we do the rest. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm Thankful For on This Thanksgiving Day

I am thankful for my family.  I'm thankful for my wife, Katrina.  She's the love of my life.  She's smart, beautiful, creative, talented and fun to be with.  We've been together for 17 years.  We had ups and downs, but I still love her as much as I did the day I asked her to marry me.

I'm thankful for my son, Brandon.  He's awesome!  He's so smart...smarter than me is so many ways.  He's creative and goofy.  He's a kind and generous kid who cares about the world around him.  And he thinks I'm a better Dad than I sometimes feel. 

I'm thankful for this opportunity to live in Italy.  Its been a fantastic, rewarding, eye opening experience so far.  It's also been challenging, tiring, and annoying at times.  We've seen so much in such a short time.  Since we arrived, we have visited:  Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, France, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Monaco, and Bosnia (for 30 km).  In Italy we have visited:  Venice, Torino, Como, Bergamo, Verona, Genova, Cinque Terre, the Dolomites, Milao, Rome and so many more I can't even think of right now.  I've been able to see the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, and the Tour d'Suisse.  We've been sledding in the Alps, drank beer in beer gardens and at Oktoberfest.  We've been up the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower and many other bell towers. We've seen so much, and we have plans to visit:  Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Sorrento, Lisbon Portugal, Madrid Spain, Siscily, Greece and Norway before we move home. 

We have had the oppotunity to experience daily life in Italy.  Paying bills at the post office.  Wearing plastic gloves to buy produce.  Finding Skippy peanut butter in the milk section.  We've eaten amazing produce.  Had the best pizzas in the world.  Met friends for coffee at the neighborhood bars.  Enjoyed each of the seasons here in Italy.  Its been wonderful and fantastic.  Its been challenging and hard.  It's been the opportunity of a lifetime. 

I am thankful for Tasha:   Tasha was our golden retriever.  She passed away a few months ago at the age of 13, due to health problems.  I remember the evening we picked her up, when she was only 8 weeks old.  She was the runt of the litter.  We could actually hold her in the palm of our hand, she was so tiny.

She loved everyone and everyone loved her.  She never, ever was aggressive with anyone, but was very protective of Brandon when he was a baby.  She was also very patient, as Brandon would use her long hair as a hand hold to pull himself up when he was learning to stand.  She never nipped or growled at him one time.  She made an impression on everyone who loved her, and she definitely felt a connection with certain family members - Mom and Rob were favorites.

When we were preparing to move to Italy, we knew we could not bring her with us.  It would be too hard on her and on us.  She was getting old.  My sister Heather and her husband Rob offered to give her a home, even though they knew I would want her back when we returned.  As I just mentioned, Rob was one of her favorite people.  Offering their home to Tasha relieved an enormous amount of stresss for me.  I knew she would be loved.  She became part of their family, along with their golden Rizzo.

Unfortunately, her health problems increased in the last year.  Finally, this fall after she could no longer stand or walk on her own, she was put to sleep.  Makes me cry  just writing this.  She was my buddy...my pupster who always wanted to be near me.  I miss you Tasha...thanks for your love and companionship.

I am thankful for family and friends.  Although we are often far from family and friends, I think about all of you often.  What is life without people you can rely on, share your life with, and just hang out with.  I look forward to returning to Corvallis and getting together with friends again.

I am also thankful for the new friends we have made here in Italy.  Most of them are from school.  I've really enjoyed meeting you, hanging out with you, sharing travel tips, sitting at birthday parties, sharing coffee, and sharing our cultures.  You have opened up a whole world of cultures to us.

I am thankful for many small things.   Coca Cola.  You may be bad for me but you taste oh so good - especially here in Italy where they they use real sugar. 

I am thankful for finding mosaics.  I really enjoy it and hope to keep working on new projects.

I am thankful for a break from model railroading.  Not working on model trains has renewed my enthusiasm to do so when we return home. 

I am thankful for the Italian cycling culture.  Its amazing!  I wish there was such a love for the sport in the US as there is here.  I also wish there was as much driver respect for cyclists as there is here in Italy.  I am also thankful for my Italian Pinarello carbon fiber road bike. 

I am thankful for pizza.  The greatest gift the Italians gave the world.  Love it, love it, love it!

I am thankful for gelato.  Love it!  Especially Bacio. 

I am thankful for Parco di Monza, one of the best city parks I have ever seen. 

I am thankful for this blog.  I love writing this blog and sharing our lives with all of you.  I hope its been interesting so far, at least most of the time. 

I am thankful for life...it is GOOD!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Prep and Gift Baskets

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day today.  The overnight low was 3 celcius.  Pretty cold!  There was a bit of frost on car windows and on the grass in the park.

Today was a busy day. I spent the first hour of the morning reading with grade 2 children, followed by an hour long meeting with Mr Partridge concerning school and parent issues.  I am very excited that one of the ideas brought forth from the children has been given a green light.  Sometime during the spring term we will be having a family disco night.  The children and parents I've already told are very excited.

This afternoon I went shopping at Auchan for Thanksgiving supplies.  Since tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., is a normal day here in Italy, we will be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday.  There will be 10 of us getting together.  It should be fun.  I managed to find everything we needed except pie crust.  Must keep looking. 

After school today, Brandon and I headed to il Gigante, a large supermarket in Lesmo.  I need  to purchase 46 gift baskets for the teachers and staff of the Monza schools.  Brandon and I were able to fit 16 in the car.  That means two more trips to pickup the remaing 30.  I will go again tomorrow to get 16 more. 

Ah, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  It will be a normal day of school and work for us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Martedì Mattina la Nebbia

Tuesday morning fog.  Its cold (5 celcius) and foggy this morning. 

I spent much of today in a PAB (Parent Advisory Board) meeting.  I represent the Monza schools, while three other parents represent the Milan schools.  We meet once every other month or so to discuss school issues with the each other, the owners of the school and the headmaster.  Today's meeting began at 10am and finished at 2:30pm. 

After school today, Brandon and I caught a ride from Sheila and Hugo to a birthday party.  Brandon's classmates, Giacomo and Filipo both turned 10.  The party was at Joy Village, a video game room and bowling alley.  They kids had fun while several of us parents enjoyed some drinks and chatting. 

Long and busy day, plus arriving at home at almost 7pm = pizza for dinner.  Our favorite, especially lately. 

Last night it temperature hit a low of 5.  Tonight the temperature is supposed to drop down to 3 degrees celcius.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I woke up feeling a little better today.  I'm not sure why, but I was feeling very 'blue' for a good chunk of the weekend.  Last night I had trouble sleeping and woke up very agitated several times.  I don't remember any dreams, so I'm not sure what that is all about.  But, as I said, I woke up feeling a bit better today. 

I did have some fun news this morning.  I play in a Fantasy Football league with some family members and friends.  This has definitely not been a good year for my team.  I am in 9th place, out of 10 teams.  But....this weekend my team pulled off an 'upset' win over the top ranked team, and we won by 1 point!  1 point!

I decided to go for a bike ride today.  It was cloudy and the roads were a bit wet, but it wasn't raining.  I did my usual route to Lurago d'Erba and back.  Overall it was a good ride.  I did end up with a sore butt, a sore right heel and a sore right elbow.  This elbow thing has been bugging me for quite awhile now.  I wonder if I have tennis elbow??  What is tennis elbow anyway??  I guess I'll look it up.....Ok, I just looked it up and now I wonder if that is my problem.

This evening I made hamburgers, mashed potatoes and salad for dinner.  The only Italian part of the dinner was the salad....olive oil and basalmic vinegar.  I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving, although we will be celebrating it on Saturday.  Thursday is a normal day of work and school here in Italy.  Our friends Paul, Karine, Seb and Mike will be joining us.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday at Home

It's Sunday and its raining.  Probably another day in the house. 

I spent part of the morning doing some laundry and cleaning up the house a bit.  Its amazing how three of us can make such a mess on the weekends.  The house isn't really dirty, just a lot of things out of place. 

I watched two episodes of JAG while I worked on my latest mosaic project.  Its a mirror with a black background and red swirl design that Katrina helped come up with.

I must admit I'm feeling a bit grey today.  I think the wet weather and being stuck in the house all weekend is getting to me. 

Weekly Count

82 Week Gelati Count:  308
82 Week Wine Bottle Count:  97

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Top 5 Destinations

I was recently asked what my top 5 destinations currently are.  So here it is:

1.  Berner Oberland, Switzerland
2.  Croatia, Slovenia
3.  Rhine River Valley of Germany
4.  Austria
5.  Venice Italy

I was also asked what my top 5 destinations are in Italy:

1.  Venice
2.  Cinque Terre
3.  Small hill towns of Tuscany - Montepulciano, Volterra, Montalcino, Pienza
4.  Lake country of northern Italy - Como, Bergamo
5.  Dolomites

All of the places on both lists are just a small fraction of what we've been able to see, but I have clear and definite memories of each place on the list.  These places make the lists for many reasons - beauty, food, and experiences we enjoyed, just to name a few. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another Sunny Day

We had a low of 7 degrees celcius last night.  It's been getting colder weeky by week.  I even spotted snow in the long term forecast. 

It was a bit cloudy this morning, but the sun finally burned its way through and it turned into a beautiful day. 

I spent part of the morning volunteering in Brandon's 5th grade class.  I worked with three of the girls in the class, helping them understand and figure out their fractions homework.  I also spent some time listening to several children read to me.  I love it! 

This afternoon was spent catching up on some laundry, sweeping, school paperwork and a few other items.  I wanted to complete a lot of work today so that I could spend the weekend mosaicing..hmm...is that a word...."mosaicing"? 

On the way home from school, Brandon and I spotted Karine and Sebi at Parco di Matteotti, so we stopped so Brandon could play for awhile.  We could see big, huge actually, rolling clouds on the horizon.  More rain is on its way for the weekend. 


Storm clouds on the horizon

Can anyone guess what brand of car this is parked in the driveway?

This evening I made Penne con Salsa di Pomodoro Piccante (penne with spicy tomato sauce) for dinner.  

Its now the weekend!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Rainy Day

We woke up to a cloudy and rainy day.  I guess one day of sunshine is better than none. 

I was looking at some stats for this blog earlier this morning.  It's interesting to me that the top blog posts from the past year are:  1)  Gardaland, August 13, and 2) Anne Frank, June 20.  I'm surprised that my day at Gardaland is such a popular blog post. 

I had a coffee chat with Mr Partridge (principal) and the class reps this morning.  It went very well and I have received several positive comments.  We didn't have time for a class rep meeting though.  I'm glad most of the information I have is suitable for an email.

I had an amazing afternoon.  I decided to go visit the art store where I buy most of my mosaic materials.  I haven't been in lately.  When I arrived I found it closed for lunch.  As I turned to head back home I made a last minute decision to visit a nearby mall that I have not been in. 

As I entered the mall I spotted quite a few easels with mosiac art on display.  It turns out that the mall was hosting a mini art expo and one of the featured artists is Pierino Bonci. He has working with mosaics for 30+ years.  We spoke and he ended up giving me a detailed tour of each of his works.  What an experience!!  He was working on a new piece at his table, so he took some time to teach me some techniques.  This was better than finding the art store open.  It felt like it was a tangent of my day that was meant to be. 

This evening I picked up Katrina at work. She's been on an 'in town' business trip this week and working a lot of hours.  She was very happy for me to pick her up and get her home.  We picked up Brandon on the way home.  He was at his friend Vincents house working on a school project...and playing, I'm sure. 

Heavy rain this evening.  There is a hint of potential sun in the forecast for tomorrow...

Crazy, Awesome, Wow!

This video is amazing.  The skills, and talent, needed to pull this off are beyond my comprehension. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The sun came back out today!! We woke up to blue skies and sunshine.

I took Brandon to school this morning, then volunteered in grade 2 for an hour. My Wednesday meeting with Mr Partridge was cancelled, so I went for a bike ride. It was chilly and my body didn't like it, but I had a good time. It's been awhile.

I am not happy with this blog today.  I tested a change to the color scheme and something got messed up.  I cannot get the usual side bar info to show up.  You will notice some layout changes, some of which I planned and others, just because I can't get a few things to work. 

Frustrations....Brandon wants pizza for dinner.  Sounds good to me. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

When Will the Sun Return?

Its still rainy and cloudy. In fact, its raining more today. The streets have huge flooded areas. Brandon's school playground is a swamp. When will the sun return?

Hope on a rainy day

I volunteered in the preschool class this morning. I spent my time reading with the children one on one. I loved it, as usual.

This afternoon I ran some errands, worked on my blog, and worked on my latest mosaic. I had to stop at the macellaria (butcher) to find out about ordering a turkey for Thanksgiving. Hopefully I ordered correctly!!

Brandon and I ran to the mall afterschool today. He has outgrown many of his pants. We found two pairs of pants and a shirt. We also enjoyed a light dinner at the mall.

Katrina is still on her 'in town' business trip. I will pick her up tomorrow.

Goodbye to Mom & Dad

Mom and Dad left this morning. Brandon did his best to be happy, but ultimately, he cried when they said goodbye. It's hard to say goodbye. Even harder for a 9 year old.

Today was a cloudy and rainy day. I think this weather is starting to get to people around here. Everyone is tired of so much rain.

Brandon had a pretty good day at school today. This evening we played a game of checkers, watched some TV, wrestled and went to bed at 9pm.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Auchan on a Rainy Sunday

We woke up to another rainy day in Vedano al Lambro.

Today is our last day with Mom & Dad. They fly home bright and early tomorrow morning.

Late this morning we headed to Auchan to buy some items Mom & Dad wanted to bring home, as well as do a little grocery shopping. I think we spent 2 or more hours in the store. Mom and Dad bought some wines and chocolates to bring back with them.

When we returned, Katrina suggested we go out to lunch, so we did. We had lunch at Fahau, our local Chinese restaurant. We called it Mom and Dads "Last Italian Supper", although it was Chinese.

Late this evening I had to take Katrina to the hotel she will be staying at for the next few days. Katrina expects to be working long days, with late night dinners at the hotel, so she thought it would be easiest if she just stayed there. I think we will pick her up on Thursday evening.

Mom, Dad, Brandon and I hung out this evening. We ended up watching "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". Wow, what a powerful movie. I can see why it won some awards.

Tomorrow Mom and Dad head home. It's been great having them with us for two weeks. Time flew by too fast though. I'm glad they were able to experience our lives here in Italy. Brandon was very sad and upset at bedtime. It took him almost 45 minutes for finally fall asleep.

Weekly Count

81 Week Gelati Count: 304
81 Week Wine Bottle Count: 96

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Monza Market and Lugano Switzerland

It was a cool and cloudy day today. After sleeping in, all of us headed into downtown Monza for market day. We had a great time wandering around the market booths. Mom and Katrina bought boots.

I bought parmesan from our favorite cheese vendor. This time he went on and on about how much he loves the United States and Americans. I think we chatted for about 15 minutes about the virtues of America. Then, I told him we wanted our usual 20 euro chunk of parmesan (which is huge and would cost us about $50 or more dollars in Corvallis) and he cut one double the usual size. I thought he misunderstood me, but then he showed me the ticket. He charged me 22 euro for 2.5 kilos of parmesan, which should have cost 40 euro. What a deal. We have a chunk of parmesan that fills almost one shelf of our refridgerator.

Mom and Dad at the market

Mom bought some Italian boots

Katrina and Brandon buy some black olives

We left the market and dropped Katrina off at home. She had a lot to do before she leaves tomorrow night for a business trip.

The rest of us headed to Lugano Switzerland, about an hour and a half drive from our house.

The town of Lugano Switzerland is the leading city of the Italian-Swiss region of Switzerland. With its 53,000 inhabitants, it lies along the shores of Lake Lugano.

We visited the Grand Cafe' al Porto, where secret meetings were held by Giuseppe Mazzini and fellow Italians, to plan their next moves of unifying Italy. It was also the place where the US met with German and Italian representatives to organize a graceful retreat of the Germans from Italy. It is also the cafe where Clark Gable and Sofia Loren ate cookies and drank coffee.

Mom & Dad in Lugano Switzerland

Art in the waterfront park

Swiss Army Cow

We also visited Piazza della Riforma where we found an unexpected surprise, a chocolate festival. We had a great time sampling chocolates from all over Switzerland. We even bought some delicious chocolate.

Chocolate Festival

Brandon's newest obsession, chess.

The Church of San Rocco. It's frescoes celebrate the saint responsible for protecting the city against the plague.

We decided to take a more scenic route home. Instead of taking the Autostrada back towards Como and on towards home, we took a route that took us along Lake Lugano, through the mountains, down to Lake Como. We had to catch a ferry to cross the lake to Bellagio, then on to our house.

Our GPS wanted us to drive on water...which, when translated means, take the ferry.

Riding the ferry from Managgio to Bellagio across Lago di Como.

This evening we relaxed at home and ordered pizzas for dinner. It's been really nice having Mom & Dad here. One more day to go. Tomorrow we will do a little shopping for some gift items Mom & Dad want to take hom.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Middle School Visit

It's Friday. On Friday mornings I volunteer in Brandon's grade 5 classroom, but today is a little different.

Since the 5th graders will be moving to middle school next year, they get to visit the school a few times this year to see what it is like. This morning was the first of those visits.

First off, we attended an assembly presented by the 6th graders. The subject was peace and war. It was fantastic! They really did an excellent job.

After the assembly, the 5th graders were split into three groups and given tours (done by 8th graders) of the school. The two most exciting things seemed to be lockers and the science room.

After some playtime outside, we walked back to the Schiatti school and I said goodbye.

This afternoon Mom & Dad took a walk on their own. They wanted to get out of the house and see our neighborhood. I think they were gone for about 2 hours or more.

I used the time to catch up on some house cleaning and work on this blog.

This evening we had Mike and his sister Vicki over for dinner. I made some pasta al pesto and a saldad. We had a nice dinner and fun evening, topped off with a gelato cake from La Piccolla Gelateria.

Tomorrow we will visit the Monza market then head to Lugano Switzerland for the day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Quick Trip to Bergamo

Katrina took Mom with her to the Benvenuto Club this morning. Mom had a great time meeting all the women from all over the world.

After the Benvenuto meeting, they picked Dad and I up and we drove Katrina to work. Then, we headed to Bergamo for a few hours.

Bergamo, or rather the old town of Bergamo, is also known as Citta Alta, or the high city. It sits on the hill above the lower, modern city of Bergamo. Citta alta is surrounded by Venetian walls that date back to 1561.

The easiest way to reach the high city is to park below and ride the funiculare up the hill.

At the top, you enter an old world of medieval and Venetian style buildings. We didn't have a lot of time, so we wandered through town, only stopping for some tasty treats along the way. Mom and Dad enjoyed walking through the narrow lanes, looking at the amazing architecture and eating the various treats.

These are full of candies

The Camponone - Great Bell Tower


This is the right front corner of the Duomo. It was common to only use marble on the 'front' face of buildings.

The Colleoni Chapel, built in 1473-76.

Monk Beer

We only visited the town for about 2 hours. We had to return in time to pickup Brandon at school.

This evening we hung out at home and ordered pizzas for dinner.

Tomorrow we will take another relaxing day at home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Each Wednesday morning I spend an hour with the grade 2. They read to me and practice their English. It's great fun and I enjoy listening to them. Then, at 10am I have my weekly PAB (Parent Advisory Board)representative meeting with Mr. Partridge, the school principle.

This afternoon I took my parents into downtown Monza. We rode the bus to the pedestrian mall, then walked around for a couple of hours. We also had lunch at a new restaurant. I don't remember the name. Mom and Dad both had pizzas. I had pizza fritti - fried pizza. They basically take a pizza, fold it in half (kind of like a calzone, and deep fry it for a short time. I know, it sounds greasy and bad for you, but I had to try one. They said it is a popular dish in southern Italy. It was actually really good. Mom and Dad both tried it and liked it as well.

This evening we hung out at home, relaxed and watched some TV. Basic pasta and sauce for dinner.

Tomorrow we will be heading to Bergamo for the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


After yesterdays 'rest' day, we decided to keep the car and go out today.

I spent part of the morning volunteering in the Transtion (preschool) class at Ramazotti.

Mom, Dad and I drove Katrina to work then headed to IKEA. For those of you who know Mom, and know IKEA, this we heaven for here. They don't have on in Colorado...yet(one is being built in Denver). I always told her we would take them to the one in Portland if they visited. We never dreamed we would the an IKEA in Italy would be her first visit!

After a lunch of Swedish meatballs, boiled potatoes, and lingonberry sauce, we headed into the store. Mom loved it. There are so many cool and interesting home decor ideas. As many IKEA shoppers know, its difficult to visit the store and not come out with unintended purchases. I had a list of 4 items. I found 2 and ended up with a 65 euro worth of 'other stuff'.

I think we were in the store for about 3 hours before we had to leave in time to pickup Brandon from school.

We picked up Brandon and headed to the toy store. Nana and Papa wanted to buy Brandon and Lego set. He ended up buying a police set and had it built by bedtime.

This evening I made cotteleta and fries for dinner. Tomorrow we will visit downtown Monza.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day at Home

We decided to take a day off from sightseeing. As fun as it is, it is also very tiring.

Brandon started back to school today after a week off for midterm break. Katrina headed to work. Mom, Dad and I headed to the market to see what we could find. There aren't as many vendors as in the summer, but still a good selection. Most were picking up since it was after noon and a storm was blowing in. We ended up buying some roasted chicken for dinner.

We also stopped at Punto, our neighborhood supermarket, for a few groceries. We bought some proscuitto cotto and cheese to make piadinas for lunch.

We spent the afternoon just hanging out at home, then walked over to pickup Brandon at school.

This evening we had the roasted chicken and some salad for dinner. The chicken was not quite as good as the roasted chicken we buy at Auchan.

Tomorrow I will take my parents to IKEA.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Today we visited Venezia. After eating breakfast and checking out of the pension, we headed toward St Mark's Square, stopping along the way to take pictures.

We found St Mark's flooded. This was the second time we have experienced flooding in Venice. Katrina wanted to visit a photography exhibit, so Brandon and I took Mom and Dad around the San Marco area. Mom and Dad popped into the cathedral, but much of it was closed.

Piazza San Marco was flooded

Artist in Piazza San Marco

We wandered around the side streets, visited a glass shop with some very unique glass, and relaxed along the Grand Canal. Katrina met up with about an hour later and we decided to take a vaporetto trip along the length of the Grand Canal.

Unique glass shop

The Grand Canal

Venice is romance

After our vaporetto tour we headed back towards the Rialto area sor some shopping and a late lunch. Mom wanted to buy a bag she spotted last night. Katrina and Brandon wanted Chinese for lunch. Mom, Dad and I wanted something different, so we split up for a bit. Mom, Dad and I ended up at a small cafe where they ordered pizzas and I had a hamburger and fries.

After lunch we shopped a bit and made our way back to the hotel to pickup our luggage. Today was a mix of clouds, sun and finally rain. It didn't rain until we were heading to the vaporetto for the ride back to the train station.

We caught the next train to Mestre, loaded up the car and headed home. It was a tiring but fun weekend in Venice. Its truly hard to believe such a wonderful place is only 3 hours from home. Its also hard to believe we have visited Venice six times now.

Tomorrow we will take a rest day at home.