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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coffee Morning and Bedroom Cleaning

This morning I attended a bimonthly coffee meeting with Mr Partridge (ISM Monza principal) and representatives from each class, grades K - 9.  Most of the talk this time was about improving and balancing the students lunch menu.

After school today Brandon spent quite a bit of time cleaning his room.  I helped a little bit, but left most of it to him.  He's having two friends over tomorrow night for a birthday sleepover.  His 'mess' was almost covering the entire floor and we need room for two air mattresses.  He did a great job!

It's hard to believe my little boy is not so little anymore.  He'll be 10 years old on Tuesday.  He's growing up before our eyes.  We recently pulled down all his summer shirts and shorts from the top shelf.  Over half of this shorts had to be put in the donation pile and about a third of his shirts.

Its the end of March.  Whew, time is flying by....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring is Here

Spring is in the air, the trees and the grass.  Warm days have arrived.  Trees are budding.  Magnolia trees are in full bloom.  The smell of freshly mowed grass is in the air.  Cold weather cycling clothing and winter clothing are put away.

If only I had a BBQ!  That is one smell I miss.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


We have a glass shelf that is broken.  I've been trying to replace it for a couple of months now and can't seem to get it done.  Who knew it would be so hard to find a glass shop in Italy!?  I have an Italian friend who is helping me, but even he seems to be coming up empty.

Maybe I can just mosaic a new shelf!

Monday, March 28, 2011


For some unknown reason I decided to share my dreams with you.  I've had some recurring dreams lately.  I'm not sure what they mean, or if they mean anything.

The first dream is one I have had a few times recently and can remember having it several times in the past few years.  I find myself back in high school, the very same one I went to.  Everyone is rushing off to class, but I cannot find my exact locker, and when I do, I can't remember the combination.  Somehow, I'm not sure how, I finally open it and grab my books.  The only problem is, I'm not sure what day it is and I cannot remember my schedule.  What class should I be heading to?

The most recent dream also had to do with school.  I was taking a science test for a class I never attended.  I didn't even know what the topics were, so there was not way to pass, or even try to take the test.  The weird part is that the science teacher was Gaius Baltar, from the modern series Battlestar Galactica.  Apparently I've been watching the show too much lately.

So, there they are, my most recent dreams.  I've never been one to analyze my dreams, but I sure am wondering what these are all about.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekly Count

100 Week Gelati Count:  324
100 Week Wine Bottle Count:  115

Republic of San Marino

Time changed in the EU last night.  The EU kept the same time change as it has always been, but the US and Canada moved it two weeks earlier.  

We packed up, had breakfast in the hotel, the hit the road to San Marino.  

The spectacular view from our room!  It was a nice hotel, but our room was at the end of a long hallway, away from everyone else!?  

It was about an hour and a half drive to San Marino.  The Republic of San Marino is the oldest republic in the world which still retains its original values of authenticity and identity.  This city-state within the country of Italy is self governing.  It is a democracy governed by two Captains Regent who are elected every 6 months.  

The people of San Marino particularly appreciated what President Abraham Lincoln said when he was declared and honorary citizen.  He wrote, "Despite being small, your State is one of the most honored countries in the whole of history."

The Republic of San Marino is a neutral state with no military force of its own, other than ceremonial guards.  Since 2002 its currency has been the Euro and it has the right to mint its own Euro coins.  The population of San Marino stands at 31,632 as of Dec 2009.  The territory of San Marino encompassed 61 sq km.  

Views from San Marino

The flag of San Marino

First Tower (Guaita)  It is the first tower built in San Marino and dates back to the 6th century.  It was used as a prison until 1975.  

Prison cell graffiti 

Second Tower (Costa).  It is the second tower built in San Marino.  It was erected over the remains of an ancient Roman fortress.  It was built in the 13th century.  It is now the museum of ancient weapons.  

Looking back at the First Tower from the Second Tower

Brandon checks out the the cities down below.

Third Tower (Montale), dates back to the 14th century.  It was erected for defensive purposes and was used as a prison.  

No Break Dancing

Brandon plays Nintendo while we wait for lunch to be served

We had a nice few hours in San Marino.  It was different than we expected.  Many old cities in Italy have 'high end' shopping areas for tourists.  This town surprised us with all the tacky tourist shops and oddity museums.  If it wasn't for the magnificent castles and towers, I wouldn't have been impressed.  

We headed for home late in the afternoon.  It was about a 4 hour drive.  

We have passed this cool suspension bridge many times on A1.  There are two equally interesting suspension bridges on either side, but they were hard to photograph at 140km per hour.  

Autogrill.  This is where you buy gas, snacks or can eat dinner on the Italian toll roads.  The Ciao restaurants are actually fairly good, most of the time.  

The end of the toll road near Milan.  The cash lines are always the longest.  

We had a very nice and relaxing weekend in Ravenna and San Marino and would suggest them to visitors, especially if you like mosaics.  We will spend this next weekend at home, but the one after that is open to explore some new place.  Where, I don't know yet??

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ravenna Italy

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day in Ravenna. We are staying two nights at the Ostello Galletti Abbiosi.  After a nice breakfast in the hotel, we headed out into the old city.

Ravenna is a busy modern city that is slowly discovering its past. Since WWII it has begun to redisover its vast art treasures and the incomparable mosaics which have made it famous all over the world.

Our first stop was Sant Apollinare Nuovo.  The basilica was built in the late 5th or early 6th century by Theodoric as a church for Arian worship dedicated to Christ the Redeemer.

The bell tower was built in the 9th or 10th century and is 38 meters high.  

Mosaic scenes describing the life of Christ adorn the walls and ceiling of the basilica.

Brandon keeps himself occupied with his new Nintendo DSi.  Actually, it wasn't just games keeping him occupied.  He spend much of his time using the camera feature to take his own pictures.  

Mosaics are everywhere in Ravenna, even over doorsteps of citizens homes.  

Mosaics have also been incorporated into the street signs of Ravenna.

The next stop on our tour of Ravenna mosaics was the Museo Arcivescovile.  The museo houses a small collection of relics.  We visited only for a few minutes before moving on.  

The Duomo, completed in 1743.  

Located next to the Duomo is the Neonian Baptistery.  This circular building was built in the 4th or 5th centuries.  It is a simple, octagonal brick building with four large niches.  The mosaics inside the Baptistery were completed in the mid 5th century.  

I love the simple detail work and patterns

Ceiling of the Baptistery

The details are amazing for such simple artwork

Bell tower of the Duomo

From the Baptistery, we headed across the old town to see the Basilica Di San Vitale and the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia.  

Along the way we passed a parking area named after a famous American president.  We also stopped at a chocolate shop to buy some tasty chocolate eggs.  

Mosaic sign outside one of many studios in Ravenna

Mosaic in a shop window.

Just down the street we stopped inside a mosaic studio to see one of the artists at work.  These are two of his pieces:

Shiny glass tub basin

Roman inspired design

This cool car was sitting outside the Basilica.  I don't know what it is?

This was spray painted in many places around town.  Apparently there is controversy about the zoo or a potential zoo?

The Basilica di San Vitale, completed in 548 by Bishop Maximian.  This basilica boasts a very strong eastern influence.  

Above the alter


Floor mosaics

The dome (16 mt in diameter) were frescoed in 1780 by the Bolognese artists Barozzi and Gandolfi and by Venetian painter Guarana.

More floor mosaics

Mosaic above the alter

And more mosaic floor patterns

Located behind the basilica is Galla Placidia's Mausoleum.  It is the oldest of its kind left intact and was built in the 5th century.  The exterior of the building is a very simple brick design.  The interior is quite the opposite of the exterior.  It is lavish and elaborately decorated with mosaics.  

Ceiling mosaics in the mausoleum

We were hungry for lunch at this point, so we found a nice trattoria just outside the basilica and enjoyed some pasta dishes.  

Another mosaic street sign

And some mosaic accented planters.  

We wanted to visit one last church, San Apollinare in Classe.  It is located about 5km out of town, so we had to pickup our car at the hotel to drive there.  It was built in 549.  

Impressive mosaic work above the alter.  

Katrina was tired, so she and Brandon went back to the room for a nap.  I wandered back to a mosaic shop we had spotted earlier in the day - annafietta mosaico contemporaneo .  The shop was overwhelming with pieces of art, mirrors, frames and a whole room of supplies.  I realized that I must have a project in mind before I can shop for materials.  

This evening we had dinner at Al Passatore, the same place Brandon and I had dinner last night.  Once again, it was quite good.  

After dinner we attended a brass concert held Basilica di Sant' Apollinare Nuovo.  It was a wonderful concert, although the church was quite cold inside.  

I know the picture is a little out of focus, but I wanted to show you what we enjoyed.  

Tomorrow we will check out of the hotel and drive an hour south to visit the Republic of San Marino...