December 24, 2016

When I was four or five years old I had pneumonia over Christmas. I don’t remember a whole lot about the ordeal since I was so young, but what memories I do remember, they are vivid in my mind. 

I remember I was admitted to the hospital a few days before Christmas and stayed several days after. I remember being way too excited that I got to pick out my Looney Toons hospital gown. I remember my brother writing a note to Santa so he knew where to take my presents. And I remember the special visitors who came by to bring a little holiday joy. 

My grandmother came several times to the hospital but on one occasion in particular she brought a whole basket full of my toys from home. She sat with me in the hospital room and made sure I felt comfortable in such a foreign place. 

Nearly two decades have passed since my last stay in a hospital, and for that I am very thankful. But that is not the case with everyone else in my family.

Tonight, on Christmas Eve, I found myself with my grandmother in the very same hospital that I was in twenty or so years ago. She isn't in the hospital for anything major but that doesn't lessen the fact that it is over a holiday. And though she is no stranger to hospitals, that doesn’t diminish me sitting with her. We sat and talked but I mostly listened to her because even being in a hospital bed doesn’t slow her down.

She shared memories of loved ones now gone and reminisced about Christmases passed. She also told me something that I will never forget: “Make memories because someday you’ll need them.”

It’s never a good idea to go against a grandmother’s advice.

Three years ago I started a tradition with myself to post a photo from wherever I am and with whomever I am with on Christmas Eve. 

So it is fitting that this Christmas I share a photo of me and my grandmother. I love her so much and I am thankful for precious time spent with her, even in a hospital on Christmas Eve. 

Ciao for now,


Italian Fall

Fall in Italy, and specifically Tuscany, is like no other place on Earth. 

It starts with one vine, way down in the valley, and then like a wildfire, it spreads to the next one over and then the whole row and the one next to it and before you know it, the valley is streaked with color: ablaze with one last crescendo before winter.

I think the Fall is the best time to visit Italy: the weather is perfect, everything is freshly harvested and the countryside is painted with greens, yellows, reds, purples and every color in between. 

The Italians love the Fall. It's the season when grapes and olives are harvested, an event that permeates to the core of who they are as a people. In the Fall, go to a restaurant and if they don't bring it out on their own, ask for olio nuovo, or freshly pressed olive oil. They bring it in a clear bottle (note: olive oil should be stored in a dark bottle to protect from light, so this is a big deal) so you can see the bright, almost neon green colored liquid inside. The oil should be tasted just as it is or on plain bread. When it hits your mouth it floods your senses, covering your palate, the aroma working its way into your sinuses. It's sharp, peppery, tangy and full of so much flavor.  It's not at all what you would expect olive oil to taste like.

The oil only has this flavor for a few months after being pressed and for the best flavor, should be used as quickly as possible. 

Just like the short life of the 'new oil,' so the peak of an Italian Fall lasts only a little while as well. After two weeks or so, everything is harvested and the grape vines slowly turn to brown, the fall garden parties are no more and the countryside settles in for winter. Just as spectacularly and unannounced it's arrival was, so swift is too the end of an Italian Fall.



A little while ago I was able to spend the day in the town of Lucca here in Tuscany. It is one of the few cities left that is still completely surrounded by Renaissance walls but don't let that come across as uninviting. In fact, I think the walls have kept in one of Italy's best kept secrets. 

While most people who come to Tuscany go to Florence or Pisa first (and rightfully so, there is a reason they are so popular: because they are incredible), Lucca is a great choice for a day trip for someone staying in Tuscany but wants to see something different than the chaos that is Florence's Piazza Duomo in August.

The city walls that still encircle the city have been repurposed from their original defensive intention and is instead one of the most unique city parks you will ever see. Called Passeggiatta della Mura in Italian, the Walkway on the Wall is a must see if visiting Lucca. Bike rentals are in abundance all around the city and the streets are very navigable. Rent one at a cheap hourly rate and take a few laps around the walls. Don't forget to stop for gelato along the way!

Here's a little video I made of my day in Lucca! Enjoy!

Ciao for now, 


This Italian Life

This Italian Life

I've maintained a relative radio silence since arriving here in Italy just over two months ago. I've done so partly by design: to help me focus on where I am. But also because I've been at a loss for words. And my lack of words is exactly that: I can't seem to find the ones necessary to describe in complete detail and with enough clarity so that you may understand my experience thus far. I know no words with enough power to do so.

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There are a lot of things I love about Italy. But I think that’s fairly obvious since I decided to move here, after all. 

One of my favorite (and most fascinating) things about Italy are the artisans. They are this almost elusive, and sadly dying, group of people who have continued to practice the very same trades that long ago brought so much fame to Italian goods. Oftentimes they are still producing handmade products in studios (or laboratories, as the Italians call them) their predecessors or previous generations once used and utilize age-old materials. They are masters of their crafts and understand it like no other. 

My friend Costanza has made sort of a name for herself as an expert in artisans in and around the Florence area. She asked if I would go with her to photograph some of her favorites and how could I resist? It was a chance to see the masters up close and personal!

Below are some of my favorites from our visit to the artisans of Florence. 

Ciao for now,