Sunday, July 31, 2011

Things I loved, things I missed...

If you've been paying attention you know our sailing and biking in Croatia lasted less than 12 hours. Things I missed: the Nostra Vita at night...
Too bad they didn't have the lights on the night I fell.
We biked a little...
...through some interesting countryside.

After the fall...
I scooted on my butt from the sailboat to the Zodiak for Mr Toad's Wild RIde to the hospital. You can see where the steps are - it looks like a plank in the lower right corner of the photo. In the dark it looked like black velvet. Who doesn't mark the steps? 

Oh well, at least with Leslie and the gang we shopped the Venice outlet mall. Leslie got some killer shoes; I got some things from Loro Piana...
...but I can't carry a purse and work the crutches. 

And we went to see Aida in Verona in the ancient Roman amphitheater.
Hui He as Aida was breathtaking, her strong sensual voice gave me chills. No vibrato to cover an upper register thinness here, she owned the stage.

Salvatore Licitra as Radames was rich and strong. The spectacle was unreal, at one point Dave counted 292 people on stage. He didn't count the horses.
It's a magical place, a magical evening. Made even more incredible by the woman in the seat in front of Wally. 
Bet you won't see that at the opening of the San Francisco Opera.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ann Gogh (with apologies to Vincent)

Ann is a painter, her husband is a sculptor and welder. At Risk Welding.

We have one of her paintings, Dog Eating Pizza. in the garden is a pair of steel feet with bright red toes from Larry. Wally has a racy-looking biker in his office. But at their house Larry's latest sculpture is an homage to his wife - Ann Gogh.

Love the name, love the attitude. She's so much fun to be around! and he has captured her spirit, her lilt, her way of looking at the world. And, as Ann pointed out, her chesticles...

So much talent. Love you two. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Not the way I'd planned to come home...
I think I set the record for the shortest B&R trip. On a lovely sailboat...
...for four hours. There were some stairs. In the dark. No lights, no white stripe, no warning to be careful of them. I looked down before I stepped forward to take a photo. Impossible to see, and now I have a broken foot and ankle. 27 hours to get home - that's torture when you're well! 

Croatia is beautiful,
 the sea just right for swimming
see? sea.
The old fortified city in Dubrovnik is car-free, pale limestone, polished cobbles,
An inviting harbor
weird and wonderful yachts
 too big for the harbor they hover offshore
There are pirate ships
and the ship of broken dreams...and ankles, the Nostra Vita, a Turkish Gullet. 
At least we have some good memories....
Too few. So sad. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hotel California

Walking home from pizza (where they asked where we were from and then had to Google San Francisco to see what state it's in) we happened upon a band playing Hotel California at the Cafe Teatro - (part bar, part gelateria) and Wally being the curious soul he is we snagged the last table. The lyrics were mangled - the Doobie Brothers did not sing "Without love - better to be now." but the band did. Gotta love those mondegreens (look it up).
The long-haired singer recognizable the world over. Children ran between the tables. Young couples proudly showed off their babies. The old ladies in their sensible shoes and modest dresses sat in the back with their smiling slightly bent-over husbands. It was magic. Hotel California will never be the same.

The Road Less Travelled

We head out early in the morning, before it gets to be 90 degrees, before the mosquitoes are fully awake (we hope) and ride along the banks of the Adige.

Exploring, we chose the roads less travelled. Which sometimes leads to retracing our steps, or even (brace yourselves)
  checking the map. Whoo hoo!

In the tiny town of Carpi (think Capri spelled sideways), a town one block long with only one restaurant, Wally finds a Slow Food restaurant, Antica Trattoria Bellinazzo. 
Wally definitely has restaurant radar. The owner, Danielle, breaks out a bottle of his homemade beer. He only made ten bottles so don't get your hopes up, but he has other great hand-made local beers. We have a fabulous lunch of prosciutto dolce, cimbro, a local cheese made nowhere else and served shaved into a tiny frilly ice cream cone shape, a salami that melts in your mouth called stortina veronese, and a risotto made by Danielle's grandmother with parmigiano and cinnamon. Heaven.
Off to nap thru the heat of the day, or as Danielle calls it, un reposo. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Night At The Museum

"Mommy, why do the floors make so much noise?' asked Sam. The wood floors rumbled and creaked as you walked across them.

He was a little freaked out by the house - it's 400 years old, filled with dour portraits of ancestors glaring down from the walls. It's attached to the older house that was abandoned after the flood. Not Noah, but not much later.  We are living in a museum and it takes some getting used to.

There is a grand marble entry filled with bikes and children...
...a kitchen divided into two funky little rooms...
...each with its own sink.
Why? Staff. Who cares about a big modern eat-in kitchen when you have staff?

There is a huge breakfast room...
...and a dining room that's officially computer central. It's the only place you get wi-fi, now so essential but not part of the plan when the house was built. 41 wi-fi devices by my count.
"The floors make noise, Sam, because they are old and they have lots of stories to tell," said his mother. 

Sam was also freaked out by the painted ceiling in his room. 

"Look how beautiful it is, Sam. It will bring you beautiful dreams." 

It worked. Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Villa Bartolomea

If you're going to share a ten bedroom house with twenty other people there are some basic things that will make it easier...
It's a beautiful old house on the banks of the Adige - 
with a killer entry. Remodel, anyone?
You know there's plenty of room when you can test your bike's fit...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sweating in Venice

Venice. The sauna. If you're on the Grand Canal you can breathe...
Notice how everyone is outside? So are we. The Gritti Palace Hotel has the best views in town. Breakfast on the terrace is delightful. Lunch is just bearable if there is a breeze. Forget cocktails - too hot.
Arrive by water taxi if you can - it's an e-ticket ride (okay of you remember e tickets you're older than you think).
The Biennalle four years ago changed the way I look at the world. This year it looked like a misogynistic high school art show. I kept thinking "Yuck!" and "I could do that" and "Seriously? More melted plastic?"

There were a few thought provoking pieces...
...and a few that looked straight out of a Manhattan gallery.
But it did not change my life. Darn.

There were gondola traffic jams on the Grand Canal...
...the poor sweltering tourists looked miserable. 

When you go eat at Al Paradiso. Inside. At midnight outside it was 90 degrees, But the owner is charming and the food was incredible. Have the Branzino Carpaccio and the Spaghetti Vongole. Try the risotto with shrimp. And the grilled whole sea bass. Yum.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Land of the Large

Everything is bigger in East Hampton. The potato fields...

and the wheat fields. 
At least the ones that haven't been turned into second homes on steroids. Seriously, do you really need a 27,000 s.f. second home? (or first but that's a whole 'nother Oprah, as Des says).

And the signs! Gotta love the street names....
Alewive Brook Road. Soak Hides Road.

Altho it's hard to read down, especially at driving speed. 

The sunsets are fabulous. 
And The Boathouse on Three Mile Harbor road is clearly Party Central. Gotta be a story behind this.
Too bad we arrived too late for the party.
The shingled houses... 
The beach dunes...
...and my new favorite way to garden. This guy has it down.