Thursday, March 31, 2016


That's right, I finally got my act together and got out of town this past weekend, to Assisi (of St. Francis of ...   fame.)

In hindsight, the biggest religious holiday of the year may not have been the smartest time to visit one of the biggest religious sites in Italy. But, whatever. Me and my many new friends had a good and more importantly restful weekend. 
View from my hotel room

My super favorite church. St Peter's. I don't usually like touring churches because they can feel a bit busy, but this one was just so simple that it made the little imagery they did use that much more powerful. True photographers could surely do a better job of capturing the look, but it was a lovely, smokey setting and my camera just made it look sunny and bright. Oh well, use your imagination!

St. Peter's again

The basilica where St Francis is buried, beautiful in a different way and obviously a big hit for Easter weekend.

The castle overlooking Assisi.

The basilica, quite a sight from a distance!

Winding narrow streets and lots of history filled brick architecture.

The hills of Umbria. I am so excited that it's Spring!

Guys, do you see the sign in the window? You could buy this ridiculously cute house and live in this ridiculously cute town! Heavenly idea indeed!

Monday, March 21, 2016


It's been quite a big weekend here at the Casa Ginevra (the fancy Italian name of my otherwise humble apartment here in Rome).  In addition to the usual fare (at least three pizzas, three gelatos, and maybe 8-10 coffee stops) I had some crazy adventures with my crazy friends.

We saw pretty much EVERYTHING. Ever. Even just describing our path through Rome to some of my colleagues this morning got a little bit ridiculous.  While I'd seen a lot of it before it's always amazing how having a visitor gets you outside your routine and into all the many nooks and crannies of the city you always mean to explore but never quite get to.  I finally saw the Bocca della Verita up close - no one lost a hand this time around but it does kind of remind me of that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom scene with all the bugs.  We stood by the Tevere; I really need to do that more often, especially since it's the closest I can get to my Lagos, boating-every-weekend experience. And we fought our way through pretty much wall-to-wall people.  Seriously y'all. It was worse than a Trader Joe's in NoVa and Trader Joe's is where I hit the fun limit.

It was actually kind of relaxing to get back to work this morning - that's how much running around we did this weekend.  And it was great to catch up on everything from Lagos to language training and get the inside scoop on how things work at other posts. It did get me itching to travel though! So of course, to celebrate I spent the whole afternoon parked on my couch doing taxes. (Woo hoo refund!)

Next up - Easter weekend. Also if anyone knows a good photo challenge or blog prompt I should try I'm looking for suggestions!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Daylight Saving Time

So proud of myself for waking up an hour earlier this morning and not even feeling it. In my head I congratulated myself on an uncharacteristically whine free transition.

Turns out Italy didn't switch after all. (Not til March 27)


Hold the applause I guess. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


So, Milan...what can I say?

I was only there for 24 hours this time around, and sadly the weather really wasn't cooperating, so I hope I'll be back someday to do it justice. But in the meantime, I can give you my initial impressions at least.

The main takeaway is that Milan really isn't much like Rome. It felt like a city in Germany instead - especially the architecture, but also things like public transportation, and the wide availability of food that isn't either pizza or pasta. Oh, and everyone dressed just like how you'd imagine Italians dressing - no offense Rome, but the Milanesi spend some serious time and treasure on their clothes.

As I may have mentioned, Milan was cold. Like rainy, windy, 30's cold. So I only took about 5 or 6 photos. And, true to form, it's all architecture. What can I say, I'm a creature of habit!

All the architectural styles, at the same time!

Taller than all the buildings in Rome put together! Or close anyway.

Reminds me of some of the Expo pavilions. I wonder who got the idea from whom?

I know this isn't the greatest picture of these buildings, but how cool are they? They are collectively the Bosco Verticale (vertical forest). For a better photo try this one from wikipedia.

Up close you can see the actual trees set into the facade.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Guess where I was all weekend?

Hint: not back home in the Midwest, despite appearances.

... This is just the teaser, but more on my very mini weekend adventure coming up soon.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


I'm all set up on the couch tonight, with my smoothie and my book club book, carefully ignoringmy exercise equipment, feeling right at home.

But there are still occasional reminders that I'm not really from around here. For example - a couple weeks ago the streets were mysteriously peppered with confetti and streamers. Not just one street but all over the place. I would walk out to get groceries and find myself lost. Was there a party? Or lots of parties? What were we celebrating? (Was there food involved?) This wasn't just a one time mystery, it happened for days. Then the following week the secret partying seemed to have died down as quietly as it started. 

Seriously Rome, why wasn't I invited to this party?

Here's hoping by this time next year I'm celebrating right alongside the Romans.