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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lecce Italy: stone carvings that seem to be alive

The carvings in Lecce, Italy are detailed, each face is unique and you wonder how the artist understood how to care almost in 3D

Italy: a love story in Verona

Of course I visited Juliet's house in Verona
After countless trips Home to Italy I finally had an opportunity to visit Verona.
It was winter so I did not attend the famous opera in the amphitheater but I walked as much of the city in 2 days as possible
 The city is not difficult to navigate (a map would help) and on the second day I found the main pedestrian street that went from a large out door market to the library (I thought I might find wifi here).  Off to the left was a small entry that took me to what might be the most visited house in town.

 We all know about the locks of love found on bridges throughout Italy.  The idea is taken to the next level at Juliet's home.    There is an entire store selling all size locks and other memorabilia.  Notice the locks come in 3 sizes: sm, med, lg..............if you 'love' only buys a small lock does that mean he does not love you a lot?
There is a special metal grid that allows visitors to install their some point them must cut the old locks the metal man.

But you can ALSO leave you love message on you used gum........I have not seen this before.  It was very unusual.    


If you don't chew gum then you can leave Juliet a letter in a private mail box.   I would love to read those messages.

 The court yard is small and there were two 'guards' or part of the police force to keep everyone from defacing the walls.    They designated the two walls at the alley entrance for messages.  I could read a few of these but next time I shall try to translate more of them.

I had to wait over 5 minutes to take a photo of the house without someone on the balcony.  For a fee you can enter the house and stand on the balcony........mostly young girls were taking part in this love activity 
On my way back to the center of the city I passed one of the many cafes that were packed on this Sunday.    I had to smile at the foursome  having lunch.   I asked the owner 'what is lui (he) having"?
The girlfriend did not think I was funny.............

And what will you have for lunch?

Having done very little research I arrived at the airport on a weekend when everything was closed.  A kind young woman working in the lobby told me where to look for the bus to the city center but more important was where to buy a ticket  The tourist office was closed at 5 pm so no maps, no money exchange, no information...............NEVER DO THIS UNLESS YOU ARE more courageous than I am.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mondo Stray: a documentary on life of a stray dogs in different parts of the world

 Mondo Stray:   Stray dogs in the World

If you love dogs you must read about a new project being bring the plight

stray dogs around the world.

Find more details and photos at: 

 Fiona Cole and Carlo Cesario, and we are making a documentary film about what it means to be a stray dog in different parts of the world. The name of the film is Mondo Stray. 

In each country we visit, we will look at the national stray dog policies, explore cultural attitudes towards dogs, and zoom in on local dog rescue organizations that are making a difference. We will find out what’s working, and tell the stories of some of the amazing people behind these efforts. Along the way, we will also meet different rescue dogs with their own stories to tell.

Our goal in the making of Mondo Stray is to provide a roadmap of the central issues behind this global problem and, more importantly, to promote positive solutions for stray dogs everywhere. 

Our hope is that Mondo Stray will contribute to the growing international effort to reduce the suffering of millions of dogs. 



















Pizza by the Slice, New Jersey style

Pizza is Naples gift to the world!
Pizza by the piece as the sign says in Lecce, Italy.  This store front
pizza take away, has reviews on several travel sites...

      A version of authentic pizza is offered all over the USA.    But all pizza is not created equal.   And not all pizza across the USA is offered by the ‘slice’.

     Having a slice, stopping for a slice might almost be a daily activity in towns with large Italian American communities.

    What better place to search for the best slice’ than New Jersey?   I chose a small section of Rt 9, which runs North to South  darting in and out of the shore corridor,  south of the Seaside Park area.

I was in NJ for a week allowing me to spread the sampling over several days, but still it was a LOT of pizza to consume.

   There may be more pizza outlets on Rt 9 than there are Wa Wa ‘ s or Dunkin Donut stores, so to narrow the search to a reasonable number of restaurants, I asked the locals for their ‘favorite pizza sources’ for a slice.

 Espo’s Pizzeria Italian Grille 
 629 North Main Street (Route 9) Lanoka Harbor, NJ
Located on Rt 9 south of Toms River, NJ

Pizza is often sold at a counter so you can ‘take it out’, to be eaten at home or more often in your car as you drive off.   The location is in a small shopping center.  They offer tables if you wish to eat ‘in’.  In addition to pizza Espo’s offers subs, cheese stakes, calzone and Stromboli,wraps, Panini's, salads and even burgers.      If a slice will not satisfy your hunger try one of 16+ Italian entrees. 
Slice review:   Several ‘pies’ were already made and ready to be heated.    Today I tried sausage.   Each slice is heated in the oven and served hot.  Slices are never as ‘hot’ as a fresh pie, but heated through.
Often pizza can be bland, just cheese on bread.  Espo’s sauce has a nice bite to it, not extra spicy but with a good taste.  Mild Italian sausage is used and mozzarella cheese, the more the better to suit me.   The crust was crisp, browned on the bottom, chewy without the gummy texture found in frozen or packaged dough.  *** Stars

Mangia’s on Rt 37, Toms River, NJ
Advertised as a brick oven pizza I was eager to try this version of a slice.
I was greeted by two very friendly servers. A very nice change to the usual 'what do you want' or worse,  not being noticed at all!   This may be a function of my age group............

Slice review:
I tried sausage pizza here as well (it is my favorite combination of                                                        
Again a large variety of pizza was displayed on the counter.  Each slice was put into the gas oven to be heated.      I was told all the pizzas were baked originally in the brick oven.   I asked that the slice be very hot and it was delivered hot.   The brown bottom of this slice was different that others that I had sampled
that week, leaving the crust crisp on the bottom as well as the circular crust.

JoeyTomato's Pizzia  201 Lacey road, forked River, NJ 08731

Slice Review    I arrived late in the day and did not want to wait for a sausage pizza to be baked, so I tried ricotta and meatballsls, a combination I had never tried before.   This was the first slice I received with a side of sauce.  It gave me an opportunity to taste the sauce.    The sauce had a good flavor that resonated of fresh herbs.   The slice was more like a meal because of all the cheese.

I returned later in the week to try sausage and cheese and to talk with the owner Joey.   Busy owners often have no interest in chatting about pizza but  Joey took the time to tell me about a long tradition of his Italian American family and the restaurant business.    Grandma's pizza is apparently a very popular option in all the pizza outlets in the area I  visited and Joey explained the origin.   I shall be writing a separate post on our meeting and everything I learned about PIZZA.

I sampled pizza at the 3 Brothers on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, NJ and two other sources that I am not reviewing.

1.  Espo’s located at 629 North Main Street (Route 9) Lanoka Harbor, NJ     On their menu you find:     “eating well is to live well”.
2,  Mangia located at Rt 37 at Hooper Avenue.  This site was recommended by hairdresser.
3.  Joey Tomatos on Lacy Road, Forked River, NJ.   was recommended by a volunteer at the Lacy food bank.

                            This video shows you how pizza is made in a very well know location in Rome, Piazza dei Fiore.................just follow the wonderful smell, go in the door on the left and select the type you prefer and the size you want.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Italy: Florence The Duomo

Florence, Italy street Market: the fachino are moving the carts

Florence, Italy

Mercato Nuovo (The Straw Market)
also know as the Porcellino in Florence, Italy is located in the center of the pedestrian area between the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio.  

  "Where do the carts go at night"?
At the end of a long day all the products are put into the
 drawers under the carts

 Returning to my hotel I heard the 'click clack' of the fachino, the vendors moving their carts away from the market.   Where were they going?      One way to find out was to follow the carts. 

 The carts are linked together and pulled off the main street with a motorized trolley.  Still it was done with effort since there were 3 or more carts in each line.   A sharp turn down a small alley took the carts to stone 'garages' or the ground floor...

Tomorrow the carts would return to the market and a new day would begin.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Italian School Children on a field trip

There are countless daily events that make me smile when I am in Italy!  
 Monuments, fountains, historic buildings are not the only remarkable things to see.
Always LOOK UP, LOOK down the side street and stop at a LOCAL store.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Florence Italy:  Traveling this summer?

Than you need to know the women of              Mail Boxes Etc in Florence! *    

Traveling with heavy suitcases?  Have you found great items to
bring home?   And the wine and olive oil discoveries.........................

Let the wonderful woman at  Mail Boxes Etc. - MBE 212  in  Florence on ‎Via della Scala, 13    
store your bags, ship them to the next city you are visiting or even have them waiting for you at home after your trip. 

Mail boxes Etc  in Florence, Italy

   All my trips Home to Italy are planned around a visit to Florence and I always visit the Four Women Of Mail Box Etc..

      I may only return to Italy  every 8 months but it does not matter.  When I walk through the door it is as if I am visiting family…..    Perhaps I am just a returning  ‘tourist’
but I am always greeted with a smile and a ciao.                                               

   Everyone at MBE 212 goes beyond the services they list on their wall and have received awards for their efforts.  
During one trip I came down with the flue while in Florence.   Who else would I ask for help in finding medicine that would help but the Four Women Of Mail Boxes Etc?.     Right away a product was suggested to me as well as the farmacia (drug store) right down the street where I could obtain the medicine.  In addition they gave me the pharmacist's NAME!       


For many other services contact MBX 13 on Via Della Scala   # 13 Florence, Italy.   It is a short walk from the train station and a few blocks from the church of Santa Maria Novella

……..English is spoken, store your luggage, ship a package, copy documents, ship luggage to your next hotel or to your home.       Just remember they are NOT open on weekends.
Email them for any August vacation days they may be closed.   *

Mail Boxes Etc. - MBE 212
Firenze more info‎Via della Scala, 13
                                                         50123 Florence, Province of Florence, Italy
                                                                            055 268173

Send me an email if you have used this MBX location and what you thought of their great service.  And say ciao to the Four Women of MBX for me.