Tag Archives: Italy

No Room at the Inn (Part II)

NRI2And so.. Swimming in the night, over and through the stars well into the morning and eccchhhhhhhheeeeeggm, I woke up Christmas morning with a scratchy throat. I stayed in bed.

Word spread and Batti called me downstairs. He gave me an over the counter medicine that was powder. The powder liquifies when water is added to it. The drink was a minty flavor with medicine too powerful to be sold in United States but powerful enough to blast through the phlegm in just a short amount of time and safely bring me to health in Italy. I took a nap while my friends went to visit family in town for a Christmas lunch. Batti stayed next door hosting the restaurant and told me if I wake up I am welcome to come down, I wanted to, but I felt shy, so I didn’t.

So — eeeeeeecccccchhhhhggggggghhh the phlegm broke through, I jumped out of bed and got dressed. I was picked up and greeted with a huge English hello by Ethan’s girlfriend and the five of us drove to a local Italian bar and spent the evening there with other Italian friends from the town.

And then we went back to the Inn and slept for the night; nothing too exciting. In the morning we went to another coffee place. You never run out of coffee places in Italy. So we went to one, and my throat was still a little scratchy and not ready for coffee. I will tell you what I had. The Barista had unlimited oranges on the marble bar top and she made me FRESH SQUEEZED ORANGE JUICE! so delicious. And guess what else today is. It is December 26th. my birthday! Ethan and Daniel planned to visit their Grandma and took us along with them. She lived in an apartment/house that was built in like the 1600’s. Ciao! Ciao! Comè stai!? aaah bennne!! e tù? aaaah molto bene!!! Grazzzie! We went inside and, I don’t know she was so warm and loving. I didn’t take any pictures of her beautiful home because I didn’t think it was appropriate to take pictures of the inside of her house.  She had made fresh home made spaghetti; it was on the counter ready to be boiled and she had orange peels on the stove simmering filling the air throughout the house with the smell of orange. Now — I will tell you I can not figure out how she did this. I have tried to repeat this natural orange air technique on my own and the peels always burn. If you know how, totally comment and let me know. She had the orange peels bare on the stove top.. not in anything, no water no oil, nothing. I don’t know how she did it. She was chatting up a storm in italian, Daniel and Ethan knew what she was saying. The time was so nice… I wasn’t home, but with this family I was home. Italian’s are great for making you feel that way. She served us the pasta with her very own Bolognese sauce and served us Panettone cake for dessart. She had like a classic tv with knobs and antennas. After we ate she showed us around her home. I kind of wanted to stay there for a long time. But we had places to be and people to see.

Alas, adventure awaits and guess what. It’s snowing! Ethan had the perfect car for snow. It could plow right through, but it wasn’t a snow plow truck. just a truck. Ethan said what do you want to do? And I said I want to go dancing. It was the middle of the afternoon. I didn’t think we’d actually go dancing. I just said it. But I guess a light bulb struck Ethan and he drove us around and we parked. Guess what we did. We went ice skating and skated to music. So it was pretty much like dancing. The thoughtfulness of the idea is beautiful. So we skated, and then it was snowing pretty heavy and we drove around for a while in the snow touring the woodland neighborhood. The area wasn’t your average Long Island suburb. It was more like a mountain town.

I think I mentioned this day is my birthday. When we arrived back to the Inn we were once hungry again.

And I will continue on with my story in Part III. Below are some pictures that I took on this day. You can see pictures of me in front of the Inn, Ethan chasing his dogs, a horse in the barn (did I mention they have a barn?) and some photo’s that I snapped on our drive through the storm. Oh yeah and me on the day time dance party Ice Skating rink!

Thanks for reading! Look forward to Part III coming soon! 🙂

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No Room at the Inn, Part I

NRI1And so… on this holiday excursion that I have described some pages ago (in From Lemons to Lemonade: Fighting for an Adventure); I must remind you that it is the season of snow. From the winter moon of mid December to mid January. At this time, Christmas is in the air and might I add to you, my birthday too.

READ | From Lemons to Lemonade: Fighting for an Adventure

The trip was full of many adventures. One story at time. I regaled you with my my ski trip, and now to present to you, my story, of my stay at the inn, in print — before it fades away.

A recap if you will — in December of 2010 I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Torino, Italy. On this trip we pursued many excursions. The Torino lifestyle is totally different than that of Long Island, New York. So everywhere we stepped foot, was a great site to see, whether next door to the local grocery market, or one of the many shopping squares, where there were beautiful lights. And this one in particular, a man playing piano in one of the windows of the song ‘Hallelujah’ in Italian.

And on this story the scene takes place in Cuneo, Italy. It was holiday break. It was mid December to mid January. It was cold. The space was quiet, most of the students in the neighboring apartments had gone back home to be with their loved ones. It was just us and a trickled few. We had Gurkon (from Turkey) and Vincent (from France, right on the border of Belgium) and Daniel from a Southern U.S. state.

Gurkon was with us for a little bit in the beginning. I carried on the plane, some toys from the U.S. to give to his son. Gurkon kept oranges on the porch outside his room to keep them fresh and cold, love that idea. Gurkon also had long hair and a super powerful hair dryer and he was super generous. He wanted me to have his amazing super powerful hair dryer but It would’ve blown up my American outlets so I didn’t keep it. Thank you Gurkon for your offer. Gurkon stayed for a few days but went home to his wife and kids just in time before the Holidays.

There was Vincent. Vincent was like a micro computer person. He was studying how to do all of those micro things people do with computers. Vincent was French but kind of Belgium too. He had this small tiny car that yet had room for 5 full people; it could fly in and out of traffic. He in fact picked me up from the airport with this car. He stayed around with us and straggled until the last minute and then left to visit his family.

And then there was Daniel. Daniel was super tall and he had long blonde hair and was super nice. He introduced me to gelato with cookies, so good. Daniel is American and had family a train ride away in Cuneo.. He stayed for a little bit and went back to Cuneo just before Christmas.

Now what about me? You ask… Well our plans are to go to Paris, passionate place. Boy could I not wait to see the the holiday set up they had.  On Christmas eve morning, it was time for our flight. We woke up early, hopped in a cab and were on our way. Making it through the airport chaos you can imagine during this time. We look up at the flight board and blink. We blink again and again and again. and What!!! How can this be true! Tears welled up in my eyes, our flight and all outgoing flights to the Charles Degualle airport were — what??!! cancelled!!! I was so sad. What do we do now?? So now I am far away from my family, I can not see my munchkin niece and nephew on Christmas and we have to go back and spend Christmas in the smelly apartment. They didn’t even supply adequate amount of water for the toilette. Yes, I’m not kidding.. the water supply was like a quarter high into the toilette. so gross.

So, sadly, we headed back. Crammed into this bus with like an inch of space per person. So back in the apartment. What are we going to do now? And to boot, the hotel in France will not return our deposit. Well Daniel is not too far.. maybe we can visit him. And we thought technology was limited in Torino, talk about in the Cuneo mountains! Boy, I’ll tell ya.. these things don’t come easy. It was impossible to get a hold of him. So one person made call after call, and what was I doing while they were calling Daniel. I went across the street to the other local supermarket to get a gift to bring to the host – just incase they have room for us. I don’t know who these people are. I picked up a plant. I found a Poinsettia and thought well maybe this will be nice. When I got back to the apartment with the plant we were all good. Well okay, so we aren’t going to Paris, but at least we’ll have the warmth of family.

My goodness… We couldn’t get to Paris but boy was this a blessing. We grabbed our bags and my Poinsettia and we were off. We got our tickets. I forgot I was in an Italian speaking country and blurted to the conductor, (is this the train going to Cuneo?) She looked up in shock like “I haven’t heard that one before” and nodded her head yes. So I guess she understood, I think, I hope she did because we listened to her nod. We squished on the train. It was like a four hour train ride. I guarded the plant with my life. A person sat across from me. You better not knock my plant over biotch. This is a special gift. And I’m gonna say, lets say the train ride was accurately 4 hours… we listened to a man singing in what sounded to me like a 3 hour and 45 minute (i’m gonna say what sounded muslim) prayer… the entirrrrrrrrre ride. But it was nice. And I had a window seat. The scenery was nice too.

Park the train, we are here! And look! There is Daniel with his cousin Ethan down the hill on the road in a pick up truck! Here to pick us up!! Yaaaay for warm Italian family!! and off we go.

This trip was a beautiful miracle.

The family could not have been more generous. The night we got there, (Yes it was dark by the time we got there after all has been said and done) I gave the father, Batti, the Poinsettia. He said Grazie. Ethan and Daniel took us to the local pizzeria where we ate delicious pizza (my fave). And the people spoke Italian, obviously. So it was an authentic pizzeria. So good. And then we went back to where we were staying. You see Ethan and his father run a bed and breakfast. So they had their cabin where they lived (and let us sleep) and then right next door, the cabin where they had a restaurant. So after we had pizza we waited like an hour or so, and then we had a full multi course dinner with like antipasti, fish, wine, etc….

And then we settled in, in the Inn, I called home and said hi to my niece and nephew and family while the family was over my parents for Christmas eve. I cried a little because I missed them.

I suppose really it wouldn’t have been that bad to spend Christmas back in the apartment. Looking back.. I mean just being there would have been enough.. but we don’t always see these things in the heat of a moment.

These are all of the pictures that I have of my story so far. I have them posted below. There is a picture of the town square where I heard the man playing piano and singing ‘Hallelujah” and some photos of the town of Cuneo up to my first night (where I am ending this post). I would’ve taken more If I knew I would be taking them for viewers!

Stay tuned for No Room at the Inn, Part II!

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This is a statue in one of the town squares.

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This is the castle of Piazza Castello in one of the Turin squares.

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This is the square where we heard the man playing piano and singing to the song ‘Hallelujah’

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This is a water fountain on the street that constantly streams water. Except they didn’t have enough water for the toilets.. Even in winter. Do you see, there is some ice on the floor?

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This is a sign on the train.

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This is one of the cobblestone roads in the village of Cuneo

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This is a manger set up in the village of Cuneo.

I also installed a video of Hallelujah for you sung by Jeff Buckley. There are so many versions but this one is my fave. I invite you to watch!

From Lemons to Lemonade: Fighting for an Adventure

Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your heart and soul are precious things that can never be taken from you. Remember that…

—Oscar Wilde

When a journey starts out bad and we have to fight through it… it earns the title of an adventure. Adventures are precious irreplaceable thoughts locked in our heart allowing us to travel from here to then, right now. It is something so bitter it will make you tear with a sour face, but then, with the tiniest bit of sugar, is twisted into a thirst quenching refresher that you can not get enough of.

From mid December to mid January of 2010 I had the opportunity to travel to Italy for a month, Turin to be exact. From beginning to end, the trip was filled with unforgettable sub adventures. But today I will tell you about this one.

Turin is the home to the winter olympic games of 2006*. Two days after my arrival, my friend and friend’s room mate took me skiing on the renown mountain. We woke up earlier than the crack of dawn that morning, bundled up with layers of clothes worn under water proof clothes, covered our extremities with socks hats and gloves and we were on our way. The train ride took some time. I don’t remember.. maybe an hour – or two – or three, I forgot, but thats not the point. As the train trailed through I sat with my head leaning against the window and slept, occasionally opening my eyes to see the snow and trees passing by in the dark early morning.

Last stop. We’re here! As the doors split apart I stepped forward pressing my feet onto the ground and into the snow. I was greeted with a powerful blast of cold fresh air. The sky was still a midnight blue, lightened with gray, waiting for the sun to break through. To the right of me was the mountain inviting us over, looking above, the sky was sparkling with delicate crystals of ice finding their way to either the tip of my nose or the ground.

Stop! Photo op! We took lots of pictures here.

Here I am outside of the docked train parked at the station of Bardonecchia. Do you see how much snow there was? The snow is up to the seat of the bench behind me. I love it.

Here I am outside of the docked train parked at the station of Bardonecchia. Do you see how much snow there was? The snow is up to the seat of the bench behind me. I love it.

Moving right along we socialized with the workers, rented our skis, smashed our feet into the boots and were carried to the top of the mountain by a chair lift.

The day was filled with fun and excitement, slaloming down the mountain and such, stopping at the cabin on the top of the mountain for the most amazing hot chocolate and fantastic pizza.

One lemon. After hours of winter fun, we grew heavy and sluggish. Mutually, the three of us decided to give the mountain one more go. The chair lift picked us up at the bottom and slowly arrived to the top. Time to get off. We all did. except WACK! what was that? why is everything blank? Five blue birds and six sparkling gold stars were fluttering around my head. Slowly I trickled down into the snow. why are people running over and smashing snow into my head? don’t do that.. it will make my hair frizzy

My ski’s had gotten stuck under the ski’s of the people I was sitting in between as we were sliding off the the chair lift, preventing me from moving forward and the swing hit me in the head! Urgh.. How am I gonna get down now?

….Plus water…. From the moment I slid down and plopped to the floor the chair lift stopped dead in rotation. Friends, passerbyer’s and mountain workers came running over. My head hurt so much and I was in shock. Patrol guys were flashing lights into my eyes to make sure I did not have a concussion. They reacted quickly and concocted a plan. While waiting for help, I was invited to wait in the control room with the chair lift workers. I love this moment! I was able to hang out with them and talk to the Italian’s about their culture. They spoke some english and I spoke some Italian. Together, the three of us we were chatting up a storm. They were making  jokes and telling me everything will be fine. and Christmas was coming up! How nice it was hearing about the holiday lifestyles of these people. Thirty minutes later help had arrived. I was to ride halfway down with the patrol guy and be driven to the bottom on a snow mobile. Amazing! More time to share cultural stories. And down we went.

Can you see how wonderful this is? Instead of going down the mountain in your expected average way, being carried up by the chair lift and sliding down on two feet, I was given the gift of encountering a minor head injury allowing me to socialize plus a ride down on a snow mobile. The head injury was a small price to pay for the exciting adventure in return. What a gift!

With a dash of sugar…  At the end of the trip—on the train ride home, naturally it was very late. My two friends and I were resting in our seats. I noticed a young foreign guy sitting up ahead laughing with a group of his friends. He got up from his seat and headed towards us with a smile. He began to speak with us in Italian, with a non english nor Italian accent, but then it was an unsaid understanding that English was a common ground for all of us, so he changed his dialect. He wanted to know if we could help him choose the correct stop to get off from, and we did know. I knew our help meant a lot to him because when the conversation was over, he declared a great warm “God Bless Us!!” I’m pretty sure he meant God bless you, except his language translation jumbled up the content. Or, perhaps maybe he did mean “us” and wanted to include himself in the circle of blessings. Any how, I am grateful that he said his words that way, because had he not—I wouldn’t be sitting here with a great big grin on my face flashing back to that moment.

Creates lemonade! Adventures can not qualify as an adventure until after it has a happened and the moments have settled. Then we can look back and are able to know — that was an adventure — and it is preserved safe in our souls forever. I can save my ski trip in my pocket with out worries of losing it and keep it handy for whenever I am in need of smile.

What’s in your pocket?

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Here I am at the top of Bardonecchia mountain preparing to make my way down (before the incident).


Thanks to this adventure, I was able to use the photos for a practice identity package for the KASTLE Ski Company for a class project. Check it out!
Kastle Ski Identity Redesign

Included is a composite of my ski pass from the day.

Included is a composite of my ski pass from the day. Overall, the design of the pass looks good. The colors are refreshing, energetic and pleasing to represent the mood of a beautiful cold day for skiing. The visual hierachy of the logo stands out with an emphasis on the first capitol B and ending in a capitol A. The logo is a little close to the top and could be moved down for more breathing room.  In order to make the appearance of the pass a little more visually pleasing, the white glow around the text should be eliminated. On the image to the right, a consistent right alignment of the text would look nice as well. In addition, the the circular seal and text could be adjusted to be a little more balanced with the words on the card.


Thanks for reading. As I stated in my last post… to take the pressure off of dear Frida Kahlo for sharing her lemons with the universe in my article “When life hands you lemons… ROCK ON!” I would like to share with you one of my lemons that can now be preserved as lemonade.


*2006 Winter Olympics

*Title inspired by Nick Montano who instructed me on the proper usage of the connection between from and to, inspiring the topic of the title From Lemons to Lemonade