10 Fun Facts about Sorrento

Postcards and Prosecco

Sorrento, Italy

Edition 01   October 2017
  1. As you travel to Sorrento to savor this Italian paradise by the sea, you’ll become part of a tradition dating back more than 2,000 years.IMG_1773
  2. You’ll be in good company as the Greeks, Romans, and Italians have all woven their history into sun drenched Sorrento.
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    Locals dance the Tarantella
  3. Legend has it that Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus’ villa was located on the same spot as today’s regal Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. 
  4. Lemons in Sorrento are considered the best in the world thanks to the mineral rich volcanic soil compliments of Mount Vesuvius. You’ll find them throughout the town filling the air with the sweet smell of citrus and delighting locals and vistors alike.
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    Sorrento is the home of Limoncello
    Fruit Markets of Sorrento
    Fresh fruit markets with lemons of all sizes
  5. The cliffs of Sorrento will take your breath away. In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans built a protective wall around the city. Over the centuries the walls became higher and higher creating magnificent views.
  6. Nestled on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Sorrento is perfectly situated to provide spectacular views from every direction including the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the Isle of Capri.
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    Capri
  7. You’ve got it made in the shade in Sorrento. The ancient Greeks designed the narrow streets of Sorrento and intentionally positioned them to shade pedestrians from the sun. You’ll be glad they did as this walkable city is best enjoyed on foot.
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    The narrow streets of Sorrento
  8. Location, location, location. With Sorrento as your home base you are within thirty minutes of Pompeii, Capri, and Positano.
  9. As you travel south from Sorrento you’ll experience one of the world’s greatest drives. The Amalfi Coast sits 500 feet above the Mediterranean Sea and promises to remind you to enjoy the journey.
  10. There’s a song about Sorrento and how this sweetly sun-drenched city will beckon you to return. It seems as if everyone wanted to sing about Sorrento, including Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Bocelli and Pavarotti. Visit Sorrento, and there’s a good chance you too may soon be singing about your “Return to Sorrento.”
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    Sunset in Sorrento

    Click here for more information about how you can join me and study in Sorrento this summer.

Venetian Stroll

Postcards & Prosecco

Venice, Italy

Edition 01  July 2017

As the sun sets, and the crowds subside, St. Mark’s Square transforms into the most delightful of places. The orchestras on bandstands throughout the square take to the stage. Music fills the air serenading lucky visitors and local residents alike as silver tray service and debonaire white jacket waiters add to the magic that is St. Marks after sunset. In the span of an evening you may see a proposal on bended knee, a elderly couple dancing a waltz, and scores of brides and grooms posing for photographs. The cobalt blues of the cathedral and brilliant golds of the mosaics cast a ambient glow that showcases this treasure of Venice in perfect light.

Vistas and Viewpoints

Postcards and Prosecco

Berchtesgaden, Germany

Edition 01  August 2017

I have traveled to places that stay with me for all the wrong reasons. Places that haunt my thoughts with a physical weight of sadness palpable in the air all around. To walk Gettysburg, Antietam, and the Alamo, is to experience tragically beautiful places, steeped in the blood of American history. I used to take comfort in the decades that separated us from our collective past. I used to believe we were wiser and more enlightened basking in the peace of our nation.

A few months ago, I visited a place that I knew would be difficult for me. There was a good chance the mountain pass would not be open and the Alpine snow, even in middle of May, would prevent our group from visiting. Secretly, I was hoping we would not go. The weather cleared, the skies opened into a bright blue, and despite the snow on the ground, the group was cleared to go to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.

As I walked through the 406 foot underground tunnel, designed for Hitler’s car, I caught myself holding my breath. I touched nothing, but looked at the perfectly laid brick work and wondered about the 3,000 men that completed this entire project over the course of 13 months. With the mountain snow trickling ever so quietly, the group took a quick turn to the right, and into a massive golden elevator. Expansive by designed, the elevator was engineered to hold Hitler’s car and transport him to the top of the mountain.

The 400 foot ride up the center of the mountain was quiet, smooth, and a quick. Still to this day, the engineering is considered a masterpiece (and one of the reasons the property was not razed). As I listened to the tour and details of the place, I was drawn to photographs on the wall. I wanted the people to look like monsters or at least as odd as Hitler. Yet, they didn’t. They were disturbingly young, well dressed, and happy.

Finally, I made my way outside, now 6,000 feet above on a summit facing the Alps of Austria and Germany. I needed to fill my lungs with clean air and a minute to myself. As I looked around, none of it made sense. This was one of the most spectacular natural vistas I had ever seen. The views were striking, breathtaking, and pristine. How in the face of such natural majesty could man’s inhumanity continue, proliferate, and manifest into such violence and evil?

The events of the last few weeks have my thoughts returning to my visit to the Eagle’s Nest. There are many things I do not understand. What I do know is that hate, the visible and visceral manifestations demonstrated this week along with unseen subtle and stayed discrimination have no place in our society.

I know throughout history, diversity remains a strength for a community and religious freedom a hallmark of civilized societies. I know there are many lessons to learn from the past. Lessons steeped so deeply in pain, it becomes difficult to revisit and yet necessary to do so. Cicero the great Roman Orator and Philosopher explained, “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” Let the record of history be clear, that we the people of this time and place know the worth of the lives lost before us and value the dignity and humanity of all. There are some lessons we must never repeat.

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Hauntingly Beautiful

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Catching my breath

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Valleys  from the Eagle’s Nest

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Snow capped Alps

Fireplace inside Eagle's Nest
A Gift from Mussolini

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The view from inside Eagle’s Nest

Summer Solace

Postcards and Prosecco

Venice, Italy

Edition 01  July 2017

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to travel.

As a small child, one of my favorite possessions was my suitcase. Delightfully adorned with lavender and blue hydrangeas in a seventies style tapestry, the single handle suitcase, held a place of honor in my childhood. When it wasn’t in use, I kept the suitcase by my bedroom door, in plain sight. I remember wistfully staring at it, dreaming of the places I would carry my suitcase and willing the adventures yet to come.

For more than a decade and a half I have been traveling with students, leading study abroad programs throughout the UK and Europe. I believe travel is essential for education, necessary for understanding, and good for the soul. Mark Twain explained beautifully that, “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” I see his words ringing true each and every time I take a group of college students abroad. Their worlds change, history confronts them face to face, art overwhelms them, and modern day headlines and the ravages of war walk by them on the street.

University life is great work, meaningful, rewarding, and when done properly exhausting. At the end of my study abroad trips, I return to the same thought. I need some time to myself. To explore and to sit still. To think deeply and to wonder aimlessly. To return to old favorites and to find new adventures. And so nearly a year ago, I set to work planning my sojourn sans my students. In late Spring of this year, after completing my annual study abroad , I returned to Italy and settled in for a more authentic experience in a Venetian neighborhood know as Castello.

At times family and friends joined in the fun and at other times I travelled by myself. Along the way, I collected hundreds of photographs, drank the best coffee, wine, and prosecco of my life, and learned a great deal in the process. Now that I am back in Florida, and unpacking my bags, I’m ready to share my adventures with you. With Venice as my home base, join me as I travel both north and south, east and west to some of the most beautiful places on our planet.

Dear Venezia

Postcards and Prosecco

Venice, Italy

Edition 01  April  2017

 

Dear Venezia,

For many years, daydreams of you and your floating water colored castles sustained me, transported me, and carried me away. Still photographs frozen in time and artists’ renditions of you danced in my head, breathing life, and possibilities into my soul. You dear Venezia, delivered a much needed imaginary escape during a series of difficult and tragic times in my life.

Love at first sight

The poets echoing refrain and artists’ masterpieces made me love you, long before we met. For decades you graced my hallway, my desk, and my office, waiting for me to see you again. I heard you calling my name, but was too tired, too heartbroken to answer. Yet, you persisted. You remained in my every day, watching and waiting, decorating the backdrop of my life. And when death came to call a second time, leaving me standing yet again over a gloomy windswept grave, you waited no more. You came for me, rushing in, redirecting my plans, and willing me to your verdant marshes.

As the chimes ring and the pilot speaks I wake to see you from the air above. Still woozy with sleep, I stare silently in disbelief, at your verdantly green islands stretched beneath me. I fear my daydreams may be too lofty to sustain the weight of my expectations. Yet, the thought of you overwhelms my senses. I am equal parts excited and anxious. Curious questions cloud my thoughts.

With a mix of adrenaline and sea midst coursing through my veins, I taste the salt water spray on my lips as I travel from the east barrier island, the Lido. At long last, I make my way to you. Much like a bleary eyed child awakening on Christmas morn, I am astonished as I finally see you. I stare, scarcely breathing. In front of me, a kaleidoscope of improbable possibilities.  Technicolored moments long admired from across the Atlantic float majestically before me in sea of hypnotic Adriatic blue. Euphoria washes over me as my heart rate quickens. In this moment, I too am floating outside of myself, a soul set free leaving the terra firma in my wake.

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Parting is such sweet sorrow

Lessons in La Dolce Vita

Postcards and Prosecco

Italy

Edition 01 January 2017

During the Summer of 2016 I lead a group of Jacksonville University students on The Grand Tour of Italy. Following the trip, several of the students were so inspired  they continue to work with me through the fall semester, producing a video illustrating the lessons they learned on the journey. Their stunningly beautiful video and personal stories are featured here for you to enjoy.

Celebrating My Cousin Suzy

Postcards and Prosecco

Maryland

Edition 01  September 2016

For as long as I can remember she has been there. My first friend, two years, eleven days my senior. My September, sapphire, Virgo cousin. Always beautiful, more kind than anyone else in the room, drawing a crowd with her contagious laugh and megawatt smile. I idolized her from the moment I arrived.

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Me, my Dad, and my cousin, Suzy

For the first part of our childhood, we grew up next door, exactly one house away from each another. For decades we shared the same last name and the challenge of explaining how our Italian fathers have a very English last name. To this day, we look more alike than any of our other relatives or sisters. More than one person has told me they think my older daughter looks like her. A compliment that reminds me of the joy I felt as a child when people thought we were sisters.

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Suzy with my daughter Danielle

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First Communion Suzy with both of her Grandmother’s

Together, we learned how to make twelve-hour spaghetti sauce without a recipe, or gravy as Granny Liz would say. We make the same homemade meatballs that require three different types of meat, still long for the paper thin spinach ravioli only Gran could make (although Valerie does a pretty close second), and are transported back to our childhood with a glass bottle of coca-cola waiting for our arrival.

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Jenny and Sue making Gran’s famous sauce

We spent summers at the swim club, lounging in lawn chairs, listening to the music of the 80’s while the sun tea brewed in the back yard. We wore Ocean Pacific shorts, Sunshine House t-shirts, and flipped the collars on our Lacoste polo shirts. We had the same allergies and needed identical prescriptions. We had the same painful bones jetting out the back of our feet, requiring the same unusual surgery in our teens.

When it came time for high school, Sue made sure I was ready. Ready to make the cheerleading squad, parallel park, and still have time for a morning coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. I was a quick study learning how to expertly apply mascara, eyeliner, and bubblegum flavored Kissing Potion lip gloss. Sometimes on Friday nights, I would be invited out with her and her friends. Required to sit on two large phone books, designed to make me look taller, I remained in the back of the car and was strictly forbidden to speak to any boys. We cruised around Towson, like gilded queens on chariots, getting milkshakes, and ending the evening deliriously happy at the Rock and Bowl.

She is there, in nearly every corner of my blissfully happy childhood. Together sharing holidays and vacations, joy and laughter, coffee and conversation. When it was our turn to be a bride, we were one another’s bridesmaids. And as you may imagine she was there for me in the dark days of death. When I doubted both my will and ability to raise two young children as a widow, she championed me. Her familiar voice reassuring me, believing in me, encouraging me, in a way that only those with a shared history can do.

Today is cause for celebration as this wonderful woman, my cousin, celebrates her birthday. A special birthday that marks the passage of time, one I cannot quite fathom. Those of us blessed with the good fortune to call her family and friend are the ones that have been given the most glorious of gifts, having Suzanne in our lives.

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Valerie, Suzy, her Baby Hannah, and me

Happy Birthday Suzy! I No matter how much time passes, or miles come between us, I will always admire you, feel my heart swell with pride when people ask if we are sisters, and look forward to the next time we are together again. I love you as only a cousin can.

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The beautiful Suzanne and her wonderful husband Joe

Nineteen

Postcards & Prosecco

Oxford, Mississippi

Edition 01  August 2016

Year two arrived with her first apartment unlocking the promise and possibility that awaits the young. Nineteen and fearless, she does not look back. She is no longer mine. Although, I’m not certain any strong willed daughter every really belongs to her mother.  My heart bursts with equal parts pride and pain. Pride, as I see her making her way in the world and pain, saying goodbye with so many miles between us.

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Nineteen The promise and the possibility that awaits

He is a well-dressed, southern charmer, in the heart of Dixie. Skilled in the art of conversation, opening doors, and extending welcoming invitations. He has stolen her heart. Oxford, Mississippi and Ole Miss are impossible to resist.

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Fulton Chapel University of Mississippi

Together they are rod iron roof tops, Etta James singing sweetly in the background, and the sun kissing the sky goodnight. It is sorority row, hands held in public prayers, and a canopy of trees lining the Grove. It is yes ma’am, no sir, cornmeal crusted fried green tomatoes, and SEC football. It’s a pickle martini in the manicured yet frazzled hand of a mother remembering what it felt like to be nineteen.

This is the place she loves and now calls home. She is the happiest she has ever been. And that fact alone fills me with gratitude for you Ole Miss. She is my treasure, and the living legacy of a father that left this world too soon. I have poured my heart and soul into this child, and now entrust her to you.

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Bid Day at Ole Miss Delta Gamma

I have a request of you Dear Oxford. Teach her well. Be kind. Fill her up, with all that is wonderful about this little corner of the world. So that someday, when it is time for her to venture out of the velvet ditch, she may sing your song of the south. I pray she will be better because of her time with you, made stronger in body, mind, and spirit and empowered to share her gifts with the rest of the world.

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The Colors of My Soul

Postcards and Prosecco

Rome, Italy

Edition 01  August 2016

To say Italia left me inspired this summer, does not begin to describe what happened. Here’s my take on a quote by Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the last of the five good Emperors.

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts” as Marcus Aurelius said,

I shall make mine red with the poppies of Roma,

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terra cotta from the rooftops of Firenze ,

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lemon scented yellow from Capri

 

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Capri

and float in a sea of Venezia blue.

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Love and Friendship

Postcards & Prosecco

Tiger Mountain, Georgia

Edition 01  July 2016

 

Laura & Eric
Laura & Eric

There’s not much that could persuade me to cut my Italy trip short and return to the states. But when my dear friend of nearly twenty years finally said yes to one of the best men I know, I happily rearranged my summer travel plans to attend their wedding.

Mr. and Mrs.
At last.

In my life, I have been blessed with the gift of great friendships and count Laura among that treasured list.

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Kathy, Annmarie, Laura, & Courtney

If you know Laura and Eric, you know that individually they are each brilliantly smart, thoughtfully kind, wonderfully witty, and fearlessly adventuresome. Yet, together they are even more extraordinary. A sum far greater than its parts. Together their brightly shining stars align, enriching the lives of those they love, and reminding us all of how powerful and beautiful love and life can truly be.
Congratulations Laura and Eric!