Capri Sunset Cruise

POSTCARDS & PROSECCO

CAPRI, ITALY

EDITION 02   MAY 2018

If you think Capri is special you are not alone. Long before today’s celebrities and millionaires found solace in this glamorous tiny Island, the ancient Greeks and Roman emperors fell under her spell. For me, Capri is even more beautiful when viewed from the water, and a sunset cruise around the Island is the perfect place to enjoy the vibrant show of ever changing colors.

Captain.AM

My View from Abroad

POSTCARDS & PROSECCO

SORRENTO, ITALY

EDITION 02  MARCH 2018

Angel

I walk by this Angel Statue nearly every day. She stands in memory of the Italian soldiers lost in the battles of World War I. The sword wielding angel, faces the water in the direction of Naples and stands directly in front of a school.

Italy is a country that reveres its children and has fewer of them than ever before. The birthrate here continues to decline and is one of the lowest in all of Europe. The children that are here are beloved. It seems as if everyone, young and old, joyfully acknowledges and warmly greets children in this country. A new baby and beamingly proud mother in the neighborhood are treated like celebrities, with people running out of stores or across the piazza to greet them. It’s extraordinarily  wonderful to see children so cherished, protected, and well cared for.

I participated in a language roundtable this week, talking in person with local Italians seeking to practice their English. As you can imagine, my table had questions that quickly turned political. But more than the tariffs, and the President himself, my table wanted to talk about guns in America. Here, the idea of guns in schools is vastly incongruent with the cultural values of the country. It seems so simple here, you protect and cherish what you love. And Italians love their children and families above all else.

The conversations, the continued shootings, the marches across the nation have all left me thinking a great deal about students, safety, and America. Progress is possible but change is necessary.

My time abroad makes it clear to me what makes America special is the opportunity it afford her citizens. Over our short history, Americans have continually adapted, changed, and evolved. In my lifetime I have seen changes to automobile safety; seatbelts, car seats, and MADD radically changing the course of drunk driving. I have seen changes in smoking regulations, prohibiting it from restaurants and while on airplanes. As a nation we’ve passed laws regulating the amount of advertising to children, while changing the legal drinking age, the legal age to buy cigarettes, and legalizing marijuana. Most recently, individual states lead the way to legalizing gay marriages.

We’ve faced divisive issues before and we’ve reached solutions that ultimately leave us better as a nation. The words of President Lincoln remind us that, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Through passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better Angels of our nature.” I pray the better angels will lead the way and effective policy change will be swiftly enacted on both the state and federal levels. I’m encouraged by the call to action I’ve seen and pray that someone in the halls of Congress, or leading one of the great States of our Union will stand like this sword wielding angel and protect what is most precious to so many of us– our children.

 

 

 

Summer in Sorrento

POSTCARDS & PROSECCO

SORRENTO, ITALY

EDITION 01  JULY 2017

Join me for this video postcard and travel high above the sea, to a lemon scented Italian paradise.  South of Naples, nestled on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Sorrento features spectacular views from every direction including the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the Isle of Capri. Greeks, Romans, and Italians have all called Sorrento home, weaving their culture into the charm and fabric of this city.  As I searched for the perfect place to host study abroad, it became clear that sun drenched Sorrento and the warm welcoming people of this town were exactly what I was looking for. And now, for a few glorious weeks this summer, my students and I will also call Sorrento home.

I’ll see you in Sorrento!

10 Fun Facts about Santorini

 

Postcards & Prosecco

Santorini, Greece

Edition 02  January 2018
  1.  Santorini is not her real name. She’s been know as Strogill (the round), Kallisti (the most beautiful), and Theras (the son of a king). Following the Crusades of the 13th Century, the island was once again re-named, this time by the Venetians in honor of Saint Irene or Santa Irini. Fast forward a few centuries and the world over knows this sparking gem in the Agean Sea as Santorini.
Oia, Santorini

The bright Blue Dome of Oia and the cresecent shape of the caldera.

 

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Narrow Passage Ways

Shadows and Delight

The blue dome and bell tower of Pyrgos

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Blue doors and more

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Santorini and the view from Fira

2.  There are exactly two ways to arrive at Santorini, by boat or by plane. If you arrive by boat you will travel up via the funicular or ride a donkey up the 980 feet above sea level.

Enjoying the ride to the top.

A smooth ride up the 980 feet of Santorini.

Looking up

A view from the sea and a new point of view

3.  She’s one of a kind. This series of volcanic islands in the Aegean Sea is the only inhabited caldera (underwater volcano structure) in the world. Many believe Santorini may be the Atlantis Plato wrote about.  The Minoan Eruption at Santorini created a devastating tsunami in the Aegean Sea, believed to have destroyed the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

4.  More than 3,600 years ago, someone saw the signs and knew when to get out.  Scientists believe the nearly 30,000 residents of the island successfully evacuated prior to the volcanic eruption. In the late 1950’s archeologists uncovered the near perfectly preserved city of Akrotiri encased in three to six feet of ash.

Artifacts recovered from the site indicate the city was active in trade with other parts of the world and sophisticated in design. The site, now open for tours, reveals multilevel buildings, indoor bathrooms, sewage systems, and elaborate frescos. With no trace of human remains or valuable objects left behind scientists believe the residents most likely successfully evacuated the island.

Santorini Sunset and the Sea

A golden sunset captured from the Aegean Sea.

5.  Santorini remains an active volcano, in a quiet state. Scientists have found evidence of at least twelve large eruptions in the last 200,000 years. An small episode of unrest, now in remission, was recorded as recently as 2011-2012.

6.  The volcanic activity of Santorini left behind remarkable beaches in vibrant hues including volcanic red, white rock formations, and black stone beaches. On one side of the island, Akrotiri, you can hike the stunning Red Beach.

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7.  On the other side of the island, and the town of Kamari, you can enjoy the Black Sand beaches of Santorini. Side note here, the beaches are beautiful but can be painfully hot. The word sand, is used very loosely here as the black sand beach could be more accurately described as a black stone beach.

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Clear water and black stones await at Kamari Beach

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Mesa Vouno from the beaches of Kamari

 

You’ll find pathways to your chairs but you may want to pack a pair of flip-flops (or sacrifice a pair of leather sandles to the Aegean Sea as I was forced to do) to make your walk into the sea more comfortable. While you will not want to walk around Santorini in flip-flops, you’ll be glad to walk from your beach chair and into the water.

8.  Staying in the smaller section of Kamari offers a welcome respite from the crowds.  The black sand beaches are nearby at the end of street and there are plenty of beach clubs and cafés ready to welcome you to Santorini. Transportation to the airport and the towns of Oia and Thira is easily arranged.

9. Despite being a volcanic island with a limited supply of water, you’ll enjoy some of the most delicious and fresh Greek food available. Volcanic soil is mineral rich and the produce on the island is something extraordinary.

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The most delicious Greek yogurt spread.

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Authentic Greek Salad. No lettuce and designed to be shared.

10.  There is a lot of ground to cover during your visit to Santorini. Be prepared to do plenty of walking and pack shoes that will help you do so. Renting four wheelers and cruising the island is a spectacularly picturesque and incredibly fun way to visit the different towns.

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The best way to see the Santorini.

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Gifts from the Sea

Autumn in Montréal

Postcards & Prosecco

Montréal, Quebéc

Edition 01  October 2017

It was an all too quick trip work trip. Conference sessions quickly filled up my days keeping me inside the hotel. But late one afternoon, I ventured out and stepped into the brisk sunshine. A few blocks from the hotel, I climbed aboard a city tour for a quick jaunt around the majestic city.  Ablaze in autumn splendor, Montréal dazzled and delighted, leaving me wishing for more time to spend in this the largest French speaking city in the world. C’est magnifique!

 

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.

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.