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.

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

 

Capri

Capri

and float in a sea of Venezia blue.

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My Blue Heaven

Postcards & Prosecco

Mykonos, Greece

Edition 01  July 2011
Shrine on

Shrine on

I’ve spent my entire life surrounded by water. The grand lady of them all, the Chesapeake Bay is the first body of water I’ve ever loved. She’s captured legendary explorers that have written far more eloquently than I about her beauty, wealth, and substance. To treasure the Chesapeake is a birth right of sorts coursing throughout the veins of the children of the fair state of Maryland. And for those like me, scattered throughout the world, the Chesapeake remains the measure of maritime beauty. Ask any Marylander, and I am confident they can wax poetically about the bay, summer days of their childhood shuffling through the mucky water, waiting impatiently on a splintered wooden dock for a sign of life in a rusty old crab trap. I am certain one of the reasons I love living in northeast Florida is because of the two great bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean and the St. Johns River, that encircle my everyday. Yet, it the Chesapeake who will forever hold a special place in my heart.

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But now, I must confess, I have a new love. He is unlike anything I have ever seen before. With a rocky coastline and a white washed façade, this Greek is an epically stunning beauty. In all fairness, I have experienced bodies of water that have brought me great joy. Childhood summers in the fierce surf of the Atlantic Ocean venturing into the swift and dangerous undertow of Rehoboth Beach, the pale salty turquoise of the Gulf of Mexico as an overly confident bikini clad co-ed, the powerful, cold, and daunting Pacific Ocean while traveling on a motorcycle through the hills of Santa Barbara. And while it has happened in the past, I wasn’t prepared this.

Mykonos Blue

Mykonos Blue

He is different. And I did not expect to fall so suddenly for this diminutive little Greek. Just the sound of his name, Mykonos brings a smile to my lips. I am defenseless against his beauty. His body of water is the bluest blue I have every seen. Somewhere between midnight and cobalt with a glimmer of  sapphire, he reigns supreme. Yet he remains completely transparent, refracting sunlight as hypnotically as a stained glass window. This hue, Mykonos Blue, as I’ve come to call it, is mesmerizing and making it nearly  impossible to turn away.

Stairway to heaven. Close enough it's Mykonos, Greece.

Stairway to heaven. Close enough it’s Mykonos, Greece.

I know I am not the first to fall for this charmer. The entire city is designed to enhance his beauty. The white washed buildings stand in simple contrast to his regal blue elegance. The turquoise trim on the shutters and railings throughout the town emphasize his brilliantly deep dark shade. And while Ulysses had his Sirens beckoning him back, I suspect it will be Mykonos that calls my name to return yet again and again.