The Italy Rules

Sicily - The Blissful Adventurer

Cathedral – Mazzara del Valo

The Italy Rules are my set of guidelines for the first-time and infrequent Italy traveler. I have traveled to, lived, and worked in Italy frequently over the past 20 years. In this time I evolved from a curious tourist to hardened, salty veteran of the trials, travails, and pitfalls of one of the world’s most visited countries. One usually dreams of Italy for years before finally setting their foot into the proverbial boot. The dream usually crashes in much less time. This post is really for the traveler who has not been deep into the Amazon or climbed to base camps in Nepal. This post is for those of you who enjoy modern conveniences, large bathrooms, and the amenities of a comfortable Western life. For the most part, I am you. I love my big bed, my central heat and air, and my very fast wi-fi connection. However, Italy is reason enough for me forego these luxuries for a few weeks or months out of every year. [Read more...]

True Italy Stories – Out of Gas in Puglia (Part 1)

 

The Blissful Adventurer - True Italy Stories

Baroque Fascists

It was 03:45 am and my wife Juliet and I were pushing a 2005 Audi A4 wagon on the very busy SS16 from Monopoli back to our villa in Capitolo.  Cars filled with mostly drunken disco douche bags were streaming by at 150 kilometers per hour and we were making at best 10kmph into a headwind.

This was clearly a dangerous situation and we were in fact, out of gas and ¼ mile from safety. [Read more...]

Top 25 Italy Moments – #12 The Wrong Train

A symbol of both freedom and frutsration

My first experience in Florence was a solo Christmas shopping excursion in 1992. I took a train from Rome in the early morning on a Saturday in December while the rest of my classmates went to visit Tivoli Gardens near Rome (I have still never been to Tivoli).

I was wide-eyed and thrilled by the carnival atmosphere of the leather market in Florence. I knew nothing else about the city other than the David Statue (11 trips to Italy and I still have never seen it in person). So, my Florence was leather belts, wallets, silk ties, and a few other personal and family Christmas gifts. I do not think I even had my camera so I could carry all my bags of goodies home. [Read more...]

Snoring in Europe (Part 2)

Near Montecucco

This is part 2 of my existential piece on snoring in Europe and how it enlightened me on Friendship, duty, and following my passion. Keep in mind I was living in Tuscany at the time this was written. Some fine work by my colleagues Alfonso Cevola and Jeremy Parzen have brought the subject of DOCG wines from the Montecucco appellation in Tuscany to light this week, and as I was embarking on a job in this area at the time I penned this, I thought it an appropriate piece for the week. [Read more...]

Snoring in Europe (Part 1)

God be with those who explore
In the cause of understanding:
Whose search takes them far
From what is familiar and comfortable
And leads them to danger or terrifying loneliness.
Let us try to understand their confronting or
Unusual language; the uncommon life of their emotions,
For they have been affected and shaped and changed
By their struggle at the frontiers of a wild darkness,
Just as we may be affected, shaped, and changed
By the insights they bring back to us
Bless them with strength and peace.
Amen

This week for me begins with a tale from 2006 and my first days leading for BACKROADS. The prayer from above has stayed with me and in my pocket since 2006 and it never fails to remind me of who I am and what I do. As many of you know, I actually led cycling trips one summer before I decided to start my own biz with Antonello.

I was training in the south of France when this story took place and it led to a subsequent snoring story with my good friend while cycling in Tuscany a month later. [Read more...]

Puglia in May

View to the Road

Ca’ del Fico is available in May!

Since I have been involved in Puglia my dear friend Antonello’s stunning villa (Ca’ del Fico)in the hills outside of FASANO in Puglia has never been available in May. As my readers know I fell in love with this amazing property in 2006 when I set eyes upon its’ acres of olive trees, orchards of figs, and view of the Adriatic. Now, my first year removed as owner of Southern Visions Travel, I am more enamored than ever by the region and by this stunning piece of property. [Read more...]

My Dinner with Malcolm Gladwell (Part 1)

The Top Coffee Shop in Houston

On Tuesday afternoon I went into my beloved Catalina coffee for an afternoon pour-over of their fabulous Rwanda coffee that had recently arrived. I had just eaten a below-average lunch at the TQLA on Wash-Av and needed a dose of quality in my diet to assuage the misery in my still hungry stomach. At TQLA I had ordered a Ceviche and a Mushroom tamale for my lunch. My server came to my table moments later with tamale in-hand and informed me that the kitchen had dropped my Ceviche and would be re-making it. I informed him very politely that I really wanted the cold ceviche before my warm tamale and he obligingly took the tamale back and very likely stuck in under a lamp. [Read more...]

Disco Birthday Breakdown (Part 1)

“Meglio non avere una storia che averne una noiosa.”

Better to have no story than to have a boring one – From the label of a bottle of Castello, a Friulian beer

Castello Rossa

It was 03:45 am and my wife Juliet and I were pushing a 2005 Audi A4 wagon on the very busy SS16 from Monopoli back to our villa in Capitolo.  Cars filled with mostly drunken disco douche bags were streaming by at 150 kilometers per hour and we were making at best 10kmph into a headwind.  This was clearly a dangerous situation and we were in fact, out of gas and ¼ mile from safety. [Read more...]