SAN LLUIS, Spain — For the last couple of years Marina and I have tossed around a plan to live half the year on an island and half the year in Rome. If there is a more heavenly existence than that, it’s in a religion I don’t believe in. We focused on the Caribbean. I […]
(Last of a four-part series on my three-week journey through Central Asia) TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — The Silk Road stretched from eastern China to what is now western Turkey, a 4,000-mile highway of transported goods that connected East with West like no time ever before. It was the 2nd century’s version of Amazon.com. Genghis Khan did […]
(Third of a four-part series on my three-week trip through Central Asia.) ARTUCH, Tajikistan — The Artuch Mountaineering Camp sits in a deep bowl in the middle of postcard-perfect snow-capped mountains and a forest of juniper trees. A small river babbles down the valley into a little village below. I’d feel as if I was […]
Almaty: Kazakhstan’s former capital a beacon of post-Soviet modernization — if only the government kept step
(Second of a four-part series on a three-week trip through Central Asia) ALMATY, Kazakhstan — I was sitting in what can only be described as an Arabic gazebo. My table sat under a pointed roof with drapes on four sides pulled back like on a square four-poster bed. It looked more like a harem tent […]
Kyrgyzstan: The mountainous heart of the old Silk Road beating stronger for this old backpacking nomad
(This is the first of four blogs on last month’s three-week trip through Central Asia) KARAKOL, Kyrgyzstan — I’ve had a weird fascination with former communist countries ever since I went to Hungary and Yugoslavia in 1978. Coming from knee-jerk liberal University of Oregon, where the sociology department was just to the left of Karl […]
The island of Procida doesn’t get much play outside Europe. The way it’s overshadowed by Capri 10 miles to the south, Capri might as well be Australia. But Procida (pronounced PRO-chee-duh) holds its own with Italians who see Capri as I do: an Italian theme park with better wine. Procida doesn’t have Capri’s vistas — and Capri’s do meet the hype — but it does have an Italian soul. It’s why I took my girlfriend, the lovely and talented Marina Pascucci, to Procida for our two-year anniversary.
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It’s where grape vines flicker in the sun under emerald green hills. It’s where wildflowers of red, purple and orange line forest roads and lead to quaint villages where wine flows like water and the air smells of cheese and prosciutto.
Cycling in Tuscany is such a remarkable experience it’s almost a cliche. But like all overused terms, the core is truth. On Tuesday I took my first Tuscany bike ride. In Tuscany, cycling takes on a different quality. Wineries dot Tuscany like snowflakes on a ski slope. You can’t ride more than 30 minutes without seeing neat rows of grapevines behind an 18th century house teasing you with outdoor tables and a view of a meadow.
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My nephew from California and his girlfriend are staying at my place in Rome for a week, mixing in some wine, pasta and art with his passion for soccer. His first European soccer match was Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League semifinals May 1 and then the couple joined Marina and me […]
Life as a film extra in Italy: From a cardinal to a Carabinieri, my new part-time gig is not all “ACTION!”
What was your fantasy job? We all had one. I certainly did. When I was younger, like any red-blooded American boy into sports, I wanted to be a famous pro athlete. When I realized my athletic ability would barely get me into my high school baseball team’s dugout, I wanted to win a Pulitzer Prize. […]
SAN GIMIGNANO, Italy — Relationships in Rome are as hard as the language. You can’t have one without the other. That’s why life in Rome often bounces between passionate kisses near back-lit fountains and sitting alone in a dive bar drinking bottled Peroni. Many women don’t trust the men; many men don’t respect the women. […]
BEIRUT — The bar manager in the white suit hovered over our table by the sea. In between making Marina and I feel welcome, he directed his minions carrying buckets of white-hot coals for the hookah pipes at each table. With a 60-meter lighthouse hovering over us, we looked out through the glass-enclosed outdoor bar […]
PERUGIA, Italy — If Italy was a gelato cone, Perugia would be the hot chocolate syrup they dip it in. It’s the chocolate capital of Italy. It’s home to Perugina chocolate (Baci chocolate kisses, anyone?), the annual Eurochocolate festival and more chocolate shops than Dublin has pubs. Thus, my heart — and my dentist — […]