06 April, 2013


This house is hard to find.  It rests beyond the end of a twisting, narrow country road in Olney, Maryland.  The modern paved road through the neighborhood runs by the back of the house, so that the front entrance isn't obvious from the road.  Massive trees that once lent a statuesque grandeur to the approach are now literally falling down, some branches chopped off and others held up by supporting straps.  Four "dead" cars with flat tires sit in the driveway next to two that appear functional.  The present owners don't seem to have invested very much effort into the house's facade; I can only hope that the interior has seen better care.  There is no sign to distinguish it from any of the other farmhouses in the surrounding area, but I know its name.  My family keeps its name alive because we are part of its story as it is part of ours.  My great-grandfather built this house.

05 April, 2013

Stamps in My Passport : Where to Stay in Italy

If you're planning a trip to Italy, there are several paths you could go down when it comes to lodging.  Which one you choose will depend on your priorities.  Budget?  Location?  "Authentic" experience?  Comfort?  Security?  Sometimes you can find all of the above in one place, but don't count on it!  For our trip last year, Carrie and I came up with a patchwork of lodging situations that reflected our hopes and priorities for each location.

04 April, 2013

Stamps in My Passport : Eating in Eataly

Italy is a mecca for food lovers.  For me, one of the most overwhelming aspects of our trip was simply deciding where to eat!  We only had a limited number of meals to consume, and a seemingly infinite range of options for each meal.  Here are some the favorites we landed upon.  Of course, different factors go into everyone's list of "favorites"...I expect there's even better gelato to be found in Rome, for instance, than that at Tre Scalini; but eating their gelato on a textbook perfect spring evening, with music floating in the air and smiles all around, it seemed pretty hard to beat.  All that is to say, take these suggestions as suggestions, and feel free to drop any additional recommendations in the comments -- I'd love to have new leads to track down if I ever return to Italy!

03 April, 2013

Stamps in My Passport : Italy

Exactly a year ago, I was exploring Italy for the very first time and thoroughly enjoying it -- cultural highlights as well as cultural idiosyncrasies   There's one thing you should know before traveling to Italy.  Well, there are many things you should know, but especially know this:  Don't expect sparkling customer service.  Italians do many things well, but "speedy service with a smile" is not a given.  Check that need at the door, and embrace any ensuing mayhem.