Archive for Italy

Cape May Continued…Turdo Vineyards

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times, Vacations with tags , , , on August 8, 2011 by Verge

After visiting the Cape May Lighthouse, we found one of the two local wineries in Cape May, Turdo Vineyards.

Much like Valenzano, the tasting room is around the back of the owners beatiful home.

the tasting room, which came with a rather attractive wine server and a delicious assortment of red wines, and an amazing dessert white.

looking into the vineyards and a sunny, beatiful day...

and looking down the driveway. the tasting room also sold wine by the glass, and had this very quant European-like outdoor cafe.


Italian Vacation 2010, Day 6

Posted in Vacations with tags on November 11, 2010 by Verge

We spent the night just outside of Tivoli at a pretty decent joint.  Since we were outside of the city, there were little places to eat without driving, so we ate at the restaurant hotel.  They had a little bar off the lobby where there was wifi reception, so we had some drinks there while Gisela watched the Phillies game on her laptop.

The next morning, we checked out and headed to Hadrian’s Villa (or Villa Adriana, I’m still not sure why languages like to translate proper nouns.  It baffles me.  I practically didn’t even know Venezia was actually Venice!).

This complex of buildings was Hadrian's vacation house from Rome. It was built almost 2000 years ago, and is now just ruins, mostly unexcavated. This is a swimming pool.

When we got there, we had no idea the scale of the site. We all assumed it would be a few building foundations, a few columns here and there. It was huge, with a more amazing site quite literally around every turn. It was so expansive, it was very easy to get lost.

This is one of two huge reflecting pools. It was originally lined with columns and statues. I'm not talking a few. I mean hundreds. Everything was once covered with marble or mosaics, some of which you can still see. Even the ground was all marble mosaics...everywhere. If it was still in it's original condition, it would be one of the grandest estates in the world, without question.

Here is a video I took from one of the courtyards.

We spent a good 3 hours there, and I took a ton of pictures which you can see over here on Facebook.  Then we headed to the city center to grab some lunch.

We had lunch right on the street outside a small cafe/bar. There was an open-air market behind us and we could hear the music while we ate. Monika and I wanted to stay and explore the city some more because it looked pretty cool, but we had places to go, so off we went.

We stopped at what is called the Apian Way, a kind of turnpike that was built by the Romans and can still be seen in places that haven’t been developed or paved over.  Near that was a cathedral under which there were catacombs.  They were not the first underground burial sites, but they were the first to be called catacombs, and it was centuries later that the word began to be applied to all underground cemeteries.  Of course, no pictures in there, but it was pretty damn interesting and fun.

It was a fine day, and Monika and I were excited because we knew tomorrow, our last full day in Italy, we were finally going to Rome.

Italian Vacation 2010, Day 5

Posted in Vacations with tags on November 10, 2010 by Verge

Monika’s parents wanted to go to a historical site and thought we might not be interested since we weren’t really all read up on the Etruscan ruins that they were interested in.  Instead of going with them, we headed to Sienna.

Monika and Maya goofing around at the rest stop. This place was packed, and they sold cheap wine, too. I picked up four bottles of red wine for like 10 bucks. Granted, it wasn't the best wine around, but it was local, and it did have alcohol in it.

There is a church here that is named after some chick who apparently was a saint. I guess they really loved her. They have her finger cut off and on display. It looks like a brown crayon after a dog chewed it up. What's even more bizarre is the fact that they also have her entire head, in a box, also on display. Since I couldn't take any pictures of her head, You get this, the fabulous view from outside the church.

The four of us stopped for lunch at the center piazza. It was very wide open with cafes all around the edges, which is pretty typical in Italy. Lunch was great, and so was the beer. We took our time. It was nice to be around so many people just hanging out, relaxing and enjoying the summer like weather.

Here’s a one minute video of how beautiful it was.  You can see Gisela at the very end waving her arms at me.

I guess I could have asked strangers to take pictures of us, but I honestly don't mind the cheesy self portraits at all. I think it's kinda cute.

Lunch with the Shanfeld sisters. I ordered a Negroni which are pretty typical drinks in Italy. She brought me a brown drink. I tried to send it back, and she told me it was what I ordered. It wasn't. It was a rum and coke, which we got compliments once the bartender realized his mistake. I got my Negroni, too, and it was delicious.


After lunch, we had gelato. It was the same price per cone no matter what flavor you wanted. Consequently, we ordered macadamia nut and shared a cone.

Go see the rest of the pix over here!

Italian Vacation 2010, Day 3

Posted in Vacations with tags , , on November 6, 2010 by Verge

So, we packed in the morning planning on touring Pisa all day and then heading somewhere else, to be determined.

This is the back of our hotel during the day. I know that seems odd that I'm including another picture of our hotel, but this place was truly unique. They had open areas on each story with artificial turf and lounging areas. It really was a kick ass place to sleep, if only for a single night.

Obviously, the Leaning Tower is the place to go, so I got the map and Ira drove, and we wound ourselves to the other side of the city.

Monika and Schmoo as we approach the beautiful center of Pisa.

this is one of the rarer pictures of me and Mon without my arms in the picture. that is to say, someone else took it!

this is the outside of a church. The best pictures are the inside, but that's not allowed.

A shot from the top of the tower. It's not easy to get up there, and it certainly does make one a little uneasy as well.

I wonder how many people over the years have fallen over the rails. There really is nothing stopping you, and considering it's leaning a good deal more than you think, it's pretty simple to lose your balance.

This was a good vantage point to find a place to find a beer.

Found it!  A great little cafe.  This place was so damn cool they had wine on tap!

Every town has a church or two, but this one is over a thousand years old (and, they allowed photographs).

The reason that most major cities are built near rivers is because it gives tourists incredible photo opportunities!

After a long day, we left Pisa and headed to Bologna, where we found another great hotel and a place close by to have dinner. By this time, we'd decided to head to Venice the next morning. But, that night...we did a bit or partying in our rooms as the city was completely asleep.

See all of the photos from day 3 over here on Facebook.

Italian Vacation 2010 Day 1 & 2

Posted in Vacations with tags , , on November 5, 2010 by Verge

We hadn’t planned on going on a huge vacation overseas this year at all, but we couldn’t really resist when Monika’s family insisted that we join them on their trip to Italy.  I had been there once when I was 12, and Monika had never been there.  We couldn’t go for as long as the rest of the family, but we headed to the airport on Friday afternoon for our flight from Philadelphia direct to Rome.

We had to pack pretty lightly because all six of us had to share one mini van when we arrived and traveled around Italy. This was all our luggage. One checked bag a piece, and a couple of carry-ons.

By some insane stroke of luck, as we walked into the airport to check in, I ran into my first cousin, once removed, and his beautiful girlfriend Simona. They invited us to the private club for frequent flyers. This shit wash posh. Free food. Dollar wine and beer, and martinis (a lot of them)! They are awesome.

but don't think for a minute that that may have stopped us from the drinks on the plane. We had to sleep, because our usually time to go to sleep at 1 am was when we would be landing in Rome, ready for a long day of being a tourist.

We landed outside of Rome and were picked up by Monika’s dad and mom, and older and younger sisters.  We promptly left Rome and headed north, towards Grosetto. This was technically now the start of day two, since it was now Saturday.  We really didn’t have a plan on where we were heading.  I know that doesn’t sound like something I would do, or could do, but that’s how we rolled on this trip.  After a few hours of driving without a definite destination, we got lunch.

the waiter here was drunk, and that was awesome. He sang and danced and helped us stumble through our poor Italian. We had wonderful food on an amazingly beautiful, summer-like afternoon.

Finally, after 4 long hours, I had my first beer in Italy. And then a second.

The center of Grosetto, like every damn Italian city, is beautiful and filled with all kinds of historic buidlings and churches.

After some exploring in the castle and general hijinks, we found our way back to the car and headed to Livorno, a stop on the way to Pisa, which at lunch we cemented as our destination for the day.

We stopped at a roadside bar for a bathroom break, and found that the back deck had an amazing view of the Terranean Sea.


Livorno had few nice things to see, but overall, it was just a pit stop on the way to Pisa.

So, we did drive around Pisa a bit aimlessly for a while, and after the first hotel was a dud, I took over driving.  In Italy you drive on the right side of the road and it’s pretty much the same as driving in any American city.  I enjoy driving and I wasn’t that upset that it took us almost half an hour to find a hotel we could stay in, and the one we found was amazing.

the entire hotel was wrapped in a glass shell that was illuminated from the inside and slowly changed colors.

and the interior was like the set of A Space Oddysey

We partied well that night.  We had dinner at a restaurant that was walking distance and had great food and drinks.  Later, we scored tonic water there and had Saphire and tonics in the hotel room with the duty free gin we got on the plane earlier that day.  It was an amazing first day.  We had already been in 3 different cities, had beer and cocktails, and we were spending the night in a hotel from the future in Pisa.  We slept well.

All of my pictures from the first leg of this adventure can be found here on Facebook.

Back Home

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , on October 26, 2010 by Verge

I have been running around, cleaning up all the loose ends from vacation.  Had to sanitize all the clothes just in case we got some bed bugs along the way, but I’m pretty sure we’re clean because I checked all the rooms before we slept in them.  Perhaps the bedbug problem isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be.  I stayed in average hotels, 7 different ones in 7 nights, and found no trace of bedbugs at any of them.

I’m sick, also.  Not sure how it happened.  Traveling can do that to you.  Ten hours on a plane back from Italy can do that to you for sure.  And, perhaps, the jolt of being on a care free vacation and suddenly having to work the next day can certainly contribute to a weakened immune system.  Not so funny thing is, because I had not started this year expecting to go to Italy for a week, I’m not sure I even have any days off left to take a sick day anymore.  Gotta check with the boss today.

I am working on a small collection of photos to post from our trip.  I easily took over a thousand.  We were in 9 different cities over the course of a week.  I was in more churches in 7 days than probably the last ten years combined.  But, vacation was over, and we were back to reality in no time.  So…back in the Berlin Mart…

Originally wanting to call his new store "Mother fuckin' Spices, Nigga'," and then the tamer "Spices 'n Shit," Bob finally settled on the more PC name of "Spices and Stuff."

I organize and label like a fiend. I think the store had to up its budget on labeling tape since I've landed there.

For the Eagles game, I made individual tin foil bowls of nachos for everyone. Worked out pretty good. I considered making a whole blog about how to do it, but the picture should pretty much explain everything you need to know.

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