Trieste… a science city!

Trieste is an Italian city situated at the far northeast border of Italy and Croatia, and for a century? or more, was the capital of the prosperous Austro-Hungarian Empire… that’s where my memory of its history mostly stops! The last day in Venice, lots of people at my hostel were coughing and my resistance was not strong enough to fight getting the worst sinus cold of my life. Which was too bad because my Trieste hostel was at the edge of the Adriatic Sea, it was warm in the sun, and people were swimming and sun-bathing on the rocks (no beach at all).


It was Sept.12-14 and it also seemed like the whole town was bicycling, even up some steep hills. This cross-roads city has a huge, wide harbor rimmed with broad avenues… perfect for cycling. And it seemed like every 1/2 mile or so, there was a sailing club and there must have been 100+ boats out in a regatta the day I arrived.


Not feeling up to bicycling, I dragged myself up the hill of my street to Miramare, the famous castle on a cliff of Emperor Maximillion.


The stunning site with its extensive gardens (now a public park), “bookends” that side of the city as he planned it, and from his and his wife’s libraries full of books and decor they both designed, these were cultured folk. Too bad he was sent to Mexico to be its ruler… where he was assinated, and his beautiful wife died slowly going mad. They never got to live in the castle they had thoughtfully planned for 10+years.


I saw on a tourist map that the Fermi Lab and a cluster of other science bldgs were located near my hostel and learned that Trieste is considered one of Europe’s finest science research centers. Mostly due to the hard work (and seed money) of an enlightened man from Afghanistan. His dream was to give research scholarships to the brightest PhD candidates in 3rd world countries. When asking for directions, I met a young researcher fom Havana, Cuba working on alternative energy, and I got to speak with a woman from Boston who heads-up Development there. I wanted to know if they had ever considered an Artist-in-Residence program like they now have at CERN in Switzerland… but no luck. She referred me to another man, and with him there might be a joint exhibition opportunity… if I find the money. Oh well, at least I can right-off Trieste visit expenses on my taxes now.

Florence might have the most elegant, and Venice the most flavorfull, but the gelateria that I happened upon in Trieste had by far the most variety… must have been at least 30! Guy in photo was scooping about 10 flavors “to go”!


I did not have time (or health) to visit museums, galleries or churches, but definitely would like to visit again! It’s visually rough, but you can feel it’s a town on the brink of exciting change driven by youth. However… it failed my test re: public restrooms at the train station… only a hole in the floor encircled with a porcelain rim, inside private stalls.

Venice#2… the little things!

It’s impossible to share the charm encountered every time you turn around when wandering the maze of tiny streets with their stepped ponts (little bridges with steps up, a platform, and then steps down) to allow the gondoleers and other boats to move products and people around the city.  With this post, I share some surprises…

IMG_4704 Two little boys fishing in their grandparents boat just near a ponte on Guidecca on way to the great budget grocery store on Guidecca near my hostel.

IMG_4738  I was fortunate that my visit coincided with the internationally renown Venice Biennale where I spent two full days looking at some inspiring contemporary art by some of the “hottest” artist representing their country from around the world. This napping man is real… and happened to be an x-Board member of my nonprofit, Shu-Min Lin, who I had not seen in about 13yrs when he went back to Tiwan and is now a successful contemp art curator, and holographer. It was such a surprise to see him again!

IMG_4903  On an alley of typically ancient facades of small stores on Venice Island, was the storefront of Italian designer Fendi. The ultra modern located within these buildings from the 1500s was starteling… a dichotomy that I love.

IMG_4896  So how about removing garbage from a major city without the use of trucks… via pull-carts and strong bodies!

IMG_4901  Gondola rowers very skillfully navigate… but here it is a bit of a siesta time.

IMG_4910  The facade of the Duomo at San Marco Square was being repaired/or washed… so under a curtain, but all the action was with people-pigeon interaction in the humongous open square that has building like the one above connected on 3 sides.

IMG_4893  This 2-3 story high inflatable sculpture by British artist Mark Quinn, was inspired by a young woman, star athlete in the Special Olympics, who has no arms. She got pregnant and made the controversial decision to have her child… who was born without any birth defects. She has a strong Roman profile… and it was sited in the corner of this stunning piazza with church builbings behind. A very strong piece of contemporary art.

IMG_4886  I continue my scientific research of gelato… this time on Murano Island where all the glassblowing is done, and where my mother had visited with my father in 1972, and she purchased two lovely glass sculptures that gave her lots of pleasure, enhanced undoubtedly also by the memories they gave her. I bought myself a black’white blown glass necklace and earings… my memory purchase.

IMG_4879  On my way to find what was recommended as “the primero gelatteria” on Murano, I stumbled upon a plain-looking church that inside was full of stunning blown-glass chandeliers.  This 4-tiered version gave me a new appreciation for this artform.

IMG_4911  While waiting for the next vaporetto fom Murano, I discovered this delightful blown glass sculpture installation of beautiful water birds in various poses of flight… was part of the Venice Biennale, and so appropriate at the water’s edge. The colors were more vivid, really bellisimo!

IMG_4881  This is how UPS delivers packages (same for letter mail) on the islands of Venice!

IMG_4875  These Venicians are serious about renovating with the same size beams that were probably in the original structure… floated-in and then maneuvered down the tight alley-ways.

IMG_4873  A typically charming Venetian canal home facade… many different shapes and colors.

IMG_4859  The only town I’ve visited where every inch of it was gorgeous.  Mostly, only the “Centro” of the historic part of town was nice, with the other parts built in 1960s minimalist apartment bldgs with no surface detail and rather ugly metal roll-down exterior shades… so not even the lovely wooden shutters. Venice is truly unique… and sinking!

There is so much more, but I’m leaving the mainland of Sicily for its exotic Aeolian Islands tomorrow and have the Roman ampitheater to visit today before I leave behind my 4days in Siracusa. I saw Mt. Etna erupting in three locations yesterday… a lucky coincidence of timing, as it had not erupted in 6months, and it was boombing like close thunder with each eruption. Very exciting especially with our passionate vulcanologist guide to give our group of seven, excellent historical and scientific information. A real thrill!

That’s it for now… hope the islands have good internet connection.

Ahhhhh… bella Venezia!

Venice was my favorite! a waterworld with magical views and no cars to see, hear, or smell… what a treat!

IMG_4689 After taking 13 train trips in 2months, i’ve begun to judge a town by the public/pay toilets in its station. Afterall, this is a first impression for a foreigner not traveling by car By far, Venice’s designer toilet stall doors… signaled the elegance of this amazing place in a very humanized fashion.

Exiting the station after purchashing a 1week vaporetto pass for 65 euros, I was ready to look for the boat to Guidecca Island where my up-scale “The Generator” hostel, was located. But first, this is what was the view in front of me (below)


Below is my 2-bunk hostel room, another exquisite bathroom, and then the unbelievable view of the world outside my window!




And then wait just a minute to see… aqua waters, blue sky and more various kinds/sizes of boats than I’ve ever seen passing before me… all from my perch above. (on the other side is Venice Island)


And looking down onto the cumbrelled group of tables at the cheap but good outdoor restaurant where I had my evening vegetable salads with bread-sticks and a glass of wine… (I made bread-cheese-fruit picnics for lunch when out during the day)


The view was across to San Marco’s Square Duomo, the Doges Palace is the big white center bldg… filled with huge paings, frescos, and where the elected governnent representatives (the Doges) conducted biz and welcomed royalty from around the world. This site was most special all lit up at night… or with a rainbow!


Having these buildings hoovering just above the water’s surface adds to its surreal nature… like below.


And I loved the quiet outer island of Torcello… below. There was just a tiny canal leading to a group of modest church buildings with a few restaurants with large garden-side sprawling lawns for entertaining after weddings. There were two just finishing when I arrived… and photographers were posing the couple.


I am creating a 2nd Venice post because this must have too many images as it takes too long to save each revision…  continued

Feeling guilty of “blog neglect”

O.K. I am guilty… of blog neglect. All the little human interest stories that used to accompany my travel emails in the past… are terribly time consuming when you are pecking on an android device, but I will plod along.

My wonderful young Italian relatives put me on the train to Florence and one hour later I arrived, found and got settled into my hostel, Ciao Hostel

IMG_4672(no charm, but clean, no bunks, and my bed was next to the big window.) which was a 15 minute from the station and 10-20 minutes more from the Duomo and other sites. But since the hostel had a fully equipped kitchen on each floor, it became the gathering place at end of day to hear stories about what people saw that day, or comparing other travel notes… or, over late-nite sharing of wine and beer, I was fortunate to receive a private tutorial on how my new Samsung android tablet works from a very sweet German graduate student that had studied in the USA for  couple of years… with a good experience. The young people I encountered at the hostels were incredibly courteous and generous of spirit… and of course, adventurous!

IMG_4572  The next day I followed the crowds of tourists from the train station who were all going to the main square of the Duomo. From the narrow street where I was walking, all of a sudden i noticed that a monstrous building filled the end of the street.

IMG_4670Actually, squeezed into it’s square, are the cathedral, the bapistry, and the tower… which I’ve learned is the normal complex of buildings in any city’s Duomo… however not every city has a cathedral. For that designation, I learned that it has to have a Bishop or other high priest in residence.

MAGNIFICO! is overwhelmingly beautiful, and I kept trying to get a photo that captured how it made me feel… but that was impossible!

IMG_4584 I try again.

IMG_4675 It was also enchanting at nite… great to have a gelato on a bench when the crowds were eating dinner. Above the bapistry on left, cathedral in center, bell tower on right.

IMG_4676 Restaurant had one table on a second floor balcony on the Duomo square… how is that for a romantic setting!

IMG_4665 This young gelato server had a cute uniform with hat, and only now that I’ve made a point of tasting this wherever I go, can I say that Florence elevates the presentation of this sculpted cool treat into an artform.

IMG_4674 A window full of confections… some shaped as fish and undersea creatures… fun.

I went to the famous Ponte (bridge), saw Michaelangelo’s statue, David, probably took 50+ photos, but I most enjoyed just wandering the streets because I prefer it to being indoors, although if the church was free entrance, I’ll dip in for a look… but the architecture is what most captivated me, like the one below.

IMG_4673 This facade was an unusual shape and with surprisingly non-religious surface patterns… spied on an evening stroll on last night in Florence. Will end Florence with me in front of the famous, but totally uninspiring, PonteVecchio in the background. (A bridge full of stores and tourists… but fun to think of the changing sophistication of the “vendors” that have occupied those merchant stalls up to the Rolex watch company of today!


Venice is next! (Remember that the most recent posts are at the top of the blog and you have to click on the other links on right of the page for previous posts, and from the beginning.)

Orvieto… and validating train tickets!


So, Orvieto is in the background… and below photos. I don’t remember a lot about the history that Simone shared with me, but its cathedral was home to the Popes after Viterbo.



IMG_4567Entrance door to cathedral.

IMG_4568The striped walls are made from alternating color of stone /probably marble; the darker was greenish.

IMG_4569Amazing grand scale invokes a humble feeliing… which I am sure was the intention!

IMG_4570View of where the medieval surfs woul d also have planted their gardens just outside the walled city.

My gracious young family hosts took me to the train station around 5pm after walking around Orvieto, and showed me how to use the machines to buy a ticket… in this case it was to Florence about 1.5 hrs away by Regional Train. ALSO, they impressed on me the importance of validating the ticket before boarding the train. Well, I guess traveling, finding my way from train station and to locations on maps, etc. was a bit too stressful for my 65 year old brain, because after 3 days in Florence, I proceeded to forget to validate my ticket to Venice! The 2-hr trip on the Fast Train only cost 12.5 Euros /approx $16USD, but the guy taking tickets on the train charged me 30Euros penalty fee! $40… so you can be sure no matter how tired I am in the future, I won’t forget to validate my billetta /ticket!

Visiting Viterbo and Orvieto


It’s odd how the sounds of some words stick in your brain. When I was in high-school, my aunt Mary, one of my father’s 3 sisters, used to keep in-touch with our Capodimonte family by letters and even phone calls. No one in Italy spoke English but my father and his siblings all did while growing-up in Seneca Falls, NY. I am so very glad that she did this now so that the threads of my Italian lineage were not lost! But I distinctly remember over-hearing Aunt Mary on the phone one day, I lived at her home in Syracuse, NY one summer, saying the word Viterbo, over and over on the phone to  Cesare’s mother guess. Now I know why, Viterbo is small and special.


The Catholic Popes moved their Papal Palace there when the Romans were fighting too much in Rome. The cathedral that stands now, was built on top of Etruscian ruins and there are walls and excavations we did not have time to see.


Broad stairs to Papal Palace above.


The Loggia of the Papal Palace *photo of me with Cesare’s wife in front of it* above, and where the longest Papal Conclave in history took place, is very delicate and surprisingly still in-tack, considering that some of cathedral was bombed in WWWI, or II?  Below is the view the Popes saw looking down from the back side of the loggia… looks like a Renaissance painting, but there used to be a river where the cars are parked today.


Walking the tiny alley-ways of Viterbo was like being inside a labyrinth that is also a stone fortress. I surely would have been lost most of the time if not for my expert family guides of Elisabetta and her husband Simone.


Picture of streets deep in the heart of Viterbo, above.


Re:image just above… There is a Festival of the Macchina di Santa Rosa in Viterbo, where annually? an Italian sculptor is commissioned to create a new version of the “Macchina”, like a steeple tower. Then the strongest men in the town are selected to carry this monstrously heavy structure through the streets of town during the evening of the festival. Each man gets a red flag to proudly drape from his home’s window that shows he was selected. We happen to visit Viterbo on the day after the Festival and so it was quiet *people probably exhausted* and the macchina was still located in the Duomo in front of the Santa Rosa Cathedral. We viewed a wonderful video of the coordination and strength required for the sculpture to be maneuvered down the narrow streets of town. Seeing it during the daytime was still amazing, but it’s designed to be lite-up for full impact in nighttime. *see pic of poster of Macchina di Santa Rosa*


/////////////// Simone is from Orvieto and so was especially happy to share its spectacular picturesque nature. The walled town is located on a hilltop that’s so steep that they have a “tram” that takes people from the parking lot below.


Most of these ancient towns don’t allow cars, so it enhances your imagination and connection to history. It also happens that my dear friend, Cat Doty’s son Henry, has been studying musicology in Orvieto for the past 3 summers… and also loved it! Pictures below are from Orvieto. *Vieterbo and Orvieto are approx. 1-hour car rides from Capodimonte in different directions…. which is a 1.5 hr train ride south of Florence.
ORVIETO deserves its own posting, so see the next one.

Pannucci, “little breadmaker”… but also cheese!


I’ve known that Pannucci means “little breadmaker” in Italian, but Cesare called one of the several Pannucci family members in Capodimonte who happens to make cheese /sells regionally, and gave me the colorful papers that cover the cheese rounds so that I could have them as a momento. Both Cesare’s /Pannucci family and his wife’s family have farmland on outskirts of town. But mostly none of today’s youth in town want to farm and like Elisabetta’s husband, have jobs in Rome.

The religious card was given to me by the grandmother for safe travels on my journey. Here she’s typically expressive with her hands!


The picture of me with Cesare below was on the last evening of my Capodimonte visit where they took me to a large outdoor pizza trattoria. Here he introduced me to Reno Pannucci, the cheese maker I mentioned above.



was Sept.4th and the night before they closed for the season. Being located ontop of a collapsed volcano means that the Lago di Bolsena is high above sea level and therefore already cold enough to need a sweater at night in early September.IMG_4499

Lovely entrance foyer in Elisabetta's apartment om top floor of grandmothers home. ?..yep I'm still learning this program, as captions are reversed.

Lovely entrance foyer in Elisabetta’s apartment om top floor of grandmothers home. ?..yep I’m still learning this program, as captions are reversed.

Painted ceiling area commissioned by Elisabetta for their newly renovated apartment's living  room and entrance foyer.

Painted ceiling area commissioned by Elisabetta for their newly renovated apartment’s living room and entrance foyer.

Elisabetta also had this phrase /above photo/ painted on the wall of their dining room.  It means “I love to live simply as long as it is with the best of life.” Oscar Wilde

During my next days with family visiting nearby historic Viterbo and Orvieto, it must have been in the 90s during the daytime. This made walking around the ancient Etruscian/Roman cities of stone like an oven in the afternoon… actually similar to the summer weather in Sarasota, FL that I was escaping from!  But even with the jet-lag, heat, and sore feet, I aleady felt like a “child in a candy store” in terms of my joy from the beauty of the visual reality around me. Although I was never was a history-buff like my mother, history jumps “alive” when you are walking around in it, especially imagining those that lived and died there and walked the same tiny alley-ways and corsos/main streets leading to the duomo/church or cathedrals which formed the centerpieces of towns.

Pannucci Relatives in Capodimonte, Italy


Cynthia with Cesare, his wife, their daughter Elisabetta, with her grandmother who was a Pannucci before marrying into the Parri family. The grandmother gave me a “bear” hug and cried when we first met. She had fond memories of my father when he visited back in 1972, or so. Her long, animated embrace brought my tears too! and I see where I got my emotional nature 🙂  Her warmth, sense of humor *Elisabetta had to translate* and vigor reminded me of my aunt Mary and oddly, her husband was mostly silent and an excellent craftsman with wood… just like aunt Mary’s husband Dave.  All brought back strong and fond memories of growing up with my Italian-speaking aunts and uncles in Seneca Falls, NY.


Lago di Bolsena (Bolsena Lake) is the collapsed caldera of an ancient volcano, the largest in Europe… I see why my grandfather Pannucci chose to settle in our beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York state.


With Cesare and Elisabetta in front of the home in the walled village of Capodimonte where my Pannucci grandfather was born and raised. the lake pic was taken from there.

Thanks to the visit about 5 yrs ago of my uncle John Pannucci, who astonishingly looks very much like Cesare and who could speak Italian with him… Cesare had fond memories of John and Diane. He made me promise to send him pictures of all our family members together; so that’s of Jim, Mary, Lena, Rosie, and John’s as separate families. I said that posting on Facebook might be easiest… so please help me out here!

Late in Launching!


global touring ship in Venice that I saw on my way to dinner… was like dreamy Phantom Of The Opera stage set!


Well, the learning curve of my new android tablet, walking 5-6 hrs day for almost 15 days straight as a tourist was out-of-this-world in beauty and grewling on the feet. Is hard to go backwards, especially in selecting which photos… but here goes!

Landed at Rome airport on Sept.3rd and was greeted by my fathers relatives Cesare and daughter Elisabetta with her new husband Simone. the car ride was 1.5 hrs northwest of Rome to Capodimonte, a walled village of 1,500 people on hill overlooking one of Italys most beautiful lakes, Bolsena.