If you need a visual image to keep you focused on your Lenten journey you might consider the Italian Renaissance artist Pinturicchio’s Allegory of the Hill of Wisdom (1504). The Greek philosophers Socrates and Crates are caught in a rather tricky balancing act on the top of a steep hill with the Roman goddess Fortuna. A desperate band of travelers are shown trudging upward on a difficult path, supposedly a path we humans have to undertake if we want to reach wisdom.
To view Pinturicchio’s Allegoria del Colle della Sapienza you have to look downward rather than upward as it is part of the floor intarsia in the Cathedral of Siena. A masterpiece underfoot, Giorgio Vasari called the floor of Siena’s Duomo “the most beautiful, big and magnificent that has ever been done”. Normally covered by carpets to protect it, the floor is uncovered for a few months each year when stories from antiquity, biblical scenes and allegories come to life through intricate patterns and designs created in marble as vivid and alive as any Renaissance sculpture. Siena cathedral floor
Siena is one of my favorite cities in Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must see when traveling in Tuscany. Siena is located in the Val d’Orcia, a breathtakingly beautiful part of Italy that makes the journey all the more memorable. A perfect image in my mind’s eye to reflect on life’s journey. Pinturicchio’s travelers to the Hill of Wisdom find their fortunes cast from the top as if to say Fortune is fickle and Wisdom lies in knowing so.
Not the cylindrical, furry, tunneling subterranean kind but the word element in Moleskine, Milan’s iconic little black notebook. Co-opted as a travel journal, planner, diary and sketchbook the notebook with the famous blank pages of ivory-colored paper is waiting to be filled with your thoughts.
Each notebook page is kept in place with a ribbon bookmark and then collectively tucked away between the covers with a signature elastic band. Used by Picasso, van Gogh, Matisse and Hemingway moleskine notebooks have a devoted following worldwide and can now be found in a variety of covers, colors and digital versions for a new generation of artists and thinkers.
Bring or buy your Moleskine on your next trip to Milan and meet with other like-minded writers and sketchers while sipping an espresso at the Moleskine Cafe in Milan’s Brera district. The cafe, art gallery, store and library is described as a clean-lined, minimalistic space designed with neutral colors “like the pages of a Moleskine notebook” waiting to inspire you to tell your story.
We’re always looking for ways to improve our in-flight airtime when traveling to Italy so when we found this post from Quartz news we thought we’d follow Taylor Swift’s advice to keep cruising and shake it off. Frequent flyer wine lovers and those of us who need a take the edge off in-flight glass need never miss a beat with this hackful hint about how to make airline wine taste better. Those insipid little 4 ounce bottles just need to shake it off or in this case shake it up. Wine naturally tastes more alcoholic and bitter in-flight because of the altitude and the dryness of the cabin air. Aerating a glass at 20,000 feet can get messy. A simple way to vastly improve the taste of wine on an airplane. Shake it up. Start by pouring a little wine out of the bottle and into a cup, recap the bottle and shake it for 45 seconds to a minute. According to the article, the acerbic flavors that were there before should have floated away and you’re ready to enjoy your wine and your flight.
We usually focus our posts on Northern Italy, Tuscany and Umbria but today we’re going further down the boot to the Italian village of Acciaroli on coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Province of Salerno. One of Italy’s 284 Blue Flag Beaches (an award given for water quality, beaches and marinas) the village may also have found the key to a longer life where 300 of its residents are over 100 years old with impressively low rates of Alzheimer’s and heart diseases.
An ancient maritime village, Acciaroli is also part of “Cittáslow“, a philosophy of municiple living that follows the succession of seasons, respectful of the health of its citizens, the authenticity of artisan products and good food, with places for the spirit, unspoiled landscapes and respect of traditions through the joy of a slow and quiet living.
Driving the road to Hana on the island of Maui to the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala is a popular destination but not for the faint of heart. With all those hairpin turns and one lane bridges the drive can be a challenge but a challenge well met because along the way there are spots were the island gods have left their mark and you are taken back in time with places and ancient stories that shape the Hawaiian islands.
Like Italy the historic atmosphere of the Islands is reflected in their food so when I was food surfing and noticed a Hawaiian chopped salad inspired by Hana Bay made with balsamic vinegar from Italy I took the opportunity to combine ingredients from two of my favorite travel sites for a Hawaiian-Italian inspired late summer lunch. Let’s eat!: E pā’ina kākou! – Mangiamo!
Hana Bay Chopped Salad with Mango Balsamic Dressing
Mango Balsamic Dressing
1 mango peeled, pitted and chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 piece (1/2 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup aceto balsamico*
1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
2 T packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil from Liguria ( such as San Damiano Extra Virgin Olive Oil)*
Place all ingredients except olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour oil through feed hole with motor running to blend. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Combine with 1 bag of mixed baby salad greens, 1 tomato seeded and chopped, 1 green onion and 1/2 cup diced red cabbage. Makes 6 servings.
(adapted from a recipe by Mako Segawa-Gonzales, chef of Maui Beach Cafe in Los Angeles).
*ingredients can be found at CosituttiMarketPlace.com
One of the best ways to spend time getting to know the region you are traveling through in Italy is to spend at least one leisurely afternoon visiting an Italian museum. Even if you are the most museum adverse person on the planet you cannot help but be amazed and engaged in Italian museums. Often in evocative settings – palaces, castles, churches, amphitheaters , monasteries, wineries and quirky out of the way sites – the authentic ambiance of seeing something in its historical setting can be awesome and memorable. Afterwards have a merenda, a mid-afernoon snack. A small bite of cheese and fruit, a slice of salumi and olives or a local specialty would be good.