In a few weeks, we’re moving to Bologna, Italy which is in the Emilia Romagna region.    “Living in Salerno” won’t fit as a blog title anymore so I’m moving my blog over to:

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When my folks came to visit, we decided to take to trip to see Mt. Vesuvius. It sounds pretty cool to see the crater of one of the most famous volcanoes in the world, right? I was the tour guide and did my bit of research on the volcano. I found the official website:


It even included a slick brochure in English:

The brochure talked about nature trails, agriculture, etc., etc. It all sounded good so off we went. It was a wild goose chase finding the correct entrance to get to the crater. It was the not so unusual Italian style drive-around with a stop at a bar to ask people if they know where the entrance is. I was getting tired as was everyone else but I have a stubborn streak and gave it one more try. We did indeed find the way up to the crater but it was getting late by this time. The road close to the summit was full of buses. We could see some type of trail with people walking up to see the crater but we decided not to do it. My Dad is really not into strenuous exercise that results in looking at a hole with rocks in it. (Somehow it’s not worth it to him.)

A few weekends after the folks had returned to the U.S., I proposed to Luca that we go back to Vesuvius to see the crater and perhaps check out a nature trail. Fortunately, this time we go directly there. It was so disappointing. When arrived at the parking lot, I thought somehow we had been transported to Morocco. Was this seriously a national park? Shame on you, Italian government! There were a few vendors selling $#@# (not even “I love Mt. Vesuvius” t-shirts) but real #$@ items. One vendor was charging for use of his porta-pottie because there weren’t even any public toilets!

We were charged €2,50 for parking in the dusty, pitted parking lot. There was a long line tourists each dolling out their €8,00 per person to hike up a trail to the crater. We were totally deflated. I suddenly began to think like my father; it just wasn’t worth it.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. Every single entrance to the nature trails were blocked and locked! Why would these trails be closed on a beautiful day in early May? It is such a waste of what could be a beautiful nature park. I give this tourist attraction a BIG THUMBS DOWN. Don’t waste your time.

This is the ticket office – Lovely, isn’t it?

You can see the crater in the background and the some people hiking up

At least we saw a nice view of the Gulf of Naples

Here are some photos from the first trip up to Vesuvius with my folks.

The boys on an old lava flow.

You can see that you drive within the original caldera…where I believe Vesuvius really blew its top in the AD 79 eruption. After this, another cone formed from subsequent eruptions.

The cone within the caldera; it last erupted in 1944.

Salerno boasts its very own castle. While this may seem like a big deal in the U.S., it is almost ho hum in Italy where there seems to be one on every hilltop. However, Castello di Arechi has been nicely restored and features a wonderful panorama. It’s close to the city center and doesn’t take long to tour but it is definitely well worth seeing.

Here is a Wikipedia entry about the castle. It is in Italian but I can summary a few points. It is a medieval castle 300 meters above sea level overlooking the Gulf of Salerno. It is called Arechi because it is normally associated with the Longobard Duke, Arechi II.

Here is a link to the Castle’s rather annoying website:

View of the castle as you approach from the street and parking lot.

Rear view of the castle. There are also a few hiking trails on the castle grounds.

View of Salerno

Here are some actors practicing for a performance….I think it was something of Dante’s. They often use the castle for theater and musical performances. The castle is beautifully illuminated at night. You can see it way up on the hill from the city center.

Wow. It has been a month since I last posted. We have been busier than usual. My folks came and we had a good time visiting places. It was their second year visiting and we still found different places to go. It really is a good location for a tourist. I’ll get organized and post some info and photos of the places we went.

To get back into blogging again, I thought I would put together this quick post. Today I was particularly proud of my messy Up Do and just had to post a photo.

I want to give credit for my hair inspiration to this lovely lady’s blog She has great hair tutorials. Yes, now that I’ve grown longer hair, I’ve been rather obsessed with doing things with it other than the mom tail. I ran across this blog on Pinterest which I think is the coolest thing since sliced bread. A social media app that is actually useful! (Unlike others, say like Twitter. I just don’t get the fascination with Twitter. Do we really need more up to the minute information on people?)

Buona Giornata e Ciao tutti!

The wonderful thing about having visitors is I get to take “time off” and be a tourist. My folks are visiting for Easter again this year. Our first visit was really far from the house…. a 1 minute walk through the back gate to the church of San Felice in Felline.

Some Photos of the Church

This sign describes its history…

I’ve mentioned shopping a few times in my blog during the last year and half. Last week I received a comment from an American student who will be spending a few months in Salerno. She asked about grocery shopping so I thought I would put together some information for her and anyone else who might be interested.

I have a love/hate relationship with grocery shopping in Italy. For Italians, it is something they really seem to enjoy. I often enjoy it as well; visiting the small shops with delicious and interesting products. Sometimes, however, I’d just like to stop at a SUPERmarket and get everything in one fell swoop. I think I’ve mastered the art of grocery shopping now. For a while I felt like I was spending a huge amount of time getting the shopping done and I’m not someone who, in general, likes to shop.

Places to buy groceries, or anything for that matter, come in many types, shapes and sizes. There will be products that you either can’t find or will be difficult to find. For example, we like Indian and Chinese cuisine but I haven’t found any local supplies for Indian spices or Chinese noodles.


These are probably most similar to US grocery stores. The Italian chains like Sisa or Conad are smaller than most US stores. They’ll have just about everything you could need crammed into a small space. When I first arrived, I was amazed at how they could fit so much.

There is also a French chain called Carrefour which is the most similar to a US type supermarket.

Bring your own bags unless you want to pay for them. It’s normal practice to pay for your bags. The supermarkets have caught on to the “green” movement and offer biodegradable bags. Also, don’t expect someone to bag your groceries. You do that yourself and you better be quick!

Al Mercato

The open air market is a place where you can buy many things: fruit, vegetables, clothes (mostly 2nd hand), fish, beauty products, toys, etc., etc… A fun place to go but it is crowded and noisy..a very colorful place. There are two in Salerno that I know of; one in the center and the other, larger market in Torrione.


An Alimentari is like a deli shop. They specialize in deli meats and cheese. Most will also have bread and an assortment of other products (the type that will save you from a trip to the supermarket like milk and eggs.) They are also a good place to have a fresh sandwich-to-go made.

Paneteria – Bread Shop

Bread is an important part of every meal and is bought fresh daily. Very few types of bread last more than a day. Bread from the mountains is an exception. It will last up to a week but it will give your teeth a workout at the end of that week!

Pasticeria – Pastry Shop

All types of Italian pastries are sold in the pastry shops.

Formaggeria – Cheese Shop

Mozzarella di Bufala is famous in this region of Italy and is another staple of our diet. There are many shops selling this type of mozzarella and other delicious cheeses.

Macelleria – Butcher

There are many butcher shops available. Finding your favorite butcher is a matter of personal preference. I have a few favorites. Expect to pay more for meat in Italy than the US.

Frutti Vendolo – Fruit and Vegetable Seller

The fruits and vegetables in the south of Italy are outstanding and cheap like you wouldn’t believe. I love going to my favorite fruit and vegetable seller. I fill two big grocery bags full of fruit and vegetables and walk out paying less than 20 euros.

Detersivi and Casalinghi stores

These are household goods stores. They sell detergents, cleaners and other household goods at a more economical price than supermarkets.

Pescheria – Fish mongers

Fish can be bought at the market or at the fish shops. After a bad experience resulting from fish bought at the market which involved a rather unpleasant day spent in the bathroom, I have switched to buying it only from the fish shop that I know and love.

A very nice family runs this pescheria. They’re always giving Russell little gifts of dried starfish and sea horses. He loves to collect them.

Don’t expect your fish to come filleted in a neat Styrofoam package. Italians expect to see the whole fish so that they can judge freshness by the skin and eyes. They’ll clean and prepare it as you like. If you are like me and unfamiliar with mediterranean fish, just ask and the shop owners are usually very happy to make recommendations. It’s fun!

There are so many types of stores. Add an “eria” to the end of an Italian word and you have yourself a store. There are a few other types that I think would be helpful to a visitor in Italy.

Profumeria – Beauty Products

I was totally baffled when I arrived in Italy on where to find shampoo, nail polish remover, hair products, make-up and the like. Drugstores like CVS or RiteAid do not exist. A profumeria will sell these types of products. Each profumeria will sell different lines and levels of products and some do only sell perfume. A good one for basic drugstore level products is Idea Bellezza. It’s a chain with stores in different parts of the city including the center.

Farmacia and Parafarmacia – The Pharmacy and Pseudo-pharmacy

The farmacia is where you get your prescriptions filled. At the parafarmacia, you can buy aspirin and other health products. You can identify a farmacia by the green cross blinking outside. This one was not open when I took the photo. The hours of most pharmacies are not terribly convenient; regular business hours.

Cartolibreria – Office and School Supplies

This type of store comes in different flavors. This one specializes in school supplies and some toys since it is near two schools. Others focus more on office supplies with binders, stationery, etc.

It seems like a lot of different stores to get what you need. The good news is they tend to be in the same area so you can walk to each store. Space is always at a premium so expect the stores to be crowded and chaotic. If you’re already carrying full shopping bags from other stores, you’re expected to leave them by the door.

One more thing, when using a bancomat (ATM), be paranoid. Cover your hand when typing your secret code and be aware of your surroundings. It is also considered bad form to enter an enclosed bancomat when someone is using it or stand too close to someone using an external ATM.

Happy Shopping!

The Dolomites

Last week we traveled up to Canazei in Trentino for our settimana bianca (white week). What an incredible place to ski! The Dolomites are beautiful and I have never been to such a huge ski area. It was unseasonably warm when we arrived so we were a little concerned. The temperature dropped and we had nice fresh snow for our first couple days of skiing. As a New England skier, I actually didn’t know how to deal with the powder at first. Where was that reassuring sound of my skies scraping across what we fondly refer to as packed powder?

Yah, Snow!

Russell climbed this big hill by the apartment. He really misses playing in the snow!

Loving the snow

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we skied the Sellaronda which is a circuit around the Sella Mountains crossing the four passes. It’s about 40 km long (some of which is done on ski lifts, of course) and on average takes between 5 and 6 hours. Day one we went counter clockwise; day two we went clockwise. On the first day, we hit an area of fog so thick you couldn’t see where to go. It slowed us down quite a bit. Of course, Luca wanted to beat the average time. He gets a little crazy after he clips those skis on. He was satisfied with our 2nd day’s time of 4:26 hours. I didn’t even get lunch that day. Good thing I tucked some salami in my pocket.

Looks pretty happy, doesn’t he?

Refuge at 2,500 meters

What’s up with the enormous 1990’s ski goggles? (I bought new ones.)


While we were off skiing around the Sella Mountains, the boys were at a ski school called Kinderland. At first, I had a twinge of guilt at leaving them there all day. They loved it. In fact, when we came a bit early to pick them up, they didn’t want to leave….so we took a walk around Canazei. They had ski lessons in the morning and either played inside or outside in the afternoon. By Friday, they went up skiing on the big mountain.

I highly recommend this ski school. The staff was friendly and energetic. The boys talked about how they were funny and silly or how one could stand on her hands. They were also very organized.

Duilio on the way to the practice slope.

…and here’s Russell!

Duilio skiing down the course. They had a “competition” on Friday afternoon to finish the week.

Russell’s big finish UNDER the last gate….on purpose. Of course, the next kid followed the same route.

The best part…medals for everyone! They were so pleased. Russell wore his to school the following Monday and wooed back his lady love, Ludovica.

They even put together a slideshow video of the week at Kinderland:

I can’t wait to go back next year.

After 10 short hours on the road, we arrived in Canazei yesterday afternoon. Actually, the boys were excellent so it wasn’t bad at all. (I found that it’s best to expect the worst when traveling with kids so I can mentally handle anything that happens.)

We’re here in the north of Italy for our ski vacation. It has been and is unseasonably warm so Luca is a bit stressed.

Today, Sunday, we get lessons for the boys organized and tomorrow we ski!20120304-113715.jpg




There are days like “the day of the gate” then there are days like today. The sun is shining; the sky is a brilliant blue. It was already getting too warm for a winter coat at 8:30 am. I’m off for a little trip to Naples to pick up Russell’s passport. Any change of schedule is enough to lift your spirits out of the winter doldrums.  Don’t you just love when spring is around the corner?

Drive-through photos of Naples….

Vesuvius from the highway.   This was near the Pompeii exit.  Shows you how close they were to the volcano in AD79.


See the crazy guy on the motorcycle?  He’s got a huge package in one hand and another strapped on his back.  He was weaving through traffic like it was nothing.


The Bay of Naples taken on the lungomare near the U.S. Consulate


Fresh fish, anyone?  These fisherman had literally just caught the fish in the bay.


In my last post, I complained tongue in cheek about my lengthy hair appointment. There are much more serious problems in Italy. Secondo me, Italy is a country on the decline. I’m not smart enough to give you a sociopolitical analysis. I can only tell you what I see and how it affects me and my family.

For just about any situation or problem, you’ll hear people say they can’t change it; it’s impossible, I’m not responsible or it’s going to take a long time because Italy is like this. Is “Italy” a person who is responsible for fixing everything and he/she is too damned busy and that’s why nothing happens? No one else appears to be responsible, that’s for sure.

Why am I on this particular rant today? This is what happened yesterday. Every morning, I drive the boys to their respective schools. (That’s right, no school buses.) First we drop Russell off then Duilio. As you leave Russell’s school, you ascend a steep hill and pass through a large metal gate to the parking area. The gate has a “people” gate to go through. It was very windy yesterday morning; I passed through the small gate with Duilio a few steps behind me. Just before he passed through, a strong gust of wind took the large gate, whipping it against him throwing him to the ground and against the wall. We are so fortunate that he came away with only a bump on the head. The poor kid was terrified, shaking and crying. I calmed the poor little guy down and took him to school.

I immediately called my husband. We determined the best course of action was to call the director of the schools. Someone needed to fix that gate before another child got hurt. This is a nursery school. I can only imagine what could happen if it were one of the little ones. He called but she wasn’t there yet (naturally, it is only 8:30 am). The person who answered the phone said they were not responsible (of course) and that my husband needed to write a letter (What the #$#@?). He was told that the director will call him which she didn’t. Later in the morning, he sent an e-mail summarizing the situation and adding that we’ll pursue other avenues if it isn’t resolved. That got a response. The director called him. By the time I went to pick up Russell, the gate has been “fixed” with wire and plastic tie-wraps. This took several hours to resolve instead of the first person to answer the phone simply calling the nursery school and telling them that something must immediately be done about the gate.

By the way, the gate has been broken since school started. The rod that goes into the ground to hold the gate in place is broken and the heavy chain and lock hang uselessly. They use only the steel pin which slides out. Why? My guess is they don’t want to walk up the hill to open the gate when the lunch truck arrives. A teacher at the school told me today that they have sent a request to the city to fix the gate several months ago but things are slow in Italy. Apparently she’s also the building manager and said she didn’t know what happened yesterday until she got a call around 11:00 am. What? She doesn’t walk through the flippin’ gate every morning? A makeshift fix couldn’t have been put in place until the city fixed it?  When your kids are involved, you know what excuses are like….

I can’t help but think that this attitude has something to do with the position that Italy is in now. Who knows if it is cause or effect? All I know is that it takes a different kind of attitude to make a country great.

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