Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Tails: It isn't always La Dolce Vita

Sometimes living in Italy isn't easy or fun.  The past few days have made me wish that I was living stateside more than I can express.  Why?  I have a sick cat and things don't work here the way we are used to them working in the States.

For example - We took Pumpkin to the vet twice on Friday and ultimately brought him home with a catheter and a bag full of medications, including shots.  This wouldn't happen in the States.  They would keep your beloved pet at the vet clinic and tend to them.  It is never fun leaving a pet at the vet, but at least you (hopefully) know they are receiving quality care from someone who knows what they are doing. I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

On top of that there is the language difficulty.  I don't speak very good Italian, and I certainly don't know medical jargon so it is really difficult to communicate effectively with the veterinarian. Finally, of course things had to get worse on a Friday an everything here is closed on the weekend.  Oh, and Monday is an Italian holiday, too.

I'm feeling helpless.  There are symptoms that I won't describe in gory detail here that have me concerned.  I called the vet 5 times before I got through and was told to continue the therapy and bring him in tomorrow morning.  If what I think may be the problem is the problem, well....I don't want to speculate, I'll just freak myself out.

The Vet we are using now is the second one I've seen this week. I don't want to mess up continuity of care, but I don't want to put my cat in danger either.  I don't even know where I'd find a pet emergency clinic, certainly not nearby.  We live far enough out in the country if I found one it would likely be an hour or more away.

For now I will try to make my cat as comfortable as possible and see what happens. I will pray, and if you pray please pray for Pumpkin or send positive thoughts our way.  At this point I just want him to get well enough to travel so we can move back to the States and take him to a "real" vet.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Playing with light

The other evening while my hubbie and I were out for dinner we had some fun playing with long exposures on the camera.  The first was just a happy accident where the camera clicked off an extra shot and I didn't feel like waiting patiently for it to get enough light so I moved the camera around trying to capture every little bit of light possible.

For this next shot we set the camera's shutter speed to BULB which means that the shutter stays open as long as we are holding the shutter button.  We both tried our hands at making light flowers and this was the best we got. Its not great, I know, be we had fun!

Sometimes photography is just about having fun, not about capturing the next masterpiece.  We had a lot of fun just playing with the light.  I want to encourage you to just have fun with whatever your passion is, be it photography or something else.  You never know what you might come up with!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ristorante Casablanca

This evening my hubbie took me out for dinner, and we decided on Ristorante Casablanca, an Arab restaurant in Catania.  We have eaten there several times and the food is always fantastic and a nice diversion from typical Sicilian food.  Sicilian food is always wonderful, but growing up in America, the melting pot of the world, my palette often craves different flavors.

If you'd like to check out Ristorante Casablanca they can be found at:
Viale Alcide de Gasperi 181/183, Catania
Parking is ample and easy. If you'd like to see the belly dancing show (we've never been, but I've heard its fun) they have it every Friday night.  Call for reservations at 095-722-5491 or 347403-3366.

If you visit them please let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Today I went up to Azienda Agricola Infantino, a nearby organic farm, for a cooking class and lunch. Each time I have been to Emilio and Mariska's farm has been a wonderful experience.  The company and the food are both wonderful.

Today we enjoyed antipasti of sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, spicy chili paste, and bread.

We got to sample some Balsamic Vinegar - the good stuff from Modena, the kind that you might eat with strawberries.  If you would like to buy some of the "good stuff'" check out the ingredient list.  It should have "mosto d'uva cotto" and that is it!  If it has aceto di vino (wine vinegar), caramel, or anything else you are getting the cheap stuff, even if the price tag says otherwise.

We also enjoyed homemade lasagna, roasted potatoes and vegetables, and a beef roast stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, all cooked in an outdoor wood-fired oven.  DELICIOUS!

Once the food was out of the oven I was more focused on eating than taking photos, as is usual for me. Since I don't have photos of the rest of the food you'll have to suffice with photos of adorable kittens!!  These precious ones were running around and playing as we were enjoying our meal.  Too cute!!

Mid Yawn :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mussels and Mozzarella

The two foods that I ate the most of while in and around Naples were Mussels and Mozzarella.  Both were FANTASTIC!  The Mozzarella di Bufala in the Campania region was some of the best I had ever had and the seafood was delicious and fresh.

I didn't take many photos of the food that I ate (silly me!).  I always seem to remember after I'm halfway through the plate and its never quite as pretty half eaten as it was when I began.  So, you'll have to do with a single photo of Spaghetti con Cozze, Spaghetti with Mussels - a dish I highly recommend if you visit Naples.

I'd also recommend a visit to Fratelli la Bufala if you ever come across one of their restaurants.  We visited their restaurant in Pozzouli, a small suburb of Naples. Apparently they are a chain that originated in the Campania region and their food is awesome.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Around Napoli

We spent a couple of afternoons wandering around the historic center of Naples.  Although it wasn't, shall we say, the most pristine city (check out this article for a bit on Naples trash woes), it did have a unique aura of organized chaos with a bit of refinement hiding just under the surface.  Here are a few photos that I snapped as I wove through the crowed streets and alleyways:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Museo Archeologico Natzionale in Napoli

To compliment our visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum, a visit to the Archeological Museum in Naples was a must. I had heard and read that many of the relics found at these sites were housed at the museum, including many of the frescos and mosaics.

I really enjoyed the beautiful sculptures and frescoes, but was disappointed to find out as I reached the end of the museum that I hadn't seen any mosaics, nor had I seen the Egyptian room that I'd read about.  I asked at the bookshop and was told that both the mosaic and Egyptian sections were closed for renovations.  The museum was still worth the visit, but if I ever make it back to Naples I will have to visit the museum again to see the sections that I missed.

Cappuccino Love

Monday, October 18, 2010

Amazing, Gorgeous, Amalfi Coast

One of the most breathtaking days of our vacation was the day we drove the Amalfi Coast.  We started in Sorrento and drove south through Amalfi and made our way back and stopped for dinner in Positano.  We didn't stop as much as I would have liked, and never for long enough, but I saw enough to know that I will have to go back one day, and spend more time exploring this gorgeous corner  of the world.

Duomo in Sorrento

Sedile Dominova
According to my Time Out guide for Naples the Sedile Dominova was a meeting place in the 15th century where local aristocracy discussed local policy.  Today the Sedile Dominova is a working men's club where pensioners gather to play their cards.

Looking out over Marina Piccola in Sorrento (6 shot pano)

A quick shot from the moving car

Looking back toward Positano

It was a bit stormy,  other than a few sprinkles we missed the rain

We stopped at a roadside stand for fresh orange and lemon juice

I don't remember which town this was, but I think I took this shot from the moving car...

Duomo di Amalfi

Does this really need a caption? LOL

A cute little shop in Amalfi


In Positano

My view while I ate dinner in Positano
The Amalfi Coast stole my heart.  It is definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Ercolano, or Herculaneum in English, is another city that was destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD.  I had heard that although smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum was a better preserved site with more to look at in the way of frescos, mosaics, and most of all multi-storied buildings, still standing nearly 2000 years later.

Pompeii was engulfed by approximately 4 meters of burning ash and pumice, whereas Herculaneum was covered by 20 meters of mud and ash from the pyroclastic flow of hot gas and rock. The site, discovered in the 1700's, is still being excavated today.  The modern cities of Ercolano and Portici were built above the ancient Roman city and it is estimated that a number of public and private buildings, including the forum, are still buried under 20 meters of volcanic debris and the modern cities.

Visiting the archeological site of Herculaneum was very different from Pompeii.  Herculaneum was much less crowded, and although small, it had more to offer (in my opinion) than the better known site at Pompeii.

Inside the Terme Suburbane

Detail on the Casa dei Cervi

Casa dei Cervi

Casa dei Cervi

In the Palestra

Thermopolia - ancient Roman fast-food joint

In the next photo notice the bit of glare on the dark door panels at the back of the room.  These are wooden doors, a bit charred, and encased in glass that were original to this home.

Casa del Tramezzo di Legno (House of the Wooden Partition)

A bedroom

Inside the Terme del Foro (Forum Baths for Women)

Wine jugs

Frescoed walls and ceilings

I was blown away by the details and colors that are still so vibrant after nearly 2000 years.  This must have been a remarkable place to live (at least until Vesuvius blew).

The following day we tried to stay on our archeological theme by visiting the Museo Archeologico Natzionale but after being lost in horrible Naples traffic for nearly two hours we gave up and went to the base, hoping to get some help.  We found out that most everything closes on Tuesday in the Campagna region so we ended up back at our cabin and relaxed for the rest of the day and vowed to try again later that week, armed with instructions on where to park and to use public transit to get into the centro of Napoli.

In the meantime, our next adventure was the Alamfi Coast.  Hopefully I'll have time to post a few photos from this amazingly beautiful area tomorrow.