Archive | August, 2021


28 Aug

50 years ago yesterday, over 200 very curious and most adventurous students from across the U.S. landed in Rome for the beginning of a year like no other – destination:

Loyola’s Rome Center was started in 1962. At that time, it was the largest American study program offered by a U.S. university in Europe enrolling Loyola students as well as students from 75 other U.S. colleges and universities, of which I was one.

While it is hard to imagine we arrived 50 years ago, it is so easy to remember the most incredible year of our lives. Quickly becoming a family of “campers”,  we learned, laughed, loved and lived together. Oh how we lived!

Most of us arrived at age 20, having never been to a foreign country, nor away from home for more than a semester. There was no internet, no wifi, no cell phones, no pc’s, etc. But we adapted quickly. What we did have was one public payphone in the hall, mail slots, a beautiful campus, an attentive staff, engaged professors, and most of all, each other.

Yes, we actually did attend class with some very excellent professors, but so very much of what we remember from that year comes from outside the classroom, as they said it would.

We quickly learned how to get around in Italy…

and explore some of her greatest treasures.

We learned to navigate by train, and expect nothing to happen as scheduled.

On holidays, we even had extra time to explore far away destinations.

We learned of the unspeakable horrors of war…

and saw monuments dedicated to victory.

We rushed to the Vatican on 5/22/72 in the hope that the Pieta had not suffered grave damage at the hand of a madman. 

When not studying or traveling, we also trained well and competed!

We learned that every kid in Italy plays soccer,

and that some of then best “food” can be bought at the market.

At Christmastime, we sponsored a party for children from a local orphanage, doing much more for us than they could imagine.

At the end of our year together, we published a wonderful yearbook and I was delighted to be one of the photographers. All of the above photos are from that book, so kudos to the following people:


Finally, 10 years ago, Loyola Rome celebrated its 50th anniversary in Chicago and all classes were invited to attend. It was our group’s 40th anniversary, and as you can see, friendships are still going strong.

To the family of “71-72 campers”,  indeed we did learn, laugh, love and live together. Oh how we lived! 


Happy Birthday Len!

11 Aug

Len’s Birthday Journal:

We started the day with a cappuccino in Cortona, then headed to the small town of Magione in the Perugia region for a most enjoyable lunch. Being that it is nearly 100° and crowded in Cortona, we decided to take the lovely drive to Ristorante Da Massimo, situated above Lake Trasimeno. The roads weren’t crowded, the views along the winding roads were lovely, and the food – well, Massimo certainly has made an art of preparing fresh seafood.

Great Food!
We shared two antipasti di mare, some hot and some cold, and seemingly never ending. Unfortunately, I’m a bit out of practice at remembering to photograph the gastronomical delights, but among them were salmon, octopus, seafood salad, shrimp salad, mussels, clams, scallops, and these mini sea snails. 


We were first introduced to this wonderful restaurant by dear friends Susan and Ray, and they were definitely on our minds. In fact, that first time, Susan and I ordered the same orata (white fish), but I ordered mine grilled and she ordered with potatoes. I never forgot!


Given that we still had a dinner ahead, we opted to share one piece of cheesecake with fresh berries and freshly whipped cream. 



Great Friends!
After an afternoon nap, (it’s what one does, of course!), we met friends at Tuscher for some masked hugs and a Prosecco toast to Len.




Great Views! We departed around 8 for dinner at Ristorante Tonino and were welcomed by a gentle breeze and incredible views.


Food was good too…




As we ate, the sky changed colors and the sun and slender crescent moon put on a splendid show.




On the way home, we bumped into Ivan and Massimo, a fun ending for a pretty perfect birthday!


Tanti Auguri, Leonardo, per un buon compleanno! Ti amo!










8 Aug


Several people have written to ask me more about what is needed to travel to Italy. Speaking specifically for Americans, Italy requires you to complete the EU Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) prior to boarding, available via your airline or online. This is NOT in place of a Vaccination card, rather it is used as necessary for contact tracing. (Probably a similar requirement for others, but ALL should check latest requirements before any departure.) 

What has been confusing in the last few days is what is required to enter restaurants, cultural places, etc. For Italians, it’s the green card, but so far, only those vaccinated in Italy receive one. Per several journals, including this description found in The Local it and updated August 5, things have become a bit clearer:

“People who have proof of Covid-19 vaccination, testing or recovery from one of five countries outside the European Union will be able to use it as a health passport in Italy, the Italian government has confirmed.

As Italy prepares to extend the public spaces where a so-called ‘green pass’ is required, the government has given its first indications about how visitors from non-EU countries can access the scheme.Travellers from any country in the EU or Schengen Zone can already use their national certificates in Italy as they would at home. In its latest ordinance of July 29th, the Italian Health Ministry confirmed that documents issued by health authorities in any of the following countries would also be accepted in Italy:

  • Canada
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom (including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and British military bases on Cyprus)
  • United States of America

Certificates can be shown in digital or paper format, the Ministry said, without giving further details.

While visitors from Canada, Israel, Japan and the US can already use health certificates issued in their own countries to avoid quarantine in Italy, the Italian government has separate restrictions on the UK that oblige travellers to self-isolate for five days on arrival.” (The Local it)

Last night, we saw restaurants accepting VAX cards for indoor dining, so this seems to be working.

A Correction: Thanks to an astute friend who questioned my math: the number of days since our arrival was 582, not 947! (one year too many!)

Finally, street dining last night a la Cortona!







Cortona at Last!

7 Aug

After 947 days, we have finally returned to Cortona and my thoughts can be summed up in this quote by Stephen King: “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” (Author look-up required). For me, new is not the sights, sounds and smells of Italy, rather the learning of current mores, i.e., the new customs, conventions and the new ways of doing things with the pandemic.

Tuscany is currently classified as a “white” zone, meaning it has the least restrictions. Masks do not have to be worn outdoors, except in crowded areas, although many still wear them.  As of yesterday, however, certain activities like indoor dining, leisure venues and cultural sites will only be available to those with a Certificazione Verde, (green pass) or as in our case, (we think) a Passenger Locator Form. (Some of the logistics are still not clear.) Both of these show digital proof of either vaccination status, recent negative test results, or recovery.

As for Cortona proper, we were surprised to find the streets alive with tourists, mostly from the north. Families from The Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium are enjoying the sights and sounds of Cortona, and especially the bars, cafes and restaurants. Nary a table is available without a reservation – finally some great news for the local establishments. Most dining is outdoors as the town has made extra space accommodations, including closing some street traffic on the weekends. So, although the streets are not packed as usual in August, there are thankfully enough people to boost the local economy a bit.

Seeing old friends/acquaintances is interesting – making a split second decision on a huge “welcome back hug” or going the safer “happy to see you elbow bump”?

Ordering is interesting – Do I enter to order a cappuccino or to pay? (Answer: no, yes, and it depends!)

There’s still a short line up at the in-town grocers, pharmacies, etc., but given their size, that’s just fine in my book. The reality is, while we personally jumped at the chance to be vaccinated, not all did the same. 

Our flights were long as we needed to travel Chicago – Dallas – Rome, but no snags along the way, including at FCO. In fact, it was probably our fastest exit with checked baggage. I suspect this was due to many fewer travelers arriving from the US and and Canada. 

We were touch and go until the very end, but are happy to be here after missing our last three trips. And given our jet lag time differences, we even manage to find outdoor tables when needed.  

And then of course, some things never change.

Few things can say Welcome Back more than this:


or this!

Ciao for now,

Note: If you are planning a trip to Italy, or the EU, be sure to check the latest travel requirements as they change often.






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