Tag Archives: Italy

20 Years

It was late afternoon when there was loud pounding on the door, people shouting “CNN! CNN!” It was the next door neighbors alerting us to the bombing of the World Trade Center.

As the evening turned into night, one could think of nothing else. We’d just returned from a wonderful saiing trip echoing that of Odysseus through the Ionian Sea for my father’s 70th birthday and I was in Florence, Italy for just a couple of days before flying home to California. All I wanted to do was get home to the US but all flights were cancelled.

Each morning I started out by walking to the Ponte Vecchio to the Continental Airlines office to see when I could get home. En route to the apartment I stopped at the US Consulate next door where they told me no deal, try tomorrow.

When CNN International wasn’t on, I was actually developing my photos from the trip, even had time to mount them in photo books. I meandered around Florence seeing everything I could.

What I remember most are the people. I picked up clothes at the cleaners and they said they were so sorry. Same at the grocery. Through the Consulate I got to know some folks and they invited me to a memorial service with a lot of ex-pats.

One day at the main square, the Piazza Signoria, hundreds of people filled the space, holding hands while a lone church bell tolled mournfully for three minutes.

One day the Consulate said that the airline could get me to Newfoundland, but they were sure my summer dresses wouldn’t serve me well as I may be in Canada for some time!

Finally, I was able to catch a flight from Rome. When I went through Customs in LA, all the agent said to me was “Welcome home” and I cried. Again.

None of my family or friends were killed but it felt like America itself was wounded, and the world did reach out. We also reached out to each other. Frankly, I wouldn’t have met my husband of 18 years had we not run into each other in early October, 2001.

I heard former President George Bush speak at Shanksville, PA this morning, on TV. What a powerful speech. It’s a pity it’ll be buried by the right-wing media. I’ve agreed with little George Bush has ever said, but this speech is something we should hear and I’m going to look for it to read as well. Powerful stuff. We should listen, and think about the heroes of 9/11 and our future as a nation.

Our world is a different place, now with our major terrorist danger coming from within our borders. I think it’s time we all put our weapons (words are a weapon) aside and realize that we are one people, with problems that we have always solved together. That is what makes us strong, makes us the United States of America. Not red or blue, united. I write in peace and understanding, Dee



I’ve got all the winter gear to weather any storm. Sad to say, the only time I’ve ever been pampered in a store was at Madova, which hand-makes gloves in Florence, Italy.

As a kid my mother and my aunt used to knit me mittens, you know the ones with the string that goes through you coat so you don’t lose them.

I don’t know why, perhaps because the female members of my family were always so impeccably dressed (my mother vacuumed in a dress with stockings and heels) I started going to department stores for leather gloves as I was in college and couldn’t wear mittens to grab a steering wheel. The fingers were always too long in regular leather gloves.

Madova has been around since 1919. It does have online ordering but its shop is about 2-3 times the size of my closet and as in the old days, everything is behind the counter in little wooden boxes.

When I arrived I was immediately taken care of and saw the shock of color in all the gloves, reds, oranges and yellows and greens. My hands needed protecting in our foul weather so I asked for one pair of Navy and one pair Black to go with my coats, all above the wrist for snow, one silk-lined for Fall, and one wool-lined for winter.

There were a few orange silk pillows on the counter. I was asked to place my elbow on the pillow and they would fit a glove. Of course they guessed my weird size, and both pair worked perfectly and the fingers were just the right length. They’re probably in storage somewhere now but if still usable I’ll fix them up with saddle soap and be ready to go.

Perhaps I’m naive or still a partial farm girl but I’ve never been treated so well in a store. I just thought of this today because I’ve been writing of Italy and aside from family, museums, churches and food I’ve forgotten this indulgent adventure. They do sell online. Perhaps they’ll have you mail an outline of your hand and ask you colors et al, I don’t know. No, they don’t pay me. It’s just a memory I wished to share. My gloves, when I find them, must be at least 15 years old, probably with my Ferragamo scarves…….. Dee

Sophisticated Dee

I spent my 25th birthday on Crete. Play that back. My younger sister and I wanted to travel and I had my first real job so took three weeks off to spend in Greece and Italy.

My sister wanted to live in Athens, thinking she would run into Plato and Aristotle on the steps of the Parthenon. Instead, we smelled diesel fuel from Mercedes cabs and looked out on smog-filled skies. Once I left she escaped to Israel and lived on a kibbutz for six months!

We landed in Athens, backpacks on, and found a place to stay, a perfectly clean hostel where we had our own room with a sink, and shared a bathroom I’d like to have now, decades later, with the room next door. [Without the sharing and with double sinks.] All for the outrageously high price of $12/night (her reasoning, not mine, I became the financier because I didn’t want to sleep on someone’s roof for $1 per night).

Settled in, we fought jet lag and went to a taverna close by. Thinking I was worldly, I ordered Campari. Juice glass with an ounce of red liquid, warm and it made me cough with the first sip. So much for worldliness!

I reveled in the food in both Greece and Italy and tried whatever food I could. My sister ordered spaghetti and meatballs every meal and kept Nutella in the room.

More on the boat trip to Italy later and the flight back.

We got to Agia Galini (on Crete), a beautiful fishing village for $4/night with sandy muslin sheets and a 2′ x 3′ bathroom with a toilet that was also our shower.

The next night was my 25th birthday and our parents had given my sister $25 to take me out to eat. I insisted we get a real hotel room for $15 and spend the rest on dinner. We walked into an empty taverna early and the owner took such good care of us with seven courses, ouzo, retsina, metaxa brandy. Spoon sweets, he was the real deal. With tip it cost a whopping $14. I paid the $4.

Before sunrise I was at the airport with quite a headache for an interesting cancelled flight and two stops in the former Yugoslavia with baggage checks and bomb-sniffing dogs before arriving in NYC where my parents were moving in. After 18 hours on the road I walked in the door from an expensive taxi from JFK and my mother handed me a box and said “we work around here.” Welcome home! Then I went home to another place my roommate had found because we’d been broken into again on my trip.

Welcome home, world-traveled and sophisticated Dee, moving twice in two days! It was fun, I was young and got to sunbathe topless in Greece. Dee