World Nutella Day...Mark your calendar!

On February 5th, thousands of fans around the world will once again celebrate their love for one of Italy's national, edible treasures: Nutella. While I am not a huge fan of the nutty chocolate goo, Steve is and so we will celebrate.

Although many Italian and other European children fall in love with Nutella from an early age, the spread is just really hitting English-speaking markets and around the world; no matter how old you are the first time you try Nutella, though, the excitement is palpable and memorable. World Nutella Day is the perfect day for adults everywhere to experience a second childhood and discover Nutella.

Online tributes to the sweet treat in previous years have included homemade recipes, picture collages, and even haiku. Also at, the online home of the event, fans can find the top collection of Nutella recipes — over 500 ways to enjoy Nutella in everything from cookies and cupcakes to drinks and pizza as well as Nutella substitute recipes for those who would like to make their own homemade version.

Sara Rosso has an amazing blog that I found and enjoy.  If you would like to know how to have a proper Nutella party or discover more about Italy, you should read
Buon appetito!

"Although Nutella execs have long positioned the spread
as a breakfast food, World Nutella Day fans have made clear
 that one of life's sweetest pleasures is discovering new ways
to incorporate Nutella into old recipes —
and we're here to encourage that," adds co-host Michelle Fabio.

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"Suite Horovitz"... Sweet opportunity

Our Saturday began in a very artistically Spoleto way... at a press conference for an exciting play that is coming to the beautiful, local Hotel San Luca.

Andrea Paciotto is the director of Compagnia Horovitz-Paciotto Company, in addition to many interesting things, and is a really nice guy we were introduced to at an early art exhibit opening.

Beginning on Thursday, Steve and I will be doing what can to help with the play's production.  Each scene takes place in a different part of the hotel (lobby, dining room, a guest room).  Today we were given glimpses of the acts, in their specific locations.  We have never been part of something this unique and we feel honored to have been asked to participate.  The press conference was exciting.  We can't wait to be there for the actual performances all next weekend.

SUITE HOROVITZ is a site specific theatre performance composed of six one act plays, taking place inside different spaces of a Hotel. Six short bittersweet plays, funny and touching, provoking and entertaining. Each text presents a different point of view, a glimpse in the private lives of ordinary men and women.

Watching these one act plays, written by one of the most respected contemporary American playwrights, is like being in front of Picasso's sketches […] It is like peeking at this innovative author behind his back, while he's experimenting with his creative skills, facing different themes and ideas evolving into complete works. -Nancy Ellen Shore

The hotel is a perfect place for setting a play. Everyone knows that hotels are busy places, many things happen in it, many stories intersect, people meet, betray and leave each other. These plays are accurate and detailed, written with great care, even the characters are depicted in a way that reveal something deeper. Horovitz's bigger merit is to tell about life, even most awful stories, with lightness. In this way, he lets us see those aspects of life that we often refuse to see. Taken as a whole body, these fragments represent an engaging kaleidoscope of humanity, giving voice to small and great dramas, to the fears, the dreams, the hopes of everyone's ordinary life. -Gianfranco Capitta

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It's a Nice Morning in Spoleto...

This is how we start our day, almost every day in Spoleto.
We went on our walk and were greeted with a gorgeous day and flowers in bloom.  It's hard to believe it's the end of January.  What a glorious time to be here.

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Some of special sights of Spoleto...
Cats are everywhere in Spoleto. Combine it with a Vespa and you have true Italy!
This sweet dog guards the newspaper stand and makes me smile.  And he's so well dressed. 
I don't know if you can really tell what this is.  Giampiero is an old fashion shoe cobbler. His shop is on the main corso in the historic center so we pass him often.  This is our Christmas card, mounted in his store window.
This sight is quite common in Italy.  Funeral notices are placed on billboards throughout the City.  This one made us wonder if this older man was looking for a friend he may have lost.

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Home in Spoleto...

After twelve hours of sleep, we felt great and were greeted by a spectacular Spoleto day.  We spent a couple of hours meandering in our special woods... a perfect way to be welcomed 'home'.

Sun and wine on the patio!  Day #1 return to Italy...a success!
I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless,
as it extends into the world around us,
it goes an equal distance into the world within. 
~Lillian Smith

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Breakfast in LA...a late lunch in Rome...

We pretty much lost yesterday.  A sunrise breakfast, with the folks, was followed by a several hour stay at LAX as a prelude to our 12 hour flight back to Italy.

We were met in Rome at Fiumicino by our friend, Guenda.  We then joined friends, Bonnie & Marco, along with the rest of Guenda's delightful family for a "welcome back" lunch.  Ristorante Bagnolo was not only tasty but it was the right loud and very Italian to make us feel back.  It has been a crazy but wonderful two days.

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education;
in the elder, a part of experience.
-Francis Bacon

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A movie star, a poolside and family cuddles...

Our day in Los Angeles was a memorable one before jetting off back to Italy.   One of my favorite actors, Billy C r y s t a l was shopping in a camera store in Westwood when we happened to be there.  Ironically, moments before, I said to Steve, "Look for movie stars".  Then Steve's mom spotted this When Harry Met Sally star.

After dinner, the Hotel Angeleno was the perfect place to call it a night.  We leave for Italy tomorrow after an unforgettable two week visit home!

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Snowie Sue, the best dog ever...

As you may know, our amazing dog (the fifth family member), Snowie, went to live on my brother's farm in May.  There she harassed the chickens, chased bunnies and happily roamed the five acres with Chuck's other two dogs.  She rested at the feet of Gram and enjoyed being around people, constantly.
After almost 16 years of being the best pet EVER, she is now gone.  Chuck wrote, "She was a great dog, had a great life with you guys, and for the short time we had her...part of our family.  We will miss her (especially her best buddy, Tootsie)!"
Snowie traveled the world.  She protected us and was always there with a wagging tail.  She was loved and will be missed.  It truly is "better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all"!

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Ciao until June in Roma...

Yesterday we said "See you in Rome" to Brenton, Christy and Kegan until June when they will come for an Italian adventure.  It was the perfect weekend of family fun in Northern California.  We will finish our trip 'home' visiting friends and spending time with the folks.  
No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel
until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
~Lin Yutang

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Cal Poly, SF, Burgers and my babies...

Friday night with our family together made "everything right in the world".  After picking  Kegan up at school, we spent five hours catching up with him on the drive to Rohnert Park.  Dinner consisted of Brenton's amazing hamburgers and Christy's special potatoes.

Today, coffee and waffles have fueled us for our day in Santa Rosa.  It is comforting to be all together.  I'm a happy mom!

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Sunrises and aebleskivers...

It was 3 AM and we were up and we left Temecula for the drive to pick up Kegan.  We stopped for the most amazing sunrise, outside of Santa Barbara.  We felt we had 'driven' to Hawaii.

Breakfast found us in Solvang for a delicious, traditional Danish treat, Æbleskivers.  The road to the kids was full of wonderful stops.

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Our night out...

According to Calvary Chapel's We Believe list, "Worship of God should be inspirational; therefore we give great place to music in our worship."  Steve's brother, Matt, is part of the church band and we thought this was a wonderful opportunity to hear him play, in an amazingly beautiful setting.

Dinner, conversation and music... a fantastic night.

Music is the poetry of the air.

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Jet lag + sunshine= Great Nap!

Temecula's sunshine is a great nap environment for me and Steve.  Our days home are full of a diversity of activity... It's good to be home!

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Yesterday was a planned date with friends... an all call to anyone who was free to meet me for lunch.  I can't tell you how warmed my heart was when we had to change tables in the restaurant because the group kept growing.  Fourteen amazing women dined with me and perserved through my endless tales of Italy.
I have always prided myself on the wonderful circle of friends who are my life and saying "ciao for now" again was more difficult than I imagined.
A real friend is someone who would feel loss if you jumped on a train,
or in front of one.

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In-n-Out Burgers and so much more...

Last night was a perfect Italian feast at Steve's brother and sister-in-law's with our friends, Lynne and Scott.  It was comfortable and delicious.

We are enjoying the connections we are making while home:  reacquainting ourselves with friends and the "tastes" of home...(In-n-Out is truly what a burger is all about!)

Jet lag is dissipating and our visit home is wonderful thus far.

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It's 3 AM, why are we up?

After spending the night at the Perini home, we went to Fiumicino Aeroporto, before dawn, for our 9:45 AM flight.  I won't go into all the details but after being up for over 26 hours, it's good to be back in Temecula.  After a shower and only four hours of sleep, we are ready to start our first day home but no one else is!  Thankfully there's coffee.

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Casperia for lunch and a new friend...

Our our way to Roma, we stopped in the darling medieval village of Casperia to meet a friend of a friend, Tom.  Chef Tom has began his "Life Part 2" by studying to become a chef.   For foodies, his blog is a must read.

Lunch was at the quaint Gusto al Borgo where Tom is doing his externship from Le Cordon Bleu.  Our meal was unique and sumptuous.

Tom's wife, Chris, will be joining him in Italy and both will be having a "Spoleto Sojourn" with us in February.  "Life is fun and we have the pictures to prove it!"

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California for a winter holiday...

Since the Spoletini are leaving for their winter holidays, we thought we would too. Where better to go than California?  We will be gone long enough to hug on everyone we've been missing, that we can, and to shop for the essentials we can't get in Italy (Ziploc® bags).

Tonight Roma, tomorrow Temecula!

"The ache for home lives in all of us,
the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
-Maya Angelou

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La Befana... bigger than Santa!

One of Italy's traditional celebrations includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones (we bought a pre-filled stocking so we are not too worried about La Befana, personally).

According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions.  They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy.  Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. Having no means of transportation, she wept on her broom. Her sincere tears brought her broom to life, and she flew off in search of the men.  She got lost and never found the manger.

Thinking of the opportunity she had missed the old woman stopped every child to give them a small treat in hopes that one was the Christ child. Each year on the eve of the Epiphany she sets out looking for the baby Jesus.

A sweet story and another holiday to celebrate, Italian-style (the last of the Christmas holidays).
May La Befana fill your stocking
with only wonderful treats!

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