Hope you enjoyed the George Clooney video. Lynda Frechette sent it to me. Thank you, Lynda.This portion of the blog will share some interesting items involving Stanley Tucci, Ernest Hemingway and George Clooney.
The three simply are interrelated by Italy.
I begin with Stanley Tucci.
An interesting movie actor. I thought his best performance was in Pravda.
Tucci spent a good portion of the past year filming a TV series involving Italian food. Food prepared and served as only Italy can. He traveled all over Italy enjoying the culinary artistry of the country’s various regions.
The show is titled Searching for Italy. I watched it for the first time last night.
Tucci ended the show by having dinner on Lake Maggiore. A special place to enjoy for a vacation, a drink and/or dinner. I did all three more than once.
The Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees sits on the lake’s southern side facing the tiny Borromees islands and the Alps. Everything is the Alps in this part of Italy.
I was fortunate in my travels to visit the area 3-4 times.
In Tucci’s Italian food show last night, he was pictured visiting the Grand. Walking through the first floor itself and outside the back area of the Hotel where he was shown sitting at a small table enjoying a drink.
I was immediately excited. The Hotel was never referred to as the “world famous” Grand. It was, however. I could never forget.
The first time I stopped in for a drink, I initiated a conversation with the bartender. Probably 50. We got into Hemingway. He could see my interest. He called over a thin old man with white hair. The man moved slowly. Another 5 years and I will look like him.
He served Hemingway and Hemingway’s love at the time Agnes Kurwosky. He gave me the “Grand” Hemingway history. He was the bartender back in 1918 when Hemingway visited.
He advised the present bar was not the location of the bar Hemingway sat at. He took me to a small room in the back of he hotel. No bigger than 15′ by 15′. A storage room when I visited. Full of boxes and extra furniture.
The bar itself was gone. The room had only one window. He showed me where Hemingway sat so he could look directly out the window. As we walked he shared some Hemingway stories.
I was in all my glory!
He took me outside in teh back. A huge rolling lawn with an item of greenery here and there. Small white tables and chairs hee and there.
I had 2 drinks the first time. One at theh inside bar, the other outside in the back at a small white table. I imbibed whee Hemingway had done so. In the backyard where for sure, Hemingway first sat. Then Louis. Then Tucci.
It was World War I. Hemingway had joined the Italian ambulance service. The U.S. was not yet in the war. He joined when he was 18. He was seriously injured when 19 by a mortar shell which exploded next to him.
His injuries kept him confined to a hospital for 6 months. His nurse was an American. Agnes von Kurowsky. They fell in love while she cared for him.
Near the end of his convalescence, Hemingway was given a 10 day pass. He and Agnes spent 7 of those days at the Grand Hotel.
Hemingway fictionalized Agnes as Nurse Catherine Barkley inA Farewell to Arms.
Hemingway was 19 at the time. Agnes, 26. Hemingway was desperately in love with Agnes. He thought she with him. He received a Dear John letter when he was back in the States from Agnes who still was in Italy.
The only way to say it was he way it happened. Agnes dumped Hemingway for an Italian Duke or Count who was also a Lieutenant.
History casts Agnes as a status seeker.
The two never met again.
However, they were both in Key West at the same time on several occasions. Historians tell us Agnes knew Hemingway was in town each time. Hemingway did not know Agnes was living in Key West.
Agnes and her husband had moved to Key West in 1951. She worked at the public library for years. Even inadvertently, their paths did not cross.
After Hemingway’s death, his wife Mary came to Key West. She had been advised that a room in Sloppy Joe’s was stored with boxes of Hemingway’s writings, etc. when he left for Cuba.
Mary found many things. Some that turned out to be of significant value.
Among the items she found were Agnes’ letters to Hemingway.
Mary was aware Agnes was living in Key West. She visited Agnes and gave the letters to her. The two became friends and continued to visit.
Agnes left Key West in the 1960s. She told people she left because of the Conch Train. It became too much to hear “Ernie’s girl” lives here as it went by.
George Clooney never had anything to do with Hemingway. Their connection is both lived in Italy a portion of their lives. Hemingway during World War I. Clooney has lived in Italy for many years in a home near Lake Como.
I assume Tucci and Clooney know each other as both are actors.
I live and learn. Today, an impressive fact. More than half of the coastline of the entire U.S. is in Alaska.
Next another day on my First Time in Greece. Camogli again. The Italian Riviera was not hard to take.
The honeymoon is over!
I return to Key West tomorrow. Monday, not Tuesday as I thought. Fortunately, Lisa picked up on my error. She Skyped me yesterday to tell me I was going to have missed my plane if I left Tuesday.
On a trip as I have experienced, days of the week and dates get screwed up. Intermingle. Are not important.
As a result of which, a person can miss a return flight home!
My today – Sunday – now changes. No Milan. No Leonardo Da Vinci. Instead rest and packing.
I am in Novara. Drove here from Camogli yesterday afternoon. A two hour drive. Thruways all the way.
Strange traffic for a summer Saturday afternoon. None. Just me and a few other cars.
It is the cost of gas and high road tolls here in Italy.
The other vehicles on the road all passed me at 125 miles per hour. Crazy!
The clothesline saga continues. Eevry town and hamlet I drove by…..there they were! Clothes hanging ouside windows and on front porches. Even here in Novara, a classy city.
Lisa Skyped me in the afterfnoon. Fortunately. Otherwise, I would have missed my plane tomorrow. Got to see and chat with the grandkids and son in law Corey. I could tell I am really missed. A nice feeling.
Last night was another birthday dinner. My Morrocan friend Miriam cooked for me. And several others as well. A dinner party.
We started with a good champagne. During dinner, Beefeater was substituted for me. A thoughtful gesture.
Pickies to begin. Too many to describe. All good.
Then humus. Not the kind you buy in the supermarket and scoop onto a plate. Miriam made the humus from scratrch. Ground the checi beans herself.
The entre was spiedini. Small pieces of beef on a stick. Miriam also prepared some sort of wheat dish mixed with very tiny pieces of tomato and covered with just enough oil.
There was a touch of Lebanese to the meal.
Miriam exceeded herself with the birthday cake. Made by her from scratch, also. A cheesecake covered with blueberries and gelato. Of course on top 77 candles. One big 70 years old one and 7 tiny one year ones.
Everyone sang Happy Birthday! Just like in the U.S.
I was pleased with it all. My special thanks to Miriam.
Today I have to get ready for tomorrow. I will leave Novara about 6 in the morning. I have a one hour drive to the Milan airport. Then many hours in the air till I set down in Key West just after 9 in the evening.
Enjoy your Sunday!