Timewise, my life is totally screwed up.

I arrived in Santorini this morning. Santorini is seven hours ahead of Key West time.

I went out in Athens again last night. Did not get back to the hotel till one in the morning. Had to get up at 5 to get cab at 6 to take me to the airport for an 8:30 flight. The flight took a half hour.

Now for my yesterday fun day.

My computer and data port are still not working. Nor will the computer take wi-fi. Ergo, I am required to find a store that leases computer/internet time. The place in Athens left a bit to be desired. Second floor. Heavy humidity. No air conditioning. Everyone smoking. I was soaking wet and stunk of cigarettes when I left.

I took a walk. I was hopefull the fresh air would take the smell out of my tee shirt. It was my last clean one.

Walked the same commercial street as I did last year. Heavy duty stores. Top of the line. More closed than last year. Saw beggars, again. Three. A young man with no legs sitting on the street with his hand extended holding a cup. A young mother kneeling in the street holding her baby. The woman had a sign around her neck…..I have no money. A small bent over old lady with no teeth walking up to people with her cup and mumbling undistinguishable words.

These are not homeless people as we know them. These are for real beggars. The same that have existed since the beginning of man.

It was Acropolis and Parthenon time.

It was a tough trek last year. I was in terrible shape. I walked through Plaka to the foot of the wide road leading up to the entrance to Acropolis and Parthenon. Better than a 45 degree incline. At least a mile up. Had to stop several times. Thought I was going to die.

Did it again yesterday. This time the smart way.

I found an English speaking cab driver. I asked if he could get me to the entrance on top. Absolutely! I was there in minutes. Not even winded.

Acropolis and Parthenon are Acropolis and Parthenon. The beginning of civilization. Still standing. A little weathered. A bit beaten. Yet surviving.

It was still hard work after the cab ride. I had stairs to climb and much ground to cover. I did it with pleasure. There is something exhilarating about seeing man’s beginnings.

I had to walk two blocks after leaving. To find a cab to take me back to the hotel.

One thing bothered me. The cost of entry. Either Americans are unloved or thought to be rich. I think both.

Europeans pay 6 euros. Americans 12. At the Last Supper, I ran into a similar situation. I am 77 years old. Senior Europeans paid 1.5 euros. Americans 10 euros.

Last night, I was back in Plaka. Probably should be spelled Playka. A wonderful place! I never stay up late, yet I did at Plaka two nights in a row.

I was heading for the bar/outdoor cafe where I spent some time last year. Where I watched the European soccer world series with the owner and some of his buddies. When they yelled, I yelled. When they swore, I swore.

The name of the place is Cossimos. I think. Everything is in Greek. The Greeks have their own alphabet. Strange to non-Greeks. Cossimos is as close as I can come to the correct name.

I was in a large crowd moving down the street towards Cossimos. All of a sudden I hear a shout…..Key West Lou! It was my owner friend from last year. He came running towards me and we hugged. As soon as we arrived at the cafe, he yelled to a waiter…..Gin on the rocks!

I made a friend last year.

He is Canadian. Sixtish. Was very happy. Told me he been divorced in the past year. He had a girl friend in Canada. Twenty seven years old. She was coming to Greece to live with him. Lucky you, I told him. He beamed!

The drink arrived. A large water glass filled to the brim with gin. At least 3 drinks in one. Maybe 4. My friend was a generous host.

Note that I have not mentioned his name. I coud not remember. After his warm reception, I did not want to insult him by saying I forgot, what is it, etc. I never found out.

I noticed a couple of things while devouring the gin.

Every dog I saw was flat on the ground sleeping. I never saw one up and about. I thought they might have smoked something.

Athens is alive. People are up. Locals and visitors. Contrasted with Novara where I found people basically depressed.

They have Ed Swift type trains as in Key West. My thoughts were of Sheila. The train cars are a bit narrower. Three max across as opposed to four. They do not drive on city streets. They drive down the narrow alleyways in Plaka. Only people are obstacles. Not bicycles.

Outdoor cafes galore. Each with someone hustling your business as you walk by. Two nights in a row, I walked past Mikel. A charming young man. Eat here, eat here, was his cry. We chatted. I promised him I would return. He was thrilled when I did.

Mikel’s restaurant is named Meandros. I only know the English name because I had Mikel tell me and spell it for me. The food was outstanding! Lamb chops. Broiled. The cheap boney fatty cut. Loved them!

I walked back to my hotel. I did not get lost this time.

Tomorrow Santorini.

Enjoy your day!


I am in Athens. As with New York, it’s a wonderful town!

The plane was late. I was not checked into the hotel and cleaned up till 11 in the evening. It was out on the town at 11! I did not get back to the hotel till 2 in the morning. It has been years since I have been out that late.

Lets start yesterday with my morning.

Novara was cold. All of a sudden. Needed long pants and a jacket or sweater. I had packed the night before. Could pull out a windbreaker. My long pants were at the bottom. I was not going to mess things up by going after them. My legs were cold till I got to Athens.

Flew Aegean Airlines to Athens. Same flight as last year.

Aegean is a great airline. There were obvious differences from American airlines. I was flying economy. Free food and alcohol. Stewardesses. Not attendants. Only females. No one even close to 30. No discrimination laws in Greece!

One difference, however. Last year, I received a full meal. This year a sandwich and cookie. The Greek recession must be having an affect the airline.

It was 11 and I was out on the town!

I headed for Plaka. I wanted a couple of drinks and dinner. Plaka is a huge area of bars and restaurants. All outside. All on top of each other.

Business was booming! Tons of people!

The Plaka runs into another play area. Monastiraki. Both basically the same.

I saw old friends. Acropolis and Parthenon brilliantly lite on the hill. Hadrian’s Library in Plaka itself.

Everything is the Acropolis and Parthenon. There is an affluent side and a poor side. The view is the same. The difference is in the cost of meals and drinks. I dined on the cheap side last night.

The Acropolis and Parthenon were in my direct view from where I sat. A building called Agora and another known in English as the God of Fire were nearby. Agora is actually known as Ancient Agora. It was the first market place in the world. Established 1500 years before the birth of Christ.

Had a great waiter. Nikos. Fortyish. I was asking questions about the buildings. Interrupting him. Finally, he put up his hand as if to say stop and said…..This is my neighborhood! Notice, not country. Neighborhood. He had lived his whole life within six blocks of the restaurant.

I ate like a king. I have to share the meal with you. It was that good.

Started with baked egg plant. Not what I expected. It was tender egg plant buried under fine feta cheese and very tiny pieces of tomato in a light oily red sauce. Dinner was a meat combination dish. Each piece a gourmet’s delight! The lamb! So good! Chicken and pork the same. Lamb patties delicious. The best, if there could be anything better, were the potatoes and cheese. Hot boiled potatoes covered in olive oil. Feta cheese, again. Ground finer than cottage cheese.

The bill for two was 43.5 euros. About $50 American money. Four drinks, two desserts and a large bottle of water included. A steal!

Tipping continues to be a problem. Coperto only applies in Italy I learned. Greece works differently. There is no tipping.

I did not know.

I placed an extra ten euros on the table as a tip. My friends went crazy. I was told that in Greece, tipping is not required. Waiters are paid a full salary by the restaurant. It would be proper to leave one or two euros if you liked the service. That was it.

I still felt guilty. It did not seem proper. I compromised. Took back the 10 euro bill and left a 5 euro one. To the dismay of my friends.

The group was still in a partying mood. I was beat. I left them and started back to the hotel. Somewhere I must have taken a wrong turn. I ended up in a neighborhood I had never seen before. It was dark and shadowy. Then it was noisy as hell! I discovered a new neighborhood of bars and restaurants. Different from Plaka. Still fun. Maybe more fun.

It was a little after 2 when I finally found my hotel.

Jet lag is pretty much gone. I am seven hours ahead of Key West time. The difference most of the time between day and night.

I have no idea what I am going to do this afternoon.

Enjoy your day!


Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper is the feature item today. I saw it yesterday in Milan.

Yesterday contained so many interesting happenings. To avoid confusion, I am going to trace my day as it occurred. The Last Supper fits into the day at a certain point.

My day started sometime in the morning. A train and two subways to The Last Supper in Milan.

It has been said Mussolini made the trains run on time. Forget it. My train from Novara was 10 minutes late. My return train 35 minutes late.

First came a 20 minute wait in line to buy a train ticket. The Milan railway station is old and filthy. Contrasted with the Metro Underground which was shiny new and clean. The Metro Underground is Milan’s subway system.

One train ride and two Metro rides later, I was at the Piazza Del Duomo. Big! Magnificent!

I came out of the railroad station. Mussolini built it. The building survived the war. Huge and magnificent. The construction itself eye boggling.

There was a very large statue of someone on a horse in the center. Sorry, I never got the name.

St. Duomo’s Church. I will tell you more about the Church when I get to the point where I actually entered.

There was a building immediately next to or a part of the railway station where it emptied into the Piazza. An elderly woman told me she saw Mussolini on the third floor balcony when he announced that Italy had entered World War II on the side of the Germans. She said he threw his arms up and shouted…..War! War! War!

She claimed thousands cheered, including her. That was June 1940. Five years later on April 27, 1945, Mussolini and his mistress were executed/shot by Italian partisans near Lake Como. Their bodies were driven to Milan where they were hung upside down on meat hooks at an Esso gas station.

What a difference 5 years makes!

I hopped a cab to Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church. The Last Supper is exhibited in a special building next door. The building is referred to as the Church’s rectory.

I entered the Church. I had 45 minutes to kill. One only sees The Last Supper by appointment. I was early. So I opted to visit the Church itself.

The Church was huge, as expected. Side altars lining the walls.

There was an elderly priest in white robes walking around. We smiled and moved towards each other. Just then someone said all had to leave. The Church was closing. I looked at the priest. He shrugged his shoulders. I said…..You may be failing in my redemption. I do not believe he understood me.

I still had roughly 45 minutes to kill. Saw a bar across the street. Went over. The bar sold alcohol, ice cream, cakes, and sandwiches. I sat down and enjoyed a chocolate milk shake.

I still had some time before my scheduled visit. I looked about and made some observations.

Milan is affluent. It is very obvious. The men and women dress elegantly and carry themselves with that strut that tells you they are somebody. Milan is the business center of Italy. Not, Rome. Ergo, many business and professional persons. The men seemed to all be wearing custom tailored suits. Most dark navy. What I used to call courtroom blues. A white shirt and blue tie.

The cut of the suits was different from in the U.S. The pant leg came straight to the top of the shoe and stopped. Not that baggy bottom of the leg look that has existed in our country for years. I prefer the cleaner Italian look.

The women regardless of age dressed beautifully. Top of the line expensive clothes. They carried themselves well. With a sense of confidence. Each a beauty.

Stephanie Kappel, you would have loved the shoes. Not in the store windows. The ones the ladies were wearing.

I have yet to see a fat Italian. I did not see one in Rome 30 years ago nor in Milan yesterday. The men and women are all thin. Very thin. Clothes drape well on them. I was told they are thin because of their life styles. They drink little alcohol. Perhaps an occasional wine. No sodas. Only water. Eat unadulterated foods. Much fish and vegetables. Occasionally a good cut of meat. And they walk! Walk everywhere. Up and down hills and steps.

There appeared to be more mopeds than cars. A lot of bicycles. Traffic was damning. Horrible! Worse than New York or Boston. Crossing the street was an exercise in danger.

I saw only three beggars. Three too much. Two men and a woman. The woman was elderly. She was sitting on the Metro steps holding a cup out. I noticed her teeth. The best I have ever seen! Better appearing than my implants which cost me $35,000. I apologize, but I think she was involved in a scam. I expect to see real beggers in Athens, however. Many.

It finally was my time. Time to see The Last Supper.

People are taken into the rectory building in groups of thirty every 15 minutes. That gives you about 10-12 actual minutes in front of the painting.

Da Vinci painted The Last Supper in the late 1490s. It was painted on what I would describe as a concrete wall. Not on canvas. Nor is it small. It is a large mural. Probably 30 x 40 feet. Impressive!

Because of its nature (painted on concrete and its age), there is a concern for deterioration. The room temperature is kept at a constant level. Every attempt is made to keep the room free from pollutants.

Which meant we did not enter directly into the room. We had to go through three separate glass rooms and stay for a short period of time with the doors electronically closed in each. To bring the temperature to an appropriate level. Our body temperatures. Also to free us as much as possible from the pollutants human bodies carry.

Fortunately, the three rooms were glass floor to ceiling. Otherwise claustrophobia would have set in.

There was a special feeling when you entered the room containing the painting. It takes up an entire wall.

I sat on a bench and pondered. I was in the presence of something.

The painting is subdued color wise.

Mary Magdalene was in the painting. Standing near Jesus. A baby was on the shoulder of some young person next to the both of them. There exists a school of thought that Jesus and Mary ultimately married and Mary bore Jesus’ child. I do not know. I am Catholic. I almost feel sacrilegious in mentioning this. However, it is part of the mystery. The tour guide made reference to it.

What was my emotion as I sat there. Simple, yet awesome…..I just visited with God.

We left in the same fashion as we entered. One door less.

I was tired by this time. Too much hurrying and walking. I opted for lunch.

Dante Street is one of the top high priced store areas in Milan. Smart stores. There is no vehicular traffic. Street cafes were set out. I ate at the Majestic. A small table under a huge umbrella.

What a lunch!

I started with a gin and tonic, diet soda and bottle of cold water. I was thirsty! My meal was lasagna bolognese. I had been dying for pasta since I arrived in Italy. Delicious and unbelievably light!

After lunch, i walked back into the Piazza. There were people screaming on the other side from me. I walked over. There were thousands of spectators looking up. Most young girls 8-16. Four stories up, four young men and two young ladies were leaning over a balcony. The men were constantly waiving and blowing kisses to the young ladies below. Peope were hanging out windows taking pictures of the four young men. Swooning is the word which best describes the female reaction.

I could not discover who they were. I suspect they must have been some popular musical group. Giorgio Armani was having a one night opening show in the building later in the evening. Perhaps the young men were popular singers who were to perform. Such is a best guess.

I was tired and wanted to get out of the heat. I have always found a church to be the best place to cool down on a hot day. I entered the Saint Duomo Church. Interestingly, I had to go through security first.

The Chuch is magnificent on the outside. Much larger than St. Patrick’s in New York City. I have never seen so many spirals in my life.

I sat down and within minutes fell asleep. A half hour later I was hearing…..Sir…..Sir…..Wake up. It was one of the Church staff.

The entrance to the train station is a Galleria. Beautiful! Spacious! I opted for one final drink before I took the train back. The train and Metro.

I sat at one of the sidewalk cafes. Watched the Milan world walk by. Enjoyed not one, but two drinks.

I had to go to the bathroom. The cafe had one downstairs. I saw a first. There was no toilet. Only a hole in the floor. Porcelain circled and lined. No toilet as we know one. Fortunately, I only had to piddle.

As I left, I saw the door to the women’s bathroom open. I looked in. The ladies had a normal commode. To sit upon as usual. I could not understand why the difference. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. And vice versa.

The train back was 35 minutes late. It was hot. You wait semi-outside. No air conditioning. The subway to the train was even worse. No air conditioning. Interesting smells. Not everyone uses deodorant.

The train and Metro were a different experience. The last time I did trains and subways I was in college. I do not expect to do it ever again. I am a car and driver person.

This afternoon I am back to Milan to catch the plane to Athens. The car and driver will pick me up at 2:45.

I got back to the Novara appartement around 8. I had it. I stripped and fell into bed into an immediate deep sleep.

Enjoy your day!


Novara did not always exist.

Way back in Antiquity well before the birth of Christ, Rome was interested in developing a commercial trade center in northern Italy. The present site of Novara was selected. Nothing but raw wild land at the time.

Romans legions were sent forth.

Roman custom was to erect a stone wall around where ever they were encamped or in the process of doing something. The wall was for protective purposes. To prevent an enemy from getting into the Roman camp.
Such a wall was erected in what is now the Novara area. Today, it is the historical center of Novara. The area within which I am staying and take my walks.

The walls were thick. The outer one 3-4 feet. Of varying heights. Sometimes there was a second wall. Thinner. The walls were constructed of stone and brick, held together with some sort of concrete.

Rooms were also constructed underground beneath the walls. Passageways lead one to another.

Portions of the wall remain to this day. A thousand feet from where I am staying there are the ruins and remnants of one of the walls.

The Roman encampment was in a new area. The Roman new was nov and the name Novara was born. The ara at the end stands for area. New area became Novara.

Walked big time yesterday morning. About an hour. All about the historical center of town. The boxing ring still standing. May be a permanent thing. There were several young men and trainers in the ring. Definitely amateurs. I watched a while. They were being taught well.

What I thought might be a yoga workout platform in another spot turned out to be just that. Young children were participating in a yoga class as I walked by. There was also a small sign in Italian. I recognized the word yoga. It is the same in Italian and English.

The computer wi-fi saga continues. My disappointment with Verizon continues also.

I discovered yesterday morning that I had left the battery to the computer at the communications store. Back I went. My man from the day before was not there. Another stood in his place.

We initially had trouble communicating. Neither could speak the other’s language. Suddenly his eyes brightened, he threw his arms up and said in a loud voice…..Americano! The battery had been placed in an office for safekeeping. He returned it to me.

An English speaking employee came over to assist. My new man was able to show me how to place wi-fi in my computer and tablet. He could not do it himself for business reasons.

I returned to the apartment and followed the instructions. The tablet took and worked fine. My computer would not. I do not understand why. If one works, the other should also.

There is a neighborhood computer store nearby. Took the computer there. Some one thing is miss set in my computer. He did not want to screw with it. Nor did I did not want him to. Too many special programs loaded into it which I feared might be lost.

Here is what we are down to. The tablet will work fine for the blog and e mails. It will not work for the blog talk radio show. I need the laptop for sufficient power to broadcast.

This friend’s computer I am working on is strange as to its Skype st up. I could not get into to do the blog radio show last night. Ergo, no show. Hopefully next week.

I was disappointed I could not do the show. Just chatting with some Italian people has been an eye opener. I have interesting things to share.

Dinner last night was at what I would describe as a small neighborhood Italian restaurant. The place was unusually clean. Bright white tablecloths and napkins. I ended up drinking Italian beer. I am not a beer drinker. They had no gin. The beer was excellent. No after taste.

I started with antipasto. All meat. No vegetables or cheese. Salami, pepperoni (which they call sausage), prosciutto, and bacon. The bacon was very thinly sliced. I do not believe cooked at all. Covered with a bit of oil.

To die for! Delicious!

A good thing I did not order pasta for a main course. Could never have handled it. I had some light local fish sliced very thin. Apparently quick broiled in lemon juice and served. Outstanding!

I learn. Tipping is built into the bill. You do not have to tip in most European nations. In Italy, the tip is labeled on the bill as coperto. Being American, I like to add a few extra euros. I feel like I am cheating the waiter by not leaving something in addition on the plate.The bill came. Forty euros. I automatically pulled out a ten euro bill. A generous American tip!

My friends were immediately upon me! Turned out 10 of the 40 euros on the bill was for coperto. The house had already added on a 33.3 per cent tip. Outrageous! I became Italian. I left nothing!

This morning I take the train to Milan. A one half hour ride. I look forward to the train ride. Folklore has it Mussolini made the trains run on time. I am anxious to see if it is true.

I am even more excited for the reason I am going to Milan. To see Da Vinci’s Last Supper! What could be more thrilling!

Enjoy your day!


Each day is an adventure.

Yesterday’s adventure was a trip to Lake Orta.

The lake lies a one hour drive north of Novara. Go a bit further and you end up in Switzerland. An hour and a half away is France.

The trip to Orta was uphill. It took me into the Little Alps. So called because the mountains are smaller than the Alps themselves. No snow capped peaks.

The mountains, roads, trees and views reminded me of upstate New York’s Adirondacks. The same. With one major difference. The buildings. All huge and made of stone and granite. None wood. No wooden camps. Medieval Italy again. The buildings were all constructed in the 1,000 AD to !,500 AD era.

I finally ran into the Italy I experienced last year. Everything that goes down has to come up. The Orta village sits on the water at the base of a hill. Parking is near the bottom, though not quite. The last 1,000 feet is up to you.

The down trip went well. It always does. Up was another story. Shades of last year. I had to stop and rest a few times. However, I must admit I seem in better physical shape. The steps were long and twisting. Elevating at a 45 degree angle. The whole walkway only four feet wide. The buildings hovered next to and on top of each other. Built at a time when there was no vehicular traffic. Also at a time when narrow passageways were a safety factor in case of attack. The enemy would have to come drown the narrow walkways while the residents were pouring boiling oil down on them from the windows above.

I sat a couple of hours in the square. Piazza, actually. In italian, piazzetta. I am learning.

There was a tiny island about 300 feet off shore in Lake Orta. St. Giulio Island. A beauty. Completely covered with granite/stone structures 1-5 stories high. A church steeple visible off to the side.

I sat in the piazza and mellowed out on the view and a couple of drinks. Peaceful, restful.

I had dinner in a little hole in the wall restaurant located off one of the walkways. An outstanding meal! Rigatonis cooked in a light oil and mixed with small finely chopped vegetables and goat cheese.

My day started badly. Verizon sucks!

I spent hours and money getting set up for this trip. I cannot use my computer, tablet or data port. The problem is the data port. I cannot even put someone else’s wi-fi into my computer. It will not take. Verizon supposedly had everything worked out. They obviously do not know what they are doing, their store people do not know, the people they put me in touch with did not know. I am screwed. I wanted to do a number of things from Europe. Including my blog talk radio show.

I went to a computer store yesterday. Big! Like a huge super market. It was for communication items. The store made available computer geeks to help. Free of charge. Three spent over an hour with me. They finally concluded that Verizon did not know what they were doing. But they did not know, either. I had to go we elsewhere.

I did not come to Europe to get frustrated and run around trying to get my equipment to work. I am using a friend’s computer that accommodates my needs, except for tablet internet reception and being able to do my blog talk radio show.

I have not given up yet on the blog radio show. It is scheduled as usual for 9 tonight. That will be 4 am Novara time. I have a geek friend of a friend coming over later in the day to see if he can help. If so, the show will go on. If nothing, I failed in getting the problem corrected. Sorry.

Some observations.

The Italian people are very nice. Quiet. Congenial. Not boisterous. Do not raise their voices. Passive is the best term to describe them. Contrasted with Italo-Americans. Of which, I am one. We are boisterous, aggressive, know it all and in your face. I have concluded that those Italians who immigrated to the United States a hundred years ago were similarly passive, etc. as the ones today. However, being strangers in a new country they developed aggressive and loud qualities in order to survive and succeed. The new nature never left us.

Proving the point that Italians are passive, they have to be the most conquered and occupied country in the history of man. Italy’s history is replete with successful invaders. Starting with the Romans of antiquity to Attila the Hun to the World War II Germans.

The passivity was perhaps ingrained before the Roman invasion or has developed over the centuries from being an occupied country so many times.

I have not seen one beard in the three days I have been in Italy. Beard’s apparently are a local thing. Key West has them. Novara does not. I must look luck a nut when I am out walking wearing a baseball cap and exhibiting my beard. As stated yesterday, I have not seen one baseball cap either

My friend Silvio Berlusconi is in trouble again. Yesterday he was sentenced to seven years in jail for having sex with a 17 year old girl and abusing his power in trying to help her in a separate matter. He was sentenced two years ago to four years in jail for tax evasion. He is not considered convicted under Italian law until his appeals are exhausted. The process takes several years. His popularity continues. He is considered to have an excellent chance to be elected Prime Minister again.

I have a habit of saying…..Only in America! Sometimes…..Only in Key West! Now…..Only in Italy!

I discussed Napoleon yesterday and his impact on this area of Italy. Since then I have discovered that Napoleon was not French. He was born Italian. Born in Corsica of a noble family. The story is he ended up in France because he believed in freedom and equality and wanted to help the French fight for those things.

Immigration is a major issue in Italy as in the United States. In England, also. I had the good fortune to talk with a Brit last night.

The story is the same. The immigrants arrive, stay illegally and become social welfare burdens. The Italians and English have forms of socialized medicine. Because so many immigrants are eligible, care for all is delayed. Between three weeks and three months. Then there is the increased taxation to take care of the immigrant population.

A world problem.

My blog talk radio show tonight at 9. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Will I be there? The question of the moment. Tune in and see. That is the best I can do. If I am on, it should be a terrific show based on my travels and what is happening world wide.

Enjoy your day!


I finally slept. Last night Italian time. Nine to nine. Twelve straight hours. The sleep of the dead. I needed it!

I did an easy Sunday yesterday in Novara. That was all my body could handle.

I walked in the morning. For an hour. I am staying in an apartment in the old part of Novara. It is referred to as its downtown, also. The buildings are all medieval. Built between 1,000 AD and 1,500 AD. The fronts have been redone. Probably in the last 50 years. The interiors remain the same.

I am staying a few days with friends in the same apartment I was in last year at this time. The third/top floor of a medieval building.

The interior stairway impresses me. Wide, huge and attractive in its simplicity.

The apartment is 7,000 to 8,000 square feet. Many rooms. Ceilings 20 feet high. Marble floors. Baroque ceilings. From my bed, I look up at deer/stags, dogs, and flowers. All ancient. Circa 1,500 AD.

Electricity continues to be a problem. Italy is being devastated because of the euro. Everything cut back. Including power. I walk in the dark. I am required to keep lights out, only power the room I am in. Tough finding the bathroom in the middle of the night under these conditions!

However, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!

There is no vehicular traffic permitted on the roadways in this neighborhood. The wide streets appear ancient. Stones in concrete. Reminded me of the Appian Way. Old bricks in the middle.

The ground floor of all the buildings have high class stores. Even the one I am in. Top of the line. Women’s clothes especially Beautiful.

Day and night, the streets are full of people. Walking, talking, sitting at outdoor cafes, etc.

This year there is also entertainment.

Two nights ago when I came in, there was a crowd one block away. Noise and music could be heard. I investigated. A prize fight was going on. There sitting in the middle of the road was a ring set about four feet high. Two young fighters going at it. I enjoy boxing. Did a little in the past. I watched a while. I could not ascertain if the boxers were professional or amateur. My guess would be professional. They were too good to be otherwise.

Last night, I took a walk before bed time. On one street there was an area cordoned off. Inside, fencers. Young. Ten to thirteen I would estimate. Dressed all in white. The whole thing professional. The rapiers jabbing away, the feet equally fast.

I turned the corner and there was another ring type set up. Men and women dressed in dark blue from their necks to ankles to wrists. I suspect it was some sort of yoga demonstration. I never found out. It started pouring and I left.

My walk yesterday morning involved Church goers. There are three Catholic Churches in a three block radius. I visited all three while Mass was going on. I am Catholic and a former altar boy. The Latin Mass as I knew it is long gone. However, I have learned in my travels that an Italian Mass sounds just like a Latin one. So, I enjoy and was comforted.

I rested in the afternoon. The jet lag had the best of me.

Around 5, friends I met last year visited me. Antonio and his wife Miriam. Together with their children Sara and Elia. Antonio is a highway construction expert. Works for one of the major highway construction companies in Europe. Travels all over. Miriam is a chef. And a very good one! She cooked birthday dinner for me last year. A treat!

Sara is 13, Elia 8. Elia and I have bonded. We are buddies.

Antonia and Miriam are a modern world couple. He is Italian, she Moroccan.

Antonio had just returned from a one week vacation with the children in Elba. Miriam remained home. She had to work. Antonio had a lengthy video of the Elba trip. Fascinating!o

Elba is beautiful. The water clear. The greenery green. You will recall that Napoleon’s first exile was to Elba. I saw pictures of his home on the island, his bedroom, the household furnishings. Exile could not have been so bad!

I learned also that Elba is an hour boat ride from Tuscany.

Napoleon is a part of history and conversation in northern Italy. This year, last and apparently for all time. Some admire and respect Napoleon’s accomplishments. Others view him as a murderer, almost in the same vein as Hitler.

Napoleon conquered Italy and made himself King. Back in 1805. The Italy of 1805 was not the same as the Italy iof today. It was small and situated in the north central portion of present day Italy. It basically encompassed the regions surrounding Milan and Pavia.

Some speak of the good Napoleon did.

Everyone speaks of the bridges he built. They stand even today. There are many waterways in the area. He covered them all, thereby providing easy passage.

History tells us Italy was discombobulated as a nation till 1860 when Garibaldi united the provinces. Napoleon tried. He succeeded however only in the small area that was Italy during his time.

The area needed manufacturing. The French were famous for their cheeses. Napoleon arranged for factories to open to make cheeses. It was during this time and in one of these factories that the Italian famous gorgonzola cheese was invented/created.

Illness was particularly rampant. Especially diseases accessible/acquired from dead bodies. Churches were in the center of towns. Cemeteries immediately surrounded the churches. Apparently, the bodies were not healthfully buried. Napoleon ordered all cemeteries henceforth to be outside the confines of towns.

As to those who refer to him as a murderer, it is not attributable to killings which might have taken place in northern Italy. They refer to Napoleon’s conquests throughout Europe.

I thought I had everything set up to do my blog talk radio show from Europe. We tested it from Washington. Everything worked smoothly. Spent several hours afterwards with Verizon to be sure we had it. Spent additional monies and made more changes. Verizon has failed me this year as it did last. I spent two hours this morning with three computer geeks at the largest communication store I have ever seen. It is all too much for me. Tomorrow night’s show is questionable. I will know better in the morning if it can go forward and advise.

That is the end of yesterday in Novara.

Enjoy your day!


A few random points before I get into my wonderful yesterday.

My Italian friends in Upstate New York, eat your hearts out! I just had fried smelts for lunch. Just like our grandmothers and mothers used to make. And some of our wives. The smelts were fresh. Tiny.

Eastern U.S. is six hours behind me. It is 7:30 in the morning where you are. It is 1:30 in the afternoon here.

Yesterday and last night a struggle for me. I have not yet acclimated to the change in time zones. The sleeping pill does not help.

When I was in italy 30 years ago with my parents and family, electricity was a problem. The country does not produce enough power. I was admonished yesterday for wasting electricity. I was leaving lights on when I went from one room to another. I was told that the power is governed and watched by the authorities. If a particular apartment uses too much electricity during a specified time, the power is automatically turned off.

I am a dreamer. I have always thought how terrific it would be to have sex in an airplane. Unfortunately, I never have and doubt I ever will. Yesterday I mentioned the event and described it as the Thousand Mile Club. The whole world responded to let me know I misnamed the event. It is the Mile High Club. The error produced the largest number of criticisms I have ever received.

I arrived Saturday. It was St. Louis Day. Italians are appafrently big on saint days. eEeryone I met, without fail, congratulated me on my Saint’s day when they learned my name.

Males generally wear baseball caps in Key West and other parts of the U.S. I assume to protect their balding heads from the sun. Others merely because they like it. To some, it is fashionable. No men wear baseball caps in Italy. I have not seen one on th streets of Novara or at Lake Maggiore. I wear mine, however. I have concluded most Italian men have bronze faces because their faces are always exposed to the sun. I wonder about the percentage of skin cancers.

Smoking is not losing acceptance. It is gone. Most persons smoke in Key West. No one smokes in Italy. The same was true in Washington, DC. I am embarrassed to smoke. I refuse to pull out a cigarette where I can be seen.

Yesterday was Lake Maggiore.

Beautiful! Awesome! As I thought about it, everywhere is. Each place has a different flavor. We enjoy most, if not all. So Key West, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco…..all have a beauty and presence unique to each.

I was oooohing and ahhhhhing as I drove around Lake Maggiore. The homes lovely. Stately mansions abound. Big. Ten thousand square feet or better. Some 30,000 to 50,000 square feet. Summer accommodations for only the very rich.

The lake itself is huge. Several islands within. The water had a familiarly to Key West. A rocky stone bottom. Water shoe time for all!

My goal was Stresa. A place with a history all its own. A history that includes Hemingway.

It struck me as I was walking around Stresa that most of the people were my age or older. I am 77. Many in wheelchairs or using canes or walkers. I read later on in my internet search that Stresa was a “… fading gently into the past.” It is. Stresa was quiet. Almost silent.

But, beautiful! Majestic old hotels. Lovely grounds. I searched out the Grand Hotel Des Iles Barromes. Big name! Most of the hotels started Grand Hotel something or other.

The Borromes family have been the titular head of the area for well over 500 years. Charles Borromeo lived back when Martin Luther split with the Catholic Church. Charles was a deeply religious man and countered with a new catechism and other writings in opposition to Luther’s proclamations. He subsequnetly was named a Saint and is mush revered. His family lives on their own island. A big one. Their home is at least three times the size of the biggest hotel you have ever seen. The most recent male Borromeo married a princess and their world goes on.

My goal was to visit Hemingway’s haunt. His Sloppy Joe’s in Stresa. The Grand Hotel earlier mentioned and named after the Borromeo family. Magnificent. For the very rich, even today.

Italian bars are not as in the U.S. A small bar is generally in a corner of a large room. The bar either sits no one or perhaps 4-6. The rest of the room is filled with parlor like furniture. Sofas, easy chairs, and the like.

The Grand Hotel’s lobby was huge. In the corner was a small semi-circular bar with four stools. This did not look to me like the place Hemingway would have spent his days drinking and writing. I chatted with the elderly bartender. I was correct. He was kind enough to give me the grand tour. Apparently few these days ask about Hemingway.

Hemingway’s bar was in the back two large rooms away. What was Hemingway’s bar, no longer exists. It was a small semi-circular bar in a relatively small room. Mayb 20 x 30. There was room for a small baby grand. Everything is now gone. Has been removed. Down to the concrete walls. Nothing is as it was. It is a cold empty room used for storage and occasionally cleaned up for a small dinner party.

The bar was three rooms back from the lobby. The next room going toward the lobby was much larger. It had contained a billiard table. Hemingway and an elderly local count used to play daily and drink martinis. Martinis were Hemingway’s drink of choice at the bar and billiard table. The next room, the one directly off the lobby, was huge. Big enough for a ten foot wide long table with 26 chairs comfortably set around the table. I counted them.

That big room and the smaller but large center room were the seating areas for those wishing a drink. The drinks that were served from Hemingway’s bar in the third smaller room. Once again, all gone. No more.

I had dinner on Pescastori Island. One of the smaller islands on Lake Maggiore. It is reputed Hemingway ate on the island often. It was a short boat ride away. Like visiting L’Atitudes. I ate on the open second floor of Ristoranti Pescheria. Enjoyed a fish called persico, if I recall the name correctly. A local fish. It is revered and recognized as Kest West’s hogfish is. Mine was prepared in a light batter with crushed hazelnuts. Wow!

I wanted a cup of American coffee. Ordered a snifter of Grand Manier to go with it. The cup was normal size by American standards. It was half filled. Appeared to be espresso. I told the waiter I wanted American coffee. He explained it was. It contained three shots of espresso. Accompanying the coffee was a tiny pitcher of hot water. I was to pour as much of the hot water as I wanted into the espresso to weaken it. That was American coffee!

Arthuro Toscani owned an island on Lake Maggiore also. A huge rectangular home. Lovely.

I could see Switzerland from the Grand Hotel. I could also see on a nearby shore a mountain of white. This is where marble came and comes from. Fifteen hundred years ago, pieces were broken by hand. Today, by machine.

This blog is unusually long. I apologize. However, there is much I wish toi share. Stay with me a bit more. I guarantee you will enjoy the rest of the Hemingway story.

Hemingway visited Stresa in 1918 and then again in 1948. Perhaps several times in the late 1940sup to the time of his death.

Hemingway was injured in Italy during World War I. He was an ambulance driver. He fell in love with his nurse. Agnes von Kurovasky. The two spent ten days at the Grand Hotel in Stressa while he was recovering.

A few years later, Hemingway began writing A Farewell To Arms. The novel was published in 1929. The story involved Frederick Henry who was an American driving an ambulance for the Italian Army in World War I. Henry was injured. Fell in love with his nurse. Catherine Barclay. Things got screwed up and the Italian governemment wanted to capture and shoot Henry as a deserter. He had to get away.

Henry and Catherine escaped to the Grand Hotel in Stresa. A friend at the hotel arranged for a small boat. The game plan was to take the boat across Lake Maggiore to Switzerland. It turned out to be an ill fated trip.

It is fascinating how Hemingway intertwined his personal experiences with the novel.

That’s all folks!

Enjoy your Sunday!


I am in Italy! Novara to be precise. Northern Italy. Near the Alps.

The trip over uneventful. I took a sleeping pill this time. It did not work. I think I was the only one on the plane awake. I read instead. A new book. Paris. A history based on three different families and how they grew and progressed over the years.

Time wise, I am all screwed up. It ia 5 in the morning here. Eleven friday night in Key west.

I enjoyed a new experience flying in. I would like to tell you I joined the 1,000 mile club. Unfortunately not. The last 50 miles was over the Alps. Above the clouds. Snow covered. Awesome!

Seventy one degrees when I arrived. A bit nippy. I was told it was in the 80s the day before and rainy. Italy weather comes up from Africa.Yesterday the wind brought sand. All cars were covered with sand.

I am using an Italian computer. The keyboard is somewhat different. I cannot find the apostrophe for possession. So if it is missing, it is not my grammar.

I spent hours with Verizon and Sloan to be sure everything worked correctly for this trip. Nothing does. Neither my computer nor data port. Tablet only good for reading books. Nothing has connection. I am using a friend’s computer at the moment. Notice I found the apostrophe. It is under the question mark which is top line immediately after the number 0. Italy!!

Gasoline $12-$13 a gallon. Complain not about $4 a gallon!

All cars are stick shift in order to get more mileage for the dollar. Only handicapped persons have automatic shift.

I arrived 3 in the morning our time. An hour later I was in bed sleeping like a baby. For four hours.

Last night was party time. Some friends from last year arranged a welcome back gathering. The food excellent. The booze flowed.

These people were primarily champagne drinkers. The good stuff. A bottle of gin had been purchased for me. Gordon’s. I had a friend who drank gin. The bottle was empty at the end of th night. Trust me, he consumed much more than me. We drank neat. No ice. A common problem in Italy.

Millie and Mikey. Millie has become a Facebook friend the past 2 months. Fifty one and lovely. Millie had a stroke in January. She is doing pretty good. Her cheery disposition helps. She is an architect by education. Cannot wait to return to work.

Met Enzo and Alice. They brought the champagne. Enzo too is an architect. Alice owns a pharmacy, though she is not a pharmacist.

Paolo. An accountant by education. He and his group manage large buildings.

Then there was Celestine. She and her husband own a contracting firm. She packed it in a few years ago and now keeps house. She claims working as a contractor was easier.

I had a terrific time! I did not understand most of what was said. I am sure they had trouble with me. But we got along and laughed a lot.

It is saturday morning here. Very late thursday night where you are. My tv/internet show in your morning at 10. The show goes on with out me. Watch. It may be a rerun you missed. The Key West Lou Legal Hour. Television Comcast Channel 19 and U-Verse Channel 19 up through Miami-Dade County. World wide on the internet. All the shows have been You tubed.

Tonight I dine on Lake Maggiore. Hemingway wrote dramatically of it late in his novel A Farewell Arms. I cannot escape Hemingway. Someone told me last night to visit a nearby town. Gave me the name of a bar Hemingway used to drink at and wrote. When I recall, I will definitely make an effort to visit it. I shared Sloppy Joe’s with him. He knew neither Sloppy Joe’s nor Key West.

Enjoy your Day!