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!


This is the day!

Trip pictures being published!

I have grouped the photos into 12 categories. From this point forward, a category a day will be provided. Today’s pics are of the Novara phase.

Novara was my first and last stops on the trip. I flew into Milan. A half hour drive away was Novara. Translated, Novara means new camp. Way back when, there was no Novara. The Roman legions camped there. For a long time. Ergo, the name Novara.

Remnants of the Roman stay can still be seen. The Romans constructed a stone wall around the camp. Portions of that wall remain today.

The City of Novara developed from what was once the Roman camp.

There is a Hemingway tie.

Novara and Milan are cities. Stresa is a town. They are located in the Province of Novara. Novara is both the name of the province and the city. Each community located relatively close to the other.

Hemingway was an ambulance driver during World War I. He was stationed in northern Italy. Received multiple shrapnel wounds to his legs. He was hospitalized in Milan. Fell in love with one of his nurses. Following his hospitalization, he went to the resort town of Stresa for a rest. Stresa is located on Lake Maggiore.

Hemingway years later wrote A Farewell To Arms. The background and characters for the book came from the time he spent in the Milan hospital, at Stresa, and involved Lake Maggiore.

The Novara photos are a set of six.

The first is a photo of the building I stayed in at the beginning and end of my trip. It is a medieval building. More than a 1,000 years old. The exterior has been reconstructed. I was in an apartment on the second floor. The center balcony is off the living room of the apartment. The gigantic wood doors are the entrance way to the building’s courtyard.

The next photo is the building’s internal entrance way into the courtyard. The entrance way has been redone also. Note the fine workmanship on the doors.

The next pic is my bedroom ceiling. Though the outside of the building has been updated, the interior remains as it was a 1,000 years ago. The apartments have cathedral ceilings. All rooms. Huge wide windows. The ceilings are hand painted.

The next photo is a ceiling one, also. Of the sitting room ceiling.

I made a Moroccon friend on the trip. Miriam. She is in the next photo on the far right. It was my 77th birthday. Miriam cooked for me and baked a cake. The picture is of me and her family.

The final photo is me and the cake.

Tomorrow Santorini.

I enjoyed a yesterday, also.

Spent most of the day finishing Bob Woodward’s The Price Of Politics. Excellent reading. Scared me. The novel clearly evidences the inepts governing us. From the President down. Without mentioning it, the book cries out for term limits. Lack of ability and serving self interests permeate the book.

Though not mentioned, the book cries out for term limits. I would do one 6 year term for a President, one 5 year term for a Senator, and one 3 year term for a Congressman. Get them in and get them out! Keep reelection out of the picutre.

Lisa did a Thanksgiving turkey dinner last night. Delicious! Robert and Ally a joy.

I come from the generation that is not mechanically inclined. Corey was trying to show me how to operate my cell phone camera to my blog. Simple to most of you. Not to me.

Those of you who watch my internet show on KONK Broadcasting and read my weekly column in KONK Life via the internet, be advised the sites have been renamed. Sorry. Not my doing.

To watch the friday internet show:

To read the column via the internet:

Remember to join me for Santorini tomorrow.

Enjoy your day!