Three Days in Rome


Here are some recommendations for where to stay, daily itineraries, and where to eat. You will walk Rome for three days, see a lot, and eat very well.

I have stayed a few times at Hotel Lancelot and been very happy.

These itineraries are PDF’s.  Feel free to download:

  • Rome, day one  This half day walk takes you to some of ancient Rome’s greatest hits.  Dinner at Trattoria da Luzzi, near the Colosseum.
  • Rome, day two: Campo de Fiori, Ponte Sisto, Trastevere, the Janiculum Hill, Isola Tibertina, Piazza del Popolol  Lunch at Il Brillo Parlante.  Continue to Via Marguta, Spanish Steps, the Colloseum and Palatine Hill. Dinner at Trattoria der Pallaro, near Campo de Fiori.
  • Rome, day three: The Vatican, lunch at Dino and Tony’s, Villa Borghese, Porta Pinciana, Museum and Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, back to Trevi Fountain.  Dinner at Hostaria Farnese, near Campo de Fiori.

If you have questions, let me know by email or by using the Contact link at the top of this page.

Three Days in Florence


Here are some recommendations for where to stay, daily itineraries, and where to eat. You will walk Florence for two and a half days, see a lot, and eat very well.  Also recommended, a half-day trip by local train to Lucca.  Most of the walking itineraries have the Duomo as the point of departure.

I have always stayed at Hotel Casci.  It’s reasonably priced, centrally located, and clean.

These itineraries are PDF’s.  Feel free to download:

  • Florence arrival, lunch, mercato: Walk from Hotel Casci to Pepo’, a cute little lunch spot; take a stroll around the Mercato Centrale.
  • Florence half day orientation walk:   Half-day orientation walk around Florence: Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace, Santo Spirito, Piazza della Repubblica.  Dinner at Osteria Fagioli (reservation required).
  • Florence, day two:  A full-day in Florence: Bargello Museum, Piazzalle Michelangelo, lunch at Fuori Porta, Accademia Museum (reservation required), Piazza Sant’Annunziata, Fiesole. Dinner at Trattoria Marione (reservation recommended).
  • Florence, Lucca, day three):  Half day in Florence, half day in Lucca.  Dinner in Florence at Buca dell’ Orafo.

If you have questions, let me know by email or by using the Contact link at the top of this page.


I’ve Got the INMI in Me


Plato, I learned in graduate school, was nervous about music. He would have excluded the flute from the Republic. His vision of an ideal world was men standing around talking (yes, of course, men), engaged in dialectic, trying to get to the truth, trying to make some wisdom. Continue reading

Where We Are Was Once a Sea

When you get to Pahrump it feels like the end of the world. It’s California desert country, on the northwest edge of Death Valley National Park. Driving into town we pass Bride Street, Gravel Pit Road, and WTF Sand and Stone. Next to the Mobil where we gas up is a storefront church. It might have been a travel agency at one time, Anywhere But Here Travel. Now, in big letters above the door, between two crosses, the church identifies itself: IT IS FINISHED. What, as in end times? Continue reading

Faces in the Stone

I’ve been having doubts about my hat. It’s a hiker’s hat, with a full brim all the way around, and a drawstring that hangs in front of my ears and can be cinched under my chin. I bought it sort of on the fly. It was a careless oh-what-the-hell purchase. I knew I would need a hat. In three weeks time we would be walking eight National parks.

Unlike my wife, who looks great in hats (and she will tell you so, and it is true), a hat on my head can look ridiculous. When I buy a hat, attention must be paid. Continue reading

Me and Velociraptor and Forrest Gump

There it is, a dinosaur footprint. How about that?

We’ve just finished the lower Antelope Slot Canyon tour, outside Page, Arizona. Along the way our guide, Ryan, has been giving us a short course in geological history, which my wife translates from English into Italian for our friends Luigi and Adele. Her translations are brilliant, embellished by her impressive knowledge of American Indian culture. Continue reading

Rock Me

I’m eating my second push-button pancake in the hotel breakfast room. On the television I can see something festive is happening. It’s a bicycle race or a foot race, or a parade.

The pancake is not a pre-cooked, warmed-up, ersatz mistake. Inside a machine the size of an old-fashioned breadbox, is a plastic bag of pre-mixed pancake batter. You push a button on the left, the box emits a quiet hum, and after three minutes, a perfectly round, medium-rare comestible gradually rolls out of the side of the machine. Think pancake fax. Continue reading

Last Food

Over the next few weeks my wife and I will be traveling with friends from Italy. We’re doing a tour of the canyon country in the American Southwest. The night before she and her husband left Italy for the U.S., Adele posted this photo of her last pizza.

“Whenever I take a trip,” she says, “I always go out for pizza the night before.” She wants a good pizza because wherever she’s going, it’s a safe bet the pizza will not be as good as the ones at home.

“That’s not all,” she says. She holds up a hermetically sealed foil lunch bag. “I always bring Parmigiano-Reggiano.” Her cheese man at the market in Rimini vacuum-packs slices of cheese for her. “If the food is terrible where I’m going,” she says, “I can always eat some Parmigiano. It’s my salvation.” Continue reading

On Wine Tasting and the Limits of Winespeak


How do you quantify a qualitative judgment?

“You taste wine the same way I do,” the guy pouring says.  “We all have the same equipment: nose, mouth, tongue, palate.”

Technically, yes.  And it’s nice of him to say that.

It’s my last day in Sonoma. I’ve had a head cold all week, so none of my “equipment” has been working very well.  Thus far I’ve had only a few sips of wine with lunches and dinners. This afternoon I’ve decided to visit some tasting rooms, to open my mouth and let the wine in. There are over 425 wineries in Sonoma County, 15 or so within a few miles of where I’m staying. This one is known for its chardonnays and pinots. Continue reading

Going Minimal: Writing on the Road

For years now, along with my wife, my most faithful traveling companion has been a laptop. For a while it was a heavy dude–a Lenovo Thinkpad with a version of Windows; the hardware was bulky, the software balky. I nested it in a leather bag I slung over my shoulder and lugged it through terminals, into and out of hotels. Then came a MacBook, a lighter load, a faster operating system. Sleek, fast. But still: heavy.

Next generation writing tools are more minimal (or less maximal): my IPhone and an iClever portable keyboard, a tri-folding device only slightly larger than an iPhone. In a bar or coffee shop I can prop my phone up on a bag of sugar. I can draft in GoogleDocs on an actual keyboard, post text to my blog, and upload pictures. One device to ctharge at nigh. No limits, as far as I can tell right now.