Donation Avenues and Earthquake Thoughts 

Donation Avenues –

No time today for courtesy. I’m going right to the “ask” – reach into your wallet and give what your heart tells you is right, in what ever method you choose to help the victims of the Central Italy, August 24th earthquake that destroyed complete villages, killed 290 people and left thousands living in tent communities.

1. This Sunday, September 3rd, entrance fees from public museums across Italy will be dedicated to rebuilding the earthquake stricken zone.  This is incredibly fitting since many churches and irreplaceable medieval buildings were decimated by the 6.2 magnitude earthquake.

2. Elizabeth Minchilli shared this information on her blog Elizabeth Mincilli in Rome:

Many have asked me on social media how they can help. For now the best way to help from afar is to donate to the Italian Red Cross.

The Croce Rossa Italiana has set up a special account.
The IBAN number is:



Beneficiary: Associazione italiana della Croce Rossa

In the description write: Terremoto Centro Italia

You can also make a donation to the Croce Rosso with your credit card or paypal by going to their website.

3. The National Italian American Foundation and their partners in the Italo-Americano community have set up another fundraising vehicle.  You can donate and research them by clicking here.

4. Do your own research to unearth other methods of giving.  Give.  Then share those avenues with us.


Earthquake Thoughts –

At about 3:30 AM last Wednesday, an earthquake devastated towns in Lazio, Umbria and Marche.  Now, 290 people are dead. One moment before they were sleeping and a second later they were dead.  After the earthquake, just like after 9/11 – when the twin towers fell – many people used the internet to reach out to their loved ones.  Not feeling a rumble or hearing a sound during the night, I didn’t understand why Thursday morning I had close to 100 FaceBook messages, texts or e-mails.  That is how I learned about the tragedy, from all of you in a different time zones who reached into my heart asking if Jack and I were OK.  I promptly turned on the television and followed the horror.  I cried.  I cried for the terror those people in the earthquake zone were going through and I cried because so many people cared enough about us to reach out.  The similarity to my experience during 9/11 resonated within my soul.  Different tragedy.  Different country.  Same internet connection.

Life is short. Live it without regrets.

Ci vediamo.

Umbria Part 2 With Hank and Ellen!

OOOOOPS – the berry on the tree fell to the ground a wee bit early!  I hit “publish” on Hank’s story before I realized the rest was flying about cyberspace reading out to me.  Here is the rest of their adventure!

The interrupted Hank continues: Castelluccio is world famous for its lentils. If you go, you must buy some. We had a nice meal on the terrace of the hotel, and called it a day. The next day we tried a nice restaurant called, “Granaro del Monte.” The food was good. When I ordered Linguini Chinghale, Linguini with wild boar sauce, I saw and tasted the difference between Tuscan and Umbrian fare. The pasta in Tuscany had a red wild-boar sauce, while the Umbrian version came in brown, meat gravy. Also, Umbria is famous for truffles, which are in almost everything!!


Truffles are also harvested in Pontelandolfo!

Ellen and I left Norcia with a resolve to re-visit it someday. The sun had finally become entrenched it the sky and the ride to Monteluco and St Francis’ Convent was gorgeous . We can’t ever pass up Monteluco, where the Convent founded by St. Francis is located, and where he lived, prayed, and held Mass. The place is very primitive, but has a grove of trees that is where St. Francis went to meditate and pray. It is the most peaceful place I’ve ever been. We stayed here for a while just absorbing the peace that radiates out of every rock and tree. If you every go to Spoleto, make this a for-sure stop.


We were headed to the wonderful Agriturismo Bartoli. It is located on the slopes of Monte Fionchi the mountains that overlook the Spoleto valley. ( The village is called Patrico, but it is hard to find on a map. It, too, is a twisty mountain road, much of which is gravel. This place is run by a family and has been a working farm for about 200 years and has been an agriturismo since 1988. Everything in Umbria seems to be uphill!

We walked a lot and were thankful for our walking sticks! This is a place where you can do nothing or everything. Agriturismo Bartoli will take you horseback riding, truffle hunting, and will feed you until you burst. There is also lots of wine!! They drink it with every meal except breakfast. Ellen and I were told, however, that they only drink with meals. This place is a gem! If you want beautiful scenery, wonderful food, peace and quiet, horseback riding, or any of the above, this is a great place.

Heading off to the Lazio region, but that’s a story for another day.

Thanks again Hank!  Love your additions to the “tree”.

Umbria with Hank and Ellen

Erstwhile travelers Hank and Ellen Sinatra have more stories to tell about their Italian adventures. I adore this cousin of mine, Hank’s life would make a great movie and George Clooney should star.  


Follow the Sinatra’s to Umbria as they “do it there way.”

Hank: We are on the road to Umbria. It is a more mountainous region that has some interesting views and great food and wine. We were both saddened and excited to leave Pienza and hit the highway.  This road trip features areas both old and new – to us that is!  Our first goal was to reach Spello, a picturesque town that is East of Perugia, by nightfall.  Ellen planned a stop along the way –  in Deruta to tour one of its many pottery factories. I’m so glad she did.  It was stunning. When I think of pottery, I think of small plates and such.

Deruta pottery

Although they had some of these standard items, they also specialized in table tops. We loved them, but couldn’t think of a use for them in Texas. Deruta was South of Perugia on the E-45. We were chasing a storm, and finally caught up with it outside of Spello. What a down-pour. We could hardly see through the rain.

We finally got to our hotel, “Nuovo Albergo Il Portonaccio,” which is just outside of the walls of Spello. It was a nice place to stay and had a very large covered patio where we could sit and watch the rain while I had a cigar.

Spello hotel

The rain finally let up a little, and, since the weather was iffy, we didn’t want to get very adventurous about where to eat our evening meal. We opted for the restaurant next door.  The name of this little gem is “Il Vecchio Opificio Osteria-Pizzeria.” Ellen and I had a great meal and some of their award-winning Olive Oil, which was fantastic. Later, we walked up into Spello to see the church “Santa Maria Maggiore.”  And, when I say UP, I mean UP. It was quite a hike, but worth it.


Chiesa Santa Maria Maggiore

The hotel had a very nice breakfast to help us on our way. Our next stop was a two-night stay in Norcia. It is South of Spello, then East of Spoleto. We headed to Norcia, a place that specializes in Wild Boar products and truffles. The road from Spoleto to Norcia is a narrow two-lane road that twists and turns. It is also a major thoroughfare used by many trucks, some semis with double trailers. I would not recommend this drive to novices or at night. It rained on us most of the way, but the weather turned on a dime, which is typical of the weather in the Umbrian mountains.

The hotel we stayed in was the “Best Western Hotel Salicone.” It was a clean, comfortable hotel just outside of the Walls of Norcia. It was a nice hotel with an excellent breakfast and is worth another stay.  It did not, however, live up to its advertisement of providing robes and slippers on request. We visited the Piazza Santo Benedetto, which had a statue of their famous son. The Piazza was simple and beautiful, as was the man himself. If you go to Norcia, you have to visit the Grand Piano, which is a great plain area. There is a small town on the mountain just North of the Piano called, Castelluccio. It gives you a wonderful panoramic view.  Can’t wait to go back!

Hank and Ellen – you are terrific travel guides and have shared a ton of wonderful information!  Gracie Tante!