Como: Refresh Recharge Repeat

We descend from the Sagnino clouds to our home-away on Lake Como. Shimmering water, ever-changing light and soothing views — that’s our little Argegno home-away. Our place is still a crazy 111 steps up from the centro. We count, ascending and descending, as if it has magically changed.  It hasn’t.  We pause to catch our breath and often, a great view. Our work takes us to clanging, honking, shouting cities like Milan, Firenze and Roma. And we’re always happy to return to our luminous “home away” after each fashion-forward fix.


Sant Abbondio (d. 469) is Como’s patron saint. Celebrating abbondanza! in his name, we sip, savor and explore the local bars and bistros. We’re louche, lazy and love it. The Driver is relaxed. He is chill. Last time I saw him this happy was Ischia, seven weeks ago. Driving can sometimes be harrowing, but this savvy wheelman is a champ. We sip and savor at La P’Osteria and Barchetta, enjoying springtime ambiance. Easter madness has begun, with kids running in dizzying circles. Parents nod and smile, wearily. We sun ourselves over a pizza or two at Hotel Argegno — delicious! And watch the show. A seriously buff film crew zigzags the lake on electric surfboards, standing and waving (!) while filming. The lakeside crowd murmurs, “meraviglioso!” in awe and approval.


Our seven weeks is at an end, our 50 days almost through. We book our last night at Hotel Borgo Nuovo in Chiaravalle, in the rural willywags of Milan. This friendly boutique hotel features farm-to-table cuisine and comfy-chic ambiance. It’s always an upscale, down-home finale here on the banks of the Esino. Every time you turn a corner, there is another sunrise, sunset or breathtaking view not to be missed. This beloved countryside provides both inspiration and feeling of accomplishment that is unique to travel — best described as utter and total satisfaction. Hey, I said that. Pretty good.

A presto, soon, until next time! •

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Sagnino Serenitá

We conclude our sixth week way up in Como’s Sagnino hills, on the Swiss-Italian border.

We wave buongiorno each morning to friends in Zurich from our barrel-vaulted hipster apartment. Yes, we know they can’t see us, but we greet them anyway. Ciao, amici!

Honing our far niente skills, we’re immersed in Sagnino’s gentle version of la dolce vita. We stroll the tranquil, verdant hills. The Driver hikes a friendly hunk of Monte Sasso.

La Serenità

Fabio the cat keeps us company. He guards the plucky yellow daisy that accompanies us since gritty Montesilvano, and keeps an eye on us from above. Grazie, dear Fabio.

La Diavola

Fine dining in an ancient horse barn, wow. We celebrate the simple life at upscale restaurant, Il Diavolo L’acqua Santa, with a deep, decadent dive into local cuisine. 

Chef Nicola and Owner Stefano

Don’t miss “Seven Sins of the Chef,” a multi-course tasting menu designed to blow your mind. Chef Nicola puts sin into perspective with The Driver’s fave, pappardelle with wild boar ragú. I prefer delicate tagliolini pasta with shrimp and citrus, or the nightly risotto, this evening jazzed with local wine, bresaola and Casera cheese. Or my weakness, black (or white) truffle tortellaccio. Heck, anything “al Tartufo” works for me!

Beef carpaccio, raised in Parco del Curone, Lombardia

We share a bottle or two of Chianti. Linger over manzo carpaccio with shaved artichoke and pecorino. Extend our evening into café, dolci e grappa Highly recommended!  

Fashion Follies

Nestled in Sagnino’s luscious and tranquil hills, we’re having a little trouble gearing up for work. We strain to re-focus on color, style and trends — from sublime to ridiculous.

Leisure-wear is ubiquitous, unisex and tiresome. We observe sneakers, sneakers, sneakers, and an abundance of beige. Upscale sweatpants feature incongruous trouser creases. The venerable necktie has all but disappeared — and here we are in the epicenter of silk. 

Keep Hope Alive

Devastated, we keep hope alive with a collection of colorful silk squares from Como’s finest in vivid shades of magenta, gold, acid green, indigo and violet. Pow!

Then, being of sound mind, we beat it it for the lake. We hope the shimmering water, ever-changing light and soothing views will provide a welcome antidote to fashion angst. •

Next up: Argegno, Chiaravalle & Home!




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Peaceful Parma

Giuseppe Garibaldi, farmer turned soldier, surveying the central piazza named for him.

Parma is a champion of sustainable development. With a vibrant pedestrian center, the city is alive with chatty students, swanning hipsters, buskers and a billion bikes. Cars keep their distance and compete for parking outside the centro — life the way it should be. What took us so long to get here?

Art & Soul

Rafaelo Sauzio’s portrait of Cardinal Alessandro, future Pope Paul III, 1509.

We roam the16th century Palazzo Pilotta. Wander its light-filled spaces and savor the collection in its national gallery and works by local painterly legends like Correggio and Parmegianino.

Gorgeous! Head of a Young African in marble and volcanic basalt. Stunning.

Don’t miss the pompous, portly busts of Ranuccio II Farnese by Bernini. Glory in his royal puffiness! Rejoice in his royal paunch!


Palazzo Pilotta includes a magnificent library. The Driver is impressed. “These book are real,” he says. And they are, hundreds and hundreds. Religious paintings and Farnese family portraits glow and dazzle.

CLOSE-UP: The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine
by Parma’s own Anniibale Carracci, c. 1585

On The Boards

Spectacular golden light — we’re wowed by the palazzo’s soaring Teatro Farnese. Yes, the theater is all wood, built in the 17th century. The space is magical.

Swoon at the sight of this elegant, exquisite DaVinci.

Fashion Forecast

In an attempt to remember why we’re here, we cruise the fashionable Borgo Tomassini, an eclectic alley with Parisian mojo. An installation of dozens of mirrors reflects the euros changing hands below.

“Babol” pink is everywhere, along with several shades of smeraldo green; tangerine, periwinkle and poppy.

Looks like 50 Shades of Happy for 2022 / 23. Can’t hurt.


Window shopping makes us hungry. We spot Cardinal Bar, lively and full of locals. The Tortelli Parmigiana is rich and unctuous, under a rough handful of famous formaggio. A loaded salumi plate is a savory knockout. With a lightly sparkling local red, life is delizioso here in Parma.

Hotel Villa Ducale, just outside the centro, is a great place to refresh, stock up on shampoo, and enjoy a dynamite breakfast. Bonus: Villa Ducale is surrounded by athletic fields. The Driver is ecstatic. He catches a spectacular roughneck rout — Italy vs. British women’s rugby. He is still glowing.


We rest, recharge and hone our carpe diem skills in this lovely spot before heading to Como, the last stop on our 50-day odyssey.

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Post-Script: Love in Bloom

One of Parma’s most famous residents is composer Giuseppe Verdi. There are Verdi festivals, Verdi roads and bridges, and dozens of grand sculptures. In Parma, I chat with the old boy daily via magic telephone. We canoodle in secluded piazzas. We tell each other everything. Love is definitely in the air.

Giuseppe is dashing, devilishly handsome and technologically savvy. Scan the code and listen to his beautiful, sonorous voice.

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Life In The Clouds: Montecatini Alto

Beautiful Bird’s-Eye View

Montecatini Alto is a rewarding and vertiginous drive. It is petite and easy to explore. Our apartment is just a few steps from the main piazza. Landmarks include Torre dell’Orologio, Church of Carmine and Theatro di Risorti, now in delicate repair/reconstruction.

Relax in the centro. Explore the Torre, La Rocca, a cathedral or two. Wander narrow streets and rustic paths within the city walls, and, if you dare, on the steep hillsides that define Montecatini Alto.

The Driver loves exploring this tiny Tuscan treasure.

We experience full sun, a day of rain, and a small snow squall. Seriously. Just watching the weather is a total gas.

Sleep & Sustenance

Our apartment has great views and quirky fuses. You’d think I’d have learned by now not to run two “big” appliances at once. When the whole place goes dark, smiling neighbors finish cooking my chicken. Soon the system sorts itself, and so do we. We LOVE this place — truly madly deeply!

In a nearby café, surprise! A trio of bruschetta: white bean, velvety liver paté, and traditional fresh tomato. Followed by deeply earthly porcini pasta with wide yellow peppardelle — rustic and sexy. Then there is chinghiale, wild boar, ultimate Tuscan fare. Bitter green salads cleanse our ecstatic palates.

Art & Soul

Mimmo Rotella’s décollages at MoCA.

If you need a break from the altitude, descend the hill to charming MoCA Contemporary in Montecatini Terme. This first civic art gallery has works by distinguished Italian artists and many more, including a crazy-wonderful “Woman Entangled in a Flight of Birds” by Joan Mirò.

Art. Slow food. Walks. Views! Montecatini Alto has it all.

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Ah, Assisi

We are in Assisi, a lovely town. Saints, sun and solitude. Life is smooth.

I lock us out of our little apartment with the keys inside. So what. The landlord pops us back in with a credit card, that old trick. Unfussy and safe, Assisi is bathed in a golden glow.

“PACE” peace flags hang from town hall. Around every corner is a sign or symbol of support for Ukraine. An ancient drainpipe has been painted with small but vivid yellow and blue stripes.

Flowers bloom and babies howl. Life continues around us, incongruously beautiful.

Far Niente

Honing our far niente skills, as always, in Assisi’s central piazza. The Driver nurses his daily cappuccino. I have a Campari Spritz. The orange is the healthiest part of this Breakfast of Champions.

Art & Soul

Galleria d’Arte Perna, run by Alessandro Grimaldi, showcases the work of his brother, Paolo. His portraits of saints Francisco and Chiara radiate peace and simplicity — and are coming home with me.

From this spiritual high we head for Montecatini Alto, and an apartment that is literally in the clouds. •

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Abruzzo to Perugia


With miles of beaches, Pescara has it all — fish, more fish, art and culture, and a lively coffee and bar scene. We know it is time to get back to work. We meet with a colleague who confirms this.

We find a favorite fish restaurant, Nausicaa, where we share a whole roasted orata with potatoes, and a decadent mound of linguine with clams. We trade plates back and forth as if we are invisible.

Art and Soul

IMAGO Museo is a must for contemporary art fans. The Art, Image And Truth exhibition features 73 artists whose most interesting works (to me) are images of women. An unforgettable Hall of Women II.

We’re fascinated by the painters of the Spanish Realidad, Hernandez, Mensa, Maya, Quetglas, and especially the work of José Ortega, to whom an entire hall of the exhibition is dedicated.

“Let’s Hurry Up!”

Joseph Bueys’ centenary is celebrated in the exhibition, “Defense of Nature. Let’s Hurry Up!” The photographs feel as contemporary as the environmental warnings he issued in the late 20th century.

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Farsighted and prescient, this is time travel of the finest kind. Greta Thunberg would love this exhibition.

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To liberate people is the goal of art, therefore,
for me art represents the Science of Freedom.”
Joseph Beuys

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Ciao Pescara, next up: Perugia!

Sunny rooftops of Pescara!

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Campagnia to Apulia

The Driver

Every important journey requires a few essentials. Simple wardrobe. Carefully chosen accessories. And a good driver. My driver is both skilled and reliable. He stops occasionally to smell the roses. And best of all, he is not too chatty. 

The second part of our journey is to the southeast coast of this beloved country. We say goodbye to Naples, and all things Diego Maradona (Campione del mondo!), and head to sunny Bari.

We pop into Avellino en route for a birthday toast to our Neapolitan son-in-law. The friarielli salsicce pizza is earthy, bitter, and worthy of him. With a glass or two of Nero di Troia, it is an ancestral treat.

Check the little creatures — somebody had a sense of humor.

Troia is a hybrid where ancient cathedrals sit alongside solar-paneled benches with public USB ports. Hundreds of windmills twirl lazily in the distance beneath stunning blue sky and snow-capped peaks.

Casa Lilliput is aptly named and highly recommended. Our apartment has views, decks, great bedding, well-equipped kitchen, and a tiny but molto efficient washing machine. Bravo!

We sip and savor Pugliese wines while watching the new Ben Affleck thriller — in Italian. For us, it doesn’t get much better.

We spend a lazy Sunday in nearby Foggia, enjoying full-on spring, with families strolling quiet streets, heading for Nonna’s Sunday pranzo under glorious cherry blossoms.


On Bari’s working waterfront we find notorious El Chiringuito, where we hang with fishermen and sketchy dudes on the docks, drinking €1 Peroni each morning. The Driver is in ne’er do well heaven.  

Bari’s working waterfront

We treat ourselves to Luxury Penthouse Seaview and its spectacular vistas. But we miss our bed in Troia and host, Tiziano. Lesson: Read the reviews. Do not be seduced by words like ‘luxury’ and ‘penthouse.’

Art & Soul

We daytrip to the National Gallery of Puglia in Bitonto, where I’m deeply moved by a painting of Mary Magdalene attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi. So moved, in fact, that I do not photograph her, preferring to keep this Mary for my mind’s eye alone.

The “Hall of Women,” seems to be a recurring theme in my travels, here. Stay tuned.

I pause at the sight of the “young cleric,” who bears an astonishing resemblance to The Driver, ages ago.

Grand Teatro Margherita presents a mind-blowing exhibition on plastics in the world’s oceans, amazing illustrations and graphics. Every citizen of the planet should see this exhibition — schoolkids first.

Oh my, I would love to hear Puccini at the grand Petruzzelli. Next time!

As always, all this art and soul makes us hungry. We binge on seafood through the alleys of Bari’s Murata district, and waterfront cafes. We continue our pesce marathon through Pescara, our last stop along the dazzling Adriatic.

Next up: Abruzzo to Umbria

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Travel in Troubled Times – Part One

Ah, Naples. A great place to get your bearings while watching your six. Semi-deserted, weather a bit cool. Dig the Neapolitan ghost town mojo. First things first: pizza.

Surprise — star pizza with delizioso treasure in each point.

We were here when we were barely 30, two somewhat charming but foolish kids with grandissimo ideas. We rode in on wild horses, or maybe a Vespa. The 1970s version of “going rogue.”

Delighted to revisit Napoli’s enormous and distinguished archaeological museum, within walking distance of our jolly digs at Art Street Hotel. We visit the treasures of Pompeii, and spend more than our allotted 10 minutes in the erotica room.

The lovely island of Ischia is our second destination. We take the massive ferry, like old times, and the Mediterranean views are stunning.

We check into B&B San Pietro as a cluster of senior citizens emerges from the Hotel Fernando across the street. I think, oh wow, grannies, how cute. Then I remember that I am one. Sobering. Not enough Falanghina in the world to turn back time.

Small bouquets of dried yellow flowers are free to all women today, in celebration of International Women’s Day. This year, they are wrapped in yellow-and-blue ribbons in solidarity with Ukraine. They adorn the bar as I look up from these pages. 

Sturdy iris and one brave daffodil bloom in the courtyard. La primavera buoys our spirits. We are extra-grateful to be here, feeling the warmth in our bones. Palm trees wave in the surly ocean wind, but stand strong. I note the aspirational resistance carefully.  

We are all Ukrainian this week. •

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Sunday, Sunday

I fly from Vermont to New York City in sleepy, pre-dawn country fog. Moo. Upon landing, I am wide-awake, delighted and ravenous.

We start the day at Zucker’s with bagels and smoked fish. A few capers. We see an impromptu comedy performance in the subway, but of course — I am with Theater Boy.

As is our habit, we head for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MoMA) to binge on Calder and Matisse.

We drink in classic city views from side windows to cleanse the palate. Ah.

Rest and Recharge

Whoa. Times Square is still a wild and woolly place. I check into Hotel Edison, in the heart of it.

I’m charmed by hotel murals like Troupe du Jour, an homage to Broadway and vaudeville. I am also charmed by Edison’s cute bellman, woo-woo.

Sleep and Sustenance

Theater Boy and I share an evening meal at Morandi on Waverly Place, where we succumb to a succulent if incongruous trifecta of Carciofi alla Giudea, Pasta Cacio Pepe, and several Negroni.

Delizioso, tutti.

Monday at the Met

Ta-da! It’s opening night at the Metropolitan Opera — electric and historic.

Imagine! I’m here for Fire Shut Up In My Bones, the groundbreaking new opera by composer/jazz musician, Terence Blanchard, the company’s first work by a Black composer. Based on Charles Blow’s poignant memoir, Fire tells the story of a young man’s triumph over a difficult and disturbing past. Baritone Will Liverman is passionate, absolutely wonderful, as Charles.

Soaring duets, solos and ensembles blend jazz, blues, and operatic tradition. Soprano Latonia Moore as Charles’ mother, Billie, often steals the show. Angel Blue sings three characters —Destiny, Loneliness and Greta, and young Walter Russell III is Charles’ seven-year-old self, Char’es-Baby.

Here, step-dancing meets ballet and tragedy meets humor. Charles’ decision whether to exact revenge on his abuser or “leave it in the road” remains profoundly moving throughout.

Lincoln Center herself is a stunner, and it’s an honor to be among this dazzling and diverse crowd. I experience a glowing moment of surprise! sincere patriotism as we stand and sing the national anthem — all 3,000 of us — beneath the golden ceiling.

Final Curtain

I am sure the thunderous ovation could be felt all the way to Memphis.

Stunned, we head wa-a-ay up to the Empire Hotel lounge to digest what we have seen, with a grand bird’s eye view of the city at our feet. A gorgeous and deeply moving evening, beginning to end.

Thanks as always to Theater Boy — precious friend, traveling companion and lighting genius.

Not Quite Done

Good morning, Tuesday. I haul myself to the Upper West Side to visit lifelong friend, Stephen. We stroll historic Riverside Park for a few warm and drizzly hours. Only reconnect!

After our uplifting and soggy recharge, I head back to MoMA — because I am never quite finished.

Adam Pendleton’s Who Is Queen? blends stark graphic images, sound, music, text, photography and film — a dynamic floor-to-ceiling exploration of Blackness; a monumental collage in stark B&W.

With readings by poet Amiri Baraka, recordings by composer Hahn Rowe, a recording of a Black Lives Matter demonstration, plus fragments of music, this exhibition excites all the senses. Brilliant.

Pop of Color

My sister-friend Seeky and I close the afternoon with a bit of arty shopping. We buy a nifty fruit bowl for our sister Abby, and discuss grabbing matching bowls for ourselves. Red or blue? Ah, next time!

Gertrude says, “Go!”

I take a last, lingering look at my serious friend, Gertrude Stein. I hear her say, wisely, “Time to think about heading home.” Sadly, she is right. 


We say our messy goodbyes and celebrate Seeky’s anniversary at The Clam, a jolly West Village bistro celebrating seasonal fare — and of course the briny bivalve — in jazzy style.

We love the Clam’s warm rolls, famous clam dip, and grilled Branzino with golden raisins — a sensational Sicilian taste-memory. Their wine list is outstanding, and they make a mean martini.

I’ll be back to sip, savor and explore in time for next year’s Clamiversary. Count on it.


For Stevie my treasured friend
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Fifty Shades of Green

Ah, Vermont. Green hills, massive overhanging trees, and misty farms. Fields of pumpkins and solar panels. Winding roads — so many named Hollow! And perhaps more cows than people.

Foliage hasn’t quite peaked but there are pops of red among the endless green. Driving the heavily wooded Route 100 is a spooky maze of leafy limbs and branches that reach for the car as we pass.

David, class of ’72, enters the Norwich University Athletic Hall of Fame. Students in baseball caps, “Old Guard” in tidy golf shirts and khakis, and a billion fleece vests — it’s a dreamy retro-wonderland.

We stay in a former 1950s roadside motel, one of the hip ones, rescued from destruction by an enterprising family with groovy green ideas and farm flourishes. Pleasant and friendly, we enjoy it.

Sitting by the Mad River, warming our feet on an outdoor fire pit. A few logs smolder, a happy reminder of revels at the original Flatbread Pizza, nestled (of course) on a farm a couple of green hills away.

Fresh Farm Fare

We order the Punctuated Equilibrium, a family favorite, and it’s better than we remember. I guess farm and fire pit rival picnic table by the bay. Flatbread’s creative fare is as fresh, delicious and colorful as Vermont herself.

Small children dance in the firelight as adults watch, amused and protective, over glasses of wine. We meet a couple from Maine and their three tiny fairies. One visitor relaxes by the fire in sheepskin slippers. This is Vermont conviviality — gentle humor by firelight.

Original Flatbread Pizza at Lareau Farm on the Mad River in Waitsfield — don’t miss it!

Buxom and Brick

We visit a beautiful Round Barn in Waitsfield, and cruise the former Vt. State Hospital, a sprawling brick complex on lovely green space. Curvaceous, buxom buildings with Rubens’ contours seem to be a voluptuous Vermont fetish.

This peaceful scene (rhymes with green) is a bucolic prequel to my upcoming getaway to New York City. I fly from sleepy Burlington over trees and endless green hills. We’ll be back. •

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