Author Archives: laurel2020

still in Shanghai. Heading home Nov 4th. Still no Twitter or FB. Sorry if you’ve written me and I haven’t responded. Censorship sucks!@@

if you're wondering how I'm posting this now (and skating the censors), check out You can post via email to Twitter + FB!!!

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signs and shutters in the night

There’s something about faded old signs and window shutters that just force me to start clicking away. Hope I’m not boring you.

I don’t quite know how to arrange the photos beautifully on the page. Sorry 😦

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mega-porcinis, jasmine-scented urinal cake, anyone?

After a 40-minute drive through narrow, windy roads, up and down hills and through darkened neighborhoods, we arrived here. Nothing else on the street was open.

Our appetizer consisted of one of these GIANT porcinis, thinly sliced, with olive oil and salt. In a word: delectable:

For dessert, we ordered Jasmine Sorbet. Sounded good, but Jon swore that it tasted like a “urinal cake.” I’m still wondering how he knows that flavor…

For the food-obsessed, more pictures from that dinner: PHOTOS.

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Biodynamic wine — it’s alive!

Bellotti is a well-known biodynamic wine maker

Bellotti is a well-known biodynamic wine maker

Today, we spent the afternoon at the farmhouse/vineyard of Stefano Bellotti, the “father” of biodynamic wine. Jon has become very taken with this subject of late and has been setting up daily excursions to meet the makers of such wines. Biodynamic wine is made with no fertilizer, pesticides, sulfites or other additives. It ferments through the action of wild yeast. My favorite line of Bellotti’s: “We do not make wine. We accompany [it]. The micro-organismos make the wine.”

Here are some pictures on Flickr from the day.

By the way, here is our trip itinerary for the six weeks of this leg of our trip. Feel free to make suggestions, although the days are pretty jam packed!

The Itinerary


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Mombaruzzo, Italy

Thus begins the next leg of our three-week trip to Italy. While here, we will be exploring the wines, cheeses, sausages, and truffles!@! of two highly-regarded food and wine regions: Piedmont and Tuscany. Today we drove to Mombaruzzo, Italy, which is the Piedmont region.

This is the view from our bathroom window where we are staying at Hotel LaVilla, which I highly recommend! Check out my review on TripAdvisor.

There are some other shots of our Tour di Piedmont here: more PHOTOS.

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Gargnano Graffito

Yesterday, we had a lovely walk up a long and rock-strewn road, shedding the irritation of cars and people the further along we got. Toward the end, there was a long-abandoned concrete overpass jutting out of the mountainside. And, of course, the requisite graffiti.

Man cannot seem to resist painting caves. In this case, the vivid drawings made a luscious visual addition to the  already stunning landscape.

For more PICTURES, click here: Gargnano.


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a Villa to die for (seriously, bury me here!)

MORE PHOTOS posted here.

It is Day 4 in Italy and it’s hard to believe how quickly the hours in each day are passing. What have we done in the last four days since we left New York City? Gotten fatter, mostly.

We’ve eaten like hogs about to be slaughtered and exercised about as much. Hate that lousy feeling. Trying to avoid eating bread; but in Italy, I could eat an entire bread meal, the bread is just so good. Waiter, per favore, solo pan per me.

This place where we are staying, Villa Feltrinelli, is like a rest home for the rich. I don’t know what we were thinking staying here!  [Point of fact: though the Feltrinelli web site brags about artists and statesmen having stayed there, it fails to mention that the Villa was once the temporary “prison” of Mussolini.] We should have called this our second honeymoon, it’s that over the top. And the other guests here certainly don’t seem to be jumping up an down with excitement the way we are (but quietly, so as not to call too much attention to ourselves). They seem to take the place in stride.

I guess you’re supposed to be accustomed to just eating and drinking and reading and taking in the views, sitting by the water, recuperating from your life of luxury.

Alright, I’ll admit, this is rather grand, but I still need the counterpoint. I need to feel I have earned it, paying with punishing physical or intellectual exercise. I cannot merely rest. I need something to rest against. Equal and opposite force.

Stress/recovery. Hunger/satiation. That’s what I need. Off for a long walk.

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