Monday, July 30, 2012


Every time I come back to visit Los Angeles I realize that service is just as bad in the USA as it is in Italy. It really has taken a nose dive.  I mean what has happened to mutual respect, greeting customers, getting an order correctly, giving change correctly, apologizing for making a mistake, etc etc.? The same goes for the customers. Many are impatient, rude, or just downright unpleasant.

As I pondered these issues, I was dealing with starting Star Charts for my children. These Star Charts are where you give your child a star for good behavior. You can also take stars away for bad behavior. The Charts have been successful on the most part.

I thought why can't we give start charts to adults?

Wouldn't it be great if we could take away a star from Mary, the rude flight attendant? Or take away a star from Joe, the bank teller, for messing up my account? Wouldn't it be soothing if I could take away a star from Betty, who keeps calling with a survey during my dinnertime?

Wouldn't it be fantastic if I could give a star to Mrs. Olsen, a teacher, for her big smile every morning as she greets her students? Or wouldn't it be fantastic if I could give a star to the customer who is pleasant, polite and thankful for our help?

The Star Chart would be awesome and everyone would be on his/her best behavior all the time.

Yeah, I know there is Yelp and Trip Advisor and all those websites where you can give reviews. But I need instant gratification and I would want Mr. X to know he has just lost 3 stars for his rude behavior!!  We could extend the Star Chart to our bosses, colleagues, family members and even our mates!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Small Things We Take For Granted!

Visiting Los Angeles after a year in Italy is always an eye-opener for me. I realize how many things are in the USA that just are not readily available in Italy. Sometimes you don't realize how good you have it until you don't have it anymore.

Target, Staples, Costco & convenience stores- Oh how I do miss these stores when I am in Italy. How awesome is it that you can find just about anything at these stores and pay the fraction of what it would cost in Italy, even if you were lucky enough to find the product!  Sometimes I dream of what it would be to have one of these stores near my small town in Tuscany. Too good to be true.

Drive thru anything- How many times I wish I could just get a ready-made anything instead of having to make fresh meals with fresh bread everyday. I long for being able to eat out of a bag and to feed my family American junk food!

Lemonade stands- Everytime we come to LA to visit we bring out the lemonade stand and its success has kept us coming back for more. In the first five minutes my children were featured on the Facebook page of our neighborhood restaurant. You cannot have any kind of business activity in Italy without being ticketed, taxed and harassed. The same goes for garage and yard sales. You just cannot do it.

Salad spinner-Seems like a nothing thing but they are really impossible to find in my small town.

Air conditioning! How I long for air conditioning in stores in Italy. Very few establishments use air conditioning. It is just too expensive.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Visiting Siena: San Giovanni D'Asso

I had the pleasure to visit this weekend a darling little town with an amazing surrounding landscape: San Giovanni D'Asso. This town is within the Crete Senese area and very close to Trequanda, which is much more publicized for tourists. Both towns merit a visit.

This past weekend (March 10 & 11) was the annual Festa del Tartufo (truffles). Apparently this town is famous for its surrounding truffles. From my point of view, San Giovanni D'Asso gives tourists that visit Tuscany what they are craving for: unbelievable views of rolling pristine green hills from every angle of the town.  Don't miss a visit to its castle.

Please be careful if you visit the Church San Pietro in Villore, outside the town center. It has an underground crypt inside the Church with an open door in the pavement of the Church and steps leading you down to the crypt. There are no signs warning you of this open door and you can fall. Definitely not child safe!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 2012 Snow Storm - Tuscany Italy

I have been in Italy for over thirteen years now and this is the worst snow storm I have ever encountered.  We had snow for five straight days and now even though it is no longer snowing, we are dealing with the aftermath and the roads. Temperatures are below zero and roads are icy and dangerous. Trees have fallen everywhere and our little town of Chiusi seems like a war zone. We are lucky, very lucky. We were without electricity and heat for four days but took shelter at relative's house after one day and one night without heat nor light. I have to say it was scary. We had no phones and I had only my mobile phone that had very little recharge left on it. I used it sparingly to send out messages. The only thing that worked was water, cold water and our stove range.

Here in Chiusi, our "comune" did a great job in clearing the major streets and keeping them cleared.  Peope without heat, the elderly, the sick were taken to shelters, schools, gymnasiums and to the hospital for food and beds. Our area of Valdichiana seems to be back to almost normalcy but a new snow storm is supposed to be on its way this Friday.

The rest of Italy is not so lucky. There are thousands and thousands of people without heat, without water, without food, without light. Many of these live in rural areas where they cannot get help and help cannot get to them. These people have been like this for a week.

While I  love Italy, I just cannot understand why things here are so disorganized and why it is so difficult to change.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Visiting Siena: San Galgano, Monteriggioni, Chiusdino

Tuscany can be overwhelming. If you plan on staying in Tuscany and have only a few days of time to see as much as you can, I suggest you visit only a few places and really absorb yourself in those few places. Do not make the mistake of trying to see it all in one trip.

If you plan to visit the area of Siena, try to visit the following places:

 Abbazia of San Galgano & La Spada Nella Roccia

These are two places right next to eachother. You will walk from the monastery up to the place of hermitage of San Galgano (Church with the sword in the rock)

Next go visit Chiusdino, a neighboring darling town and the birth place of Saint Galgano.

After Chiusdino, go to Monteriggioni, which is about 45 minutes away from Chiusdino. It is a charming town within the completely intact walls of the city. It is definitely worth a visit. There are numerous small shops with hand made articles that range from wooden items to ceramics to wool clothing to wine and honey. Bring plenty of cash as I found the prices in Monteriggioni to be quite high.