Tuesday, September 20, 2016


we are all back in the United States of America.  

a little tired from our vacation.

going through re-entry.

for me today that has been ...

·         sleeping in your own bed

·         sleeping alone, without two other guys snoring in the same room

·         making myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

·         reading the  Los Angeles Times over breakfast

·         having some cottage cheese

·         going to an American supermarket

·         turning on my phone for the first time in three weeks

·         beginning to reconnect over the phone with  my family and friends

·         washing and drying my clothes

·         taking a nap in the afternoon

·         watching TV for the first time in weeks

·         listening to some Motown music from the Art of Sax

all good. 

it is good to be home again.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Roman gladiators were special in their day -- that being between 100 BC and 200 AD.

to some, gladiators were uncivilized brutes, armored barbarians, treacherous and degenerate. 

to others, they were the rock stars of their day, the star athletes of their day, entertainers, celebrities and even sex symbols.

as reported "the gladiators won massive fame among the lower classes. Their portraits graced the walls of many public places; children played with gladiator action figures made of clay; and the most successful fighters even endorsed products just like the top athletes of today. They were also renowned for their ability to make Roman women swoon. Graffiti from Pompeii describes one fighter who “catches the girls at night in his net” and another who is “the delight of all the girls.” Many women wore hairpins and other jewelry dipped in gladiator blood, and some even mixed gladiator sweat—then considered an aphrodisiac—into facial creams and other cosmetics."

with this as background, and being in Rome, the Tuscan Trio could not resist doing a couple of things.

first and foremost, visiting the Colisseum, the place where the gladiators performed.   they performed three times during the day.  the morning was focused on wild animals.  noon time was for executions.  and then the afternoon focused on hand to hand combat between the gladiators.

second, we went to Gladiator School this morning.  the outcome of which was graduation from the only gladiator school still in existence (at least to our knowledge).   we received honorary Roman citizenship.    and, perhaps most importantly, we received our gladiator names. 

PJ, for example, is known as Maximus as a gladiator.  Tom is known as Bacchus.  Yours truly is known as Augustus. 

the point that needs clarification is why do we have an interest in being trained as a gladiator in today's world.

first, we are assuming that gladiators, regardless of their previous reputation, can do good in this world.  what once was seen as brutal, bloody and barbaric, can somehow be turned around  to be gladiators who are gifted, giving and generous.

second, as you are aware, we have become enthralled with the concept of the Renaissance man.   in history, one of the key components of a Renaissance man was his capability in war -- specifically, hand to hand combat.  
we realize that this is not quite like other components of a Renaissance man -- for example, being able to sculpt, or to read Latin, or to cook sumptuous Italian dishes.  Nevertheless, we believe that having  gladiator training cannot be anything but helpful in our effort to become Renaissance men.
who knows, in this day and age, when gladiator training may come in handy.
and, one thing is for sure, very few men have been trained as gladiators. 

The Tuscan Trio

our three week odyssey to Italy is about over.  today is our last day in Rome, and then we catch airplanes to return to the States, to the west coast, and to reality.

this trip has had an impact on each of us.  more about that later.

but, first, we need to figure out how to refer to the three of us.  as PJ, our marketing advisor, would say... we need to identify and establish our brand.

we have thought about this quite a bit, and, after much discussion, have decided to call ourselves The Tuscan Trio.

why this moniker?  Trio is obvious.  there are three of us. 

we feel that Tuscan reflects two ideas, two thoughts, two approaches to life.  one, the laid back, take it easy, reflective attitude to life that we have attempted to adopt. 

but, secondly, it suggests in some small way the concept of the Renaissance man.  we have reflected at length of what it means to be a Renaissance man.  we have been inspired to be Renaissance men.  but more about this in a subsequent blog.

you will be pleased to know that we did not select The Italian Stallions, but that was a very close second in the balloting.

St. Peter's Square in front of St. Peter's in Vatican City

Saturday, September 17, 2016

first dibs.. continued

for those of you who have read the previous blog entitled "first dibs" I have some additional information.

I neglected to include pictures of the "bed" that yours truly ended up with in Vernazza in Cinque Terre.

this is what can happen when you get third choice in the selection of beds.

my "bed" was a rollaway cot.  as you can see it did not have the strength to hold me. the picture below tells the tale that I crashed right through it. 

they fixed the "bed" for me, and the exact same thing happened again.

so, the solution to this problem was to place the "mattress" on the floor.  see picture below.

I just want the record to show the sacrifices that I have endured for the team of PJ and Tom and yours truly.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Peterson Sunshine Tours (PST)

some of you may not be aware that I have had a travel and tour company for many years. 

Peterson Sunshine Tours has been focused on two markets to date.  one, is the upper end destination golf market.  the other is adventure travel with your progeny.

for years PST has organized golf trips to either Bandon Dunes in southwest Oregon in the United States or to Great Britain, usually Ireland and Scotland.   these are small group, eight person trips usually lasting a week or so.

for years PST has organized adventure travel trips to the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, South Africa, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, India, the Philippines, New Zealand, Alaska, Mexico, the British Virgin Islands on a sailboat, the Bahamas, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Egypt, Jordan, Canada and others.  in addition, PST has been to numerous locations in the continental United States.

to date, the PST trips have been very limited in number -- just one or two each year.  in addition the golf trips have been limited to close male friends.  the adventure travel trips have been limited to my family, kids and close relatives.

however, that may be about to change.  

after this trip to Italy, PST may be adding a third market.  namely, those who want to experience life on the Mediterranean Sea and its ports of call, whether it be in Italy, Spain, southern France, Slovenia, the Adriatic coast,  Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Malta and other islands. 

these trips would be again very exclusive, limited to friends and family. they would occur in the summer and shoulder months (sometime between May and October).  each trip would be limited to up to four people, maybe six at the most.  why?

because the lodging for the trip will be aboard a vessel with limited bed availability.  PST will have a yacht in the Mediterranean.   the yacht may be a power boat, but more likely a sailboat or motorsailor.  it will be approximately 45 to 50 feet in length.  it will have between two and three staterooms aboard.

the experience will be sailing from port to port along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.  spending time in each port, exploring the culture, history and people of each country.   

some will be able to pick up the PST yacht in Barcelona, others in Marseille, still others in Genoa.  while some will pick up the PST yacht in Rome or Venice.  the idea being that you spend a week or two on the yacht and then when you get off the boat, others come on board and enjoy the next week or two.

the idea is to experience the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle.  most of the time will not be spent sailing, but rather in port or anchored in wonderful spots like Positano, where we just spent the last four days.  instead of having to make lodging arrangements every evening, the PST yacht on the languid waters of the Mediterranean Sea is your Bed and Breakfast, your VRBO, your Airbnb.

but I have not mentioned the number one ingredient that will make such a journey so special -- that being the service provided on board the PST yacht. 

in addition to your skipper who will be yours truly, the Executive Chef will be none other than PJ.  as you all know from reading this blog, PJ has received his culinary training in Italy, specifically in Tuscany.  he brings a broad smile and a warm heart to the task of ensuring that each guest has their gastronomical needs met.  and met with a local flourish.  while most of the dinner meals with be on shore, in eating establishments, PJ will be making the arrangements, ensuring exquisite culinary experiences.

the second part of service will be provided by Dr. Tom.  he will be responsible for any and all safety and emergency issues. 
in addition, in each port of call your crew will provide options for daily activities.  Dr. Tom, for example, who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, will be leading hikes throughout the trip.  PJ will be providing guidance on local watering holes and other gastronomical delights.

your crew -- PJ, Dr. Tom and I -- see our job as helping you to relax and enjoy. 

your responsibilities will be to lend a hand in some way.  could be assisting PJ in providing breakfast each day.  could be swabbing the decks each day. 

in addition, each of you will be responsible for your own travel arrangements to the port of call where you will join the PST yacht and from the port of call where you will end your Mediterranean experience.

there will be a charge for your week or two aboard the PST yacht, but rest assured that it will be reasonable.

what do you think?  we are anxious to get your feedback.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

1375 steps

Positano Italy is built on very steep terrain that sharply drops into the Mediterranean Sea.

the pictures below give you some idea. 


a wonderfully laid back relaxed community of about 4,000 year round residents.  as of the beginning of November the town pretty much shuts down for the winter and reopens in April. 

during the summer and the shoulder months of the year it is a playground for many as its allure seems to know no end.

however, the history of Positano is very much different than today's playground for the well to do and others who seek out a break from the day to day fast moving world that we live in. Positano has been through times when it was poor, and times when it was well off.
what does one do in Positano.  relax. 
there is no movie theater, no soccer field, no gyms to work out in, no golf courses, no pickleball courts, no performing arts theater, no concert hall. 

all there is to do is hang out.  take in the spectacular views of the Mediterranean  Amalfi  coastline.  spread out on the pebbly, non sandy beaches.  take an occasional dip in the refreshing blue waters of the Mediterranean.  eat.  eat and eat.  most of the restaurants and eateries have fantastic views.  and there is some shopping.  they are known for their clothing, especially linen clothing.  also ceramics and made to fit sandals are popular. 
there is only one street in town, and that is a very windy, circuitous, one way only, narrow route that has numerous switchbacks and hairpin turns.   it also serves as the path for many walkers.  yet, there are no sidewalks.  so the narrow road is shared by foot traffic and auto traffic.  

the biggest challenge in Positano is getting to and from where ever you are to where ever you want to go.  the only real option is to walk.  taking a car makes no sense.  not only is the one road crazy but there is no place to park.  some of the locals use vespa scooters. 
yet, even walking presents a challenge in Positano.  the topography is almost straight up and down.  the homes and hotels are built into the sides of the cliffs that drop into the sea. 

the answer is STAIRS.  yes, there are stairs everywhere.  stairs with steps.  with many steps. 
my guess is that the number of steps from the beach to the top of the town is over 3,000.  what I can tell you is the number of steps from the beach, which is the center part of the town, to where we are staying  is 1,375.   that is the equivalent of climbing at least 30 stories. 

what makes this number so sure in my mind is that any time that you want to do anything -- say, go to the beach, go shopping, eat a meal -- you must walk down or up to get there.  
these stairs are all made of stone.  they weave in between homes and structures.  they sometimes have hand rails, sometimes don't.

the stone steps are uneven.  some rise 6 inches, others rise 11 inches.  you have to pay attention to every step. .
to give you an idea of what this can mean in a day.  yesterday we kept track of the steps that we took. 

let me set the stage for you.  we did "nothing" yesterday.   all we did was go to the beach, eat some lunch, lay out on the beach, come back to our apartment, take a two hour walking tour, eat dinner and return to our apartment for sleep. 
and yet, we walked 15,679 steps!!  we climbed the equivalent of 46 stories or floors.  we walked (or more accurately, stepped) over 8 miles. 

and almost every step is either a step up or a step down.  hardly any are on flat surfaces.

believe me, our legs at the end of the day were very much aware of these statistics.  they were screaming at us. 

so, the irony is that to stay in Positano, this laid back relaxing community by the sea and to partake in the relaxed environment and ambiance, one has to step up or step down at least 1,375 steps every time one leaves or returns to the apartment.
I am very aware that there will be some of you reading this that will not be shedding tears for PJ, Tom and myself as we try to "negotiate" Positano.  

however, I wanted to make sure that you were aware that we are putting out at least a modicum of effort to be able to enjoy the Positano, Amalfi coast experience.

one thing is for sure.  we are getting our steps in every day.


linen shirts

the three of us are not into shopping.  i mean, we are really not into shopping. 

it offers no appeal  whatsoever to any of us.  in fact, we hate shopping.  and we are not good at shopping.

having said all that, we have found something that we all like -- namely, linen shirts.

and we found them in Positano. 

a little background is in order.  we did not go shopping to find them.  no, we had "emergencies" that required that we purchase a shirt of some type.  these so called emergencies were in one instance caused by a sudden rain shower, leaving yours truly shivering in his shirt, wanting to get something that was dry and warm.  in Dr Tom's case, he was at the beach, and did not want to walk many steps up the steep hill to get a shirt for dinner, so he needed something that he could wear into the quality restaurant for dinner.

in both cases the nearest store carried linen clothes.   primarily linen clothes for women.  beautiful dresses and blouses. 

Positano is famous for its linen clothes. 

it turns out that in the far back corner of these stores, there are men's linen shirts.  in desparation, we purchase a shirt each. 

guess what?  we love them!!!

they are so comfortable, and so cool looking. 

i don't want to say that this shirt alone puts us in the jet set, but pretty close. 

take a look at these pictures.  try to focus on the shirts and not the physiques of the two men.


bottom line, we have learned something new.

we are still against shopping.  we don't do it.  we don't like it.

BUT, we do like linen shirts!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


in every Roman Catholic cathedral and church that we have visited in our stay in Italy, there are wooden structures along the side walls of the nave which are confessionals.

confessionals are small structures that allow the priest to sit on one side and the parishioner to sit on the other, with a space in between.  it is constructed in such a way that the two of them cannot see each other, but can hear each other.


the purpose of the confessional is to allow the parishioner to confess his or her sins to God and receive some guidance from the priest.  his guidance can take the form of absolution.  or it can be very directive.

during our trip through Italy, PJ, Tom and I have begun to confess some of our sins openly to each other. 

I am not sure why we have started to do this.  maybe it is the influence of seeing the confessionals at every church we visit.  maybe it is because we are allowing ourselves to become more laid back and reflective as the trip continues.   maybe it is because that we are beginning to trust each other more as the trip ensues.  maybe it is because we are trying to cleanse ourselves of things that we are not proud of, and ideally would like to have forgiven.  or, maybe it is for some or all of these reasons.

the confessions are coming each new day.

for example, I confessed that some 30 years ago I had not responded to a letter that was hand written to me by a "friend" who had been convicted of a crime and sent for years to a federal prison in Lompoc California.  he sent it to me from prison, and  I never responded.  He has since passed away, but I feel terrible that I did not take the time to take his letter in, absorb it, and thoughtfully respond.  one human being to another.  and especially from one human being who was not in a very good place in his life, one who could use some contact and personal touch.  I am embarrassed and mad at and disappointed in myself for my actions, or, more accurately, lack of action.  

such is a confession. 

as upset with myself as I am, I am a believer that confessing is a healthy thing to do.

I am sure that I, PJ and Tom will have several more confessions before our trip is over.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

first dibs

remember when  we were kids and we were so intent on calling out for first dibs on whatever.

"i get first dibs on the front seat of the car", or "i get first dibs on what bed i get in the motel that we are staying at"

having  first choice of  something is pretty important.  or, at least it was as a youth.

we would race to the car to get the front passenger side seat.  it did not matter whether it was your sister or not.  it did not matter whether the other person was four years your junior.  it was everyman out for himself.

it was serious business.

believe it or not, PJ, Tom and I are having a little bit of a reversion to our youth on this trip.

the major issue we have faced since the beginning of the trip has been who gets which bed in each room that we are staying in.

let me add that we have been staying in one room to save dollars, and then asking for three beds.

the other reason we did this was to further ensure the comraderie of the threesome.  the theory being that a threesome of guys that sleep, shower, etc in the same room, stays together. 

being seasoned, mature adults we decided early on not to race to each room to get the first dibs on beds, like we would have done as kids.   but, no, we, being adults, we would set up a system that would work. 

the system that we have been using is that we will rotate who gets first choice of beds, who gets the second choice of beds, and who gets last choice.

we have been following this for our entire trip. 

to give you an idea of how this system works out in reality, take a look at the pictures below.  needless to say, PJ in Positano got the first choice of beds.  you can see he selected the double bed with wooden frame.   Tom got the second choice and picked the single framed bed.  yours truly got the rollaway cot. 


such is life. 

the main point of this post is that i wanted to make sure that our readers understand and appreciate the maturity that the three of us are evidencing as we determine who gets first dibs on beds.

oh, to be young again.

non sequitur

in Latin the literal translation is "it does not follow".

way back, many years ago, when I was in secondary school, Latin was required. 

today, I am not sure that most young people even know what the word Latin means or represents.

I grew up in the era when our parents and teachers and mentors all told us that learning the Latin language is really important. 

why?  they said that you will use it for your entire life.  all romantic languages and English have a Latin underpinning. therefore learning Latin will help in the learning of romantic languages of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and Italian. it will help with word derivation in English. 60% of the words in English come from Latin.  it is just good for you. 

it is required, was the refrain I and others heard.

believe it or not, I took this to the extreme.  I studied Latin for all four years in prep school and then one year in college.  no one does that in this day and age. 

actually the story is even worse.  I also studied Classical Greek language for all four years of prep school.  I know that this raises a lot of questions in your mind, but let's not go there right now.  let's focus on Latin.

Latin got its start in Italy. it was the everyday language of the Roman Empire for centuries.  still today it is the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.  many of the medical, scientific and legal terms today are in Latin or derive from Latin.

I do not believe that most of us understand how important Latin has been and continues to be in our everyday language.  we don't give Latin its due.

we take words and expressions for granted without being aware of where it came from -- its derivation. 

for example, the word "sum" is one we use all the time.  it is literally the exact same Latin word that was in use centuries ago.  from that comes other words such as "summary" and "summarization".

to give you an idea of how widespread this is, here is a list of just a few of Latin words and the English words that have come from them.

Latin WordDefinitionEnglish Derivatives
villavilla, housevilla, village, villager
altatall, high, deepaltitude, altimeter, alto
antiquaantique, oldantique, antiquity, ancient
longalonglongitude, longevity, long
magnalarge, greatmagnify, magnificent, magnitude
picturapicturepicture, picturesque, pictorial
novanewnovice, novel, novelty, nova, Nova Scotia
terraland, earthterrier, terrace, terrestrial, terrain
primafirstprime, primary, primitive, primeval
subundersubway, subterranean, suburban
cornahorncornucopia, cornet, clavicorn
estisestate, establish, essence
haberehavehave, habit, habitual
casasmall housecasino
parvasmallparval, parvanimity
latawide, broadlatitude, lateral, latitudinal
bonagoodbonus, bonanza, bona fide
copiaplentycopious, cornucopia, copiously
famafamefame, famous, infamous
provinciaprovinceprovince, provincial, provincialism
multamanymultitude, multiple, multiplex
nominareto namenominate, nominal, name, nominative
postealaterpostlude, postgraduate, posthumous
nonnotnonfction, nonmetal, nonexistent
aquawateraquatics, aquarium, aqueduct, aqueous
bestiabeastbestial, bestiality
figurafigure, shapefigure, figurine, figment, figurative
flammaflameflame, flamboyant, flambeau
herbaherbherb, herbivorous, herbage
insulaislandinsular, insulate, insularity
lingualanguagelanguage, lingual, linguistics
nautasailornautical, nautilus
piratapiratepirate, piratical
scholaschoolscholar, school, scholastic
albawhitealbino, albinism albumen
amicafriendlyamicable, amicability, amity
beatahappybeatific, beatify, beatitude
meameme, my
mirastrangemiracle, miraculous, mirage
notanotednoted, note, notice, notable, noticeable
obscuradarkobscure, obscured, obscurity
periculosadangerousperilous, peril
propinquanear topropinquity
quietaquietquiet, quietude, disquiet
circumaroundcircumstance, circumnavigate, circumspect
filiadaughterfilly, filial

similarly Latin phrases are still used commonly in English.  for example,

Latin phrasemeaningexample or comment
ad hocformed or done for a particular purpose onlyAn ad hoc committee was set up to oversee the matter.
ad nauseamrepeating or continuing to the point of boredomThe apparent risks of secondary smoking have been debated ad nauseam.
bona fidegenuine; realOnly bona fide members of the club may use the clubhouse.
caveat emptorlet the buyer bewareThe principle that the buyer is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.
circa; c.around; approximatelyThe house was built circa 1870.

many of our states in the United States have as their state motto an expression written in Latin.  for example, the state motto for West Virginia is "Montani semper liberi" (Mountaineers are always free). 

the motto for the United States Marine Corps is "semper fidelis" (always faithful).  

yesterday, on our trip, PJ said something that caused me to respond with "that is a total non sequitur". in other words, in my mind what PJ had said did not follow from the discussion.  the previous part of the discussion did not, in my opinion, lay the groundwork for his point.  in short, his point did not follow. 

the other great thing about using Latin from time to time is that it packs a punch.  saying that it is a non sequitur is more powerful than saying "that does not follow". 

as you can imagine, PJ was duly impressed and slightly offended that I would call him on this.  don't worry. PJ and I are still good friends.

one of the other intriguing aspects of Latin, the language, is its grammar.  the use diphthongs, the use of gender in its nouns, the first, second and third declension of its nouns and adjectives, the conjugation of its verbs, the use of participles to name a few. 

I find myself getting excited again about Latin just writing this. 

the real story on why I took so much Latin and Greek in school was that the best teacher in my school taught these subjects.  and I was determined to take courses from the best teacher in the school, no matter what subject he taught. 

the other major advantage of taking so much Latin and Greek was that hardly any one else was doing it.  so for years, my classes in Latin and Greek had just three people in it.  Needless to say, the experience of being able to spend that kind of time with the greatest teacher I have ever had was very special.

several thoughts come to mind. 

one, always draw conclusions that follow from previously laid out thoughts and facts, if you want to avoid a non sequitur.

second, let's not forget the importance of the Latin language in our daily lives. 

third, let's honor the great teachers that we have all had in our lives.



Sunday, September 11, 2016

almond joy

when I was a kid, I used to love Almond Joy candy bars. coconut with an almond on top.  all covered in chocolate.  wow. 

truth be known I still will get an Almond Joy from time to time. 

one of my favorite expressions over the years has been "um boy...almond joy!"

let me tell you, we had an experience last evening that was as far away from an almond joy as you can get.  we had a three hour lesson in Italian cooking in Tuscany, Italy.

to set the stage properly, let me remind the readers of this blog about the sculpting class we had in Florence just a few days ago.  you will recall that I admitted that none of the three of us had any experience whatsoever in sculpting. 

I need to repeat that same admission here.  none of the three of us are cooks. 

wait a second, that may be a little harsh.  PJ and I use the microwave quite a bit. I do some grilling from time to time.  Tom has been known to rustle up a PB&J occasionally.  but, the bottom line is that we are not cooks.

having said that, we are ready, willing and eager.

our first task was to find someone who had the guts to try to teach us how to cook.  we luckily found Marta.  what a sweetheart.  always a smile on her face.  she was so accepting of us and our capabilities. a real workhorse. nothing was too much of a trouble.  a bundle of energy.  very efficient.  knows how to slice a tomato.  can peel a garlic clove in a second.  we were, needless to say, in awe.  more accurately, our mouths were wide open most of the time.


I should step back.  our very first task was to be dressed properly for the job of cook.  so, we adorned aprons and tied them in the back.  we learned that is not as easy as it looks.

then we placed white hair nets on our heads, capturing to the extent we could all of our hair.  at this point we began to realize that we would not be on the cover of GQ magazine.

the cooking class took place in her restaurant, La Cisterna nel Borgo located in Rocca d'Orcia, a very small community tucked away in the Tuscan hill country.  not easy to find, and in accessible by automobile.  from where you park your car, you have a good 10-15 minute walk to the restaurant.

she has room for 60 persons a night.  dinner only.  one seating only.  open six nights a week in her 8 month season. she takes off 4 months each year in the slow season.

within her restaurant, the class took place in the very small kitchen.  because of the historical preservation rules she has to operate within the boundaries of the building which was built centuries ago.  no expansion of the walls is possible.  it was a tight space for the three of us, plus Marta.

she taught us how to make a cheese salad (not shown), a pasta and tomato sauce, a main dish of red pepper stuffed with tuna, and a ricotta desert. for those of you who like the recipes, let me know I will be happy to forward them to you.

we learned the recipes for each. we learned how to slice and dice.  we learned how to peel a garlic clove, how to separate the parsley leaf from its stem, how to slice and dice a tomato, how to prepare a red pepper for cooking, how and why to use two day old bread, how to roll out and how to roll up your pasta, how to cut your pasta, why the bread crumbs that we cut up had to be the same size, why to mix the capers only so much and not too much, what a difference a little bit of dried red pepper flakes can make, and more.

but what was most telling to each of us was the emphasis she placed on the source of her ingredients.  she said it made all the difference.  where and when she got her tomatoes. the kind of tuna she sourced. the type of flour she used. 

Needless to say we learned a lot.

Maybe PJ and Tom don't know how to eat the Italian way (see previous blog), but they are learning how to cook the Italian way