• Finding Italy…and Paris

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Italy. I’ve never been to Paris. The closest I came to speaking French in another country was a visit to Quebec when I was in 7th grade. I began taking French classes that year—in 7th grade. Later, in high school, Mademoiselle Hammerstrom had our class read Les Misérables in French. In college, I took French classes as well. Last week, my husband and I started watching Stanley Tucci’s program Searching for Italy. My passport is updated and I’m ready to go. When it’s safe to travel again, I need to go to both of these countries. I make my father-in-law laugh…

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    Franco and The Blonde: Fiction Friday

    Today, I’m trying my hand at a bit of short fiction. This piece of flash fiction is under 600 words at 595 words. This scene popped into my head last night, perhaps because at dinner, our family was talking about our Italian heritage and the legacies we leave behind (I know…a little heavy for a dinner conversation during a coronavirus crisis). Nonetheless, I knew I was going to write this scene when I went to bed last night, and I banged it out this morning, just to touch base with my creativity. I’m so immersed in teaching 4 online courses right now, that I have little time for something like…

  • My Experience of Teaching a Travel Writing Course

    I’ve been pretty fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a course called Special Topics in Travel Writing at Stevenson University, where I am a full-time professor. It’s one of my favorite courses to teach, and for years in another course I teach called Feature Writing, we cover travel writing as part of the curriculum. To be able to teach travel writing as a semester-long, intensive 400-level course is something I treasure. The students in my class are required to each pick a location relatively local to our region. Some explore cities or towns in Maryland, some in Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Washington, D.C. or any other destination that they…

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    Remembering Venice Through Poetry

    I think of Venice often, even though it’s been many years since I’ve been there. It was the most unique and amazing place I have ever visited; Italy in general holds a special place in my heart because both my family and my husband’s family are of Italian heritage. Many people say the Grand Canal is the most beautiful street in the world; I think they may be right. Last year, in my Poetry class, we were asked to write a haibun and a haiku that flowed together. As we could choose any subject to write about, Venice was my choice. When I travel, I keep a copious journal, so…

  • Home Inspiration: How To Display Collections From Your Travels

    Traveling is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your loved ones. Experiencing things together builds memories that you all will cherish forever. No one can take those remarkable moments from you. There are some places, however, that you visit whereby you may want to bring home a physical remembrance of the place. In those instances, items may collect in your home in a pile unless you know exactly how you will display or use them. My husband and I don’t mind having things from our trips as long as we know exactly what we will do with them and that they won’t just sit in a…

  • Meeting People Makes Travel Magical

      My husband and I were sitting in a restaurant in London one night trying to get in touch with his Italian cousin who is a surgeon in the city. We were there for vacation, but we had promised Massimo and his wife that we would get together during our stay for dinner. In our effort to contact him at work, we were failing miserably. The people at the table next to us recognized that we were struggling with the phone and our attempt at communication with the hospital and promptly invited us to their table. When we explained that the hospital said he was in “theatre” we assumed he…

  • A Good Book Will Never Let You Down

    I’m about to finish Adriana Trigiani’s touching and inspiring novel entitled The Shoemaker’s Wife. I’ve enjoyed reading this sweeping story of Italian immigrants loosely based on the history of the author’s own grandparents. From the mountains of the Italian Alps to New York City to a small town in Minnesota, the characters and sights covered in this novel will allow you to become a part of a different time and place when the world was a different place, America was growing, and World War I loomed. The truth of the matter is this: a good book will never let you down. As I’ve become older, wiser, and more finicky about…

  • When You Realize What Makes You Happy

    Picture this: It’s Sunday morning, the last day of your academic spring break, whereby you spent most of the time working, doing some aspect of your full-time job or your writing hobby that you do. You are tangled up in all of the stresses that make up your everyday life when all of a sudden … magically … it … appears … whether it is divine providence or by the hand of your own Fairy Godmother (why should Cinderella be the only one?). There it is, literally, in black and white. Bippity, boppity, BOOM. You breathe. Like a thunderbolt from the sky, Tom Muha, and his Sunday article in The…

  • Fictography #22—Vivi’s Summer

    * * * * * * /FICTOGRAPHY/ def. — The intersection of photography (submitted by readers) and fiction (written by me!). The above photograph was taken by a dear friend of mine, Chrissie Werzinsky, in Rome at Piazza Navona. Chrissie works for the Baltimore Orioles, and has for years, which is how we met many moons ago. Chrissie and I have a lot in common; we both love the Hallmark Channel, Pinterest, baseball, our Orioles friends, and novels that make you feel good. Luckily, my husband and I traveled to Rome before we had children, so I got to spend time visiting Piazza Navona. I was excited to see the…

  • Travel Journaling: You Won’t Regret It

    “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” ~ Oscar Wilde “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” ~ G.K. Chesterton View from Giudecca. Photo Credit: italyheaven.com.uk My students have been assigned a travel writing piece next. There is a difference between travel journalism and travel writing. In travel journalism, the writer gives the reader good instructional information about where to go, what to do, what to see. In travel writing, the writer takes the reader on a journey with him (or her) and allows us to “see” the place through the writer’s…