A night on Ellis Island. Photo blog.

The ride to the island:
This view made me smile as we were boarding the boat. Rocking back and forth, I thought the rough ride may scare me but I never noticed once I saw my surroundings.




Look around:
The view of the new tower from the water makes us proud to be American!
The Statue of Liberty is breathtaking as she towers over the boat as we pass.


Dinner in the Great Room:
I was able to find out, from my family in Italy, that my great grandfather came through here! I also found him in the online directory. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a book you could page through like in the movie Hitch! I really though that if Will Smith does it, it has to be real! I was wrong, it is an online directory, but it was still amazing!




Do some exploring:
I asked for permission and went upstairs and walked through any open door. I was in awe seeing the old objects, the writing on the wall and the view of the great room from above. Thinking about how many people came here to start a life in America amazed me! I don’t think I thought about it enough until I was there.


Taking it all in:
The view of NYC from Ellis Island.
The entrance on the island.



A new view:
She looks different, and amazingly beautiful with the contrast of the black night sky behind her!

Ending the night:
In awe of the Freedom Tower. It is larger than life and a strong and sentimental reminder of the buildings that stood before it.

I recommend Ellis Island, whether you have family history with it or not. To stand in the place and know that you are standing in a place with that kind of history is amazing.


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9/11 and NYC – a photo blog

The pursuit of happiness continued in NYC this week. This is a photo blog because there are no words….






























We were consumed with the museum. The audio, video, pictures and exhibits were breathtaking. The emotion in the museum was incredible but they made it educational and honestly, it felt more like a tribute to the lives of the lost rather than an incredibly sad experience. I was not sure how I would handle it from an emotional standpoint but I have been wanting to go for a long time. Every room gave me goosebumps and we completely lost track of time. We spent hours in there, and I would do it again….

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The pursuit of happiness… A photo blog…

I believe that sometimes you have to place yourself in a happy environment to find yourself in a happy place.

Now that it’s fall, it is easy for me to find happy places because it is my favorite season.


The flowers are still pretty and it’s not too cold.


The colors of the leaves are just beautiful.




Sitting outside is just perfect!




You’re not alone because the birds are still out.




A nice walk is fun.



Sunsets are gorgeous.



Everything is decorated for fall.




You can find so may new things to do!




It’s a good time to relax and reflect.




The scenery never gets old…

And the sunrises aren’t too shabby either.

Fall is the perfect season to be in pursuit of happiness.

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The food in Italy has been wonderful. I keep forgetting to take pictures of it but that is what people have asked for the most. Here are some:


I liked the little sandwiches in the cafe in Venice.




The food in this local restaurant in Chianti was phenomenal. We all absolutely loved it.



Lunch in Sienna was perfect.


Dinner from the sweet woman who ran the apartments we were in.


A cafe in Rome.



This local place in Rome made me fall in love with Ricotta.

Trastevere in Rome provided all the Roman traditions. I tried three kinds of cheeses and three kinds of pasta. I can’t move!

Stop and Smell the Roses



I am guilty… I do not stop to smell the roses often enough. It is so easy to be so concerned with the hustle and bustle of life in America. It is just not that way here. I learned to stop, and literally smell the roses. I also took pictures…

















I feel like every plant and flower is extra pretty, just because it’s Italy. The roses are bigger and the colors are brighter!

When I get home, I want to do a better job at appreciating the things around me that, in the past, I didn’t see…

Finding Beauty in Different Places

I love benches…


They make me daydream! Did you ever see the Walter Mitty movie where Ben Stiller will go off in a daze to some foreign land or adventurous setting. Well, that happens to me when I see a bench.


I have no clue… But check out the ones I was able to capture before my brain floated off into Laura land.







What do you think, do they make you daydream too?

The other thing I am falling in love with in Italy is cappuccino. You just don’t get cappuccino like this in America. Seriously though, the ones with the hearts in the foam make me want to kiss the person who did it.







So, in summary to that, I love benches… And coffee…. In Italy…. I sound weirder and weirder the more I write. I am perfectly fine with it. The thing is, I’ve realized that the more different I am, the more real I am. I think that happens with age, you stop trying to be someone you’re not, you stop trying to fit in and you stop apologizing for being who you are and wanting what you want. My crazy, unreasonable ideas have created some amazing memories for me and the people who do not support and accept me for me are the people who don’t get to see the bright and happy side that exists. Without a crazy idea, I wouldn’t be in Italy right now, but I said I would do it and I did. I can make anything happen if I really want it to because in reality I am the only one who can make something impossible. I really believe that.

We traveled from Venice to Florence by train yesterday and then got a rental car. I had my first experience trying to order food completely in Italian. The menu was Italian and the servers all spoke Italian. One of whom informed me that I was saying Grazie wrong the whole time. Well, that is disappointing. It is like grat-“c”-“a” apparently.

After, we did one of those hop on – hop off tour busses through Florence. I didn’t see enough to fall in love with it yet but I did find beauty.





The bus took us up in the hills. We had earphones for the information. Honestly, I was super tired. I may have rested my eyes for a few minutes of it. Because of that, I don’t think I was fair to Florence. So I will return to Florence before I leave.

I got to the apartment in Tuscany last night. I am saving the Tuscany information for tomorrow though. Although, I apologize for keeping you in suspense, I think suspense is good.

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Beautiful insanity

So, my Saturday morning started with an emotional goodbye and a mix of excitement and nerves.

Carlo took me to the train station and Lucy and Taylor came along to say goodbye! We printed my ticket and made our way to the platform. I said my goodbyes to Carlo but when the train pulled up we had to run to the front. It all happened so fast, and I was happy that I had already said the things I wanted to say. He put my bags on the train and tried to give me instruction, except it was in Italian. I looked around like a lost puppy for a second, and then walked in the direction he was pointing. I started to put my bags up but turned around to wave. As the train started to move, I waved my hand and blew kisses and all I could think was, “what on earth am I thinking?”

This is only my second time on a train (and the first time did not go so well). Now, I am alone in another country and I can’t understand anyone. My suitcase is so heavy and I lifted it to put it on the rack but I could not push it in all the way. So, when a police officer walked by, I simply pointed to it and said “per favore.” He knew what I meant, and I’m sure that is not his job, but he did it and smiled and I said “Grazie” and he said “Prego!” Now… I can handle that… Maybe this will be easy.

The view from the train was absolutely gorgeous. Most of the ride from Vasto to Bologna Centrale was along the coast with views of the incredible blue sea.


I had several hours so I wrote my blog, stared out the window, pulled out my sketch pad and pencils, stared out the window, sketched for a bit, stared out the window, took pictures, thought about a nap, looked out the window, decided against a nap and just watched the world go by for the rest of the ride. I told myself, “see now, this is easy!” At this point, I have no idea what I was so afraid of, I’m just scared of my own shadow sometimes. So, we stop at Bologna and I panic. I can’t get my bag down, I break my nail so bad it hurts, I almost hit someone with my luggage and I’m frantic thinking the train is going to pull away with me still in it. We’re not moving but the feeling that the earth is spinning faster around me is starting. Anyone who has anxiety can relate to this. I finally get my bags and jump off the train.

I did not even get in the train station before there was a guy trying to take my luggage. I didn’t want anyone to carry my bags, I can do myself. They are so aggressive, he literally just took the bags and started down the stairs. So I’m trying to grab the bags, he won’t let me. I’m saying, “I’m fine,” in Italian (or I think I am). He just keeps going… Is he running from me now? He’s going so fast. I’m following and saying “Grazie but give me bags.” Why am I combining Italian and English? Then, I have an idea!!!! “BAGNO,” I say, thinking he will not come to the bathroom with me… I was wrong. I finally grabbed the bags forcefully and put my hand up and said, “NO!” He tried for the bags so I did it again. So, he puts his hand out and says “Cinque euros.” A few things came to mind here, some I can’t type, but they were irrelevant anyway because I don’t know how to say them in Italian, but mostly that I hardly have any cash and I am surely NOT paying for that chaotic experience. You can imagine the argument that ensues after I say no. When I finally got away from him, I took a deep breath but realized I have no idea where I am going and I am completely turned around from following him. I started to walk in the direction I thought I came from but I wasn’t sure. I thought about my conversation with Lucy at the train station where she told me to pay attention so I can retrace my steps. I jokingly told her then that those words were a waste of her breath that she could never get back, but I meant it.

For about two minutes, I just stood there and then another guy came up. I was looking at the screen of trains but not seeing Verona at all. He asked where I am going, I say Verona, he points to the screen to a train three hours away and says 11, grabs my bags and is off!!!! It all happened so fast… And I’m running after him yelling “no euros, NO EUROS!” I am amazed at how they just keep going but I warned him… He keeps walking and defeated, I am just following repeating myself. He stops at the steps to platform 11 and starts to pick up the suitcase. I grab it from him and again say, “No! No euros!” He says, “Si, euros.” We literally stood there for about three minutes with me saying no and him saying yes back and forth. He then tells me to show him my purse, then repeats himself, tries to grab it and I push him, grab my bags and walk away saying, “I SAID NO EUROS DARNIT, it’s not my fault you didn’t listen.”

So, I finally figure out what train I’m on, it is leaving in 50 minutes and it is going somewhere else but Verona is a stop. That is why I could never find the train to Verona. I carried my own bags up the steps and walked to the platform and found a bench. People kept talking to me but I just said, “Non capisco italiano” (I do not understand Italian).

My brain was going crazy as I looked around:

There are a lot of people asking for money. That man across the tracks is handsome. There are so many people. What if this isn’t the right track? Why is everyone looking at me? That guy looks like a Russian Hitman. The hippies next to me are eating weird food. There is a pregnant woman standing. Offer her a seat. Okay, she’s sitting. Is that a Russian Hitman? Oh no, the pregnant woman is talking to me. How do you say I don’t understand again? This is not going well. Oh, the hippies speak English. YES! This is perfect! They say I’m in the right place. I really think that is a Russian Hitman. There are so many people. A woman is asking me for money. No euros, tell her no euros. The Hitman is looking at me. Is Hitman a word? Maybe it is two words, hit and man. Haha. STOP! TAKE A DEEP BREATH.

The train pulls up, I get on, I set my alarm, pull my purse close and go to sleep. Whew!

I get off at Verona, get a taxi and get dropped off down the street from the hotel because it is pedestrian only. When I get to the hotel, there are hundreds of people packed in front of it. I see a police officer, and I ask, “is this the hotel?” he says, “yes,” and points through the gates. There so many people in here, what are they all doing? I quickly realize that I am at Juliet’s house. The entranceway is full of scribble and notes and hearts. This is the place that people write of love on the walls, there is the balcony and the statue and the gate with the locks on it. I am staying right here in Juliet’s house. I had no idea. I have to go through a roped off area and check in. I go to the room and it is gorgeous. The woman opens a door showing me a spiral staircase. I ask, “what is up there?” She tells me my bathroom an private terrace. She can obviously see my surprise and tells me this is one of the nicest rooms they have. The amazing Rachel booked this for me, I hardly paid attention. All I knew was that it was expensive but Rachel said I would love it (she always knows). The top floor is incredible with a huge Jacuzzi tub, an incredible shower, beautiful tile floors and a door to the private terrace. I decided I would spend hours in this room.

I walked to the square, wandered around, took pictures, bought sunglasses (I lost mine already) and found a place to sit and eat outside. I sat under an umbrella overlooking the square and watched all the people walk by. The weather is perfect. I ordered a vegetarian pizza and a glass of Moscato. I sat for a long time enjoying the moment and then headed back to the hotel for my night of relaxing.





I spent about two hours on the top floor. I put Andrea Boccelli on, opened the windows and doors and took a long bath. Then, I got the robe and sat out on the terrace as the sun went down around me. The views were amazing and still, the weather is perfect.


Since I’m staying in Juliet’s house, I had private access to the garden after it closed. I went down for a few minutes and took some pictures of the statue in the balcony, wondered why people put gum on the walls and sat and looked it up on the internet. As I read all about Verona and Juliet, I thought, “I am in a fairy tale.”




Verona is magical!