Wednesday, March 6, 2013



The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

The act of finding something valuable or delightful when you are not looking for it.

Also, the name of one of my favorite little restaurants on East 60th Street, the one with the frozen hot chocolate

Some people travel because they have a thirst for seeing places of historical significance.  Some, for the art, some for the music, a great many for the food and wine.  But I have to be very honest here. I travel for the experience of experiencing things first hand and, with all apologies to the historians and art lovers of the world, I get my kicks out of those delights that I often am fortunate enough to find at the exact times when, alas, I am not looking for them.  I'm a real, live, died-in-the-wool (whatever that means) lover of serendipity.  I breathe, sleep, eat, live and die for the opportunities to find things I am not expecting or not looking for.  The more out of context, the more unique, the more utterly off my chart that which I find finds itself, the happier I am.  These are the moments that I never forget.

The winter, even though the calendar tells us should be wrapping up soon, goes on.  It has been one of my least favorite.  I used to brag about my exceptional prowess with dealing with the rigors of The Old Man.  Loved snow.  Never complained about the cold.  Took winter walks.  As long as I did not have to drive, I was happy to sit and watch snow fall.  Used to strap on my cross country skis as quick as I could say "Jack Frost".  But, times have changed and I really hate these grey days and need to shift my focus to brighter things in life so, for a while, I am going to write about some of those  bright moments when, during my last trip to Italy, I allowed myself to become swept away and, camera in hand, recorded some of those serendipitous finds.  Maybe they only spoke to me.  It doesn't matter.  They spoke. They were not put in their places for my amusement but it was in their places that I found amusement or at the very least, something to think about - even better, something to talk about, even better, something to remember.

So, here goes, first installment........

Assisi, the home of Sts Francis and Claire.  The city of Brotherly Love.  Known for peace, acceptance.
Meticulous in every way.  Streets clean and safe at all times.  Hardly any graffiti anywhere (except for the ancient  and somewhat smutty alfrescoes in the Piazza Comune which we shall talk about later (after the kids go to bed). It really stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I came across this one.
"The poop (nice version) of the dog, is the mentality of the master"  In other words, curb your dog lest you will be perceived of as a shithead.......

Next, for something entirely different.
I was walking one morning and I heard birds chirping.  Looked up in the sky, no birds.  Looked for trees, none.  Listened better and decided to track it down.  My pursuit took me down a small vicolo which came to a plateau before the stone steps went down to a lower level.  This is the front entrance to a home.  Photo, untouched by human hands.  That yellow was the very color and the birds too.
It was such a sweet moment.  It made me happier than a bowl of Leonardo Da Vinci's ever could. Serendipity.  Ohhhhhhh.

And, then, there's this one...

Not quite what I expected on the train.  This isn't even this guy's native language.  Maybe he did not know what it meant?  Yeah, right.  It was actually my first of the serendipitous moments of this trip. Could not resist taking the photo.  Okay, so here's the thing....let's go back to one of those definitions of ser-en-dip-i-ty, noun:  

 The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

Little did this nice young man know but his adorable sweat shirt saved my day, big time.
We were at the Terni train station, he and a group of his amici were exiting and I could hardly resist watching his rear end as it approached the door which led to the place where I had left my big suitcase so as to be courteous and not disturb my fellow passengers.  Had my eyes not been heading in that very direction, I might have missed the amico who was in the process of helping himself to my one and only piece of luggage, the one that held every single worthless thing that I would need for the next five weeks.  Nothing valuable, I'm way too much of a New Yorker for that mistake.  I actually had a good laugh when I thought of his disappointment had he opened the case, thinking that he would be sending the kids to camp on the contents.

Ah, serendipity.  My good friend.  Ci Vediamo.

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