Archives for posts with tag: Italy

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Visiting Ulli
by Cheryl Levine

I boarded the train at the Santa Lucia station in Venice and headed north, towards the city of Trieste, to visit Ulli. We had met in an on-line forum on Italy and, in particular, the Italian language. She was learning English; I was studying Italian. We wrote long emails to each other in the languages we were hoping to acquire more fluently. She would correct my Italian, and I her English. Through these communications, we shared our love of art and architecture, good books, and tagliatelle with wild boar sauce.

When Ulli learned I was traveling to Venice, she urged me to take the two-hour train ride to visit her in Trieste. She was waiting for me at the train platform, smartly dressed in a slim skirt and blouse, handbag hanging from her folded arm. “We’ve lots to do in a short amount of time,” she declared as we left the train station. I told her what my daughter said before I left home: “Let me get this straight. You’re getting on a train alone and traveling to a city you don’t know to meet some stranger you met on the Internet. If I told you I was doing that, you would kill me.”

Ulli threw her head back and laughed. I felt like I had known her forever.

We had prosciutto, mozzarella, and melon for lunch at Trieste’s well known cafe, Buffet da Pepi. We walked the streets of the city, admiring the Classical architecture, so different from the Baroque and Rococo present in other parts of Italy. For our last stop, we hopped in her little Fiat and drove along the Adriatic Coast to visit the grounds of the stunning Castle Miramare, a famous landmark with sweeping views of the sea below it.

If not for Ulli, I would never have visited this beautiful castle in this beautiful city.

PHOTO: Miramare Castle, Trieste, Italy by Lev Levin, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Miramare Castle is a 19th-century castle on the Gulf of Trieste between near Trieste, northeastern Italy. Built from 1856 to 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, it was designed by Carl Junker. The style reflects the artistic interests of the archduke, who was acquainted with the eclectic architectural styles of Austria, Germany and England.  (Source: Wikipedia)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I enjoy the challenge with travel writing in finding an angle to what the traveler is seeing, hearing, experiencing. In that way, one is not merely stating the facts but digging deeper into the true meaning of travel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Levine is a former newspaper columnist and freelance editor. She has had essays published in Dreamers Creative Writing Magazine, 24PearlStreet blog, and Silver Birch Press, and has read for Grub Street’s Tell All Event in Boston. She is currently working on a memoir dealing with a range of intersecting topics from her Italian-American heritage, to parental abandonment and its effects on identity, to scary medical diagnoses. She lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

PHOTO: The author during her travels.

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Siena, Tuscany, Italy
by Leslie Sittner

afternoon cocktails at an outdoor Campo café
we look out on the familiar Piazza del Campo
historic focal center of Siena
soft in shape and conical in elevation
a most spectacular medieval square
no costumed jousts, ceremonies, pageants today
the medieval Palio three-lap horse race is next week
reminiscing, refreshed, rested, we wander up to

the medieval Duomo di Siena above the Campo
Italian Gothic black and white marble jailbird stripes
wrap the façade and adjacent Romanesque campanile
while Venetian mosaics and Pisano sculpture
join in the adornment frenzy
needlelike spires reach to the heavens for hope, forgiveness, love
three dominant central arched doorways
welcome all in need

inside, clusters of striped columns soar to the saints
elaborate mosaics embroider all pavement
sitting side-by-side in a proximal pew
ignoring the surrounding tourist hordes
we gaze up speechless at the Pisano pulpit
eight-sided carved marble bowl supported by nine columns
sculpted in animals, Bible stories, The virtues, Allegories

tightly holding hands, we wipe away the holy water of our tears

PHOTO: Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Lyrna1, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) was designed and completed between 1215 and 1264. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with the addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, linked to black and white horses of the legendary city’s founders, Senius and Aschius. The finest artists of the time — Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Bernini — completed works in the cathedral. (Source: Wikipedia)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2015, I took my daughter to Italy for a Tuscany Yoga Tour to celebrate reaching our birthdays of 40 and 70. I had lived in Italy with her father for two years before she was born. She had been here before with a college friend and later with her husband-to-be. After morning yoga at the rustic farmhouse, Antico Borgo di Tignano, we went on a day trip to Siena. In the Duomo, she shared her reasons for leaving her husband of 10 years. I shared that during a trip to Italy with her father, I decided it was time to leave him when we returned home. I can’t help think Italy might be a marital jinx.

PHOTO: Interior columns and altar area, Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Peter K. Burian, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner’s print works are available in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press (2016-17-18-19-21), Adirondack Life Magazine, BraVa anthology, and read on NPR. Online poems and prose reside at unearthed, Silver Birch Press, 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories, Epic Protest Poems, and Adirondack Center for Writing. A collection of essays about European travels with her ex-husband in the late 1960s awaits publishing. Leslie is currently editing the memoir written by her ancient dog and compiling her own book of haiku with photographs.

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A Wander in Roma
by Carol A. Stephen

These soles have sweltered in unforgiving sandals as we wandered
streets of an August Rome, stood outside the Colosseum, paced
patterns on Capitoline Hill, then thankful to ride the street car
from Piazza Venezia to the Spanish Steps. Happy too, for
running shoes from Seoul in a Roman shop, that cushioned bunions
as they complained with every step on St. Peter’s marble floors.

PHOTO: The Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, by Neirfy, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy, climb a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti Church at the top. Designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, the stairway of 135 steps was built in 1723–1725 . (Source: Wikipedia)

Colosseum Rome Edit

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My late husband was a refugee from Hungary during the 1956 uprising. As a young man, he traveled widely, although he settled in Canada and became a proud Canadian citizen. He wanted to show me every place he had been. We managed most of them before he died in 2004. We went to Europe in the summer, 2001, arriving in Italy at the hottest time of year, August. I was a rather bigger woman at the time, and the heat did take a toll, including on my feet!  John insisted I appear in a photo at every landmark we visited. I am wearing the running shoes I bought in Rome, the ones from the poem.

PHOTO: The author in front of the Colosseum, Rome, Italy (August 2001).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen’s poetry appears in Poetry Is Dead, June 2017, and numerous print publications, including Wintergreen Studios chapbooks, Sound Me When I’m Done and Teasing the Tongue. Online poems appear at Silver Birch Press, Topology Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, and With Painted Words.  She won third prize in the CAA National Capital Writing Contest, and was featured in Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices.  She served on the board for Canadian Authors Association-NCR and co-directed Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. She has five chapbooks, two released in 2018 — Unhook, catkin press, Carleton Place, and Lost Silence of the Small, Local Gems Press, Long Island, NY.  In 2019, Winning the Lottery, Surviving Clostridium Difficile was published by Crowe Visit her blog at

Florence Cathedral at Night in Florence - Italy
Duomo, Florence
by Neil Creighton

You come upon it suddenly,
meandering through narrow streets,
past beige, time-coated buildings,
turning down the curve of Via de’ Martelli,
casually drawing near to the street’s end
and then you gasp.

You come upon it unprepared,
seeing at first only the soaring facade
and the enormity of its tower,
but turning into Piazza del Duomo
you see its length, the immensity of its domes,
and again you gasp.

You come upon it in amazement,
seeing it as glistening white marble
with geometric patterns in pink and green,
embroidered, scrolled, balanced, harmonious,
exquisite in scope and detail,
and again you gasp.

You come to it in awe,
its front a composition in threes:
three great doors rise in elegant curves;
above them three circles spoked like sunbeams;
always the one in the center is highest or largest
and you think you understand.

You come to its details:
complex, embroidered patterns in stone;
paintings in colored stone above each door;
lines of sculptured figures in porticoes of blue
and circular inlays glinting with gold
and you feel overwhelmed.

Perhaps later you will walk through the doors
and again feel its power and artistry,
or you will climb the narrow stairwell
to the dome’s dizzying height
but now, in this first sudden moment
you are overcome by its beauty
and, dimly realizing its complex grandeur,
praise the vision that conceived it,
the capabilities that built it,
the artistry that embellished it,
the materials that adorn it
and you stop, stand still, and stare.

PHOTO: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo, Florence, Italy) by Pitinan, used by permission.

Duomo, Florence
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Back in the days when travel was possible, my wife and I loved to travel. Italy is very special and I wrote a great deal there. Here I try to capture that sense of suddenly coming upon an architectural masterpiece.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work often reflects strong interest in social justice. He has been widely published, both online and in hard copy. He is a contributing editor at Verse-Virtual,  an online poetry journal. His chapbook, Earth Music, was published by Praxis Magazine Online in 2020. Loving Leah was published this year by Kelsay Books and Rock Dreaming has been selected for publication by the same publisher.

PHOTO: Duomo (Florence, Italy) by the author.

The Corso Buenos Aires
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

Famous long street in Milan,
I used to walk your length with my father.
Do you remember us?

In 1974 I was nine years old, skinny,
in love with Leonardo da Vinci,
living in your ancient city.

My father took me to behold
“The Last Supper.” We often
passed by La Scala, the Duomo.

But it’s you, Corso Buenos Aires,
that I think of. While my father
whistled wartime songs from 1945

(my dreams are getting better all the time),
I held his hand every night when
we went for a walk together.

Your shop lights shone on our faces,
do you remember us?
We were famous for our happiness.

PHOTO: Corso Buenos Aires (Milan, Italy, 1960s).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My father appears frequently in my work. His life was like a beautiful poem, and I was lucky enough to be in it.  My family and I lived in Milan, Italy, for one glorious year in the 1970s. My dad was Vladimir (Val) Cimera. The reason he loved to whistle/sing songs from WWII was because American soldiers liberated his country, Czechoslovakia, in 1945 when he was 16, and he fell in love with all things American. Then he immigrated to the US.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Marcella Cimera is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Published works have appeared in places ranging from the Buddhist Poetry Review to The Ekphrastic Review.  Her micro-chapbook called GO SLOW, LEONARD COHEN was released through the Origami Poems Project.  One of her poems was pleased to receive a recent Pushcart Prize nomination. Tricia lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois, in a town called St. Charles, by a river named Fox, with a Poetry Box in her front yard.

AUTHOR PHOTO CAPTION: In the Ogunquit Museum of American Art [OMAA] located in Ogunquit, Maine, one of my very favorite places in this big world.

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by Joseph A. Farina

faux cavaliere
and belle contesse
wear rapiers and satin gowns
faces masked
white and black
masks with plumes
and daemon horns


well-heeled patrons
playing carnivale
against a backdrop
of giant photographs
— the grand canal
and st. marks square
venice recreated
in kodachromatic slides —


replicated gondolas
sit still on concrete floor lagoons
as gondoliers songs
play from speakers above the
crowded room —
all shadows of the actual
fluttering gowns —
the intoxicating liaisons
quick hands under black cloaks
lovers liquid
in the shadows of sighing bridges
above starlit canals
where waves kiss
the gondolas lacquered black
reflecting this night’s pagan moon


above San Marco’s crucifix
above the Doge’s palace
a throng of masks — black and white
moving in and out of shadows
meeting — parting — becoming shadows on the piazza
urgency in their searching
a frenzy of rustling costumes and clattering heels
ending at the coming dawn


PHOTO: Mask shop (Venice, Italy) by Joseph A. Farina.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Several of his poems have been published in  Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, Ascent, Subterranean  Blue, The Tower Poetry Magazine, Inscribed, The Windsor Review, Boxcar Poetry Revue , and appears in the anthology Sweet Lemons: Writings with a Sicilian Accent, and in the anthology Witness from Serengeti Press. He has had poems published in the U.S. magazines Mobius, Pyramid Arts, Arabesques, Fiele-Festa, Philedelphia Poets, and  Memoir (and)  as well as in the Silver Birch Press “Me, at Seventeen” Series. He has had two books of poetry published—The Cancer Chronicles  and The Ghosts of Water Street.

Italian Masks
By Terrence Sykes

After numerous trips to Italy it was determined I should buy a Carnival mask . . . the calli in Venice are laden with storefronts galore to buy marbled paper & masks . . . one even if you never have any intention of attending Carnevale before the Lenten season . . . after visiting the ones noted in our travel guide & making my selection & purchase . . . carrying that shopping bag with the large nose protruding . . . left me unmasked as a tourist

Most times in Italy I am maskless when I fool people into believing I am someone I’m not . . . researching & growing heirloom vegetables is a hobby of mine and I stop at every place that sells seeds . . . on this occasion we were in the middle of nowhere in Emilia-Romagna in this little store and as we paid for the seeds . . . the clerk reminded us it was time to plant them . . . my husband told him we weren’t from here . . . Oh you must be from the Veneto! Must have been that mask I bought in Venice

Another time we were visiting the Architectural Biennale in Venice . . . its grounds are in the Arsenale . . . a part of the city tourists only frequent to attend the Biennales . . . after seeing the exhibits for the day . . . we slowly meandered though empty narrow side streets and decided to stop for an afternoon espresso . . . two pale-skinned Americans entered a dark empty bar . . . my husband ordered our drinks with Italian precision . . . as she sat our drinks before us she was puzzled and softly spoke . . . Oh you ARE Italian . . . you must be from the Trentino

I wore that Pulcinella mask every New Year’s Eve dinner party for years . . . then one night around midnight an errant water pitcher transmuted it back to papier-mâché . . . leaving me maskless once again

PHOTO: “Window of a mask shop in Venice, Italy” by Sheila Sund (2006).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My initial concept was the time I went to a gay Halloween party . . . maskless . . . as an intellectual straight man . . . but thought this angle would be more interesting . . . I adore Italy and especially Venice . . . a tourist destination since they stole the bones of St Mark all those centuries ago.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Although Terrence Sykes is a far better gardener-forager-cook . . . his poetry — photography — flash fiction have been published in Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, India,  Mauritius, Pakistan, Scotland, Spain, and the USA . . . he was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia and this  isolation brings the theme of remembrance to his creations — whether real or imagined.

My Door Is Green
by Massimo Soranzio

It’s green. My door is green:
Lime green when the sun shines,
Otherwise more sage-toned
When the sun is not up.

And my door is open:
It let me out, and out
I went, to greet the spring
In the pretence I’m free.

I’m going to mow the lawn
And to behead those flowers,
To prove that life goes on,
And following my whim:

Man’s deluded attempt
At taking control at
Least over his little
World—yet a vain effort,

A momentary flight
Before crossing the door
Again, to find shelter
From Nature’s wild revenge.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I took this picture on a warm Saturday, at the beginning of spring, happy to spend some time outside one month after lockdown began in northern Italy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio is a teacher and translator living on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy. His poems have appeared online and in print in a few anthologies, including the Silver Birch Press  Nancy Drew Anthology. He blogs at

The Clay Pendant
by Leslie Sittner

It is reddish-brown clay, heavy, and maintains the ambient temperature of
     its surroundings.
It is a 2 ¼” by ½” thick flat disk curving to a point at the top.
Its face is rough with incised designs, azure color glaze accents the
Two symmetrically placed ¾” round clay beads, each with an azure band
     of glaze,
are knotted in position on the braided thong that supports it around my
The designer’s name, Maria Guistina, is inscribed on the back.
It is my Clay Pendant.

Over the years the pendant accumulated different characteristics.
When I wear it now:

It’s still reddish-brown clay but is no longer heavy to me.
It gathers and holds the warmth of my heart and the tenderness of hers.
It’s still a 2 ¼” by ½” thick flat disk rising to a point at the top,
but the point is softened both to the eye and the touch.
It’s face is textured with life’s dreams, the azure color glaze reflects a
     perfect sky.
The two symmetrical ¾” beads remind me to keep life in balance.
The knotted braided thong, replaced when it tired of its support job,
encourages me to support whomever, however I can.
The designer, Maria Guistina, has brought me great joy over the years.
It is my Clay Pendant.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR/ PHOTO CAPTION: My (ex-) husband and I were strolling around Lucca, Italy, one evening in 1969. We passed a softly lit street-level studio. The door was open and a young woman was bent over a high table laboring over something small. Near the center of the space was a potter’s wheel. A small kiln resided in one corner. She turned to us with a radiant smile of welcome and bid us enter. In my halting Italian I inquired as to what she was creating and if she had items for sale. She eagerly replied yes and excitedly but shyly showed me three clay pendants. I immediately fell in love with the circular one. When I asked the price, she demurred, and quietly said the equivalent of three dollars with a questioning inflection, as if three dollars was too much. I told her no, it was worth more than that and gave her 10 dollars. She reached for me, hugged me hard, and with tear-filled eyes, whispered. “You have no idea how much this means to me. To have someone value my work, pay me for it. Italian women aren’t valued for much except cooking and caring for children and elders. Men are the craftsmen. It’s very difficult for a woman artist to be independent, to have a dream, and make a living.” ¶ Lucca is precious to me because of this piece of art-jewelry. I’ve thought of her often over the years wondering if she was successful, especially against the prevailing cultural odds. ¶I was in Lucca last summer and I took the pendant. I looked for her but had no idea where she might be after 47 years.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. She began this journey two years ago and is just finding her voice in different formats. Two of her stories are available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and on-line prose at 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, and 50 Word Stories. A variety of other prose and poetry can also be seen on-line at Silver Birch Press. She is finishing a book about travels with her ex-husband and hopes a publisher will find it as humorous as she and her writer-friends do.

by Massimo Soranzio

End of summer on that deserted street
Between old factories and open fields ―
Factories closed now, fields no longer there ―
You taught me how to turn into second,
Not an easy task on a 500,
The original Fiat Five-Hundred,
Requiring a swift play of my right foot
From pedal to pedal, feeling the clutch,
Knowing when it would be ready for me
To push the gear stick into position
And go, enjoying the warm sun and air
From the folded-back rooftop, the same one
That wouldn’t keep the rain out in a storm,
No matter how tight you thought it was locked…

Neither of us knew it would be the last
Time ― I would never get another chance
To learn something from you, to be with you,
To share the joys and fears of growing up.

You did what a good father’s meant to do:
You did not leave before I could drive, too.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My father taught me to drive about a year before he died, prematurely, aged 56. My driving lessons were great fun, because we were using my mother’s Fiat 500 R – the hard thing was passing from first to second gear, because you needed to perform a complex “dance” with your feet on the pedals, and at the same time “feel,” with your hand on the gear stick, when it was time to change: it was called “la doppietta,” which sounds more like Lewis Carroll’s wordgame, the doublet, than the actual English technical term, “double clutch.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I seem to have no picture of myself and the old Cinquecento, so here’s a picture of my father Rino, as a young man in the 1950s, with his old blue Fiat Topolino. He still had it when I was a little child in the early 60s, and it is the first family car I can remember.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and in a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on