Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Beauty of the Mountains of Italy

My sister and I outside her house. Pretty area, isn't it? The water pressure may be a little low and central heating is not common, but boy oh boy what a view!

Sarzano Castle

As castles go, this is not one of the largest, but it is the closest to my sister's house in Sarzano, Italy.

Guess to whom it belongs? No other than British actor Christopher Lee. His full name is Christopher Frank Carandini Lee and it's the Carandini line that ties him to the area. His mother was Marchesina Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano.

You may know him from his role as Saruman the White in the Lord of the Rings or Count Dooku in the Star Wars movies but he's actually been in 289 movies (and counting!). He was Dracula in all the early movies. Lee was named 2005's 'most marketable star in the world' in a USA Today newspaper poll, after three of the films he appeared in grossed $640m.

On July 21st 2004 he was given the honorary citizenship of the Italian city of Casina (Province of Reggio Emilia) where Sarzano, the castle of his ancestors is situated. He gave his speech of thanks in Italian. Pretty cool, huh?

The first two photos I took while in Italy this week. The second one shows my little friend Arthur, son of my friends Garry and Irene. Irene named him, believe it or not, after King Arthur, and doesn't he look regal in front of his castle?

The last two were taken by my sister when Christpher Lee was given his honorary citizenship in 2004.

Casina, Italy

Click the photo to enlarge it!!

This is the town of Casina in Italy, where my sister lives. I took this photo from the top of one of the hills, looking down on the town. No words or photographs can express the feeling of actually being there, but I hope this comes a little close.

The Beauty of Fog in Italy

You may want to click these photos to enlarge them. The fog nestled in the valleys near my sister with the mountains peaking look like islands on the ocean. They look surreal and beautiful to me.

Teaching English in Italy

My sister teaches English to various groups in Italy, including this group of advanced students at a company called Elletric80. A nicer group of folks you could not hope to meet! It was a lot of fun to help sis out on a couple of classes. I got to converse with these fine folks and got to know them better.

Nice-looking folks, don't you think?

The Mini-family Reunion

Here I am in Casina, Italy, with my sister and mother in the front row and my sister's husband on the far right. In the middle are my Uncle Attilio and two of his three kids, Edoardo and Arianna. I hadn't seen my uncle since 1999 and the kids sure have grown since then! In fact, they are now adults, just as mine have become adults during that time. It was wonderful to see them after all this time!

Caffe Macchiato with Class

Italians do everything with class, including coffee. This is not a cappuccino - it's a caffe macchiato. You may have ordered one at Starbucks without knowing that macchiato means "stained" in Italian - it's basically coffee stained with milk. Ah, but that wasn't enough for this young lady who made the coffee for me. She had to add a smiley face to help me smile on a cold winter day. Thank you, nice artist lady!