This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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An English garden in Italy

italygardens-2When one is 35 years old and wishes to establish oneself, one can either join the entertaining society or one can entertain oneself by building a fine garden from scratch. In this garden it is not enough for the visitor to love flowers to see them; here one must climb down a height difference of 100 meters to see the end of the garden by the ocean – and another 100 m up again to exit by the gate. When deciding to establish themselves, Sir Thomas Hanbury and his brother Daniel did not choose a garden site with step-free access.italygardens-1 To compensate for the viewer’s labors, in the late 19th century the La Mortola garden was one of the most famous gardens in the world: nearly 6,000 different plants; many exotic and brought home from Asia by Sir Thomas himself.

The garden has been destroyed and reborn several times due to war and bad management. Today it is owned by the University of Genoa and is in better shape than it has been for decades. While it is lovely, and age has only made the buildings and structure more charming, I could not help but think that it lacks the more orderly feel of an English or German garden (Hanbury’s head gardener was German). Perhaps this slightly topsy-turvy current state befits a garden which after all is on Italian soil.
italygardens-3(La Mortola, Italy; April 2018)

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Sunday in the Duomo


Four days of shuttling between Milano Congress and two hotels. Emails, conference calls, and on-site meetings; scattered with dashes to the shopping boulevards, late night dinners, and a crazy soccer game studio in the wee hours of the morning.

And then it was Sunday and the air was hazy and heavy from incense and slow tunes from the most grandiose organ. The Duomo does not shuffle its feet between passing centuries. It stands, never minding fashion fads, conferences, and people chasing the 25th hour of a day.

Regardless of which faith we claim, we all believe. And there are always candles to be lit in the Duomo – both in the last century and the next one. And so what is our rush really all about?

(Duomo di Milano, Milan, Italy; June 2014)

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Carpe diem, also in Milan


It is the things we did not do that we regret the most. The words not said. The moments not stolen. The experiences we let pass. Oh, how I regret not experiencing the La Scala theater in spring a year ago. I vowed to go the next time I was in Milan, oh, probably 5 years from now. There it was, a missed opportunity to live today.

But life gives second chances. The essence of karma is to correct an erroneous action. Good or bad, makes no difference. The karma that kicked me this June was the chance to make up for lost time with La Scala.

There was gold, dazzle, and fluttering ladies in fluttering evening gowns. And the most unusual program: the Young man and Death, a drama in a dance showing us how death fools the loving even after we leave life. And there was Petit’s Pink Floyd Ballet, famous in the 70s and still fresh today. I accepted the second chance and discovered electric guitar solos mix wonderfully with geometrically coreographed ballet and laser lights, blended with crystals, velvet, and champagne.

Even the tiniest regrets, those small like grains of sand, can pile up to fill a beachful. Karma is our gentle friend if we let it be. No regrets, not even in Milan.


(Milan, Italy; June 2014)

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Once upon a time there was a citadel

Milan castle

Once upon a time there was a citadel, built to resist and to conquer. In the setting sun it was a thing of beauty, but once darkness fell it seemed a formidable prison of cold stone and shadows to get lost in. Visitors were duly warned by the weapon above the entrance illustrating a dragon on the back of a knight, swallowing a screaming man whole.

But those brave ones who defied the scares and entered were greeted by one of the grandest courts in existence: one that inspired Leonardo da Vinci to intricately paint a whole ceiling, and a vast courtyard that captured the last, dancing rays of the sun.

(Milan, Italy; March 2013)