Category Archives: lifestyle

Where Would You Live in Rome?

Hmmm … I am not likely to move to Rome any time soon. But it is fun to think where I would live, if I did. Perhaps Monti?

Monti is easily the most up-and-coming area in town: it’s the perfect mix of hipness and elegance, for people who want to see and be seen, for the fashionable, the cool and the trend-setters. If you have money to spare and you like to drink in speakeasy’s, if you love molecular cocktails and wearing designer dresses, then Monti will steal your soul. Stazione Termini is at a walkable distance, making this little suburb very well connected with the rest of the city.

Image result for Monti Rome


Image result for Monti Rome


But Monti is just one section. Here are some others!



Walking the Good Life; Mugello Style

You might first be wondering what is a Mugello?

I would not have known before this morning. Over coffee, I read about the Mugello, an area that is about one hour north pf Florence. Back in the 14th century, the Medici were in power in Florence, and they had a thing for the Mugello. They liked to go there, and they liked to build there. In fact, they were originally from the Mugello.

When the Medici began rising to power, they decided to extend their control over the territory around Florence; they built castles, fortifications, palaces and convents, which still stand today as remainders of a time, the 14th and 15th centuries, when the Mugello prospered as an important strategic and economic area, and also as a favorite vacation spot for the wealthiest Florentines.

They built the Castello del Trebbio

Image result for Castello del Trebbio

Nice! It was a place for partying, and the most famous artists, writers, philosophers and the rest gathered there.

The cool thing is that the Mugello today is a great place for trekking. You can enjoy the forests, the mountains, the villages, and the foods and wines that are plentiful here.

So, for Carnival, you can taste Cenci and Migliaccio and then the Pan di Ramerino; with the spring look for some festival offering the famous and delicious Tortelli di Patate (Tortelli stuffed with potatoes); in the summertime you can try dishes prepared with goose or duck, while in autumn there are wild-boar Pappardelle and mushrooms; in Christmastime don’t miss a glass of Gemma d’Abete, a liquor prepared by the friars of Monte Senario monastery.

Image result for Mugello food wine

From the Maga Magò restaurant

Here is a link where you can find out more.

Or you can just enjoy this story from YPhotography

Driving up the winding roads above Palazzuolo sul Senio, I was greeted with an amazing view across the mountains of Mugello of northern Tuscany. I parked up, and found a good spot for a photograph, and then realised that someone had done this before, and built a house there. It makes me wonder if people live in places like this and take the views for granted. Would you be amazed to see this vista when you open the curtains every morning?

Check out the link for the view!

Revisiting the Money Culture

The other day, I posted on John Taylor’s book “Circus of Ambition”. This is a brief follow up.

I remember when I bought this book back in 1989. I was living in Philadelphia at the time and practicing law. The book gave  me a fresh look at an unfolding drama that we were living through at the time. The people Taylor wrote about were in the news on a daily basis and the attitudes were in plain sight. There was little doubt that Taylor was right on about the shift in values that merged “morning in America” (from Ronald Reagan) with “greed is good” (from Jerry Falwell and then more famously from the fictional character Gordon Gekko in the film “Wall Street”). Moreover, Taylor was not the only one who noticed. Tom Wolf’s satirical novel, “Bonfire of the Vanities” had already come out in 1987.

Now, more than 25 years later,  Taylor’s book has an odd feel  to me. In part, the stories seem like they are from long ago. Mortimer’s restaurant, a second home to the moneyed crowd, closed down in 1998.. At the same time, the themes that Taylor describes are still playing out.

For example, Taylor conjures up the scene at a “little lunch” that Malcolm Forbes threw for Danielle Mitterand, wife of the then president of France.

There they all were — Estée Lauder and the  Dillons  and the Zikhas and John Fairchild and Susan Newhouse and even, for some strange reason, Donald Trump.

See what I mean? It is not just that Donald Trump is mentioned that catches the eye. It is also that he was a bit of an oddball even back then amidst the moneyed crowd. That oddball would much later flaunt his wealth on his way to winning the White House. And it may be that Trump’s “wealth” is connected to the “wealth” of another political actor from a different country, who uses a different sort of “business model” and who nurtured Trump along for his own reasons: Mr. Putin. That is a matter under investigation.

But there is a deeper thought that resonates other than the personalities and antics of the people on Malcolm’s guest list. Taylor writes

By the late eighties, the money culture had taken deep root in American society. The philosophy of wealth creation encouraged each person to seek his or her own fortune and let others take care of themselves. Of course, those incapable of taking care of themselves suffered correspondingly. The growing desolation among the nation’s poor, the increase in homelessness, and the general rise in frustration and disillusionment that helped bring about the crack plague are all ironic outgrowths of the money culture.

Is Taylor right about the effects of the “me first” value shift? Or does this indictment go too far? I am confident that I could find people to take both sides of the issue. That matter remains open.

Certainly, the money culture that he describes still has a powerful hold on the American imagination, and much more so elsewhere around the world. Even after the 2008 meltdown, the financial industry has a hold, not just on its position of power, but on the imaginations of many youngsters who yearn to get rich. But not all are so enamored. There are rumors as well, that some millennials are looking elsewhere for inspiration.

So, is someone like Nail Ferguson right that such a yearning is the normal state of affairs that should be nurtured or at least tolerated because of the benefits that the yearning creates in building prosperity? Or will we move on from the money culture in the 21st century, making a bit less money perhaps, and finding our pleasures and inspiration without the second yacht, private jet, a flock of Ferrari’s and Bentleys, and real estate holdings in ultra luxe settings scattered around the globe?

That story has yet to be written. Stay tuned!

BTW, as I write about these things, I am reminded of the cautionary tale of Commodus, the Roman emperor. It is said that the reign of Commodus began the decline of the Roman empire because it was he who began the culture of “me first” instead of “Rome first”. It was Commodus, for example, who had two brothers, who had led Roman legions in Gaul, to be murdered, so that he could take over their villa for his personal use. Me first, with a vengeance!

Jet Travel – Tartu to Tallinn

Over the years, one of the issues that I have not been thrilled about is the time it takes to travel between Tartu and Tallinn in Estonia. I live in Tartu — and love it — but from time to time, I need to attend meetings and such in Tallinn. So I take the bus, or the train. It is a 2 plus hour trip. Bummer

That may change in the next five years. A German company called Lillium is developing an electric jet with vertical take off and landing capacity that can travel around 190 miles in one hour — its range. That is more than enough to take me and a few other foloks to Tallinn in around 45 minutes.

I am looking forward to that! Better yet, I may see it within the next 5 years!

The Next Frontier? High Tech Composting?

The word “compost”may  evoke some negative thoughts of smelly and gross yucky stuff sitting in a bin in your back yard. If you have that negative idea, consider this about the “Zera”

The WiFi– and bluetooth-enabled electronic box, which looks like a sleek trash receptacle, is as useful for avid gardeners as it is for resourceful apartment-dwellers with garden boxes. It has the capacity to process eight pounds of scraps at a time and features a built-in sensor that moves material to the bottom of the device, where it’s heat-processed to kickstart the decomposition process. The result: two pounds of fresh fertilizer made with stuff you would have just thrown away — and much happier plants.

Hmmm … did you notice the word “fresh” at the end of the paragraph?

For years, folks have been trying to get consumers to waste less food. These efforts have been — for the most part — unsuccessful. It may be that to change our routines, we need to see a positive reward from the change.  Does the Zera do that for you? Will it “disrupt” the composting market?

The link that offered the above quote has a few more options for your consideration.  And here is a peek at the “Zera”, the high tech option

Image result for high tech compost

Want more? Here is the lead in from the “design engine” webpage

While most traditional food composts are made to be kept outside, the Zera designed by Whirlpool’s WLabs, is an attractive indoor food recycler. As part of an Indiegogo campaign, the company claims the Zera can convert a week’s worth of food waste into homemade ready-to-use fertilizer in just 24 hours.

The Zera aint cheap (the price tag is over one grand) but it gets the job done — a job that usually takes one month — in 24 hours. I know I could just put my scraps in a paper bag and bury them, but I can’t halp myself! I want a Zera! Then again, I confess, I am a self-confessed  kitchen gadget junkie.

Did they just say 24 hours?

The Dirtbag Diaries … and More!

I am always on the lookout for engaging web content. By engaging, I mean content that connects me to someone else — where ever they may be and whatever they may be doing —without a lot of fuss and bother.  That requires a combination of pretty good writing (or talking) and  an interesting attitude.

Certain podcasts do that for me. Though most podcasters try a bit too hard to look smart, and so they dish out content that gets a bit too obscure.

What I DON’T want is content that is obviously set up to market something that I really don’t need or particularly want. I hate to call people out, but here goes — Tony Robbins does this a lot. In this video, for example, you get a tour of his over the top Fiji mansion and watch Tony show off. There is something gross about it, if you ask me, simply because Tony seems not to realize how artificial it all is.

That takes me to the “Dirtbag Diaries”. This is sponsored by Patagonia. Having a brand sponsor can be a turn off especially when the brand has nothing to do with the content. But Patagonia does go to great lengths to “walk the walk” of their brand. And the dirtbag diaries don’t directly sell Patagonia stuff. They do pitch a Patagonia lifestyle, which is kind of fun.

Here is a link to their podcast from this January, where they pitch a “mediocre but fun” lifestyle and set some mediocre but fun goals for the new year. I liked it!

As for me setting mediocre but fun goals for the new year?  I might try to make this Honey Blossom Orange Cake.

What about you, dude?