Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Blog and Happy New Year to you!

I will bring in 2012 by raising a glass of Col Vetoraz Prosecco and toasting all of you! 
One year ago today I started writing this blog, and today as I sit at my desk and think back over the last 12 months my thoughts are like those of a mother who looks at her child, lays a sweet kiss on her cheek and says my how you've grown before quickly conceding to the silent guilt tugging at her heart and letting those gentle thoughts transform into but can you forgive me for those moments when life stole my time away and caused me to neglect you?

I began writing this blog with you—my readers and followers—in mind, and because sharing my experiences and showing others what it means to be an American living in Italy brings me great joy. But the best part of keeping this blog is what I learn from you. From around the globe you have graced my pages with nearly twenty-thousand clicks and many, many thoughtful comments. You have responded with vero amore for Venice and Italy, and it fills my heart to the brim to know there are so many who understand and share the deep passion I feel for a city and a country which burst with immense beauty and curious contradictions.

Writing-wise 2011 was a fine year and gave me the opportunity to explore, learn and grow.  Early in the year, on a cold, foggy winter’s day my blog article Celebrating Armenian Christmas in Venice, Italy was picked up by Yerevan magazine and published as their online cover story. Then spring brought me down grapevine lined paths which led me to write about my beloved Valpolicella wine region, and further away from home to wander up and down the coastal routes of the Cinque Terre which made the tragedy that hit that beautiful spot and the proud people I met while there a little more personal. I thank all of you who felt compelled to contribute to the Cinque Terre relief fund and who shared my blog so others would do so, too. In July the heat of the summer aroused my love for fireworks, good food, a quiet gondola ride down the Grand Canal and Il Redentore. When the last weeks of summer rolled around I met the magical island of Sicily, tasted the richness of a real cannoli and stood at the heart of the Teatro Antico in Taormina and witnessed Mount Etna billow clouds of ash and smoke in the distance. Then when the third season arrived and the nights required a light wrap across my shoulders I spent a working autumn break in Matera—the elegant città di pietra in the Basilicata. Oh how lucky I feel to have had so many Italian wonders fill my year!

Some may know that while I was blogging about the places I had seen and love I was also full force trying to get my women's contemporary fiction: Beneath the Lion’s Wings published. In the first month of 2011 it seemed my book was ready for the world—or at least ready for an agent or two—to see. I sent out queries and received many “no’s”, I revised my query and began to see a few “yes’s” and some requests for a partial or the full manuscript.  In the months between those first query letters and late summer I learned that publishing is a very, very slow process and not suitable for those with a fragile ego. During the last weekend of September I attended my first writer’s conference: the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera. I met fabulous authors, agents and editors from around the world—the United States, England, New Zealand, Australia and of course Italy—and made friends for a lifetime. I brainstormed with authors and pitched Beneath the Lion’s Wings to agents and editors, and I was so thrilled to hear quite a few were interested and actually liked it! I came home and polished it up once more only to learn in order to make it even better there is still more work to be done. So my project will continue well into 2012 because I don't like to give up!

Alas, I am ready to step away from 2011 and greet 2012. My arms are full of goods which I have gathered from my blog, my travels, from you and from my writing experiences and I am taking them all with me. I look forward to continuing my blog and hope you will stop by, leave a comment, share a post with a friend or just read and click on. In the coming months I will dedicate as much time as is needed to make Beneath the Lion’s Wings as good as I possibly can so one day the story I have to tell—the story I so passionately want others to hear will be read by, hopefully, many.  

I'll leave you with this tribute for good luck, good health and the right amount of prosperity in the coming year. May it come to all of us!  Libiam nei lieti calici from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, New Year’s Day 2011 Venice-Teatro La Fenice. Please know that at midnight on New Year's Eve I will be raising my calice of bubbling prosecco to all of you, but for now I'm sending warm thoughts your way and wish you all Buon Anno Nuovo—Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I took a walk in Venice today and this is what I saw...

Blue lights against a blue winter sky reflecting more blue on the iron lid of a waterwell-Campo SS. Apostoli

Sottoportico near Rialto Bridge

Ice Skating Rink Campo San Polo, Venice

A view from a very famous bridge, Rialto

Thun ceramic manger figures facing St. Mark's Square

Thun ornaments decorate Christmas tree set beside the Church of San Marco

Il Leoncino "the little lion" guarding the manger in St. Mark's Square

Sottoportico in St. Mark's Square dressed for Christmas

Starry lights above Strada Nova

Night falling early-Winter in Venice