From the end of April to the middle of May 2003, we all went to Italy together, to celebrate Diana's birthday. Here are the records we kept.

Jonathan     James
Italy 2003 Day 1
Well here we go again... Anyone who hasn't been subjected to this before: my apologies in advance and drop me a line when you want to be removed from the list.
Italy: Spring 2003: Wednesday, April 25: Day 1: Tivoli
The antipasto is good, the wine is refreshing and we enjoy our "snack" sitting at an outdoor table in Tivoli. We are mildly shocked at bill....41 Euros (about $44 US); it shows how inflation and the weak dollar is affecting tourists in Italy.
Italy 2003 Day 2 Tivoli
It's another beautiful day in Tivoli. Today we head up to Hadrian's Villa, which, in retrospect, is a "villa" in the same way as Versailles is "a summer cabin without running water and an outhouse". It's good to be the Emperor.
Italy: Spring 2003: Thursday April 24: Day 2: Tivoli
I'm grateful that there is no automatic assumption of the part of Italians we talk with that we support or are part of the war machine. This young man, when he established that we were Americans, said God bless America. I replied God bless Italy, and we were both content.
Italy 2003 day 3 Tivoli to San Benedetto
Another day, another we started by walking over to the Villa D'Este, a large old mansion with a famous backyard. Lucrezia Borgia's son, Ippolito D'Este, a former Papal ambassador to France, decided to build a formal garden with water fountains. Lots of water fountains.
Italy: Spring 2003: Friday April 25: Day 3: Tivoli - San Benedetto del Tronto
We arrive fashionably late (about 30 minutes) for the party but we beat the bride and groom by an hour. (Romina later explains that the priest made her confess after the rehearsal and it took a long time.)
Italy 2003 Day 4 San Benedetto
We track down a store for me to buy a card for Romina and Thomas, mom buys some lace (local specialty). And we happen to walk by the local porchetta truck on the edge of the market. My parents have actually been to this guy before and it is memorable.
Italy: Spring 2003: Saturday April 26: Day 4: San Benedetto del Tronto [Wedding Day]
The porchetta man acknowledges us while we are waiting our turn...and slices us a couple of samples. We have hit the "porchetta" gold standard...warm, tender and incredibly tasty.
Italy 2003 Day 5 San Benedetto to Sansepolrco
It's against the laws of nature, but when I finally wake up in the morning, I can eat again. Romina, Thomas, and Thomas's family and friends from the US are all staying at the Villa and we get together to have a little spread for breakfast around 11.
Italy: Spring 2003: Sunday April 27: Day 5: San Benedetto del Tronto - Sansepolcro
We will try to catch the frogs next time. We really want to know more about this frog competition.....
Italy 2003 Day 6 Sansepulcro
'Charming'. Such a loaded word. I get the report that breakfast is pretty sad, we still can't get online, and we're changing hotels. We go to check out another place on the other end of town that is more modern and less charming.
Italy: Spring 2003: Monday April 28: Day 6: Sansepolcro
Just across from where we are sitting is a meeting room where a Weight Watchers meeting is going on. Diana thinks about going in but decides not to....another missed opportunity.
Italy 2003 Day 7 Sansepolcro
Sansepolcro is the center of the Piero della Francesca world. My parents are big fans, so today we hit the road to pay homage.
Italy 2003 Day 8 Sansepolcro to Lerici
Can Italy survive all the Zurer's in one place? Today that question will be answered.
Italy 2003 Day 9 Lerici
Lardo is kind of what it sounds like. Take bacon and take the meat off. Put it in a brine inside a marble cask for months and slice thin on bread. Mom can't eat it on principle, but it's pretty good....
Italy 2003 Day 10 Lerici
They go in and start asking about olive oil. 30 minutes later and after a taste test, they buy several bottles, having been given a lesson in local oil. As they are about to leave, Seth asks about local honey. Well this guy use to raise bees; 30 minutes later they have been given a lesson in local honey, and buy a jar....He's a good salesman.
Italy 2003 Day 11 Lerici to Roma
Dad thinks he remembers a place just over the border at a gas station where the porchetta trucks stopped. But it's not there today. Michael and Seth pull up alongside us, with questioning looks, wondering where the porchetta is. All we can do is keep looking.
Italy 2003 Day 12 Rome
We walk through the Ghetto, stopping in at a Jewish bookstore. Mom's looking for another Italian Hagaddah (the prayer book used at Passover). Seth entertains the woman at the bookstore with his Italian rendition of the four questions (always a seder highlight). She's highly amused.
Italy 2003 Day 13 Rome
She has painted or covered every wall and surface. She has tchotchkes on top of tchotchkes. There are paintings, photos, cut out magazine ads, and posters everywhere. it's a museum to her obsessions, it kind of reminds me of the room of the most artsy person in your college dorm. She's a bit kooky.
Italy 2003 day 14 Rome to Civita Castellano
Well I'll tell you...they really do have cameras...there are chicanes that force you into one lane and there are huge signs and cameras that take pictures of every car. If you don't have an orange placard in our rear window, then somehow they will find you.
Italy 2003 Day 15 Civita
No art history lesson today...I can't remember who did them and what the significance is. I do remember that the winged demons have eyes that shoot blood red lasers. It's very odd.
Italy 2003 Day 16 Civita
Fulvio, who used to organize the event is a litle miffed at the lack of punctuality in the parade and the general chaos, and especially by the lack of decorum by the kids.
Italy 2003 day 17 Civita
We have an intense 10 minutes trying to decide whether to wait at the station, go to Orvieto to pick him up, or whether he should head back to Rome and come up in the morning.
Italy 2003 Day 18 Civita
There are several mirrors and earrings and some metal tools that I can't figure out. One looks like a cheese grater When Maureen and my parent's catch up with the guide book, it turns out that it is a cheese grater.
Italy 2003 Day 19 Civita
We do get closer to the largest teapot that I have ever seen. From the bridge we saw this teapot off in the distance behind some houses. It's very strange and very large. Once we get closer, Michael realizes that it's on a float and is either inflatable or plastic.