Friday, August 12, 2022



Back in 2010 after we had moved out of New York to Madison and were trying to re-establish ourselves I started this blog using a tag line that jested of already having reached the pinnacle of being over the hill. It was meant as an indictment about how we're now riding the down side of a rollercoaster and it's moving at mach speed. The upside of this is the thrill you get with the downward rush, the downside is the ride is over way too quickly. I thought the tag line was a bit tongue in cheek and then I worried that there might actually be more truth than fiction here. Here are some of the reasons why I was concerned a decade ago that we were perhaps sliding down that rollercoaster rather than ascending it:

1. When your fourteen year-old daughter smirks at your bare legs accusing you of shaving them and you have to explain how several decades of wearing too tight jeans has rubbed the hair of you leg. Nature's depilatory has finally won out and now my legs are as smooth as an octogenarian's bottom.

2. When you take off for the supermarket because you ran out of toilet paper and all you come home with is a box of double cream filled Oreos.

3. When you think Leslie Jordan is beginning to look pretty hot.

4. When you realize you haven't changed your underwear in two days and you don't care because you know nobody else will.

5. When you can't read the chyron on your 52" HDTV even with your glasses on.

6. When the guy next door asks your partner if he can meet his dad and the dad turns out to be you.

7. When you realize you bought your winter dress coat in 1982 and you don't consider it be vintage.

8. When you walk past a plate glass window and assume the reflection peering back at you is some old homeless person wearing your clothes

9. When you hear Phil on Modern Family refer to WTF as "why the face" and you don't get the joke.

10. When your partner of thirty years calls you from his colonoscopy and says he has cancer*.

*Twelve years later and still cancer free and perhaps I was wrong a decade ago. Maybe we're still ascending.


Wednesday, August 3, 2022



I have a client. He calls his mother by her first name. He never says, "my mother" or "mom". She's ninety. She's tiny. She's frail, but she's feisty. She's a widow living in a post-war rambling classic six just off of Fifth Avenue. Age is creeping up on her.

They've removed the knobs from her stove in case she should forget to turn them off even though she no longer cooks. She has full time care. Her son visits her regularly and takes her to the park. He buys her books with large print that she reads but doesn't remember. She watches TV during the day on a chair she pulls up inches from the screen. She smiles a lot. She has opinions. 

Now her son and his brother have decided it's time to move her into an assisted living facility. She toured three with her son, each one in New York City. She chose the newest one. She seemed to respond to the luxury. It's close to Bloomingdales although she doesn't go out shopping much anymore.

It came with all the amenities. There is a yoga room, an art studio, beautiful lounges on each floor, a rooftop garden and the attention to service you would expect with a luxury facility in the heart of New York City. It will be harder to get to the park from here but the terrace is just down the hall from the penthouse apartment she and her son have picked.

The first time I came into the building there was a violin concert going on in the second floor main lounge. The calming classical music covered our footsteps as we made our way to the elevator taking us to the sixteenth floor and the new apartment.

My client opened the door to my challenge: an open area attached to two small rooms and a bath. The entry opened into a kitchenette with a refrigerator, cabinets and a sink but no stove. 

This, a completed bath and drapes on the windows were the only things provided. It rented empty and the tenants were required to furnish them themselves. The apartment had two smaller rooms intended to be two bedrooms for a shared apartment. My client wanted to give his mother more room and had asked me to transform these rooms into a bedroom and a living room.  The proportions were perfect for his tiny mother. Within a week the contract was signed with the facility and then another contract was signed between the client and us.

Work began immediately with drawings and layouts. With the signing of the contracts the clock began ticking. We needed to get his mother in the apartment as soon as we could. 

The easy part was coming up with a design. The hard part was finding in-stock or quick ship pieces that we could purchase to fill out the apartment. We were starting from scratch other than a few mementos to connect her to her past.

Art from her many travels with her husband were the connecting element to the new apartment and her past.
The timeline of completion was critical. We wanted to get her in the apartment as soon as possible.

We gave ourselves two months. Anything with a delivery time longer than eight weeks we would have to take off our list and find an alternative. Some how it worked.

The rooms are now full. She moves in at the end of the week. I've grown very fond of her. I'm hoping she will let me visit from time to time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022



I set my alarm for 3:38am. It was unintentional. I like precision but last night I was too tired to spin the dial on my iPhone to 3:40 or push it back to 3:35, either choice a bit more reflective of my overly regimented personality. When my trumpeting ring tone went off I was in the middle of what I remember was a dream having something to do with being scolded as a child over dirty underwear and the embarrassment of being found with soiled fruit-of-the-looms in a multi car crash. It was a dream I was willing to rouse out of. I had showered the night before, packed what little I needed to return to the city and laid out my clothes knowing I'd only left myself twenty-two minutes to spritz some deodorant, brush my teeth and dress before leaving for the airport at precisely for o'clock. My flight was at six. My daughter had volunteered to get up and drive me to the Dane County Airport about a twenty-minute drive from the house. 

Traffic was light. I counted three other cars on the road all the way up to the turnoff onto the road leading to the airport. Construction was in full swing at the airport forcing us to drive into the parking lot where Emmy dropped me off. As sweet as she is the showing of affection is not something she is particularly comfortable with especially with her parents. She allowed me to give her a little peck on the check before I grabbed my satchel and computer bag and headed into the terminal.

The heat wave of the day before had broken, but apparently some travelers hadn't heard the weather report. I'm very old school when it comes to the appropriate dress code for airplane travel. Looking at the other travelers dressed mostly in shirts and wrinkled t-shirts making their way through the parking lot and into the check-in area I realized the dress code was clearly of my own concoction. Men in sleeveless t-shirts and girls in Daisy Dukes are not people I want to share an aisle with. My travel attire of loafers with socks (I can't believe people are willing to doff their shoes and expose their bare feet to airport carpeting rubbed by thousands of previous athlete footed passengers), jeans with creases, a pressed white shirt (actually it was perma-pressed), a Ralph Lauren vest and a linen sports coat knowing how cold they sometimes keep the inside of the cabin was the casual but confident look I was going for. A big plus of this look is that it can be a little intimidating to other travelers. On Southwest where there are no assigned seats even if there is only one unclaimed seat on the entire flight it is usually the seat next to me. It also helps that I take an aisle seat requiring anyone who wants a seat in my aisle to have to crawl over me to get there. 

This flight wasn't on Southwest but on Delta. My family hates my loyalty to Southwest and disdain for Delta but now that Southwest has given up all its direct flights to New York I've given up my A-List status with Southwest and become a lowly Delta flyer. I was now flying in an assigned seat with absolutely no power to object to a hairy arm sweating on our adjoining armrest. 

Before the flight I found a vacant leather club chair to sit in against the wall opposite my gate. It was now about fifteen minutes before our flight was about to begin the boarding process when over the airport intercom came "Can Leroy Melahn please come to the La Guardia flight check-in desk". Okay, so now you all know my given first name. As a teenager I had thought of doing what many do who don't like their given names. I thought I might try to go with the initials of my first and middle names that would be LC, but when you say LC Melahn it upped the anti on my getting gender bullied.  I feared people would confuse me with my aunt Elsie and as a teenager I had enough trouble with gender identity to give others the opportunity to push the point. Lee seemed the easiest way out. There wasn't much I could do with my last name, a name that is constantly butchered. So my first reaction to hearing my name over the intercom was a curious sense of mild shock. The person making the announcement didn't try to put an "A" between the h and n in Melahn. Nor did they come out with a chiding "Melonhead" the way my siblings and I have had to endure for most of our lives, but instead gave a correct pronunciation. It came out as "Milan" like the city in Italy. I was startled but then concerned. Had I left something at security, had there been a problem with my ticket? Then I remembered how they had pronounced my name correctly so maybe someone I knew was playing some sort of airport trick on me. That was quickly followed by the concern that something had happened at home and they were going to tell me some awful news. I gathered all my stuff and went up to the counter.

After I introduced myself the man behind the counter did a once over and then said,"Mr. Melahn would you like to be upgraded to first class?" 

"What?" Startled the unspoken subtext was this was a ruse to get me to pay for an upgrade I didn't purchase at the beginning.

"Can we upgrade you to first class?"


And with that he reprinted my ticket with no further explanation. It was a pretty full flight but there were some empty seats. I sat in my single seat aisle without having to worry about a traveling mate. I was served a drink before take off. My bags were taken and stowed for me.  It might have been random, it might have been luck or it might have been divine intervention. I don't know, but remember my tip about dressing the part. I have no proof, but putting on a clean shirt just might push you to the front of the line and you too could get moved into first class.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022



Our most recent trip to Italy was the granting of a birthday boy's wish. It was planned well in advance during a difficult time of uncertainty. Who plans on a pandemic or organizing a trip during one? It took every lucky penny and luck itself to pull it off. Once the wheels had been set in motion there was no turning back. For a year it was a coin flip of would we go or wouldn't we. I felt if we could pull it off the trip was going to be gift enough but I couldn't let the day of his birthday arrive without something for him to open. I struggled, until I came up with the one thing I had that I could give him: time. 

Earlier in the year when we both were back in New York during a temporary break in the pandemic's timeline of being up and then down he had gone to his closet to see if he could find some clothes he wanted to take back to Madison. There was one piece he had been searching for. He was hoping it was New York. Our closet in New York is a wall long and lit so if it was there it couldn't hide from view. It was a grey wool knit jacket he was hoping to find. Sometimes an article of clothing can be more than just cloth and needlework. This jacket had that sentiment for him. Tucked between a black blazer and a navy blue car coat was the jacket. It was there on a white wooden hanger it's lapels still properly folded. The relief of finding something you haven't seen for a while or thought you might have lost is so satisfying. A bit of relief heaved from his chest and then a sad droop caught the outside corners of his eyes and mouth. As the light from the closet caught the back of the wool jacket it seared through a huge hole like a wartime searchlight. Moths had attacked the jacket and eaten away a piece just below the edge of the lapel.  He went from elated to devastated to resigned. Before he left to go back to Madison he told me I should just throw the jacket away.

I didn't. I kept it because I had an idea. I signed up for an online darning class; part of week long event sponsored by New York City and the New York sanitation department along with several vintage clothing shops promoting the reuse and rehabilitation of old or discarded clothing. I decided this would be my gift of time. I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out but I was willing to try and expose myself to what I knew was going to be imperfection.

We were still dealing with the remnants of Covid. The class would be a remote zoom experience. After signing up I received an email with information about what I would need to participate in the class. My ADHD kicked in, I merely skimmed the instructions only focusing on the pictorial part of the email. I did get all of the right equipment but I missed the parts about the size of a hole I should attempt for a first try at darning. The hole on the back of Rick's jacket was bigger than a baseball and one only a seasoned darner should try to fix. 

The darning lesson was to run about any hour. We were told to bring a round ball or piece of fruit to secure the area around the hole we were going to darn. Looking at my hole I chose the largest navel orange I could find. I automatically knew I was in trouble. Fortunately I decided to turn my video off so no one could see what I was doing. I knew I was way too deep once I saw several others with socks or sweaters with holes the size of pennies and dimes. The instructor began with a little overview of the importance of rehabilitating worn clothing. Then she began showing us what to do by example.

The instructions for darning are really pretty simple. You start by creating a checkerboard pattern of stiches going in one direction about a half inch beyond the hole you are trying to repair. Once you've created your pattern you begin weaving your yarn through the checkerboard in the perpendicular direction from your first set of stiches. Simple. Right?

Let's start from the beginning: selecting the right weight of yarn for the hole you're trying to fix. I thought the recommendation for what I wanted to do was a lightweight yarn. I also wanted to select a color that I thought would be a nice complement to Rick's grey wool blazer. I picked a medium weight steely blue yarn. The wrong selection on both counts: too thin and too hard to see where my stitches were against the grey of the jacket.

As the group leader went on with her instructions I, and several others were still trying to thread our needles. Shoving a fuzzy yarn through the eye of a needle, even a darning needle, is no easy task. There should have been a course in just how to squeeze yarn through a needle without using a series of selected curse words. By the time I threaded my first needle the instructor was way ahead of me showing off her immaculate checkerboard of white yarn against a red sock.

With no contrast between field and foreground color my checkerboard was only going to be imagined and would have to rely on luck to approximate any sort of a checkerboard pattern.

As my random pattern finally closed in on the hole it became very apparent that the strands of yarn traversing the hole were going to be far to far apart for me to assimilate any approximation of a tight weave over such a large area. I was f*!ck'd right from the start.

Unwilling to share my work with the group I realized I was going to be on my own for the rest of my darning journey. After the hour-long session with the darning class I knew it was going to be me and my needles and thread all alone. I would have to develop a new tactic for continuing.

For better visibility of my checkerboard stitch work I changed to a white yarn and went over the steely blue I had already sewn. I then doubled the grey/blue thread from one strand to two. This ended up doubling my needle threading time trying to push two widths of thread through the needles eye where one was difficult enough. The swear count went way up. 

With by now hours and hours of over and under and back again with more steely blue yarn to get the color of my patch back to a better deeper hue I finally got to a point where the patch seemed strong enough and full enough to pull it away from my navel orange. Once the orange had been removed my patching retained its phantom bulge as if I had given it birth. The belly of my patch remained rounded and full rather than flat.

As a final step I took a damp cloth, laying it over my handy work and tried to lightly iron out the bulge back into a smoother flatter surface. Did anyone know that wool burns? I now had added a slight brownish/greenish ting to my amebic patch.

Imperfection achieved.

Even with all its flaws it still felt right. I bundled it up in my suitcase in some tissue paper and twine. I hide it there until the night of Rick's birthday party in Tuscany. 

Rick had requested that none of us should give him any gifts. Everyone's presence in Italy was all he wanted, but I knew I wanted to do something; something small but meaningful. The patch on the back of this jacket that he had loved became a gift and a metaphor for our relationship.  Our life hadn't always been easy but it's been filled with the most beautiful highs and some very deep lows both of which we've survived. We've worked hard at mending our relationship during troubled times just like I mended this jacket. The mends are not perfect but the results are beautiful to me in their imperfections. It's not traditionally pretty but it's us. I did it with love. I hope he'll wear it and be proud of it not being perfect. I also know he already has plans for improving it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022



I had all my ducks in a row. We arrived back in the states late on a Wednesday night. There was immediately a bit of repacking we needed to do. Rick and Emmy had flights scheduled for the next day to get back to Madison. Rick was leaving first following a quick client meeting on the Upper Eastside. That morning he packed his luggage into a Lift, went to the meeting, followed by getting into another Lift and he was off to the airport. His reward for promptness was between the time he left for the airport and arrived in Madison he got Covid, lucky him. Emmy wasn't scheduled to leave until later in the afternoon. She's still my my little darling and even though she's a young adult now and totally capable of taking care of herself I insisted on taking her to the airport and making sure she got there and on the plane without a hitch. I received the appropriate side eye for my parental concern.

This left me at home all by myself with four client projects now needing immediate attention. The workload was intense, stressful and completely satisfying knowing that there was work to be done including scrambling for another job. Within the next four days I reviewed the first bid with our assistant's help on the largest project we were dealing with preparing pages of questions and concerns for the contractor. Then I moved on to product sourcing finding over eighty items with the qualification of immediate delivery for another client, screen shot them and emailed all. For the next task on the list I finished a set of drawings for a third client.  Then I did all the grunt work for meetings with three prospective contractors on a forth project. I am clearly patting myself on my back and neglecting to mention that Rick helped extensively with the product sourcing. (The italicized section of this last sentence was added by the Editor-in-Chief)

All things seemed set for my first real contact with clients since our return from Italy. I was ready, very very ready to get back into the swing of things. 

It was now Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, the day we're all allowed to flip off the fashion police (headed  by our very own Editor-in-Chief) scrutinizing and confidently put on our summer whites. 

I rose early and got done all my pre-vacation ablutions: a thirty-minute Stairmaster workout, a brief spritz in the shower (the shaving and shampooing had been completed the night before), brushed my teeth, sprayed a little deodorant and got dressed - in my slim fit stretchy white pants.  Normally my daily routine would have included making a banana and coffee smoothie (yuck) but this morning I decided to pass, I'd pick up a Starbucks Frappuccino at Grand Central before I boarded the Hudson line to Croton. I should also add that the day we arrived back in New York I reinstated my intermittent fasting routine to work on those few extra pounds I inevitably put on by eating my way through an a minimum of two bowls of pastas and a grande coupe di gelato each day we were away.

I got to Grand Central, bought my ticket and that Java Chip skim milk no whipped cream Frappuccino before heading to the train. The train was virtually empty allowing me to take a row of three seats: one for me, one for my satchel and one for my frap. It was 7:39 AM. It was an express train making only two additional stops before getting to Croton.

For the next hour I would I fight between playing solitaire on my phone and staring at my Frappuccino asking my self: should I take a sip and break my fasting rules of nothing before 11:00 or should I say "Screw it" and just drink the damn thing. Don't judge me.  I held to my resolve with the plan of getting to my client's home and depositing the by now watery Frappuccino in their frig until after my designated time to eat. 

At Croton I got off the train, my satchel in one hand and the frap in the other. My client was waiting for me in her sporty two-door BMW. There is no graceful way of getting into one of these cars. I put down my bag , opened the door, threw my bag in the back seat and while balancing the frap bent myself in the only compressed position I could to get into the passenger seat. Total success.

We got through the security gates at my client's home, and she graciously let me out before she pulled the car into the garage. This required the same amount of gymnastic contortions to extricate myself from the passenger bucket seat of her BMW as it had to get myself into the seat. I got my bag out of the backseat while still balancing my frap in the other hand. I was so impressed with myself, my first outing post vacation, tanned, wearing my summer whites and looking gooood. At this precise moment was when I felt a little wetness on my leg. I first had to question whether this was imaginary or real. The sporty BMW had been fully air-conditioned so I wasn't sure if it was the contrast I was feeling between leaving the cool car into the heat of the ninety degree day or something much more dreadful. I hadn't come in contact with any water source that I could remember. With both hands occupied carrying my bags on one hand and the frap in the other I did a quick check for a water source. I found it right away. 

At some point during the ride from the train station to my client's home the frap had managed to slosh out right into my crotch. It looked as if I had crapped my pants. I couldn't have worn a pair of jeans or a pair of black pants, anything that would have hidden the stain or at least made it less obvious. There's nothing more visible than a coffee stain with bits of chopped up chocolate on a pair of white pants. 

My client, her daughter and her husband were all standing outside waiting to start their weight lifting session with their trainer. There was nothing to do but to dive in and exploit the situation commanding center stage with both arms raised, a huge smile on face saying, "How do you like my entrance?" There was no place to hide. I had to embrace the situation. I had to ask my client's husband if he might have a pair of shorts I could borrow. This was comedy in itself. My client's husband is about six inches shorter than I am and a fitness nut. Chuckling, he went into the house to see what he could retrieve. Somehow I was able to squeeze myself into the one pair of stretchy shorts he had. I then had to turn over my soiled pants to my client. She carried them off in mock disgust to the laundry, sprayed them with spot remover and threw them into the wash. I survived our meeting with the first contractor wearing my client's slightly tight shorts but was able to retrieve my pants before the second contractor meeting.  We carried on laughing all the way to my client pulling my pants out of the dryer checking out for any remaining stains and declaring, "I think your crotch looks spotless".

Client relationships in the interior design field frequently go beyond a simple professional relationship. You are required to not only be a designer but frequently a therapist and confident. This time the roles were reversed. This time the client saved my butt and did it with grace and humor. I love my job. 

Friday, May 27, 2022



This is the hardest blog to write if for no other reason than I'm exhausted - exhausted from travel, exhausted from jet lag, exhausted from writing. 

I thought I was going to finish and put a period on our trip by writing about the final trip, the trip home. I was going to write about the ride to the airport and how we missed the first shuttle, how we panicked when we thought we hadn't filled out the right forms for entry, how we switched our luggage plan at the last minute and how we were the last ones to get on the plane to JFK because we were too stupid to know how long it took to get from the Ana lounge to the gate especially when you think you have time to stop in Duty Free for a bottle of Armani "You" cologne. 

But now it doesn't matter because we're back and when you're back and all your luggage made it, and you got the right forms and filled them out correctly and even though we didn't get the cologne we did make it home with way more than a t-shirt saying "I went to Italy and all I got was a case of homesickness".

Cosi questo e` arrivederci

And now I'll say it in pictures

Thursday, May 26, 2022



Leaving any place during a vacation can be bittersweet. Our departure was no exception. Our vacation was now mostly viewed in our rearview mirror in this case from a rental car that will end up having its own story. I have a feeling by this time everyone thinks we're a clown car just destined for a wreck; three stooges all tripping over ourselves and running into each other every chance we get. Okay, enough of the car analogies.  This morning no one was interested in breakfast. We all decided we'd deal with that once we were safely out on the Autostrada, as if anyone can really feel safe on a road with no speed limits and a total disregard of lane lines. Packing is a major event for us that is always filled with anxiety, mostly by me. I am always well prepared with everything put in place before either Rick or Emmy have begun the process of gathering together their belongs. That means every sock, every precisely folded button-down collar shirt and every pair of underwear folded in thirds and then in half will have been layered into my bag in a calculated jigsaw puzzle formation as I now wait nervously for the two of them to have at it. Emmy is a shover. She shoves everything including five pairs of shoes one of which is a pair of ten pound Doc Martins into the largest suitcase the airlines will allow. If she can get the zipper closed well then she's done. Rick rests somewhere in between frustration and chaos. I'll let him tell his own story.

We were all set and on time for our planned departure from Hotel Club Due Torri. I had called for the car and that's when that devil diarrhea struck. I'm not going to say which one of us but I was designated as the one to run to the pharmacy for massive quantities of Imodium. Our departure was detained but we were determined to get on the road even if we all had to put on Depends to do it. We'd kept the car under the care of the hotel deciding that driving anywhere that wasn't an absolute necessity was just fine, but now we'd have to try to once again clutch our sissy bars and tackle the winding roads of the Amalfi. 

We were doing fine and had almost made it to the halfway point of an hour long decent when Rick's comatose state catapulted him out of his stupor and into panic mode. "Did the lady at the desk give us back our passports?". "SH*T!!!" You have no idea of how hard it is to find a place where you can pull off or much less attempt to do a three point turnaround. These roads are so tight you need to suck in your gut to make room every time a car comes hurtling at you from the opposite direction. I have no recollection of how we did this with all three of us having the beginnings of our own diarrhea attacks but we did somehow manage to pull off to the edge so we could pull out our document bag flinging everything out until we did find we had our passports all the time. Tragedy avoided.

The only other thing to slow our journey to the Autostrada was a herd of sheep being sheparded through a tiny town blocking traffic in both directions. It was a traffic jam we fully enjoyed.

The Autostrada is famous for its rest stops appropriately called AutoGrills. The food is fresh and surprisingly good. We felt our stomaches had eased enough from the rollercoaster ride the Amalfites call a road to bit into crusty sandwiches of tomato, prosciutto and mozzarella di buffalo. Emmy and Rick washed there's down with Cokes

while I chose a Magnum bar, the first and only one I had on this trip.

The directions to our Best Western Airport Hotel, curtsey of GoogleMaps were accurate this time but the hotel wasn't quite where I expected it to be. You hardly ever find a decent area around an airport anywhere in the world. The street in Fiumicino where the hotel was located was an industrial and low rent area but the hotel was set off from the street and surprisingly very nice.

It was decided that our first item of business was going to be to take care of our Covid tests required by the airlines for our flights back to JFK. After dropping off our bags the concierge gave us directions to a pharmacy close by that we could drive to to get our tests. There was another American couple standing outside the hotel trying to convince a cab driver to take them to the same place and the cab driver seemed to be giving them a hard time. Rick went over and asked them if they would like to ride along with us. The five of us piled into our car and off we went.

There was a very nondescript church next to the testing site. While we waited for our test results I went inside. I did a little prayer for three negative results. I figured, what the heck, it couldn't hurt. We were all negative. Somebody was listening to me, no one in our little family of three was gong to have to isolate here next to an airport for any extended time.

Our next task before taking a dip in the pool was to drop the car off. My driving days in Italy were coming to an end. We dropped Rick off at the hotel and Emmy and I took the car back to the Avis Rental office at the airport. We'd been this same drop off point many times before so finding it wasn't too difficult. I had Emmy take a picture of the shuttle schedule so we'd know how and when to get back to the hotel. Just when you think the stress of travel had finally left fate gives you just one more punch in the gut. Either we never saw it when we rented the car or someone had bumped us somewhere while the car was parked at one of the various places we had been but there on the driver's side back bumper was the tiniest little scrap. A scrap I could almost brush off with my finger. A scrap I'm sure we had nothing to do with sense I'm such an excellent driver. The attendant who was trying to be helpful but at the same time having to do his job told us he'd have to report it. That insignificant little scrap tapped out at an $800. This part of the story has ended yet. Typical Italy, the shuttle never materialized. We took a cab back,

and we never made it into the pool.

We didn't know what to expect but after last night's disastrous dinner we had our fingers crossed we wouldn't be leaving Italy on the heels of a bad eating experience. Our only hope was the hotel, a Best Western, not known for its culinary prowess in the United States but surprisingly, here, they didn't let us down.

We started out with an appetizer of sautéed zucchini florets stuffed with ricotta and wrapped in bacon that were some of the best I've had.

Emmy and I played it safe with Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, a clear favorite for the entire trip and tried in every city we visited. 

Rick opted for a Scialatielli in a light cream sauce with an assortment of frutti di mare. This was all served with a decent bottle of Rose, a bad end of trip eating experience averted.

Tomorrow the last packing job before we head on back to New York begins after what I hope will be a good nights sleep and then a trauma free exit. We'll see.