Grateful 

  
I just wrapped up a three hour game of Risk with my husband, younger siblings, my dad and my step mom. We had pie and drank coffee. Earlier today, Francesco and I had lunch with my mom, my step dad, my younger brother, aunts and uncles. There may or may not have been some male camel-toe action, cowboy boots, and my mom may have said, “oh yeah! I’ve been eating vegetables, i ate broccoli last week.” 

Man, are families crazy. 

But I’m so grateful for mine. Despite our collective flaws, quirks,  lifestyles, and varied opinions of Donald Trump (wtf?!), I’m happy to have the family I have and the experiences of gained from them. And their sense of humor. My eleven year old sister today made fun of me, “I hate t.v., it totally distracts from me saving the world. Wait, unless you want to watch a documentary.” Touché kid sister. 

Life is good. 

I’m also grateful for my husband. He drives me insane. I thought about creative ways to choke him to death at least three times today. I screamed, “I’m going to stab you!” At least once. But? He’s perfect. He’s so generous and giving and loyal and wonderful. He sings French songs threateningly at me in the car and it’s weird and adorable. Thank you, universe, for giving me too much vodka and dropping me in a bar in Florence. Disney should make a movie about it. Frozen…the margherita version. 

I hope that all of you had a fun-filled (wine soaked) holiday with your insane family. Also? Detail your funny story in the comments below! 

Tanti Baci. And tanti vino. 

Italy In The Winter: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Baby, It’s Cold Outside. And Inside. I’m Basically Dying Of Hypothermia In Florence, Italy

Let’s start this winter post about Italy with a short apology: I’ve been sort of absent lately. Not because I want to be but because Francesco was laid off after 3 weeks at a new job (the CEO decided to close the branch, you know, for funsies), and we had to move for the second time in ONE MONTH. He finally found a new job that is totally awesome and started yesterday, we move yet again next week, and all the while I’ve been editing my book with two completely badass editors who have worked for a bunch of fancy publishers and it’s been glorious. Unfortunately, I’ve been pulled in so many directions, and my head has been lodged so far up my own ass, I’ve hardly had time to be here, with you guys, doing what I love. However, my beloved COSI GROUP was all, “Nuh-uh, bitches,” and they collectively pulled all of us out of our slumber (there’s been a few of us struggling lately…this summer/fall has been a real pain in the ass), to get back on the COSI bandwagon and blog. This month’s theme? WINTER IN ITALY. And guess what? This subject could wake me from the dead because there’s nothing that causes me more suffering, or makes me whine like a toddler, than the cold.

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Travel To Saint Vincent, Italy, For Poker, Hot Springs, And A Hot Time

I’ve travelled all over Italy, from Brescia to Sicily and I’m still somehow amazed by the diversity and beauty of such a teeny-tiny country (Italy is smaller than some US states). There are a lot of things that I love about Italy that might surprise you. Since I’ve been to so many places, I’ve decided it would be fun to write little mini guides for as many cities as I can manage. 

I’m going to kick it off in Saint Vincent. Why? Because it’s north and I’m going to slowly make my way from the top to the bottom of the fabulous Italian boot. Plus, the north is the area that I’ve explored the least but want to explore the most. All of these crazy braggarts keep telling me about how their people “stand in lines and stuff” in some parts of the north so I’d like to see this in real life, naturally. 

 

Saint Vincent is located in North-West Italy. It’s in that part of Italy that kind of resembles Switzerland; it’s green in the summer, beautiful, and clean (and the people have interesting mixed accents). The city has unique weather since it rests nestled in a valley and has its own little “microclimate” with coolish summers and mild winters compared to the surrounding areas. 

The location makes it a super rad city to visit, rain or shine. It’s far north, so during the summer months it’s less hot than say, scalding Florence, but in the winter it’s “colder than a witches’ tit,” as my mom would so eloquently say (she has a way with words). During the winter this region gets snow and just 1640 meters from Saint Vincent you can find the Col de Joux ski resort, making the cooler months an especially fun time to visit.

Aside from skiing, there’s also the “Grolle d’Oro” film awards at the end of October, and famous hot springs! Who doesn’t love hot springs when it’s crisp out? When I was a teenager in Utah, I’d drive for four hours north to Idaho to go to the hot springs because I was weird, but also adventurous. Seriously, it was the highlight of being 16-year-old me (stop judging). Anyway, I love hot springs, it’s good for your skin with all the minerals, and it feels less toxic and pornish than a Jacuzzi. Seriously, who wants to sit in a Jacuzzi with strangers? Nobody, that’s who. 

Just imagine it: fall leaves, a thermal bath, a nice dinner with some wine, followed by cocktails and gambling. James Bond-style, my friends. There is a huge casino in Saint Vincent that is pretty famous, the Casino De La Vallee, and there really is a big poker tournament organised by PokerStars there and, well, seriously? Italians, poker, Italy? Sounds like a spy movie and I’m totally IN. Plus, it totally sounds like your cup of tea, too, guys (gremlins). I’ve recently started watching poker tournaments on TV which is a little like participating in an anthropology experiment because the players on TV are weird, like “maybe I eat people,” weird. And there’s always some dude wearing sunglasses in the dim casino and I’m always like, “Oh! A singer!” but he’s not a singer, he’s just a gambler being very sneaky (I realize that I shouldn’t associate men in sunglasses with talented blind performers). The poker in Italy is probably way cooler than TV poker though, guys. Looks kind of swanky, honestly. 

After your night at the casino, you can head on over to the church, the Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Vincenzo. It’s a really unique church, built on top of Roman ruins dating back to 300-A.D. The church was built in the Romanesque style, and the frescoes inside date back to the 1400s. It’s one of those, “I can’t believe it’s this old” places you have to see if you’re in the region. You can totally Instagram it and be like, “Look mom, I was not gambling, because I was too busy taking beautiful pictures of majestic churches.” Honestly, everyone wins.   

While you’re there, or on your way out of town, stop at Les Saveurs d’Antan, a famous gift shop that I haven’t been to but has received a ton of great reviews from Italians who are picky about their products. The little shop carries grappa, cheese, and various other regional specialties that you probably want to take home in bulk (as usual). If you’re flying internationally remember to put any food items or liquids in your checked bags. 

Saint Vincent is the kind of place that would be great to visit if you’re looking for somewhere new to go or if you want to take my advice and do an Off The Beaten Path, trip around Italy. If you’re crazy/bold enough to rent a car and make small cities and weird adventures a big part of your trip, Saint Vincent will fit right in to your itinerary. It’s also kind of a fun place for a romantic weekend, a bachelor or bachelorette party, or just a place to take your friends to create embarrassing and fun memories. It’s definitely top ten on my bucket list for one of these next few winters. Francesco can’t snowboard or anything though so I’ll have to get him and Oliver a sled and matching puffy coats. Can’t wait! 

Have you been to Saint Vincent or are you currently living nearby? In the comments below let me know if there are more things I should add to my “to do” list! Your comments are the best so let the other readers know what they’re missing out on!