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A day & a half in Boston

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Spending any time in Boston was not part of our original Cape Cod vacation plan, but neither were Lucia and Felicia.  Life and travel share many of the same principles, two being the ability to be flexible and the ability to adapt.  So when Felicia and Mom expressed how badly they wanted to spend some time in Boston, I had to fight my initial reaction of “no”, and listen to their proposal.  And it’s not that I don’t or didn’t want to see Boston; I figured since there is so much to see and do in that city, it warrants a trip of its own.  I didn’t want to be rushed and forced to hit all the highlights in a short period of time.  Furthermore, I had a hard time justifying any one of us paying for a hotel room on top of what I’d already paid for the condo in Provincetown.  Alas, I’ll do anything for my family, so they were able to talk me into leaving Provincetown a day early and spending our last day and a half  in Boston.

Felicia offered to pay for a hotel room for the night and found an affordable rate at a Comfort Inn in Woburn, just minutes outside Boston.  The woman working the reception desk at the hotel was extremely friendly and helpful, and was able to direct us to inexpensive parking in Boston (we still had the rental car and public parking can be expensive in Boston, just as in Chicago).  We parked in a public lot off Seaport Boulevard, near the World Trade Center, for $12.  Yes, $12 for the entire day.  That’s a steal.  Once we parked, though, we honestly had no idea where we were going, so we just started walking.  And we walked.

At the top of our “must see” list was Boston’s North End, that city’s own Little Italy neighborhood.  All we had was the tourist map given to us by the hotel employee in Woburn.  We were able to plot our route but the scale of the map was distorted so we weren’t sure of the distance.  Turns out, it’s about two miles from where we started to the North End, but it was an enjoyable walk and didn’t seem to be that far.  The route took us through what seemed to be Boston’s financial district, which is dotted with historical markers, so we stopped a few times for pictures and history lessons.  When we finally did make it to Hanover Street, the North End’s main drag, I felt as though I were taken back in time.  It looked and felt a lot like my neighborhood in Chicago’s Little Italy when I was growing up.  The first person we encountered on Hanover Street – this cute, little Italian man – greeted us with a “buon giorno”.  I was so happy that I almost cried.

Our first stop was Modern Pastry for some sfogliatelle – yum!  Afterward, we weaved our way up and down Hanover Street, stopping in the various shops, talking to some of the locals.  The North End also is home to some historical markers, stops on Boston’s Freedom Trail, so we had to take those in.  Another highlight was St. Leonard Roman Catholic Church.  It looks a lot like my parish church, The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii; it really took me back.  We lit some candles and “talked” a bit to Santa Lucia (after whom my daughter is named), and made our way down to Caffe dello Sport for an Aperol spritz.

[read on]

Wild animal encounter (and why I am terrified of alligators)

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Every Thursday, I try to participate in Travelers’ Night In (TNI) on Twitter.  It’s in the middle of my workday so sometimes it’s difficult.  TNI basically is a global discussion about, well, travel (read more about it here), with different topics each week.  This week’s topic is “animal encounters” and that got me thinking…..

I’ve had a few animal encounters in my life, most of them occurring in or around Yellowstone.  But my most infamous animal encounter story goes a little something like this:  I was 10 and with my family on our annual Florida vacation.  The five of us were bike riding on then-undeveloped Sanibel Island.  We were biking for hours on narrow trails that bisected swamps and cut through heavily wooded areas.  Dad led the pack, followed by Mom, then me and Felicia, and Frankie was taking up the rear.  When it was time to start heading back to the bike rental place, we left the scary trails in the woods and rode out onto a residential street.  We were happily biking along, admiring the big, new houses on that particular street, when all five of us came to a screeching halt.  I swear, it was like something out of a cartoon.  A whole line of Folinazzos on bikes braking and skidding because of the massive, greenish/blackish reptilian figure that appeared a little ways down the road.  My breath was lost somewhere between my diaphragm and my mouth; all I could muster was a breathless, “Is that….. an alligator?!”  By golly, it sure was an alligator.  At the time, in my 10-year-old mind, that enormous alligator turned its head, looked at my family, and said to itself, “Oooh, lunch.”  At the same time, a disturbing thought penetrated my paralyzing fear:  a few days prior, in a one-day-when-you’re-on-Jeopardy!-moment, my father informed us that alligators are capable of running up to thirty-five miles per hour.  All I could think of was my then-four-year-old brother at the back of the line being unable to pedal his little legs fast enough to outride that alligator.  I was snapped to by my father’s voice instructing all of us to slowly and calmly turn our bikes around and begin pedaling in the opposite direction.  I thought I was going to pass out.  That alligator almost ate my whole family!

True story.  Well, almost.  The reality is that the alligator was crossing the street about thirty yards down.  Now, in my thirty-six-year-old mind, I’m pretty sure it didn’t even turn its head and see us.  But that doesn’t make for a very fun story now, does it?

Posted by Francesca

Mimi & The Blue Angels

Saturday, August 14th, 2010
This weekend is Chicago’s 52nd Annual Air & Water Show.  I look forward to this event every year, but not because I want to head down to the lakefront to jostle for position and sweat with thousands of suburbanites ... [Continue reading this entry]

Send us to Tuscany!

Friday, February 26th, 2010
How, you ask?  Well, first you need to visit the Ciao Bambino! page on Facebook, become a fan, then vote for my photo of Lucia & Mark by leaving a comment.  If you do not have ... [Continue reading this entry]

Singing our National Anthem

Monday, November 16th, 2009

My adorable niece, Lucia

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

My adorable niece, Lucia, originally uploaded by *SuperstarSinger* Felicia Folinazzo.

The newest addition to our family

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

28 Weeks

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009
28 Weeks, originally uploaded by Francesca.... Not only is my child an active one, s/he also is quite flexible! The top image shows the baby's foot near his/her mouth (the ultrasound tech was ... [Continue reading this entry]

Crunch time

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
Yes, another year has gone by and it’s pretty scary how quickly time is passing. Now with the holidays behind us, it is crunch time. Christmas is over – we all had a wonderful time spending days and ... [Continue reading this entry]

24 Weeks

Monday, December 8th, 2008
This is a 3D image from today's ultrasound. I am 24 weeks pregnant now and doctors say everything looks great! We learned today that we have an active baby; its legs were kicking the ... [Continue reading this entry]