Monthly Archives: November 2017

A few days in Italy spending time with friends

Carl and I flew into Milan and then took the speed train to Florence. Just a note, if you want to do this plan ahead. You will need to get to the main train station in downtown Milan to catch the train. Allow at least 1 1/2 hours. We took the shuttle bus for $8 each instead of 120 euro taxi. The bus is fast and very clean.

We arrived in Florence, walked a couple of blocks and picked up our rental car. Our friends live close to the beautiful resort, Costello di Casole in the Siena region about 90 minute drive from Florence. Since we were staying with friends our days were planned around where our next lunch was. We fixed dinner at home and talked about what the next day would be. 

On the first afternoon we drove to the village of Volterra for a great lunch at Borge Pignano, villapigano@ borgopigano.com, if you are any where close this hotel and restaurant is a must. The grounds/ gardens and amazing pool carved into the rock is a perfect hideaway.  Manager Angelo Pais is there to take care of every detail and the chef created an amazing lunch.

The next day we drove to Siena, wandered through the streets and after a visit to the Duomo, a must if you are in town. Then we had lunch at a charming 75 year old restaurant “Osterisa Le Logge, Via del Porrione 33” just off the main square.  The food was the old style of local dishes, all perfectly prepared and served. 

After these great 3 hour lunches our simple low key dinners on the outside deck watching the sunsets was the perfect way to end the day. Ready for the next day adventure to explore a new village and share another lovely lunch. We drove to the village of “Colle de Val d’ Elsa. Our lunch at IL Frantoio was clean simple Italian fare. This is the village that you will find the famous Lotti terra-cotta cookware lottiterracotte1926@gmail.com. This village is also the place you will find the famous stared restaurant a”Adalfo”. 

The last night we had dinner in Castillo di Casole, they have a menu with many American favorites in the bar with an Italian flair. The next morning we headed north, the area of Parma is where we have long time friends that welcomed us for a short 3 days of food, conversation and exploring new restaurants in the region. After dinner at home and a good nights sleep we headed to the town of Cremona. We visited the Museum of Violins, lunch at a The Tavern La Botte just down the street was a nice local restaurant with lovely home made pasta and soup. After wandering through the town of Fidenza where our friends live and a couple hours of rest we drove to the town of Busseto to a great fish restaurant “L’ Araba Fenice”. If you are in the area this is an excellent choice for dinner, no fancy decor but excellent food. 

A great experience the next day was the opportunity to visit a “Labyrinth  in the village of Fontanellato. This experience was something we don’t get to try figuring out how to navigate the hidden paths,in the U.S. something like this is known to most of us as a maze. Libirinto@francomariaricci.com, is created as a huge maze of paths winding through tall stands of bamboo. When you make your way to the end, if you get lost the have a help number posted in several places, you can enter the museum of the art collected owned and created by Franco Rocci.  You can enjoy lunch at the Labyrinth, but we suggest going to La Forcheta Ala in Fontanellato. Chef owner Chiuso Matedi is there to greet you and promises to bring you the best frito misto and Pizza in Italy. With great memories and a fond farewell to our week in Italy we headed back to the airport in Milan.

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Filed under italy, Italy and Siena, Uncategorized

Trip to India with Path, global health leader

In the past year I have had the opportunity to travel to many amazing places with friends and family in celebration of tuning 70. I decided I needed a shot of reality so when the opportunity arose to travel to India with a global health group called Path. This trip to India was to see a country that has many needs in global health, the people on the ground and the clinics that are making a difference. On October 27th I arrived a couple days early to explore Delhi before the Path team arrived on Sunday evening October 29.

PATH IS A LEADING INNOVATOR IN GLOBAL HEALTH to learn about what a difference they are making around the world go To WWW.PATH.ORG. Path is working with doctors and clinics in 20 different countries to eradicate TB, Malaria, HIV plus working with innovations to develop better ways help people and countries dealing with water, feeding and sanitation issues in 3rd world countries. I had a couple of days to prepare for the eye opening week ahead.

When we arrived in New Delhi we checked into ITC Maurya Hotel, a diplomatic hotel. Not an area for walking around,  but nice place to stay. Next morning I went to the spice market and got my pepper and a few other things. If you are there visit “MEHAR CHAND AND SONS, The golden horse –6535 Khari Baoli

A visit to Gandhi’s memorial tomb was interesting.  I had a good driver — Hem Raj number 91-9918278127 he stayed with me for 3 hours took me to visit many sites, including while I wandered through the National Museum and the Gallery of Modern art of India. Hem speaks good English and drove through terrible traffic all for 30 dollars. The next day a couple of the Path team had arrived and wanted to join me in exploring. Hem came back and drove us to K and K jewelers–G 23 South Extension on the ring road.  Through the years I have bought nice things at K & K and always feel like they give you a good price for quality jewelry pieces. The next stop was ” Delhi Haat Cottage Emporium” 51 Panch Kuian Road. This is a good place to see scarves, clothes, table linens all made in India and every quality. The prices are flexible depending on how well you negotiated. We headed back to the hotel for a good massage and dinner. The air was so poor in Delhi that we did not want to stay out and explore much longer. There was always tomorrow.

Sunday was the last day on our own to venture out so Hem picked us up and drove us to the India Gate, the area where the parliament buildings are located then back to the hotel for dinner with the team at a great restaurant Dum Pakht on the lower level of the hotel. “Dum Pakht” is very top Indian cuisine and served with all the right dishes in each course.

The journey began early at the Local Path Offices meeting those responsible for working with the clinics and doctors to ensure the patients being treated for different levels of illness are given the proper drugs and getting screened for not just TB, but other possible diseases. Path has been able to offer a safe place for women to receive proper screening for many health issues and then providing resources for them to receive treatment that they can afford.

Our next stop was to visit the Impact Lab on the IIT campus. This lab will provide a space for creative interactions with professors and students working on the next products developed to solve world wide health issues like their water sanitation project.

Lunch was at a fun outdoor restaurant called Lodi Gardens restaurant on Lodi road. This was not how we were served but a couple enjoying a fun seating option in the garden.

After lunch we had a few hours to visit the market again for those that wanted to do a little more shopping.

I believe that every trip is made better when the person introducing you to a new country enjoy their job and their country. In our case we had one of the best guides you could ever ask for. ROHIT GEHLOT went above and beyond everyday, Gehlot.robit@gmail.com. Phone +919829041006 book him in advance he is very busy. His company, Raconteur out of NY can also help with the booking.

Rohit was with us through out the trip and made sure we were safe, had plenty of water and always got the best attention from any restaurant, shopping experience or entrance to any national monument through the fast lane.

We then had dinner in the market in a newly remodeled old private home now a small hotel and restaurant. Haveli is located in Chandni market, http://www.haveliharampura.com, good food and very interesting building.

Up early and took the train to Agra about 3 hours, clean and fast in reserved seats. Checked into the ITC Mughal Taj Ganj Hotel. Close to the Taj Mahal so an easy ride to the back gates for entry through the VIP lines. We were there for what was to be sunset but the smog was so bad you did not see the sunset but enjoyed the whole overwhelming site of the huge white building. Amazing in any sky. We had a nice dinner in the hotels restaurant, more Indian food but well prepared. Next day we headed back to Delhi and then a flight to Mumbai.

we arrived in Mumbai after an easy 2 hour flight and transferred to Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, across from the Gateway to India. The traffic was so bad it took almost and hour and half to make our way to the hotel. We walked to an interesting restaurant about 5 blocks away, “KHYBER” 145 MG Road wide selection of Indian dishes to share.

Next morning we headed to the Path Office in Dharavi. For the next couple of days we were introduced to the many project that Path is helping fund. Meeting the doctors and staff that make it possible for so many people living with TB, HIV and many other health issues to be seen and given medications to help save their lives and those in their family. Our visit to the slums that are serviced by the clinic and then on to the hospital and visit to the infant ICU and project mothers milk bank opened our eyes to the needs of the whole country. It was getting late so we had a crazy lunch at Cafe Mysore, serving South Indian snacks

. After such a busy day we decided to enjoy a beautiful Chinese dinner in the Taj hotel, Golden Dragon, amazing selection, including chili crabs.

The next morning we boarded buses for a drive over the mountains to the town of Pune, about a slow 4 hours. We had the privilege of meeting Doctor Dravidian at his clinic and several of his patients. The problems in this area are much different, dealing with more HIV because of all the prostitution issues with the truck drivers.

After lunch we had the opportunity to visit a vaccine Manufacturer, Serum Institute of India. It was amazing to tour through the halls of this huge company producing the serums for millions of vaccines distributed over the world. With the help of groups like The Gates Foundation and Path these vaccines are being produced for one fourth of similar drugs in other parts of the world. We spent the night at Vivanta, a Taj Blue Diamond hotel.

Next morning we headed back to Mumbai to prepare for our flight home. We stayed close to the airport at a great hotel, LEELA, thy have a lovely pool, good spa and several restaurants. Since the flights depart in the middle of the night I took a room to rest after a nice massage, glass of wine in the lobby bar and dinner upstairs in the Italian restaurant a couple hours nap and quick 5 minute trip back to the airport.

I feel so humble after spending time with the Path team seeing up close where the money we donate and grants from many national foundations is spent. If you are looking for a place to donate money as the year draws to a close I urge anyone to look into including Path in your giving. WWW.PATH.ORG

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November 25, 2017 · 10:18 pm