The Lake Region

After our visit to Alessi we drove through the nearby Lakes region, past the beautiful Lake Como (currently famous for being George Clooney's second home, but rich in true history: it's one of Europe's deepest lakes at 1,345 feet; the town of Bellagio on its shores has been an English enclave for 200 years; Pliny the Elder (born AD 23, Roman author, naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire) and Pliny the Younger (lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome whose letters are one of our main sources of info on Roman life) both lived here; Alessandro Vota (self taught physicist who invented the battery and for whom "volts" are named) was born here in 1745; and Benito Mussolini and his mistress were executeed here before being taken to Milan where his body was put on display.

But my favorite bit of history is that many of the Romantic poets that I studied in College - Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, and fellow Bowdoin grad Henry Wadsworth Longfellow all wrote here. And I can see why: it's a beautiful landscape to draw from. We drove on to the smaller Lake Orta at had lunch at Ristorante Giardinetto on its shore. There, we sat outside on the terrace with the Italian Alps as a backdrop: Image
Dozens of swallows (rondinello) were busy making mud nests in the rafters above us: Image
And I ate the most delicious lake fish made with butter and sage followed by Liquid Naples Pasteria (a sort of pudding with chunks of yellow cake and citrus bits, cinnamon ice cream, and pastry crumble). Image
Heaven. Image

Seeing Red

Red Leaves

There is some stunning Fall foliage around the city right now, like this beauty in front of Burroughs Wharf in the North End:

Burroughs wharf

Red Sox

About one million fans lined the route for today's Boston Red Sox Parade of Champions. We checked out the scene from Cambridge's North Point Park, where the duck boats carrying the World Series Champs plunged into the Charles River. Here's a shot of the scene (if you look closely, you can see crowds of people all along the water's edge).

North point park

Red Skies

Check out the sunset over the city on Friday night:


Red Sauce

Also on Friday, I reunited with some fellow Bowdoin Polar Bears to remember our friend Linda Geffner '94 who passed away from breast cancer recently. We shared a (surprisingly good!) meal at Cantina Italiana, a North End institution since 1931 and site of Linda's celebratory dinner after she completed the Boston Marathon in 2012. Sadly, her dream to run tomorrow's NYC marathon went unrealized, but I'm sure she's up there running with the angels.

Remembering linda

Remembering linda2

Cakebread Cellars

Just down the road from Rubicon Estate is Cakebread Cellars, makers of red and white wines that we often drink back home. The vineyard was started 30 years ago by a man named Jack Cakebread who visited the area to photograph Napa Valley for a book, and ended up buying a friend's ranch and becoming a vintner.

Back then, Jack's wife Dolores would prepare lunch for visitors to the ranch. Today, Cakebread sees thousands of visitors come through for tours of its garden, vineyards, kitchen, and wine making. They even have a "Healthy Eating" cooking workshop in Dolores' organic kitchen garden.

We joined a small group out in the field to taste wines amongst the vines (where I learned that they don't trim the rows so that the heavy foliage can protect the delicate white grapes from the blazing sun).

And where did that famous surname come from? Jack's ancestors were bakers in England who specialized in a dense, round loaf called "cakebrede."

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Rubicon Estate

Rubicon Estate is owned by producer Francis Ford Coppola, who purchased the Inglenook Winery in 1975 using his proceeds from The Godfather, and renamed it after its flagship wine.

It's a magnificent property with a long, tree-lined drive and a great house covered in ivy (that had turned a bright red for the Fall foliage season).

Besides the tasting room, bar and picnic area, there is a small museum there dedicated to Coppola's fascination with optics, the result of being confined to his bed with polio as a child and occupying himself with prisms, telescopes and a toy movie projector. Here, they have his collection of zoetropes (an early device for moving pictures) on display, as well as information on his now-famous movie career. You may recall from my earlier post that Coppola named his San Francisco-based production company American Zoetrope, and that he serves Rubicon wines in the ground floor cafe of the same building.

Here's a brief tour of the Estate:

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Peter, Paul and Grace

Grace Cathedral (see first photo, below) borders Little Italy and the Red Light District. It's an Episcopal cathedral known for its open-mindedness, and has one of only 7 remaining men & boys cathedral choirs. It is also known for its stained glass windows, mosaics by Polish painter Jan Henryk de Rosen, and an altarpiece designed by Keith Haring for the AIDS Interfaith Chapel here.

Further down the road, on the edge of Washington Square Park (host to an art show the day we visited) is Saints Peter and Paul Church. This one is Roman Catholic and serves as the home church and community center for the city's Italian American population. It was prominently featured in Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, and is also the site of Joe DiMaggio's wedding (to his first wife, not Marilyn Monroe - although she posed for photos with him on the front steps) and his funeral. This church is pictured in the last 3 photos below, including the final one in which I was walking up the steep road to Coit Tower, which I'll feature next.

Grace, Peter, and Paul

Grace, Peter, and Paul

Grace, Peter, and Paul

Grace, Peter, and Paul