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Posted in April 2012

Becoming a Gondolier… Providence style!

I have never been to Italy. This trip is on my life-long bucket list. I’m waiting for my daughter to graduate from college because this is one I want to take with her. My son and I will do things like bungee jumping from a hot air balloon, however, Gabby and I will do Italy together.

Recently I made my first visit to Providence, Rhode Island and discovered that there is a huge Italian culture that is alive and well there. I was fortunate and got to spend a few hours with a lovely young man named Marcello to learn about being a gondolier as well as getting a unique perspective of the history of this great city. Marcello is quite serious about his commitment to being an authentic gondolier from the style in which he dresses, the experience he provides to his customers and his amazing singing of classic Italian songs during the tour.

In my 49 years, this is my first gondola ride and lesson!

Cooking with Venda Ravioli!

I am thankful for many places. One of which is Trader Joe’s. When my kids were home, this store allowed me to prepare foods that they really love- especially ravioli. Recently I was in Providence, Rhode Island (yes, Rhode Island!) where I had the opportunity to finally learn a bit about home-made Italian Cooking.

The Federal Hill section of Providence is home to a huge “Little Italy” and a classic Italian market & restaurant called Venda Ravioli. It is owned and operated by the very warm Costantino family. Alan Costantini told me that he likes to be “an umbilical chord that connects the people of Providence to Italy”. I like that 🙂

I was introduced to Josephine in the pasta kitchen. She did her best to teach me the proper way to prepare Italian noodle dishes. I struggled with the correct way to even pronounce the food we were making and my culinary skills were a bit lacking. Josephine is an artist and each individual pasta she makes is handled with care. I wish we had Venda in my neighborhood because I am very good at eating but not so great at cooking.

The Duck Master

I teamed up with The Peabody Hotel for one of my recent giveaways. This hotel is really one of my favorites for many reasons. It is a great location, has terrific food and is home to the tradition of the twice daily “march of The Peabody Ducks”.

The Peabody invited me to be the honorary “duck master” during my stay and it was so much more fun than I ever expected. Every morning the ducks march from their palace (and it truly is a duck palace) to their place in the fountain, where they spend their day chilling and relaxing. Around 5pm, people start to gather to watch the ducks parade out of the fountain, down a red carpet, into the elevator and back to their luxurious home.

In my 49 years, I have never been a duck-master before, so this was a real special treat. (Note that one of them poops on the way back to the palace and part of the duck-master’s job is to clean up after them).

Zip-lining with EcoSafaris

I have been very fortunate to enjoy several activities during my travels. The thrilling activities are truly some of my favorites. Zip-lining is high on my list of super fun things to experience and I am ALWAYS up for a roller coaster. I think that the amusement park rides people tend to favor are metaphors for how they like to live their lives. Some people like the predictability of a ferris wheel that circles around at a consistent pace while others are more comfortable with ups & downs at a fast pace. I enjoy the excitement of flying and riding out whatever is ahead of me. That is why the combination of a zip line, roller coaster was the perfect thing for me to experience as part of 49 before 50.

Visit Orlando sent me to Florida EcoSafaris to ride the first zip-line, roller coaster in the US and it did not disappoint. This beautiful nature preserve is located about an hour away from the theme parks and worth the effort. I saw animals in their natural habitat, enjoyed beautiful scenery and had a big time thrill on this brand new attraction!