Photo Friday: Gypsy Woman Begging

My post about Gypsy Symbols is one of the posts on this site that receives many views. So when I saw this woman on the stairs at Monte Berico, I had to get a picture. Not all gypsies beg or wear this traditional garb, but it gives you an idea of the gypsy culture.

gypsy woman, Vicenza, Italy, Monte Berico


Photo Friday: Wired!

This is what freaked me out the most when I arrived in Italy – the razor wire on the wall around post. It seems so prison-like!

Caserma Ederle, Vicenza, Italy

Razor wire on top of the wall around Caserma Ederle


Photo Friday! Italian Farm

Photo by p. crippen


Photo Friday, Soave Castle

We enjoyed last weeks long weekend. We spent some time visiting Castello Scaligero in Soave. It is only about 30 minutes from Vicenza and well worth the trip!

Overlooking Soave, Italy, photo by p. crippen

photo by p. crippen

It is definitely not for those that have any mobility issues, though. Lots of uphill hiking on the way there and downhill heading back to the town!

One final shot!  Castle in Soave, Italy. Photo by p. crippen


Travel in Europe-Why You Need A Tourist Passport

Official & Tourist PassportBeing stationed in Europe, the opportunities for travel are amazing!

Living in Vicenza, you can travel to at least seven countries driving for less than half of a day. Cheap flights abound. If you don’t believe me, just check out all the budget airlines in Europe.

Because most popular travel locations are countries that belong to the European Union (EU), the passport is almost a non-issue. Though you may be stopped at a border crossing, most likely you will not. European Union countries have open borders with one another. If you fly from one EU country to another, you don’t usually have to go through customs. So again, no passport.

Even though you should always have the passport to prove your citizenship, you won’t get your passport stamped in EU countries.

So, why bother with a tourist passport? If no one is looking at my passport, why shell out another hundred bucks for a second passport?

First of all, the government issues the maroon no-fee passport for official travel only. The no-fee passport signifies that you are a government dependent and the Status of Forces Agreement protects you. Your visa is attached to the no-fee passport. If there is a natural disaster (think Japan Earthquake), the no-fee passport allows you to be evacuated with American military forces. The passport is for official use. Period. (I admit, I am a rule person. If there is a law, I try to follow it. I don’t download illegal movies. I wear my seatbelt and try not to speed.)

**AS OF 2012, THE OFFICIAL PASSPORTS ARE NOT MAROON ANYMORE, THEY ARE ALL BLUE!**

Also, some countries may not accept your no-fee passport if you are not traveling for government business. Nothing could be more disappointing than planning some great R & R travel and then being turned around at a border. This type of mistake could cost you a lot of money if you have non-refundable reservations.

There are some safety considerations for Americans visiting other countries, as well. If you are toting around a no-fee passport, you are identifying yourself as connected to the United States government. Anyone who has watched more than five minutes of American Forces Network television knows there is always potential for terrorism. If you are carrying an official passport, it could make you more vulnerable *IF* an incident occurs while you are on vacation. (Even though, we know that in almost all certainty, it won’t happen.)

What about travel to non-EU countries?

You may want to visit some countries that are not part of the European Union. Because travel to countries such as Croatia is inexpensive, many people stationed in Vicenza love to visit. However, you will have to go through a checkpoint and possibly customs to get in and out of Croatia and other non-EU countries. On the upside, if are looking forward to having your passport stamped, this is where you will get that stamp!

My take on the tourist passport…

Before you leave the United States, apply for your tourist passport. Make sure everyone in the family has a tourist passport. You may not want to hang around and wait for them to arrive once you are in Europe and so close to all the places you will want to visit.


Photo Friday! Italian Canal

A canal in Vicenza with the Dolomites in the background. Bello! (Or is it Bella?!)


“Chicken Man” Furniture in Rossano, Italy

At "Chicken Man" Furniture

If you take the Benvenuti Class through ACS, you will most definitely meet the Chicken Man.

Who is this Chicken Man? Why do we want to visit him?

The chicken man is a furniture maker. He owns a shop in Rossano that makes some of the most amazing furniture. You can walk through his warehouse and pick out a piece to buy. If you want something handmade, he can do that.

Purchase unfinished pieces and have them finished to your liking. Everything is high quality and beautiful. Definitely worth the drive!

Chicken Man’s real name is Eredi Bizzotto Silvano and he has a website, if you’d like to visit.

Why is he called the Chicken Man?

We asked him this during our Benvenuti visit. The story was not as exciting as I’d hoped. During the early years of his business, his yard was full of chickens. They roamed freely, so someone came up with the nickname Chicken Man and it stuck. It has nothing to do with his business, but it is pretty catchy and hard to forget.

Here are some of the amazing pieces he made!

A Desk.

Another Desk.

A Wardrobe.

Wardrobe made by Bizzotto Silvano

An unfinished bar.

It is pretty obvious in the pictures that there are so many pieces of furniture to see. Plan on spending a good deal of time when visiting this place!

In case you missed it before, Bizzotto Silvano has a website at http://www.bizzottosilvano.it/.