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Roasted Marinated Sweet Potatoes. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

As the countdown for Thanksgiving begins, the cooking side of my brain starts thinking of recipes, old ones and some variations on them as well as new ones to jazz up the dinner a bit. It seems like a good time to take you along on this culinary journey and share with you this week and next some of the recipes that have been in my files for a long time and some that have recently landed there. This week I’ve been fooling around with sweet potatoes. Although I personally think that a sweet potato baked in its skin can’t be improved upon, I know most people think a sweet potato has to be made even sweeter with things like brown sugar and maple syrup and yes, marshmallows. Capitulating to the majority I offer you the following recipes.

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes and Apples

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups peeled cooked sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch discs

1½ cups tart apples, cored, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch half moons

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ stick unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9×5×13-inch baking dish or deep pie dish. Evenly arrange half the sweet potatoes in the dish, then half the apples followed by half the sugar and half the salt; dot with butter; repeat procedure using second half of ingredients. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes, uncover and bake till apples are soft and top is brown. Serve with turkey, chicken or duck.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon and Pecans

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 sweet potatoes

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

 2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup heavy cream

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup raisins

¼ cup bourbon

½ cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Scrub potatoes and bake until tender, about 45 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash in a large bowl. Add sugar, butter, eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and raisins, and mix until thoroughly combined. Turn into greased casserole and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes; soak pecans in bourbon for at least an hour, then sprinkle them with the bourbon  on top and bake another 10 minutes, until they just start to brown. Serve with turkey and cranberry sauce.

Sweet Potato-Cranberry Casserole

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled, and cut into ½-inch-thick slices

1½ cups whole cranberry sauce

¾ cup water

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place potato slices in a 2-quart greased casserole. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cranberry sauce, water, sugar, zest and cinnamon; bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in butter until it melts; pour mixture over sweet potatoes. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Serve with turkey and stuffing.

Roasted Marinated Sweet Potatoes

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup olive oil

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar

Juice of one freshly squeezed lemon

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large ovenproof skillet heat the quarter-cup of oil. Add the sweet potato chunks and over medium heat let them caramelize on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes; add salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary and toss together. Transfer pan to oven and roast until tip of sharp knife pierces the potatoes easily, about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl; add honey, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons oil; toss to coat; let sit and cool to room temperature or serve warm. Serve with meat or poultry and tossed green salad.

20190102.01_New Childrens Signage and Lobby

By Margaret McGovern, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Margaret McGovern

Stony Brook Children’s Hospital offers the most advanced pediatric specialty care in the region, which means that the smallest babies, the sickest children and the most complex pediatric traumas all get sent to Stony Brook Children’s. 

Since 2010, when Stony Brook Children’s was first formed, we’ve been committed to the nearly half a million children in Suffolk County whose pediatric health care needs were underserved. Our goal was, and still is, to provide sophisticated pediatric care close to home for the many families who previously had to travel long distances.

Now with the completion and opening of our new building earlier this month, we are able to expand our capabilities to meet the growing health care needs of children and their families across Long Island. 

More than 180 pediatric specialists

As the leading children’s hospital on Long Island with more than 180 pediatric specialists in more than 30 specialties, we offer a full range of medical services to support the physical, emotional and mental development of infants, children and young adults. We also can provide leading-edge care for just about every diagnosis — from a simple fracture to a kidney transplant.

Groundbreaking clinical trials

Stony Brook Children’s also provides cutting-edge research, child-sized technological innovations, clinical trials and breakthrough techniques to benefit pediatric patients as Long Island’s only children’s teaching hospital.

A child-first, family-first philosophy

The new hospital was designed with patients at the center of our thinking and planning, to promote their safety, well-being and healing. It’s the only children’s hospital on Long Island with all single-patient rooms, which allows us to combine the best practices in modern pediatric medicine with a child-first, family-first philosophy. The hospital’s design and amenities are supported by research that shows that a child-friendly environment contributes to better outcomes for children.

Each room of the new hospital includes patient, family and health care provider areas. State-of-the-art hospital beds capture and download patient information directly into the patients’ charts. Every room contains a proprietary security system, interactive televisions, in-room refrigerators, kid-focused menus as well as multicolored wall lights controlled by patients to give them a greater sense of control over their environment during what can be a frightening time for them and their families.

Other child-friendly features include separate child and teen playrooms, common areas, including an outdoor garden, and a classroom with Wi-Fi so students can keep up with their studies.

There’s also a new Ronald McDonald Family Room to offer a welcoming place for family respite, comfort and support.

Uplifting local artwork that soothes and inspires 

We’ve enjoyed the support of Long Island’s artistic community in providing artwork with a Long Island nautical theme, complete with a play lighthouse and wall-sized live feed from the Long Island Aquarium. It’s truly an outstanding art collection for the entire community living in harmony with the building’s architecture and reflecting the healing mission of Stony Brook Children’s.

To learn more, visit www.stonybrookchildrens.org.

Dr. Margaret McGovern is the Knapp Chair in Pediatrics, dean for clinical affairs and Renaissance School of Medicine physician-in-chief at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

By Lisa Scott

The League of Women Voters (LWV) has a longstanding non-partisan role in organizing, managing and moderating candidate debates in Suffolk County. On Oct. 21 we expanded that role by creating an alliance with the Kings Park Central School District (KPCSD) for a Suffolk County Executive debate.

In the summer we were given permission to use Kings Park High School (KPHS) auditorium, chosen for  its convenient location near the Sunken Meadow Parkway, thus appealing to both Smithtown and Huntington township voters. As the campaigns heated up in late September, LWV engaged with KPCSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Timothy Eagen, who was most enthusiastic about establishing a true partnership between LWV and KPHS. Dr. Karen Lessler, KPHS Assistant Principal and Jack Bishop, KPHS Student Council Advisor, immediately followed up with LWV and a plan was developed that was innovative and educational for the school and the community. 

With LWV guidance on debate structure and rules, KPHS students in the National Honor Society and the Student Council worked diligently to organize the program and materials for the night of the debate. They spread word about the debate to the greater Kings Park community (including parents) and organizations, and letters were sent to local elected officials inviting them to be honored guests at the debate. They collaborated on banners both for the candidate dais as well as a welcome banner in the KPHS lobby. They created informative name cards for each of the candidates, as well as a program for all attendees with debate rules, candidate names, and details of all students speakers/topics. They also developed questions for the candidates (on index cards) which dealt with issues of importance to students. 

On the night of the debate, the students welcomed over 300 attendees. They introduced administrators, spoke about the importance of voting and read each candidate’s biography. Other students mixed with the attendees prior to the debate in the lobby, giving out programs and question cards, which were also distributed and collected in the auditorium. 

The debate itself was videotaped by Kings Park Productions, and is posted on the LWV website, www.lwv-suffolkcounty.org on the events page. Local media were present and did extensive reporting the following day. Questions asked of candidates Bellone, Fischer and Kennedy during the two hour debate covered many issues including young peoples’ challenges in finding jobs and affordable housing, vaping and the opioid crisis, school safety, the environment, especially water issues and creating more vibrant sustainable downtowns. 

A week after the debate, LWV members met with about 15 students who were involved in the debate to “de-brief.” Most students admitted that they didn’t really know much about the office, the candidates, or debates in general. Only a few considered themselves up to date on current issues or “political.” A few spoke about the importance of getting news from legitimate sources. 

Interestingly, the students were surprised that so few people showed up in a county with  1.5 million people. They also commented on how the candidates “interacted with each other” and that the “candidates didn’t directly answer the questions.” When asked whether they were surprised by the results of the election, they said no.

The KPHS students were committed to involving students from all grades so that there would be continuity. They looked forward to future debates, and thanked KPHS for their “excellent support.” It takes a village — actually a school district — to set an example of youth empowerment and engagement. 

Lisa Scott is president of the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, visit http://lwv-suffolkcounty.org, email league@lwv-suffolkcounty.org or call 631-862-6860.

MOTHER NATURE’S MANY COLORS

Driving along Roanoke Avenue in Riverhead on Nov. 13, Dawn Olenick of Baiting Hollow just had to pull over, grab her Nikon D5000 and preserve this gorgeous moment. She writes, ‘I was heading over  to a friend’s house when the sun started to set. Had to stop and capture Mother Nature and all her beauty by this old barn.

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Send your Photo of the Week to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com

 

Ellen Pikitch, left, with Christine Sanora, taken in 2015 while the two scientists were researching Shinnecock Bay. Photo by Peter Thompson

By Daniel Dunaief

It’s one thing to make a commitment to a good idea; it’s another to follow through. Ellen Pikitch, endowed professor of ocean conservation science in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, is making sure countries around the world know where and how they can honor their commitment to protect the ocean.

In 2015, the United Nations had agreed to designate at least 10 percent of the oceans as Marine Protected Areas, which would restrict fishing and foster conservation. The goal of the proposal is to reach that figure by next year. 

Three years ago, with the support of the Italian Ministry of Environment and private donations, Pikitch started the labor-intensive process of finding ocean regions that countries could protect. 

Ellen Pikitch, right, with Natasha Gownaris at the United Nations Ocean Conference in June of 2017. Photo Courtesy of IOCS

She published the results of her analysis in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. Her research could help countries move from the current 7.8 percent of oceans protected to the 10 percent target, and beyond that figure in the ensuing years.

The United States has met its target, although most of its marine protected ares are far from human population centers, so the coverage is uneven, Pikitch explained. The rest of the world has some gaps in high priority areas.

“I’m hoping that the study will light a fire under the policymakers so that they do meet their commitment,” said Pikitch. “It’s quite feasible for them to meet the goal. We’ve given [policymakers] advice in this paper about how exactly it could be done.”

The maps in the paper show areas that are within the current jurisdiction that are priority areas and are unprotected.

“There is quite a bit of area that meets this description — more than 9 percent — so there is flexibility in how countries can use the results and reach or exceed” the 10 percent target by next year, Pikitch explained in an email.

To determine where nations can enhance their ocean protection, Pikitch, Assistant Professor Christina Santora at the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University and Stony Brook graduate Natasha Gownaris, who is now an assistant professor in environmental studies at Gettysburg College, pulled together information from 10 internationally recognized maps indicating the location of global marine priority areas.

“We are standing on the shoulders of giants, capitalizing or leveraging all the hard work that has gone into other maps,” said Gownaris. 

One of the most unexpected findings from the study for Pikitch is that 14 percent of the ocean was considered important by two to seven maps, but over 90 percent of those areas remained unprotected. A relatively small part of this area is on the high seas, while most is within exclusive economic zones, which nations can control.

To preserve this resource that continues to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while serving a critical role in the world’s food chain, conservationists have focused on marine protected areas because they provide the “one thing we felt was going to be the most effective single step,” said Mark Newhouse, the executive vice president for newspapers at Advance Publications and president of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance. “It could happen overnight. A country could say, ‘This area is off limits to fishing,’ and it is.”

Countries can protect areas within their exclusive economic zones “more quickly than figuring out a way to solve global warming,” Newhouse added.

Santora explained the urgency to take action. “The situation in the ocean is worsening and we can’t wait to have perfect information to act,” Santora wrote in an email. “What we can do is put strong, effectively managed MPAs in the right places, with a high level of protection, that are well managed and enforced.”

Members of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, which counts Pikitch as its scientific officer, recognize that the 7.8 percent figure includes areas where countries have announced their intention to protect a region, but that doesn’t necessarily include any enforcement or protection.

“Intentions don’t protect the environment,” Newhouse said.

Ambassadors from several nations have reached out to OSA to discuss the findings. 

These diplomats are “exactly the people we want paying attention” to the research Pikitch and her team put together, Newhouse said.

Pikitch also plans to reach out proactively.

According to Pikitch’s recent analysis, the largest gaps in policy coverage occurred in the Caribbean Sea, Madagascar and the southern tip of Africa, the Mediterranean Sea and the Coral Triangle area, although they found additional widespread opportunities as well.

Pikitch calculated that an additional 9.34 percent of areas within exclusive economic zones would join the global marine protected area network if all the unprotected area identified as important by two or more initiatives joined the MPA network. 

“When effectively managed, when strong protections are put in place, they work,” Pikitch said.

Indeed, one such example is in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, where establishing a marine protected area resulted in an 11-fold increase in the biomass of top predators within a decade. Many MPAs become sites for ecotourism, which can bring in hefty sums as people are eager to see the endemic beauty in their travels.

Pikitch hopes this kind of study spreads the word about the benefit of protecting the ocean and that policymakers and private citizens recognize that protecting sensitive regions also benefits fisheries, refuting the notion that environmentally driven policy conflicts with the goal of economic growth.

The groups involved in this study are already discussing the new goal for the ocean. Several diplomats and scientists would like to see the bar raised to 30 percent by 2030, although the United Nations hasn’t committed to this new target yet.

“Studies show that 10 percent is insufficient — it is a starting point,” Santora wrote. “I do think that targets beyond 2020 will increase.”

Pikitch said the ocean has always been one of her passions. Her goal is to “leave the world in better shape than I found it” for her children and six grandchildren.

Penelope

MEET PENELOPE!

This week’s featured shelter pet is Penelope, a 4-year-old terrier mix who was adopted from Kent Animal Shelter as a puppy and was recently returned, due to no fault of her own. 

Penelope is a happy-go-lucky girl and is great with everything and everybody. She loves kids, is fine with other dogs and is housebroken. Come on down to the shelter and meet her! She comes spayed, microchipped and up to date on her vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Penelope and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com

Photo from Kent Animal Shelter

 

This goose was found with netting on its face in Setauket on Nov. 9. Photo by Raina Angelier

By Patrice Domeischel

What could have been a plastic trash catastrophe for a Canada goose instead resulted in a happy ending, thanks to the efforts of Anita Jo Lago and Rob Trezza.  

Rob Trezza caught the goose on Lake Street. Photo by Anita Jo Lago

Birders on a Four Harbors Audubon Society walk at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket on Nov. 9 encountered the goose in distress, actively attempting to free itself of plastic netting that had encircled its head and body. The goose managed to remove some netting but was unable to disentangle itself from the remainder encircling its neck and face. 

Lago, a park volunteer at Frank Melville, and Trezza, park security, were called in to assess the situation, and promptly went to work. The goose was captured, relieved of the netting and released. 

“We really did get it when necessary,” commented Lago. “Its flight was hindered as it was getting away from a cygnet going after it. It took flight but landed happenstance. It landed on the road, Lake Street, because flight was compromised due to the netting holding its jaw and head. When Rob got closer, he saw the goose desperately trying to free itself by banging its head, many times, on the ground. So we got there in time.”

A disaster averted, the goose was able to fly off, a bit stressed and tired from its efforts, but in good condition. 

All too often birds and animals suffer the consequences created by our use of single-use plastic. Wildlife can become entangled in discarded plastic, wire or string resulting in injury or death. Even plastic that is responsibly disposed of finds its way into our waters and litters our beaches. Be proactive, protect wildlife and the environment, and reduce or eliminate altogether your use of single-use plastic.

Patrice Domeischel is a member of the Four Harbors Audubon Society.

Stock photo

For journalism to be effective in not only covering the events of the day, but also uncovering mistruth and misdeed, it requires access to people and records. 

As local journalists, that usually means sitting in an interview or talking on the phone with our local school district, village and town officials, as well as our local, state and federal representatives and officials. More often, though, we find a certain lack of … well, frankly, the ability to connect with some of them. 

This issue needs to be addressed.

Journalism is financially struggling, locally and nationally. Advertising dollars have plummeted, and staffing is short on people. The Pew Research Center has reported print circulation for weekday papers was down nationally by 8 percent for 2018 over the previous year, and 9 percent for Sunday papers.

So, as newspapers struggle to maintain current standing, access to information from all these local sources is now at a premium. 

Too often, information is withheld, embargoed or stymied. Though it is more rare, some officials resort to tactics of intimidation to prevent the release of information. Some sources are afraid to comment on issues for fear of public retaliation. 

Cases of great importance, like that of the ongoing health issues at the Northport Middle School, have bureaucratic hurdles that include using public relations firms as contact people. Something as simple as getting an official’s comments or requesting documents through the Freedom of Information Law can often become problematic. 

It seems to take more work than it has in years before. 

In modern times, the number of public relations professionals only seems to increase, while the number of journalists decline. Bloomberg News wrote this year there are six PR professionals for every one journalist working in the field. This is up from a less than two-to-one ratio just 20 years ago. If you were to check our inboxes, you would likely have to shield your eyes from the blinding number of emails we receive daily from PR firms.

That is not to say we oppose these professionals. They are often a very useful and necessary component of business. And a good PR person can make a reporter’s work a little bit easier. But of course, that’s only when good things are happening. When there are issues, we often find communications professionals actively make getting even simple comments from officials that much harder.

We as journalists often prefer to speak directly to officials when the need arises. That’s what the public expects. We thank the many people who have worked with us on stories, both public officials and spokespersons alike, but we also ask everyone to understand the importance of the press, often regarded as the fourth pillar of democracy, even at the levels closest to the community.

Restricting access to even the smallest bits of information hinders the effectiveness of government by the people. It’s problematic for both the journalist and the municipal body that maintains government operations.

In the great tug of war match between journalists and officials over information, the knot in the rope should always land on the public’s side of the line, and our role is to be the watchdog for the people.

We thank the officials and communication specialists who honor that premise and work diligently to uphold high standards. Our world is a better place when that happens. 

Stock photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I have been working out at a gym, where my routine consists mostly of pushing my body as long as I can on a treadmill, bike or elliptical machine until my sweat has soaked through my T-shirt. I play mind games while I’m running, telling myself that I can take a break once I get to 3 miles, or maybe 4 or closer to 5.

Each time I hit a milestone, I think about how much better I’ll feel if I can go just a bit farther, even as I’m taking an inventory of all the barking body parts, which typically includes my knees and back.

What helps get me over the hump lately, though, is the music I listen to as I work out.

I started with a collection of ’80s songs, hoping, perhaps, that the combination of familiar tunes from my youth would make my body remember the energy that defined this younger period.

As I was running, the songs reminded me of the times I danced with friends at Ward Melville High School, played Uno in a friend’s living room or decorated a Christmas tree with another friend who patiently showed a group of us how to thread popcorn and cranberries through a line.

As I was running, a montage of these images played through my head, making me feel as if my legs were turning back the clock. Fortunately, no one at my gym looks closely at me or my facial expressions, so I could indulge in musical — and life — nostalgia without interruption or without questions from people wondering what I was thinking as I reacted to people who have long since gone their separate ways.

For a few days, I switched to my favorite singer, Billy Joel. Hearing the words from “Only The Good Die Young,” “Piano Man,” and “Movin’ Out,” brought me back to the study breaks I took in high school when I stared out the window between my house and the neighbor’s colorful Santa sleigh down the street, hoping that the snow forecast for that evening was sufficient to close school the next day.

I’m planning to see Billy Joel in concert before too long, so I switched to another genre, playing the soundtrack from the original 1975 version of the musical, “A Chorus Line.” While others rarely cite it as one of their favorite musicals, I know it was the song “Nothing,” in which Diana Morales receives nonstop criticism from her teacher Mr. Karp, that brought to life the magic of Broadway for me. 

I always measured every other performance, including of musicals like “West Side Story” that I supported by playing clarinet in the pit orchestra, against the desperate hopes of each of the cast members in a chorus line to “make it” into the show.

Eventually, I needed a pulsating beat, so I shifted to exercise music, which, of course, included songs from “Rocky the Musical,” as well as other inspirational films. Each time the beat got faster, I found another pocket of energy that helped me conquer the next mile, using the beat as a metronome for my legs.

Music, in all its forms, serves many functions, allowing us to connect with the artist, to travel on an acoustic journey, to remember friends, and to exercise feelings and emotions even as we exercise the rest of our bodies.

I coached many sports when my children were younger. If I could do it over again, I would have added contemporary music to mundane practices to spice up the experience in real time and to inspire me on the nostalgia treadmill.

Mount Vesuvius

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Three active volcanoes marked our trip across the Adriatic and then up the Italian coast: Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli. Mount Vesuvius famously erupted in 79 A.D. and buried at least a thousand people under almost 20 feet of volcanic ash in the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Mount Vesuvius is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes today because it has the potential to wipe out more than 3 million people in the nearby city of Naples and is under 24-hour surveillance. Two of the planet’s tectonic plates are crashing into each other beneath the Earth’s surface, which causes the eruptions. While there were lots of signs that the volcano was about to erupt at that ancient time, not everyone fled. Yet most of the cities’ inhabitants of some 20,000 did flee, to survive and resettle up and down the coast.

Mount Etna is on the east coast of Sicily, between the cities of Catania and Messina. Stromboli is on the small Sicilian island of the same name and is one of the most active on the planet, erupting almost continuously since 1932. We left our dinner halfway through and watched in fascination from the port side of the ship, on our way through the Strait of Messina, as its high intensity fiery plumes shot up into the night sky. Each glowing emission brought an awed chorus from the passengers. The strait’s reputed treacherous conditions may have been the inspiration for the Greek myth of the two sea monsters, Scylla and Charybdis, that gave so much trouble to Odysseus on his way home from the Trojan War. 

For us it was as calm as a lake.

We did spend an afternoon in Sicily and enjoyed the magnificent views from touristy Taormina and Castelmola, the village even higher up the mountain. Souvenir shops were crowded into the narrow, crooked streets, selling everything from ceramic artifacts and tiles to “The Godfather” T-shirts. Our fantastic luck with the weather continued. The days were sunny and in the 70s. 

The next stop, on the west side of the Italian peninsula was Sorrento, facing the Bay of Naples, with more glorious jewel-like views from the top of the cliffs. The Italian towns offered a faster pace and more tourists than those on the Dalmatian Coast. And the seafood was more expensive. We were decidedly now in Italy.

Taking a bus from the port, we rode over the mountains to the fabled Amalfi Coast, where we ate lunch. No matter how many times one might visit this 60-mile stretch of mountainous coastline, the clear blue water and pastel fishing boats, like toys in the sea way below, seductively draw one back for yet another visit. The crowds of whitewashed houses, terraced up the sides of the mountains, the hairpin turns of the coast road that I would never dream of driving on because I would fall off the mountain as I was drinking in the sights, the crooked streets and cantilevered stairways overhanging the gigantic rocks. The place is better than any postcard. We spent a couple of hours in the town of Amalfi, where we exclaimed over the size of the lemons and drank the freshly squeezed lemonade.

All too soon, we had to dash back to catch the tender that returned us to the ship, and we were off to Rome, our final destination. The city is not on the coast, and so we disembarked from the tidy cruise-and-sailing ship and rode the hour-and-a-half trip to the capital of Italy. Rome is one of the oldest cities on Earth that has been populated for about 30 centuries, and one could spend endless days viewing everything from ancient ruins to the Vatican, soaking up the history, art and architecture. But, alas, we had no more time left on our vacation, and managed to enjoy one more bowl of pasta followed by one last round of gelato before we took off from Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport for home.

Ciao Bella!