JOSH GROBAN “Bridges” the generation gap…

Lights dim!

Musicians onstage…at the ready!

The screams and applause of welcome begin as Josh Groban takes the stage…

From his latest album, “BRIDGES,” he opens with a song of fear, frustration…and hope…”Bigger Than Us!”

The crowd goes wild!!!

This gracious operatic pop singer, (songwriter and actor) appealed to all ages making up his audience. With heartfelt songs, he took us on a musical journey with tunes of love and hope, many personal anecdotes and open talks about things near and dear to his heart (like the need for us all to address mental health issues…and keeping arts education in our schools so children can learn to express themselves freely.) He managed, effortlessly to make the sprawling Turning Stone concert arena (in Verona, New York,) feel intimate. The one HUGE screen behind him artfully magnified all onstage images and video, bringing them to us “up close and personal!”

Possessing arguably one of the finest voices in contemporary music, his vocal choices were impeccable…and it was PURE JOSH…no opening act to detract from the reason we were all there! When he started to sing, a switch flipped and this somewhat geeky young man transformed into an ever soooo smooooth music virtuoso. He was onstage, without a break, for the entire concert. He sang as though he deeply felt each song he performed. His “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables and “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory left me breathless, filled with awe and wonder. The rest of the concert didn’t disappoint either.

Other than his never-faltering voice, the other standout of this special evening was Michael’s and my opportunity to meet and chat (however briefly) with this modest, humble, warm and very accomplished young man. He made us feel as though we were long-time friends.

If and when this gifted performer and stellar spirit returns to Central New York, your can bet we’ll be there…to welcome him and take him and his music to our hearts.

His music makes my world better…thanks, Josh Groban! ♥️🎼

ORVIETO, UMBRIA (ITALY)…and Beyond May 2019

What’s amazing about Umbria is that it doesn’t have big cities to contend with. Situated between raging metropolises like Rome and Florence, it’s the green heart of Italy…peaceful and beautiful with its rolling topography. Boasting postage stamp towns and villages…some on hilltops, some not…with lots of ancient history, picture-worthy scenery and people simply living their life… there’s always so much to take in!

Back in Orvieto, (our beautiful hill-town/home-away-from-home,) with my daughter,

as she hosts an art group for her http://www.adventuresinitaly.ca business, it’s always wonderful to reunite with community members who are dear to us…who have become extended family through the years…

…and walk the ancient, history-filled stones of this medieval town, propelling us forward to once again appreciate our beautiful surroundings.

Ever exciting is the promise of new discoveries…friends and places… even in such familiar surroundings. The streets are books of stone that can be browsed in small steps. They tell of millennial events from the oldest civilizations…times before the birth of Christ…and have left remarkable evidence of those times. This trip’s first “discovery,” we found in the basement of Sant’ Andrea Church. In this 12th century church that sits just outside our neighbourhood on Piazza della Repubblica,

we found confirmation of those ancient periods dating back to the Bronze Age…3000 years ago… remnants of the streets, water system pipes, building design and mosaic floors of a former church…layer upon layer of civilizations dating back to 1100 BCE. What a find!

Hard to imagine living, breathing civilizations so old when we walk above their remains, along the tangle of streets, shops and alleyways. This 21st century small town, Orvieto, is another city, carved over the centuries, by the peoples who have lived in this part of Italy. Hundreds of caves, silos, trenches, cellars, tunnels and stores run under the picturesque houses, shops and miscellaneous buildings of the old town…fascinating!!

The other “discovery” for this trip was the Pozzo di S.Patrizio…St. Patrick’s Well…built in the early 1500’s to store water in case Orvieto was attacked by its enemies. The well is an architectural wonder. The central shaft is surrounded by two spiral ramps accessed by two doors that allowed the mules to carry empty and full water vessels separately up and down without obstruction. There’s even a bridge to cross when necessary, at the well’s base. The structure is 174 feet deep with a base of 43 feet. It seemed like there were millions of stone steps to navigate…TWICE…up and down, but in reality, there were 248 steps at a pretty steep angle, and 70 windows to provide illumination. We’ve wanted to see this well for years, but this was the first time we finally MADE the time to do it…well worth the effort!!

Ancient communities with their often crumbling (but ever charming) architecture adorn rocky hilltops and spread down to the verdant, currently poppy-laden fields of Umbria.

The carols of the birds and bells of sacred places fill my heart with timeless music.

With the ancestry of the Etruscans (since 1100 BCE,) the influence of the ancient Greeks and the fine-tuning of the Romans, Italian arts and culture is everlasting!

More than just the sacred spaces…the many churches and the necropolises…Umbrian towns and villages offer unimaginable beauty. The narrow, cobbled streets and alleyways open onto unlimited spaces…the countryside…visions that can stretch to the rim of the sky.

We rented a car to go exploring and brave Michelle drove…too often…in the pouring rain! As the hilly patchwork of yellow, green and red fields unfolded on both sides of the road, she zipped around hairpin turns on the serpentine roads like a race car driver. But, no matter how death-defyingly fast we went, it never seemed fast enough for those seasoned drivers behind us! As my lionhearted daughter got used to the driving, her knuckles returned to their natural color and we relaxed, delighting in each new destination…no pressure!

From fishing villages to very small as well as larger villages, we traveled to the following Umbrian gems…

CORCIANO, MARTA, CITTA DE CASTELLO, MONTEFALCO, BEVAGNA, DERUTA, PERUGIA, SPELLO…

and we visited all these towns and villages from a new home base…SPOLETO. These were all noteworthy destinations with too much eye candy to post. But, here are some of our favorite sites

Umbria is a blend of man and nature, spirituality and reverence and intense pride. Every location has a unique identity…the result of millennia of civilization leaving dense layers of memory and timeless masterpieces throughout the land. Dotted with medieval towns, the Umbrian hills offer stunning landscapes. You only need to travel a few kilometres to discover places of unspoilt wilderness with centuries old trees, deep caves, mountains, rivers, lakes and steep cliffs. Umbria is, indeed, a perfect destination to experience extreme beauty, sumptuous food and wine and slow, uncrowned travel…enjoying every moment.

See you next year, Umbria…and thanks for the continuing good times. 🥰