Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Reason To Smile!


I present my first cover for  my book, "A Reason to Smile!" I can't wait to send this to the printer and have it in my hands to get into yours!  Once that happens I will have another post about the book in print, along with the merchandise (t-shirts, bookmarks, buttons and so on...) be on the lookout!

If you haven't ordered your copy through the kickstarter, shoot me an email to thelearningcurv@gmail.com and lets get you "A Reason to Smile!"

Monday, July 28, 2014

Italy

I would like to say I am officially back home in NYC and I am happy to say this year has been such an amazing one so far. I have been much more content with the work I have been creating, I have been much more driven than I ever have, and I am celebrating many successes. My Kickstarter was successful and my book, "A Reason to Smile" is well on it's way to completion, I finished my second set of movie sketch cards for Upper Deck and Marvel Comics (First Thor the Dark World, and now Guardians of the Galaxy) and I just got back from an extensive vacation overseas in Italy.  Each of the other topics have gotten attention on this blog before so it is here that I'll be focusing on Italy.

I was fortunate enough to travel to the booted country for a family celebration and my lady, Carey & I figured that since we would already be there, we would take advantage and explore. Our trip took us from Palermo, Sicily, to Rome, Florence, CinqueTerre, Bolonga, and then finally in Venice. I am use to traveling and moving, being that I am an "air force brat", but moving through 6 cities in 3 weeks was something very new, especially with over 100 pounds of luggage.  The tiny elevators were a luxury being that Cinque Terre and Venice had none at all.  Braving the 200 steps down the mountain to our room in Cinque Terre and up and down the stairs in Venice to the 3rd floor, all while Carey was nursing a torn meniscus, was a good way for me to stay in shape while there.

Needless to say my eyes have never seen such beauty in person...

Italy has such a rich history and a collection of art of all kinds that there was no way to not be entertained. Is it right to say it is needless to say how good the food is?  Carey is (in my eyes) a master chef so her eye for good food is impeccable. We enjoyed traveling from museum, to ancient ruins, on to immaculate chapels and churches, all the while enjoying local cuisine and taking a million pictures.  I literally have right around 2000 pictures I have taken during this time, but here I will focus on only the best of my time there.

I couldn't help but take many panoramic shots, the views were just too expansive to take a single shot.

Palermo



Staying in Palermo was probably the most interesting time for me simply because I had to get use to being in another country where I might not ever be understood due to language.  I was fortunate though in that I know some Spanish so that helped me get closer to those who would possibly never understand a word I said. I found myself to be quite surprised a lot by a few things.

The way the natives drove was chaotic to say the least. The stop lights seemed to be glorified yield signs at times, yet I never once saw an accident and heard very little honking. Drivers seemed to be very comfortable in the way they drove and did so accordingly. There was one particular case where had we been in America, we would all have been in the hospital yet it continued business as usual and no one but the Americans in the car were flustered.

Sadly, Palermo was hit hard by the economic crisis that seems to have affected more of the world that I had realized.  Many of the shops were closed permanently.  Thankfully many restaurants were still open and the Gelateria across from where we stayed was amazing.  I wish I had a picture of the place (one of the few things I DIDN'T take pics of) because they had a line out the door... all day and all night... and by the way, always eat at places like this and where you know locals eat.  They know the best food in their neighborhoods, take heed.



One of the best things about being in Palermo for me was the fact that it was surrounded by either mountains or the Sea, with the sea being north. It was beautiful wherever you turned with the beach being less than 20 minutes away, it allowed for more beauty to be digested




I wish i did a better job of documenting what specific cathedrals I visited and the names of other places, but thankfully I had my cell phone which almost died on me every day before the night came. I was so enthralled by what I saw daily that I had to take a visual inventory of my experiences.









Rome



Rome had always been romanticized for me. I knew of it through my studying of Greek Gods and how Romans appropriated their gods with the names of the planets. I saw many movies showcasing The Coliseum. The most enjoyable was "The Way of the Dragon" which has a scene at the end of the movie where Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris have their showdown. I'd always wanted to visit this place and I was ecstatic to be there. We decided to go early and be some of the first people to get in so we could avoid the crowds and it allowed for some really good photos without a million people being in the way... Have some patience when you are a tourist taking pictures, there will be a lot of people walking into your shot, so be ready for that.







At one point we went to a Michelangelo museum and saw a great many beautiful statues. From our experiences at the museums throughout Italy we would surmise that statues were almost as commonly done as paintings. At one point we were able to see straight to Vatican City from a rooftop at the museum and it made for an extremely beautiful panorama. When you walk into the museum, remember that the awe you may have for seeing the David for the first time is well warranted, but that is not the David you are seeing. It's a replica, as are most of the statues there.




The lines to get  inside of most places were way too long and St. Peters was no exception. We chose to go to the Vatican Museums since the Sistine Chapel was a part of the tour and we saw so of the most impressive art there. Strangely enough there was Egyptian art there and even though I got to see two Dali works, I never got to see his painting called the Christus Hypercubus which in Dali fashion was a crucifixion done in a surrealistic way. The walls within the museum's were worth going there alone, and I ended up getting the book that collected all of the art from all of the museums.  It was probably the best money spent for artistic research.









As we enjoyed the city itself, we were able to enjoy many great fountains as well as parts with beautiful scenery.



The Spanish Stairs and the Pantheon were sites I never thought I'd see (though The Stairs remind me of the hills I've seen in pictures of San Fran...)






Surprisingly enough, one of the most intriguing sites I enjoyed was the Victor Emmanuel Monument... It had to be at least 20 stories tall and had such an imposing presence. It made me feel as though this were what palaces should look like. I wanted to see someone come out from the top of this and address all of Italy with a resounding roar of energy afterward. I don't ever think I felt so tiny near a structure in my life.


 



Rome was very much like the NYC of Italy and was extremely busy. If there was something you wanted to see or do, it could be done in Rome.  It also had one of the best Gelateria's in Italy too, so that made me quite happy. 





Florence

Florence was a great mix of everything you've ever heard about Italy.  Amazing food, an enormous cathedral that would take up an entire NYC Avenue which was over 10 stories tall, beautiful art, and wonderful hospitality. We found two of the best restaurants in the country there and they could possibly fit inside the average NYC apartment.









 


 





















Cinque Terre


This was a place I had only thought could be in dreams and fantasies.  There were buildings like lego's built on top of and around each other.  There were mountains and homes that seemed to cohabitate together in a unison that seemed to be very playful, and though there were several times that I had to dodge pigeons as they flew away, I felt very relaxed. You rarely see cars within the towns themselves (Cinque is Italian for 5) except for the buses that bring people to and from each town and the only noise you hear is the water and people as they enjoy the eateries and drink.  





The view from the place we stayed at was also very tranquil.  We barely had any connection to electronics so we got a chance to simply enjoy nature. The only downfall of that is they have a 200 step path to our rooms and I had to bring the luggage down alone since it was late in the day and Carey's leg was hurt...






We took a late day boat ride that allowed us to see the 5 towns from the water which allowed for some great pictures to be taken. 








Venice

I've gotta say that Venice was probably the most interesting and different place I have ever seen and had so much fun navigating the "streets" and alleys to find places to eat and enjoy.








My pictures could nt do justice to the twists and turns of the streets of Venice, but let it be known that you could be there for more than 5 days and not see all of Venice...


Overall, Italy was a great stay and one i will never forget. I took over 2000 pictures and these are the ones I felt most represented what I got to enjoy. I hope you enjoyed the ride if you followed me on Instagram, and thanks for taking the time to read and see all that I've shared here. Here are all of the instagram pictures I took, feel free to read up on my experiences in them under the username TheLearningcurv....















And congratulations to Francesca and Antoinette for getting married out in Palermo!!!