Thursday, March 31, 2011


SOMETHING AMAZING...                (An interjection.)

        ...has happened with my blog. On March 19, 2011, I got a hit from Korea because someone was searching on Google for Juliano Fiorenzoli! So, in curiosity I went to Google. I put in Juliano's name and my Don Voth blog came up! Except at the top, it had its ubiquitous "Did you mean:" and it said "Giuliano Fiorenzoli". So, I clicked on that and I got him: Giuliano Fiorenzoli, a professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn!  
There he was and lo-and-behold, I had misspelled his name—a bit older but I recognized him! Here he was in Venezia!

I went through all the My Italian Adventure Sagas and changed Juliano to Giuliano. I was particularly interested in Saga 15 because it was to be published online the next morning. I figured by putting in also his last name it would appear in Google again.

I am especially excited about this because I'm going to be in New York City on vacation and I'll try to contact him.

Wouldn't that be amazing?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011



I always got a kick out of showing my appartamento, because it was so very special. Fernanda and Arnette brought me a present—a bottle of Cynar (artichoke liquor) with a card saying: "Molto Brazi a un 'Florentino' that has shared Florence with us! Love, Fernanda and Arnette." Wow! Now, where should we go for a special dinner? La Cave in Maiano had already been ruled out because of being all booked up. We decided not to go to a place called La Beppe as it would require a taxi. So we took off walking and talking. Arnette and Fernanda were interesting as always. Gary was an architecture student from Parsons, who was very knowledgeable about many subjects and Mario, who was always charming, explained about his family in Guatemala. We went off to check out several places I knew: Enoteca Nationale, which is in an old palazzo, molto beautiful and molto expensive, was closed; a decision was made not to return to Il Paiolo; and we checked out several happened-upon ristoranti that didn't look special enough. So we took off for one of my very favorites, Ristoranti degli Antoinelli on the south side of Piazza Santa Croce. It's frescoed ceilings and pretty garden delighted my friends. We had a wonderful meal complete with a bottle of Brolo Classico Riserva and even after dinner drinks! Mario surprised us by insisting on paying! He said it was the least he could do for the wonderful party I had given the group!

Walking back, I showed them the huge palazzo that occupies three-fourths of the entire block around the corner from my place. As we were admiring it, a nicely dressed old woman came out of the palazzo. She was hobbled-over, using a cane, smoking a cigarillo and wearing a very long necklace of pearls. We showed concern for her as she began to cross the street which made her stop and talk. She knew Italian and French. We knew English, Portuguese (Fernanada) and luckily French (also Fernanada). We chatted for a while and found out that the Palazzo was built by a Borghese that had married Napoleon's sister! We explained that we were studying Italian architecture. She said the palazzo was modeled after Versailles! (The Palazzo Borghese, I was able to research later, was built in 1822 in less than a year by Camillo Borghese, for a party to celebrate the marriage of Ferinando III, a Medici!) 

Taking note of our enthralled interest, she went to the intercom, called upstairs and told us that we could go up to see it! We wondered who SHE was. She went on, and up we went. 

The piano noble was now a private men's club, and the upper floors had been turned into apartments.  The manager met us at the door of the club and nervously showed us several of the grand rooms. 

The former ballroom had gilded carvings, lots of carved marble and enormous chandeliers. 

Several of the rooms had drapery clear down onto the floor ('puddled' it's called). The furniture seemed original, etc., etc., etc. 

We noticed men playing cards, who seemed a little disturbed by our visit.

The manager said it would be better if we would come later, during an afternoon. He explained, "Of course, the Duchess insisted that we let you up now."

  ---SHE was a DUCHESS!  (a Borghese?) It was HER family's Palazzo!!!

       We were all glowing after that neat experience. The club, we later found out, was for royalty only! Even Giuliano was very impressed that we had gotten in. He'd never seen it.

Next day I stayed home. I was spent and had stuff to do. I didn't feel too guilty about cutting class, because they were only seeing what I had already seen. I also realized I was homesick.

But I soon got over my malaise, as I began to get ready to go to Venezia. I had been there on my 1971 trip and had loved it.



Monday, March 28, 2011



Mom, Ed and I, Don Voth, had a magical time in Hawaii—delightful! We will always remember February 1981. I gave my mom a fresh lei every morning. 

I have never been very intrigued with Hawaii, but truly enjoyed it. 

In Honolulu, we had a delightful hotel right on Waikiki Beach. A highlight was having lunch at the famous pink, Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Maui was exotically beautiful—green, lush and dramatic. 

Our stunning hotel was open-air with peacocks roaming and meandering pools of water.

I hiked with Mom to the far side of the island so she could wade in the South Pacific Ocean. She was thrilled! Now, she had been in the South Pacific. She was exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel.

One night we felt a slight earthquake. It awakened us from our sleep. We celebrated the next day by having breakfast on our balcony

  ---a first for my Mom.


Sunday, March 27, 2011


iPad 2 PHOTO BOOTH Tomfoolery

The new iPad has an application called Photo Booth. It's more fun! It has nine panes of different photographic FX one can use for stunning variation. It's a real crowd pleaser.

Steve G.

Don Voth at his most professorial!

Drew N.

Bed Monster

Saturday, March 26, 2011


1999 MERCURY COUGAR (1998-2004)

Saw the "New Edge" Cougar in several magazines. Liked its lines and that it was American!

May 20, 1998. Asked to see/drive the car at Boulevard Lincoln-Mercury in Lewis, Delaware. They had only one there, driven over from Georgetown. It was black. I really loved it. Nice test drive. Only one in Delaware because Boulevard had the car from yearly car show in Ocean City. I saw it there several times. Bill Cook stumbled into town and really liked it, too. I bought it on May 22, 1998, for $20,469, no money down, 7.75% financing for 60 months with no prepayment penalty! $413 per month. 101 miles.

VIN number 1CWFT61LXX5 – 605324. Made in Flat Rock, Michigan by Americans.

Two-door, black hatchback, 2.5L EFI DOHC 24 valve V6, 170 hp, automatic, four wheel disc brakes, 16" polished wheels, low profile tires: 215/50 16, CD, automatic alarm, projector beams, CFC free AC, speed control, leather steering wheel, trip/temperature computer, one touch down driver's window, air filtration, tilt steering wheel and sunroof. (No owner's manual! Someone copped it at the car show!)

  ---Wow! I love it. 

It is so different than the Lincoln. It is great having a new car. Faster, great styling, excellent lines, watertight, not needing parts! (I will miss the Lincoln though.)


Thursday, March 24, 2011



Tuesday, we actually made it to the Pazzi Chapel—one of Burnelleschi's masterpieces. Beautiful! It's a study of the square evolving into a circle. Still studied by architecture students as far as elevations are concerned, the chapel is not quite as successful in the third dimension. 

I was appointed by the group to keep us moving along. Giuliano didn't seem to mind. I had to show some of my favorite things along the way—the Pazzi monastery courtyard, also by Brunelleschi (one of the most beautiful in Firenze) and Cimabue's painted wood “Crucifix” (the most important near-total-loss of the 1966 flood). 

Then we were off to study palazzi. In Renaissance times, Firenze was the commerce and banking capital of Europe. (You may have heard of the coin called the 'Florin'.) The palazzo was first developed in Firenze and copied by the rest of the known world. We saw the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, a huge, marvelous palazzo where Lorenzo il Magnifico lived, and where Michelangelo worked under the Medici. Giuliano pointed out the fact that Michelangelo designed the windows on the ground floor.  

(Note: Lorenzo ‘il Magnificio’ de Medici was one of my (Don Voth) many famous ancestors. 

If you’d like me to brag-blog about that subject let me know. I don’t like to brag but it is very interesting.)

Palazzo Strozzi, a very 'classical' palazzo with excellent large rustication, was being restored. This is the only palazzo left in Firenze that is still privately owned. (Owned, by the way, by the same family that built it!) Palazzo Rucellai was a very finely detailed palazzo. They became more open and less fortified as time went on. Then we saw Piazza SS Annunciate with Brunelleschi's Ospedale deli Innocenti (foundling hospital) with the famous arcade and those equally famous Luca della Robbia, blue and white, terra cotta medallions of babes in swaddling clothes. 

Giuliano pointed out that at the end of the arcade there was a turntable in the wall to place unwanted babies on—anonymously!

Out of the blue, Giuliano said a wondrous thing: "Angels are Florentine!" He said it so matter-of-factly and so seriously that everyone got a big kick out of it. It was like saying, Florentines invented God. Spoken like a true Florentine! (Thinking about that later, I guess what he meant to convey was that the Florentines invented the depiction of angels?) After Giuliano left us, I led people to see the terrific Art Nouveau building about three blocks sway. Everyone flipped. That I went home to riposo and clean house, because I was having Arnette, Mario, Fernanda and Gary over for drinks before going out to dinner. None of them had ever seen my appartamento, since they hadn't been able to find it for my welcoming party.

Next, A Florentine Surprise.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


iPad 2

I got it! It's great. So pretty! I immediately downloaded my information onto it. And then played with it.
It's faster, clearer and sleeker than the original iPad.

I took it to our Friday Night Dining Group's outing. Everyone was impressed.
Ron sent this to me captioned, "Happy Don."
Best thing since sliced bread.
Apple's done it again.

Two people confessed that they wanted one, too. Steve also talked in detail about his interest in it, inquiring about 3G vs. wireless, etc.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



Today, March 29, 2011, I had the honor of dining with four of my closest friends. This doesn't happen very often! It took two different meals, however.

The first was Sunday Brunch at "Po' Boys Creole Restaurant" in Milton, DE. It's the best eatery in Milton with quite good specialty food. It was with Mary Ann S. and Ted W., both neighborhood and very good friends.

We had lively conversation enjoying one another's company. I had a spicy pork sausage and jack cheese omelet with cheese grits and a bloody mary! The others each had a different omelet with coffee. But Ted had Cajun Pecan Pie that was delicious! I'm so lucky to have such great nearby friends.

Then a lovely dinner with two best friends, Steve G. and Ray P.

We ate at one of my favorite places: Tokyo Steak House. They had sushi. I had grilled steak and a martini made with white Bombay, my favorite. I had asked for a Negroni—because of my remembrance of the drink by blogging "My Italian Adventure Saga"—but alas, they, as many places don't, know how to make one. (My quest shall continue.)

We chit-chatted about all manner of things having a wonderful time.

My, how I love going out to eat with friends!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011



Because of yesterday's party, Monday morning class did not start until 10 a.m. We met for class at the Piazza della Signoria because we had not gotten to it last Thursday. We sat and had espresso, while Giuliano gave a good talk about the Piazza
The Piazza with the Rivoire on the right.
Giuliano's talk got so involved and took so long, that when he finished, I suggested we add the visit of San Lorenzo to when we go see the Laurentian Library, since they are adjacent to each other and time in Firenze was getting precious. We also had Santo Spirito, the Pazzi Chapel and Santa Croce to visit.  At eleven, we finally took off for Santo Spirito. As we walked along, we stopped at a woodcarving shop. Giuliano wanted us to see some craft places as they are so important to Firenze's life, it was interesting. But we stayed so long that by the time we got to Santo Spirito it was closed!  I got rather upset. (I'm sure Giuliano, I hope, was embarrassedI had to remember that it was Giuliano Fiorenzoli and his love of Firenze that I loved and I had to forgive his Florentine ways of lateness and off-handness.)  After talking it over with Arnette, I realized that I was upset mostly for the group for I had already seen these places. Arnette said that she was just going to strike off on her own and catch-up on it all. I said I would be glad to direct her, but I wanted to stay with Giuliano and hear his effusive remarks about what little we saw because I'd seen everything on the list. I started fretting about what to do in Venezia about the lack of seeing all the sights—I hadn't seen many of them before.

Several of us went to lunch across the river at an outdoor trattoria recommended by the teachers as a good but also reasonably priced place. After lunch we were sitting around talking, and I pronounced an Italian word so completely wrong that one of my fellow students corrected me, not one of the course teachers. I have a 'tin ear' when it comes to foreign languages. Marie, a schoolteacher from Brooklyn added, "Don, you should open a school for languages." Everyone laughed; it was very funny. Later, Marie felt bad about it and said she'd buy me a dinner sometime.  

Later that afternoon, I was walking to the Rivoire when I noticed something I hadn't seen before. When one looks at the Palazzo Vechio straight on, the building and tower loom powerfully over the Piazzo della Signoria. From the side, however, the profile of the Palazzo Vecchio did some strange things! Sketching had made me more aware of seeing as well as looking.  Now I saw that the three hundred foot high tower extends up from the front face of the battlements of the building. These battlements are already a meter out from the front face from the battlements of the building. Then, the crenelated battlements of the tower extend the center of balance out even farther. This would normally make the tower fall forward, because a masonry-bearing building cannot support that kind of torque. But ingeniously, the crenelated top element above the battlements of the tower don't sit in the center of the tower but at the back. Thus giving stability and allowing the tower to forcefully 'read'


(Before I forget, let me tell you about those Italian windows. Italian windows are a delight. They do more than let in light and keep out rain. They boldly define space. They're always shuddered and allow all manner of effect. The large slats of the exterior shutters don't individually pivot but the entire shutter folds out at the mid-point to allow various degrees of light and air. On the inside, you find two glass-paned doors and two solid wood doors, which are used to further control the weather and light, thus varying the effect still more. The combinations are endless and fun to play with. I couldn't resist doing another photo essay. [Again, why don't we have these in America?])


Friday, March 18, 2011


2003 CHEVROLET SSR (2004-2005)

Saw SSR first online in a concept car line-up (Spring 2003). Loved its retro look and that it was a hardtop retractable convertible! Began to look for it more. Finally, GM put it on their Chevy website (mid-summer '03). Got more and more intrigued. There were few 2003s. So I began a search so that I could see it in person and to sit inside. The closest one was in Chicago with another in Miami and two in California. WOW! I wasn't going that far—although Austin said he would ride with me to Illinois if there was no other option. My interest would wax and wane according to high price, availability, being a two seater, would be the neatest thing in Rehoboth Beach. Greg Oliver said to me one day, he saw one at a dealership in Millsboro, DE on his way to work. Well, Joey & I went up on 12/20/03. It was really red. He loved it but I was a bit overwhelmed. The salesman let me take it out, much to the chagrin of the sales manager who declared, "Only in the parking lot." It rode better than expected, had a great muscular V-8 sound and it's looks were stunning. The top going up and down caused all the people to stare with awe. Billy, the salesman, directed me around back and said with a grin, "Now floor It!" Boy did it jump—the 5.3 V-8 delivers 300 horsepower, unlike the 5.3 in the truck (280hp) and it's lighter, too. 

Saw 'JB' @ C.P.Diver who said they're scheduled for only one in 2004. He'd be glad to order it to my specs because he'd be able to sell whatever I ordered! After some good investigations, I got re-invigorated about it. New Year's Eve and Day it was fun telling everyone about it and showing the brochure. Jan. 2, I went to 'JB' and said I wanted to reserve it. He said there was a change. They had gotten a notice that their 2004 car was set what it would be and that it was due to be built January 10 and scheduled to arrive mid to late-February! I said I definitely decided on yellow. "It is yellow," he exclaimed. I offered cash for security but he declined it saying I didn't need to do that. 'JB' called 1/17/04 (Sat.) and said, "It just ROLLED OFF THE CARRIER", much to their surprise. I went to see it. They had it on the display hill so that it was above all the other cars. Very exciting. They (w/ Cliff) told me I couldn't have it until Feb 16!!! But I signed anyway for the over-sticker price of $53,600 & gave them $1,000 credit MC charge. It had 'JB' and me jumping up & down with excitement. That night I was really wrestling with the 1 1/2 month delay. Finally decided I couldn't live with it. Went Monday and cancelled; got $1,000 back.

Bought a yellow 2003! FULLY LOADED through eBay SUNDAY, 1/18/04, from Tony LaRiche Chevrolet in Cleveland, OH: $48,800! Had it financed, insured, shipped and I received it in three days! 

$2,000 down, GMAC-$46,925.25 @ 5.09% for 60 months w/no pre-payment penalty! $889.51/month. Plan to pay off soon with a home equity loan. 3 miles on odometer.

VIN #1GCES14P03B102002. Built 11/03. 2002 of 3500. Lansing, Michigan, USA.
2-door yellow hard-top retractable hardtop convertible pick-up, 5.3L V-8 300 HP, automatic, ASB disc brakes, 6-CD Bose compensated surround, halogen beams, CFC-free A/C, speed control, heated-premium leather seats, information computer, key less entry, running boards, cruise control, side-saddles, cargo netting, memory 6-way seat, tires: Front SBRP255/45R19 & Rear SBRP295/40R20 BSW Touring, air compressor, radio/info center in leather steering wheel, traction control, motor jacket, carpeted trunk with wood strips, saddle bags, hitch, cargo net system, 3 power points (10 minutes), tuned exhaust, front license plate frame, special floor mats, auto-dim rear view mirrors, heated outside mirrors, 2-person programming, premium color. (No spare tire.)

  ---WOW! I love it. It is so different than the Cougar. It is great having a new car. Faster, great styling, excellent lines, every option, not needing parts!—very retro!!!

Next, the earlier 1999 MERCURY COUGAR.