Tripping Through Texas

A pickup truck decorated for Christmas in Fort Worth, Texas, Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 20, 2016

A pickup truck decorated for Christmas in Fort Worth, Texas, Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 20, 2016

This December we had a family reunion in Texas. Having been born and bred in the Boston area and having spent the last 23 years in Rome, I had an erroneous idea of what Texas is all about. I expected a lot of gun-toting cowboys, blond cheerleaders, and pick-up trucks. But Texas was a not at all like my pre- conceived notions and stereotypes. It is varied in both its population and its landscape with so much to see, absorb and do.

A view of the Dallas skyline from the highway as a pickup truck drives by. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 22, 2016

A view of the Dallas skyline from the highway as a pickup truck drives by. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 22, 2016

We traveled from Dallas to Hunt, Texas to San Antonio, and Austin spending many hours in the car, but if you look at a map we just covered a minuscule portion of that gigantic state. To give you an idea, the state of Texas is more than twice the size of Italy. We saw a wide range of territory from the flat, parched Dallas area to the hill country with its big creeks and stony bluffs.

Dallas Spaghetti Highways. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 21, 2016

Dallas Spaghetti Highways. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 21, 2016

Our journey began in Dallas and my first introduction to the city was on the highway. If you live in Dallas you spend a lot of times on the zillions of highways that zig and zag all over the place. The locals refer to them as “spaghetti” until you get to one of those crazy intersections where the roads go all above and below curving to the left and right, up and down, backwards and forwards. Those intersections are known as the “mixmasters”, which is a very appropriate name because you head in, are whirled around and come shooting out the other side heading off where you need to go feeling like you have just been through the blender.

Driving through a Texas Mixmaster in Dallas. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 2016

Driving through a Texas Mixmaster in Dallas. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 2016

Despite being used to driving in the chaotic traffic in Rome, all this spaghetti and mixmastering was a bit disconcerting to me. On my first day there I was very impressed to see a woman putting on her mascara using her rearview mirror while going 80 miles an hour on the George Bush Highway. “Oh, that’s normal,” said my sister Gwen, who was driving. “Don’t women do that in Rome?”

“Yes, at red lights,” I replied. I think if I tried to put on mascara while going through one of the mixmasters I would accidently end up using the mascara brush as a Q-tip.

Loved the lines in this photo I took at the stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 21, 2016

Loved the lines in this photo I took at the stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 21, 2016

We spent a lot of times mixmastering in those first few days as we whipped over to Fort Worth to check out the stockyards with the  Texas Long Horns – Wow! They have very long horns – I looked it up, from end to end on a bull they can be 6 feet long (1,80 meters). Despite looking a bit slow and hulky, I have heard in Texas, it is the Longhorns who pull Santa’s sleigh.

A Texan Reindeer -- otherwise known as a Longhorn - in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Trisha Thomas December 21, 2016

A Texan Reindeer — otherwise known as a Longhorn – in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Trisha Thomas December 21, 2016

One of the pleasures of Fort Worth is that you can go from riding a Longhorn named Big Jake at the stockyards to admiring the incredible collection of European, Asian, African, Greek art and much more at the Kimbell Art Museum.

As we ambled through the European collection, my son Nico was bothered that a museum in Fort Worth, Texas owns the most famous Caravaggio painting, “The Cardsharps.” “Mom, that is like the Louvre having the Mona Lisa, it is just not right,” Nico muttered as we wandered between works of art by Picasso, Fra Angelico, Cezanne, Matisse, Bernini, Canaletto and even an early painting by Michelangelo. “Money can buy almost everything,” was my answer. Kay Kimbell was a Texas businessman and art collector who gathered the works first for his own private collection and then on his death left the money for the museum.

My husband was particularly enthusiastic about the new Renzo Piano pavilion – a long, low building with lots of columns and long windows, full of light and space, designed by the renowned Italian architect.

Alongside the “spaghetti” and the “mixmasters” there was a lot of flat territory with suburban communities with similar homes. Somewhere along the “spaghetti” between Fort Worth and Dallas, I noticed a giant building that looked like a space ship. It was the “Grace Revolution Church” –made St. Peter’s seem a little outdated. I am guessing that Renzo Piano did not design the Grace Revolution Church.

Following the map through just a tiny part of Texas took us six hours!

Following the map through just a tiny part of Texas took us six hours!

From Dallas we headed to Mo Ranch in Texas Hill Country. After a few hours we left the flat prairie lands and started seeing more greenery. My sister – an environmental expert—looked disparagingly at what I thought were nice bushes along the road, “Ah, those are just water-sucking cedars,” she declared, “not good.” Water is a big issue in Texas and I won’t take up the topic because it is too complicated for me. She seemed to prefer the prickly pears—they are not water-suckers.

As we drove along we checked out the interesting ranch gates and I noted some of their names: Cow House Creek Ranch, Flying Spur Ranch, Bumblebee Creek Ranch, and Crackanoon Ranch. “They don’t get up until the ‘crackanoon’ there,” my sister stated as we drove past

After Lampasas I started noticing signs for peach farms and wineries. Gosh, I never knew Texas produces wine. You definitely cannot find Texan wine in Rome (perhaps in Rhome—more on that later).

As we passed over creeks and rivers, my daughter Caterina warned that she would not be doing any swimming because she didn’t want to see any crocodiles. My sister assured her that there are not any crocodiles in Texas and that the snakes have “gone to ground.”

I was relieved that they had “gone to ground” – Texan for into hibernation, or if you are human equivalent to “unreachable.” Later I looked up snakes in Texas Hill Country and there are roughly 60 varieties including copperheads, cottonmouths, water snakes, rattlesnakes, coral snakes and milk snakes. I was getting a cottonmouth just thinking about all of them—good thing they were gone to ground!

We stopped at DQ (Diary Queen) along the way for burgers and ice cream. When I inadvertently added an Italian spin on the “latte” end of the “moolatte” I was ordering, the cute, young blond woman at the cash register said, “Y’all R not from ‘roun here R ya? Where y’all from?” I wasn’t sure if I should say Boston or Rome so I said I am originally from Boston but I live in Rome. She was intrigued when I said I live in Rome and asked me if that is somewhere in Texas. There is actually a Rhome, Texas and, of course, a Paris, Texas, so she was not too far off. She was very sweet and friendly. As a matter-of-fact, every Texan I met was outgoing, friendly and welcoming.

The Guadalupe River where it runs through Mo Ranch in Hunt, Texas

The Guadalupe River where it runs through Mo Ranch in Hunt, Texas

The Mo Ranch in Hunt, Texas, where 15 of us stayed is a sprawling ranch along one of the gazillion bends in the Guadalupe River. We were perched in Niklos’ Place on a windy bluff above the river.

Tiles on staircase leading up to tower bedroom at Niklos Place on Mo Ranch in Hunt, Texas. Photo by Barbara Slayter, December 2016

Tiles on staircase leading up to tower bedroom at Niklos Place on Mo Ranch in Hunt, Texas. Photo by Barbara Slayter, December 2016

The Ranch is 1340 Farm to Market road in Hunt, Texas and to get there involved driving about half an hour on a winding road that went back and forth over the Guadalupe River.

Texans seem to refer to the FM roads all the time. In my business, any time you mention an FM you are talking about the Foreign Minister of some country, in Texas you are referring to a country road that leads into a town. (In Italy, where the Slow Food – Kilometer Zero movement is steadily growing, the idea being able to buy and eat your food near where it is grown  is increasingly popular and I think people would like this whole FM road business)

But I was not thinking about slow food as we went along on FM 1340, I was worried about fast food – venison on four legs. There were deer grazing all along the road and at dusk and at night it was a nightmare trying not to hit one. We had to inch (centimeter) along waiting for one to dart out in front of us. Actually it was hard to convince my Italian husband to inch along. Despite the two recently killed deer we saw alongside the road, he still seemed to think he could swerve around any crazed deer darting out in front of us.

Every time we turned on the radio, the only station we could get clearly was 92.3 “Real Country for Hill Country.” In between the country songs, they frequently a repeated an ad for an auto-repair service in the town of Bandera that started out “when you hear that all-too-familiar thump of hitting a deer…” I spent all my time on Farm to Market Road 1340 waiting for the “all-too-familiar-thump” and thinking it would be better to hear that in a big pick-up truck and not a small rental car.   But we made it back safely – no snakes, no thumps.

From Mo Ranch we made a couple trips to San Antonio where we walked along the Riverwalk – a charming area along the San Antonio River with brightly colored umbrellas at outdoor restaurants mostly serving Mexican food. I was struck by the diversity of the people along the Riverwalk – no gun toting cowboys – people of all races and colors.

Brightly colored umbrellas along the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. December 26, 2016. Photo by Trisha Thomas

Brightly colored umbrellas along the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. December 26, 2016. Photo by Trisha Thomas

For Christmas they had decorated all the trees along the river with multi-colored lights making the place seem magical, or “like Disneyland” if you are my cynical Italian 21-year-old son. But the cynical 21-year-old was not cynical at all when it came to going to see the San Antonio Spurs beat the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day. He was walking on air.

Christmas Tree in front of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. December 25, 2016. Photo by Trisha Thomas

Christmas Tree in front of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. December 25, 2016. Photo by Trisha Thomas

In the center of San Antonio stands the famed Mission known as The Alamo. The Alamo – and the battle it is famous for – basically sums up the spirit of Texas. In 1836 a small group—around 200 — Texan frontiersmen holed up inside the Alamo under siege by the Mexican army.  Their leader, Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis wrote a letter– to the people of Texas and all Americans– asking for reinforcements.  It is engraved on a plaque outside the Alamo and says the following:

    ” I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat.  Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days.  If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.”

In the end the reinforcements never arrived and the Mexicans attacked and killed them all. The men immediately became legends and the cry “Remember the Alamo” inspired others to fight off the Mexican army of thousands.

The Alamo with the Texas flag hanging on the left. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 25, 2016

The Alamo with the Texas flag hanging on the left. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 25, 2016

When I was growing up there was a TV series about one of the defenders of the Alamo, Davy Crockett. I still remember the refrain of the song, “Davy, Davy Crockett – King of the Wild Frontier!”

(A little aside here…reading about the Alamo battle made me think of a similar siege/battle and tale of heroism just about 300 years earlier in Italy. In that case the group of besieged individuals were in the Ravaldino Castle in Forli’ led by the fearless, brilliant and beautiful Caterina Riario Sforza De’ Medici.   Outside was the fierce warrior Prince Cesare Borgia and thousands of soldiers – if you want to know more about that battle you must read “The Tigress of Forli” by Elizabeth Lev. One of these days I will get around to doing a post on Caterina Sforza. Now back to Texas)

Although it is famous for that battle, the Alamo played an important role as one of the five Missions in San Antonio – a series of small communities built by Franciscan Friars along the San Antonio River to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. The missions also served as a toehold for the Spanish Crown moving up from Mexico and competing with the French who were moving in from Louisiana. The communities were built with wood and adobe with stone walls around them. Inside there was a church, living quarters, workshops, gardens, granaries, barracks and a cemetery – all built around a large open central area.

The Church at the Espada Mission in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 26, 2016

The Church at the Espada Mission in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 26, 2016

In addition to converting the Native Americans, the friars taught them their language and trained them to become skilled artisans in woodworking, masonry, weaving and blacksmithing. The people living in the missions started farms and orchards around the missions to feed their community. They missions also had their own sheep, goats and cattle.

A window on the church at the San Jose Mission in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 26, 2016

A window on the church at the San Jose Mission in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 26, 2016

The Native Americans that joined the missions were from small groups of nomads living in that area collectively known as the Coahuiltecans. The Coahuiltecans population was being decimated both by the spread of European diseases and by attacks from the fierce Apache and Comanche tribes in the north. The Missions provided these smaller groups protection and food security.

The large grassy central area of the San Jose Mission. The church is in the background. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 26, 2016, San Antonio, Texas

The large grassy central area of the San Jose Mission. The church is in the background. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 26, 2016, San Antonio, Texas

Speaking of food…while in San Antonio we stopped by Haagen Daz and I got a Midnight Cookies and Cream Dazzler Sundae.   All those foodies out there who get enraptured over tiny scoops of precious Italian gelato will be horrified by my vulgarity in ice cream taste – but it was awesome!!!  I also ate every type of Mexican food possible while I was in Texas — Tamales, Tortillas, Burritos, Nachos, Guacomole, Margaritas, black beans etc etc. Delicious.

The landmark Austin Motel is famous for its suggestive sign. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 28, 2016

The landmark Austin Motel is famous for its suggestive sign. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 28, 2016

On to Austin…..the State Capitol of Texas. We quickly learned in Texas that it is all about Texas, not about the United States. Texans are proud of their own state and the rest of the country is out there somewhere. In fact the Lone Star State flag flies just about everywhere. My nieces Stephanie and Cassie informed me that in high school they say both the pledge of allegiance to the United States and to Texas every morning.

Texas State House with the Lone Star State Flag and American Flag. Austin, Texas, December 28, 2016. Photo by Trisha Thomas

Texas State House with the Lone Star State Flag and American Flag. Austin, Texas, December 28, 2016. Photo by Trisha Thomas

Austin is a funky city with a big music scene and my brother Stephen took my son and me one evening to hear the band “Uncle Lucius” play at Continental Club. I was having a fine time until a waitress popped over and asked me “What’s up, Mama?” when I motioned for her attention. All I wanted was a beer but after she said that I felt really old and wanted to escape. Maybe she was just an avid fan of Mozzarella Mamma (si, buonanotte—Italian for “yeah, right”). Austin has adopted the motto “Keep Austin Weird” and its residents seem proud of its unique, artsy, hip, funky atmosphere. I hope it stays that way.

Cowboy Street Musician strums his guitar on the street in Austin with a cowboy boot store in the background. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 28, 2016 - Austin, Texas

Cowboy Street Musician strums his guitar on the street in Austin with a cowboy boot store in the background. Photo by Trisha Thomas, December 28, 2016 – Austin, Texas

I was particularly amused by my brother’s neighbor’s home. They had Christmas lights everywhere and inflatable decorations all over the lawn. Apparently decorating your house, lawn and yard with holiday lights is a big deal in Texas and my brother was the neighborhood slacker with a mere string of white lights around a palm tree in their front yard and around the garage. But the neighbors made up for him with snowmen, reindeer, snoopy, Santa Claus and a variety of other creatures in their yard. The only problem was they were deflated during the day making it look like there had been some horrible Christmas massacre in their front yard. But as soon as it got dark…..whoosh….they popped back up again.

Total yard Christmas Decorations and lights in San Antonio, Texas. December 28, 2016. Photo by Trisha Thomas

Total yard Christmas Decorations and lights in San Antonio, Texas. December 28, 2016. Photo by Trisha Thomas

There is so much more I could say about what I saw in Texas, and so much more that I did not see. I must return.

Trisha Thomas (me) with my Cowboy buddy in Fort Worth, Texas, Photo by Gwen Thomas. December 20, 2016

Trisha Thomas (me) with my Cowboy buddy in Fort Worth, Texas, Photo by Gwen Thomas. December 20, 2016

 

Trisha Thomas
Trisha is a TV journalist working for AP TV News in Rome. She is married to an Italian and is a Mamma of three.

31 Comments

  1. lisa
    2017/01/09

    Lovely seeing you out and about with the family, LOVE all the pics especially the freeways and the pick up truck and the stairs, oh hell I love them all.

    My middle name is actually Dallas so one day I’ll have to get there and check it all out!
    Hope one day I’ll catch up with you in person xx
    Happy New 2017 xx
    lisa

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/09

      Thank you Lisa Dallas (how on earth did you get that unusual middle name? Conceived in Dallas??) I also hope to meet you one day and I must get back to reading your blog…been distracted lately. Have a marvelous 2017! Baci

      Reply
  2. Roger Widness
    2017/01/09

    Nice to read your Texas treatment. I’ve always thought of The Lone Star State as the place of macho male egos and the strong women who manage them.
    You’ve given me new eyes and ideas, as you do with your Italy blogs. Thanks for the time your give us.

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/09

      Gosh, thank you Roger. I am glad you liked the post. I feel like the quality of the writing on my posts has slipped a lot in the past year or so and it has become just a bit of a diary for me. So I am pleased if you still enjoy reading them.

      Reply
  3. Kathleen Botsford
    2017/01/09

    Love this Trish. I need to get out of my Northern comfort zone and look at Texas without pre-conceived notions too. When I was younger, the stereotypical Texans were very happy to play out the stereotypical Texas roles whenever a non-Texan was within 10 feet. I met the parents of twin 16 year olds in Dallas that each received a Mercedes convertible with an unlimited American Express card for their birthdays. Not just one family but numerous families. And the woman that could talk only of fashion, Texas football and whatever trendy new restaurants they frequented. Or when a woman who was a Vice President of a major design firm asked me “why do they call it Lake Michigan when it is in Chicago?” There is a Richard Gere movie “Dr. T and the Woman” that caught my observations precisely at the time.
    Thanks for writing this piece. It’s exactly what my “holier than thou” comfort zone needed today. Shame on me.
    signed,
    Kathleen
    Looking for good everywhere this year, even in big red states!

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/09

      Thanks Kathleen. I think we were both stuck in some ideas about Texas that might have been more of a 1970s version. Times change and probably Texas has changed. Although I will always be a New Englander at heart, I really found Texas fascinating.

      Reply
  4. Steve Moore
    2017/01/09

    Trisha,
    Glad you and your family had a chance to see so much of Texas. I was born in Texas and have lived in Houston for almost 40 years. Tell your daughter that there are no crocodiles in Texas but you will find many alligators in South Texas. Glad to hear you did not hit a deer while driving. My girlfriend, also a native Texan, and I discovered Rome 8 years ago and have been back for 7 trips, most recently staying 11 days on the Aventine in November. Let us know if you ever want to come to Houston.

    Ciao,

    Steve & Evelyn

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/09

      Thank you Steve, I will definitely tell Caterina about the alligators, and if I ever get to Houston, I will look you up. In the meantime next time you and your wife are in Rome give me a shout and we can get a cappuccino!

      Reply
  5. Carina
    2017/01/09

    Darn, wish I’d known you were here. That Dallas skyline pic is less than 3 miles from our home! And there’s a fantastic Italian Club here (where I met my husband) that you could have gone to!
    I try to avoid the highways whenever possible (hence living in the city), and I’ve never heard them called spaghetti (I think whoever told you that was pulling your leg!) but I’ve only lived here about 17 years. I know all about the mixmasters though!
    Too bad you didn’t get to go to Italy, Texas, another random place here for lovers of Italy. Post in advance next time you’re here and maybe we can meet!

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/09

      Damn, if I had only known. My son decided he wanted to go into Dallas to hang out. My sister dropped us off in the center and we wandered around one evening looking for a place with people. Finally we ended up on the Katy Trail and asked some joggers for help. They pointed us in the direction of the Katy Trail Ice House where we had a nice time…and there were lots of people there. It would have been more fun to meet you though!

      Reply
      • Carina
        2017/02/20

        Gah, I live within two blocks of the Katy Trail and run it at least once a week! Glad you had fun.

        Reply
        • Trisha Thomas
          Trisha Thomas
          2017/02/23

          Next time I come we will get together for a drink at the bar along the Katy Trail — it was a fun place!

          Reply
  6. Nancy Rockwell
    2017/01/10

    Delightful tour here! As a northern snob, I’ve looked down on Texas for years, but did once attend a conference in Fort Worth, and was quite smitten by the Museum. Conferences being about long hours and dull work, I didn’t get to tour around as you did, and anyway, it was summer and unbelievably hot, never went below 110 the whole week we were there. You make me think about going back! Great pix. Even greater that you got a break from working for a while and could hang with your kids, who had nowhere to run off to and no buddies to hang with instead of you.
    Next week will bring sober reality into focus here, and so many of us dread it. Here in NH we are having our own march on the 21st, with workshops and a rally. There were so many problems with buses getting permits that most folks decided to protest from here. I did get invited to travel with a group going privately and staying in houses, but decided not to spend four days on this, or a Sunday off. I still trust that America will find a way to manage DT, once he gets in office. Hope I am right about that –

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/11

      Texas was really a fascinating and stimulating surprise. Ah yes, the sober reality. Lot of talk to day about Obama’s farewell speech. He is truly a great orator and an inspirational speaker. He will be missed.

      Reply
  7. Cyndy
    2017/01/10

    Hi Trisha,

    Thanks for sharing your trip! Lovely photos and perspective! Glad you and your family were all together in the warmth of Texas. Bitter cold in PA right now – so thanks, your blog warmed me up!

    Happy New Year!
    Cyndy

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/11

      Cyndy, wonderful to hear from you and I wish all of you in London Grove a wonderful 2017. Thank you for your lovely Christmas letter and the plug for “Elizabeth the Brave” – I appreciate that. I have heard it is awfully cold on the East Coast. It has been a bit chilly in Italy too. Maybe we should all move to Texas!

      Reply
  8. Alan
    2017/01/10

    . . our East Coast US relatives regard anything from Texas as ‘really scary!’ I must point them to your post to try and ease their nightmares. Nice, informative, entertaining read.

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/11

      Thanks Alan…I definitely was like your East Coast relatives. Texas is not at all what I thought it would be.

      Reply
  9. Philip Hurst
    2017/01/10

    Wonderful stuff, Tricia. Hilarious and perceptive anthropology. I shared it with some friends in Austin, who declared it so funny and so true. Plus some delightful photos.

    By the way, how about a piece on “The Young Pope”?

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/11

      Thank you Philip. I hope your friends in Austin are not my brother’s next door neighbors. They might be offended that I made fun of their elaborate, inflatable Christmas decorations. You know, I have not been following “The Young Pope” but so many people are talking about it that I think I will start and I am now adding to my blog posts “to do” list. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply
      • Philip Hurst
        2017/01/13

        I can assure you, Trisha, that my friends would be the last people in Austin to have an inflatable Christmas display!

        As for “The Young Pope”, in some ways it is truly bizarre, but Jude Law playing the Pope is a revelation. I expected a facile performance, but it anything but. And the story of the filming of the 10 episodes is also interesting: the director wouldn’t allow Jude to sit down because he wanted to keep the white cassock immaculately ironed. As Pope Pius XIII, he also wears the traditional papal regalia that the current pope has, sadly, foresworn, which some people have interpreted as a directorial dig at Francis. Anyway, I will be most interested to read your assessment after you’ve seen a few episodes.

        Reply
        • Trisha Thomas
          Trisha Thomas
          2017/02/07

          Oh Phil I must light a fire under my tail and watch “The Young Pope” — been distracted by other things but you are making me very curious to see it. Did you hear about the anti-Francis posters that went up all over Rome this weekend asking him “Where’s your mercy” and criticizing him for “decapitating” the Knights of Malta — which he effectively did, removing priests and ignoring Cardinals. There is definitely some anti-Francis conservatives hostility starting to boil.

          Reply
  10. Adri
    2017/01/10

    Happy New Year to you and yours! It sounds like you had a wonderful time in Texas. I loved reading your travelogue. What a whirlwind tour! Indeed Texas is a very big place, and patriotic though its inhabitants may be, they are indeed proud of their Lone Star history. Your photographs are wonderful. Best wishes for a terrific 2017.

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/11

      Happy 2017 to you Adri! Hope you are well. I did have a great time in Texas and glad you enjoyed my write up and photos. I must go back.

      Reply
  11. Joan Schmelzle
    2017/01/10

    Hi Trisha,
    Great fun to read. I have been to the River Walk and Alamo, but not much else in Texas except for a wedding somewhere near there. Both events over 20 years ago. Have always wanted to go to Dallas, but just never made it–too many times to Italy I think.

    I also liked the part about Caterina Sforza and Cesare. It took a few minutes for me to remember why I knew about this since I have never read the book you mentioned. (I will though.) Finally I remembered it had to be the great series about the Pope and his family. Can’t remember the exact name, but it was a Starz program that finally made it to Netflix DVD, and it was excellent with a great cast.

    Take care of Rome for me. Don’t know when (or if) I’ll make it to my favorite city again.
    A presto,
    Joan

    Reply
  12. Joan Schmelzle
    2017/01/10

    P.S. Just remembered that the name of the show was “The Borgias.” Also up popped into my evil mind a story about Caterina, but whether it was from that show or from another book or books about the Borgias that I’ve read I don’t remember. It supposedly was at that battle with Cesare that in a gesture of contempt she flipped up all her skirts while standing on the battlements. There is even a small carving of this in one of the Sforza Castle museums in Milan. And, of course, I took a picture of it and it’s somewhere in the pictures on my computer.
    A presto,
    Joan

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/11

      Ah, the battle at Ravaldino is in “The Borgias”? I must check it out. And you must read Elizabeth Lev’s book. Caterina Sforza is extraordinary. If she had been at the Alamo they may have been able to hold out against the Mexican army. What a tough woman she was!! I must visit the museum you mentioned in Milan and the Ravaldino fortress in Forli…then I will do a post on her.

      Reply
  13. Na
    2017/01/10

    I think I will share your post with every non Texan I know. Everyone has pre conceived notions about Texas and sometimes it is just easier to play along. A few years ago I was in Long Island for work and one of my co- workers asked me – “heard that you have horse parking in Texas next to car parking”. I just smiled and asked her to come check it out for herself. I am still looking for that elusive horse parking … 16 years and counting.
    Next time do spend some more time in Dallas. Perot Muesum is a delight and so is the view from the Reunion tower. And cuisine wise, we are definitely a few notches up from Fort Worth. Some of the best Indian, Ethiopian , Thai and Japanese cuisine in the US.

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/01/11

      I promise I will spend more time the next time I come! I think everyone has pre-conceived notions and stereotypes about most places. You should hear some of the questions I get about Italy! It is always better to go to a place and spend some time getting to know it….and Texas is a state definitely worth spending some time in!

      Reply
  14. Diana
    2017/01/16

    Awwww…..loved your post on Texas. I was born and raised in Houston and spent about 7 years in Austin before moving to Italy. My hubby is Roman too. We lived in Texas for 10 years before moving here. Your photos were fab and my fave is the cowboy musician on Congress Ave! Spent lots of time on that street. Anyway…thanks for the sweet trip home with your words and photos.

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/02/07

      Thank you Diana — how nice that you liked my post. I am sorry I did not answer you sooner, I have been dragged away from blogging by other demands on my time, but I do hope to get back to it. Wouldn’t want my Texas post to be my last.

      Reply

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