Viva Las Vegas – Part 1


Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"“Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire.” – Viva Las Vegas, Elvis Presley

I’ve decided that Las Vegas is a place everyone should visit at least once in their life, and not just because I happened to double my money while I was down there! The lights, the shows, the restaurants, the hotels, the interesting characters, the history – it all adds up to make a very worthwhile few day vacation. As you know, readers, I was there between Christmas and New Year’s this past year and it was a great time to go. There were lots of shows going on and the weather was perfect for walking the Vegas strip. Mind you, there were also a TON of people there, but I guess that’s to be expected any time.

We had the pleasure of staying at the Venetian Hotel, which was lovely. Inside the place is decorated very elegantly, and they’ve even recreated St. Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal, complete with gondolas and gondoliere. You almost felt like you were in Italy. Plus, my room was equipped with the most comfortable, plush, marshmallowy bed I’d ever slept in. Between eating expensive food (Starbucks is the cheaper option around there) and trying our luck in the casinos, we took in three shows: Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini (I LOVE Elvis, by the way), the musical Jersey Boys, and the (amazing)  singing ventriloquist Terry Fator. We managed to snag discounted same day and next day tickets for the shows from the various Half Price ticket sellers along the strip. We went to the one closest to the Ventian, just down the strip beside the always-packed Denny’s.

We spent our days walking the strip, checking out the other hotels, and visiting the casinos. We had Margaritas (yum!) in Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, went to a shooting range, visited a “classy” jewelry pawn shop and also visited the Mob Attraction. Mob Attraction? Yeah, like THE Mob. Like Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel and the boys who helped put Vegas on the map. Las Vegas’ history is inextricably linked with that of the Mob. For someone (moi) who considers The Godfather one of her all time favourite books and movies, this was very interesting.

So enough with the words – Las Vegas is a feast for the eyes and ears. Here are some photos of my little trip:

Suite at the Venetian

Suite at the Venetian

 

Venetian Hotel - Outside

Venetian Hotel – Outside

 

Venetian Mask Shop

Venetian Mask Shop

Gondolas on the Grand Canal

Gondolas on the Grand Canal

Discounted Ticket Selle for Shows - Made use of them!

Discounted ticket seller – Made use of them!

Elvis Impersonator Trent Carlini

Elvis Impersonator Trent Carlini

 

Ventriloquist Terry Fator + Winston the Impersonating Turtle

Ventriloquist Terry Fator + Winston the Impersonating Turtle

More photos of the Vegas strip, the Mob Attraction and other Vegas hotels to follow in

Viva Las Vegas – Part 2.

Dolcetto o Scherzetto? Halloween, Italian Style


La Maestra Maldestra

 

Halloween (L’halloween, my Italian friends called it, pronounced lahl-oh-ween) is not a very Italian festa (holiday) at all, but that has not stopped gli italiani (the Italians) from jumping on the Jack-o-Lantern bandwagon in the last few years and celebrating in style. The famous phrase, “trick or treat?” has even been translated to “dolcetto o scherzetto? in Italian to help the holiday along.

Last year, I spent Halloween in Italy. If you’re a regular reader/follower/subscriber to this blog, you’ll know that during my time living in Siena, I hung out a lot at one particular little osteria and got to be good friends with all the staff there. As Halloween approached, they approached me and asked for ideas for the Festa dell’Halloween (Halloween party) they wanted to throw at the osteria.

I suggested that they order proper orange pumpkins from their fruit and veg supplier (there was nary an orange pumpkin to be found in Siena’s supermercati, just very un-festive yellow ones) and I buzzed around town looking for some goulish decorations to spruce the place up a bit. I helped get the Halloween posters printed so that the fantasma (ghost) came out just right, and spent time trying to get the wording right in both English and Italian for the ads we put up. “Gradita la prezenza in maschera“, for those of you who speak Italian, is how we translated “costumes welcome.

On Halloween afternoon, the boys closed the place early to set up for the big festa. After they assured me that they could certainly carve two pumpkins (something they’d never done before) without loosing any fingers or blood in the process, I left them alone to put the finishing touches on the party preparations and worried about how the pumpkins would look when I got back. When I swung back by later, I was greeted by these two lovely “Giacomo-Lanterns (the Italian version of Jack-o-Lanterns, apparently) which drew crowds to the festa all night:

I like to think they were the only two carved pumpkins in all of Siena last year! The festa was a huge success (went on till 4 a.m., they tell me) and all night people could be seen taking pictures with our unique pumpkins. Please note the Italian touches of vino rosso (red wine) and castagne (chestnuts) alongside our Giacomo Lanterns!

Happy Halloween to all!