Meeting “The Rock”, but not George Clooney

Laurie and I decided to celebrate our 13th anniversary with a vacation to Italy. The trip would include, among many destinations, a personal journey to the surrounding areas of Palermo to discover family roots.

On one of our Palermo excursions, we visited the magnificent city of Cefalu. We began our day scaling “La Rocca”, or The Rock. With no apologies to Dwayne Johnson this is the one and only globally recognized “Rock” that you should plan to visit, or in our case, ascend.

The mountainous ruins date back to 4th or 5th century BC. Remnants of The Temple of Diana remarkably remain to explore. The mountain top views of the sea and largely undisturbed 1000-year-old villages alone justified the 2-mile moderate trek.

Upon completing the round-trip portion of the hike, we walked to a seaside watering hole for a well-earned native Sicilian beer. It was here we reflected upon how different life is and experiences can be, once outside the boundaries of the US.

As Laurie and I migrated from local beer to local wine we were beginning to see the world a little differently. We concurred, travel, in addition to being relaxing, can be equally informative and thought provoking. The beautiful diverse people, food, wine, and history served as a reminder to be open minded, explore and search beyond one’s native borders. And that search would include sampling gelato everywhere, a visit to “Juliet’s” balcony in Verona and a stroll through the Valley of Temples in Agrigento.

This balcony is billed as Juliet’s though in truth it has no relation to Shakespeare’s writing. Though hundreds of visitors wait in line each day to snap a photo—unless you arrive before the AM security takes their post (?)
Cefalu from the top of La Rocca and at seaside

Politics, global markets and, yes, Mother Nature will always be somewhat unpredictable. We arrived in Mount Etna only hours after volcanic activity spewed clouds of ash and smoke into the sky-covering cars and streets 20 miles away as we learned firsthand. Due to the eruption, flights, including all to Athens were cancelled. It put an explanation point on our vacation for sure!

With deference to my California partners and clients, the aged Amarone wine we tasted in Valpolicella made us forget (somewhat) the bold richness of a Napa “Cab”. The food in random Bologna trattorias, perhaps not surprisingly, seemed to easily rival our favorite Italian restaurants back home. The ferry rides across Lake Cuomo no way resembled my ferry rides from New Jersey to New York City for work. We did find ourselves praying (not hard to find a Church in Italy) our 20,000 step days were somehow magically offsetting the 5000+ daily calorie indulgences.

From a professional perspective our journey served as reminder economic growth and investment opportunities can be found anywhere. The pandemic recovery has been uneven in Italy and globally and politics in countries such as China seem to be creating a new form of controlled capitalism. We believe expanding investment capital in times like today, in areas that are not just big cap US, and sometimes out of favor, can provide welcome long-term benefits.

A view from Bellagio with Lake Como in background (and no we didn’t spot George Clooney)
Gelato…impossible to pick a favorite flavor
Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO site in Agrigento that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Mount Etna awash in volcanic ash.

As we leave from Rome to return to the states, the following day President Biden is arriving in Rome for the G20 Heads of State and Government Summit. Sincere alliances, strong trading partners, healthy debate and shared global growth are vital to everyone’s best interests.

Reconfirming the benefits of global cooperation, international investing and stimulating conversation didn’t require an excursion to Italy but nevertheless we highly recommend it! Ciao!!

The Ancient Theatre of Taormina is an engineering and architectural feat that should remind us nearly anything is possible as we look towards our future and future of our children.
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