On the way to the top~







Put one step in front of the other…

The final push is on to have the book make its September 1 release date.

The journey from now until the book’s launch next week has me feeling like I am climbing a tower in Italy … I am terrified of heights and, yet, with each step up, I long to see the view from above.

I love having a bird’s eye view of Italy. To stand on top of a 500-year-old structure is an indescribable thrill for me. Of course, it is “thrilling” mostly by my realization that at any moment this 500-year-old structure could collapse. With each step up, my heart races, my palms sweat, and I have to force myself to believe “the glass is half full”—as in the tower has been standing for 500 years so it will make it another 500, instead of considering “the glass is half empty”—since it has been standing for 500 years it will collapse with my next step!

Here are some of my favorite, nail-biting climbs:

1. Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena. A museum is now housed in the abandoned 13th century expansion construction of the Duomo in Siena. Through this museum you climb an exceedingly narrow stone staircase up to the top outside viewing area, which, had the construction not been abandoned almost 800 years ago, would be where the cathedral roof would have started. Yikes, it is way up there!

2. Torre Guinigi, Lucca. This tower has trees growing from the top of it. Yes! Atop this tower of a once wealthy businessman of Lucca is small garden planted with seven or eight oak tress. The view from the top is cool—literally, because the trees provide great shade from the hot summer sun!

3. The cupola of Saint Peter’s, Rome. It is a long way up to the top of the cupola at Saint Peter’s. It is a long way up even if you take the elevator…it lets you off at the bottom of the last 320 steps to the top. For me it is a big metaphor: life is like the elevator—pretty easy straight up, and then there are the 320 stairs—penance for all the things you did wrong in the “elevator” on the way up, before finally reaching Glory—the fantastic view of Rome!

4. The two leaning towers of Bologna. In Bologna, there is a set of “twin” towers…though they are not identical…that both have a very pronounced lean out of level. Asinelli is the taller tower and Garisenda is the smaller tower. The shorter/smaller one is only half built—they stopped construction in the 14th century when it become so far out of level that people feared its collapse. Going to the top of Asinelli gives you the feeling of being a car hanging off a cliff, only secured by one tire. You know that at any moment, as you peer over the viewing wall from the tower’s top that a fly will land on your head, and with that slight amount of added weight, the entire tower will finally give way and topple over. Mamma mia!!

5. Torre Lamberti, Verona. This is the tallest tower in Verona. The climb is not bad until you get to just below the first set of clock bells…there is a higher set father up this clock tower. Here the modern metal steps turn into their original wooden ones as you wind your way around the interior walls of the clock tower…the whole time, able to peer over your right shoulder back down to ground level through the tower’s shaft. The climb to the higher bells is even more precarious feeling, since that staircase is exposed on all sides. You feel secure at the top—until the clock strikes the hour and the bells clang out the loud tones, which immediately turns you into the hunchback of Notre Dame.

6. The cupola of the Duomo in Florence. To get to the top, you must first walk the interior dome of the Duomo, just underneath the enormous fresco depicting the rise from Hell, where you are—at the bottom of the dome, toward salvation with God at the very top of the interior dome. From here you head up between the dome’s interior ceiling and the Duomo’s exterior roof, until finally emerging through a little door onto the viewing ring that circles the outside of the cupola. Breathtaking!

7. The Campanile of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. Palladio designed this famous church and bell tower in the middle of the 1500s. Palladio’s first campanile was built in 1567, which fell in 1774…gives you confidence to climb the 1791 rebuilt tower, huh?! From the top of this “new” tower, besides seeing all of Venice and the surrounding islands, you can see the Dolomites looming on the horizon, 20 miles (33km) away.

I hope you will enjoy these views and, like my book’s next step toward being released, I hope we can be thrilled and awestruck by the glorious view from the top—success!

My next post will be made from my new site. I hope to see you there…where you’ll be able to purchase the book! That will be a glorious moment indeed.

Ciao e a presto~

Mark

Photos:

1. View from the top of the Museo looking at Torre del Mangia, Siena

2. Torre Guinigi, Lucca…see the trees?

3. View of Saint Peter’s Square from the cupola of Saint Peter’s, Rome.

4. Asinelli, Bologna…the taller of the twins. Can you see the lean?

5. Torre Lamberti, Verona. There are two levels of bells up there. It is a beautiful clock tower.

6. The view of the Duomo’s roof and bell tower from the cupola of the Duomo, Florence.

7. View from San Giorgio, Venice. The Dolomites are in the background, but notice the leaning white tower in the foreground.

About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at www.beyondthepasta.com and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.