A new way of looking at things
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of looking at things.” –  Henry Miller

Curt Veeneman, Ph.D.


Un Abbecedario

7 February 2014

Having assembled an abecedary (alphabet primer) in French a couple of years ago in this blog, I thought I would now pay an analogous compliment to the Italian language.  Although the Italian alphabet has fewer letters than that of French or English — only 21 — the job wasn’t made any easier because of the many exquisite nouns from which to choose in Italian.  But in any case, being an avid photographer has made this a true pleasure for me.  I hope you enjoy this linguistic/photographic tour of Italy.  Following each letter is its Italian pronunciation in parentheses and a description of its accompanying photo.



Aa (a)



This ancient arch is found in the Umbrian city of Perugia.  Its base is Etruscan with later additions dating from the Middle Ages. Arco can also refer to a violin bow (historically even more arch-shaped than today) and, in fact, gli archi indicates the entire string section of the orchestra.


Bb (bi)


I bovini

These long-horned cattle, seen grazing near an ancient arch, are from the region of Lazio.


 Cc (ci)


 Il castello

The rugged Castello Sforzesco, today filled with several delightful museums, is located in Milan.


Dd (di)


Il duomo

The expression, “Come il duomo di Milano [like the Milan cathedral],” signifies work that is never completed.  What D.H. Lawrence termed an “imitation hedgehog,” the Milan cathedral, with its 2,300 statues and 135 pinnacles, is continually being cleaned and repaired.


Ee (e)


Monte Etna

The volcanic Mount Etna, towering over the island of Sicily, ominously vents steam and smoke.


Ff (effe)


La Fiat Cinquecento

This iconic macchina still graces the streets of Italy and the world.


Gg (gi)


Il girasole

The sunflower’s name in Italian means, literally, “turn [with the] sun.”


Hh (acca)



The lovely Casa de’ Fiori is located in Rome.


Ii (i)



The island of San Giorgio is seen from Venice’s Campanile di San Marco.


Ll (elle)


Il limone

Here we find one of the ubiquitous lemon stands on the Sorrento peninsula.


Mm (emme)


Il mosaico

This is but one of myriad, stunning mosaics in the Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna.


Nn (enne)



Here is a view of Naples and its bay from Castello Sant’ Elmo — with Mount Vesuvius looming in the background.


Oo (o)



The Teatro dell’Opera in Rome has hosted many premieres for over more than a century.


Pp (pi)


Il ponte

The Ponte Scaligeri, a bridge attached to the Castelvecchio in Verona, is equipped with battlements to fend off water-born attacks during the Middle Ages.



Qq (cu)


Il quattrocento

The quattrocento (the four[-teen] hundreds, or fifteenth century) witnessed the flowering of the Renaissance.  This scene is of a centuries-old tradition of processions in Siena.


Rr (erre)



Rafael’s fresco School of Athens can be viewed at the Vatican Museums in Rome.


Ss (esse)


Lo strumento

Artisans make stringed instruments from scratch at Claude LeBet’s Liutaio workshop in Rome.


Tt (ti)


La tartaruga

A tortoise receives a helping hand in the Fontana delle Tartarughe [Fountain of the Tortoises] in Rome, thought to have been sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.


 Uu (u)


La Galleria degli Uffizi

Florence’s Uffizi, one of the oldest art museums of the Western world, has an extensive collection of masterpieces.  In the background can be seen the Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo.


Vv (vi)


Il vaporetto

A vaporetto (waterbus) plies the Grand Canal in Venice.


Zz (zeta)


I fiori di zucchina

The blossoms of this small pumpkin, known as zucchini in the US and courgette in England, are often dipped in light batter and fried for a treat.



The photographs used in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are by Curt Veeneman.

Related Posts (Italy)

Who started Travel Con Brio®?

Composer, scholar (in music theory, ethnomusicology, and music history), performer, educator, conference organizer, and entrepreneur, Curt Veeneman received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

His additional interests, subsumed in wonder at the beauty of God’s entire creation, include art (he was an art major before the balance tipped ever-so-slightly toward music), literature, architecture, photography, mathematics, history, languages, cultural studies, world-cuisines, and, of course, travel.
photograph by Colleen Veeneman

In founding Travel Con Brio®, Curt was eager to synthesize all of these interests to create imaginative, stirring, and enlightening experiences to be enjoyed by both young and mature travelers alike.  The tours that he organizes reflect his extensive travel experience and familiarity with the art, music and culture of numerous countries, with each tour being richly enhanced by local experts.

Curt and his wife Colleen live near San Francisco.  They have three children.

What is this blog about?

Culled from a number of trips abroad, this blog compiles various experiences in an attempt to reveal the cultural nuances of places visited on Travel Con Brio® tours.  Sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, Curt’s observations are intended to describe and appreciate the personalities, character, idiosyncrasies, conventions, mood, and ambiance of places visited.  Contemplations of topics ranging from language and customs to climate and bureaucracies are freely offered alongside art and music reviews.  Any cultural issue, if illuminating, can become the focus.

These musings on the personal impact of various cultures are offered so that you, as a traveler, may compare and contrast your own impressions with them.  Do you share a similar interest?  Do you agree with a specific conclusion?  Or is there a fine distinction to be made regarding a particular point?  You are invited to leave your comments; please, however, be respectful of other readers.

And last, a caveat:  flukes, asymmetries, and twists of fate may suggest more about Curt than about any foreign culture under discussion.

What are some of Curt Veeneman’s musical activities?

As a composer, Curt has spoken and/or his works have been performed throughout the United States, in Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Bulgaria.  He is the winner of several awards, including the ASCAP-Hubbell Award for composition.

Curt Veeneman's compositions include Les Cloches, inspired by the life of Joan of Arc (premièred by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra), The Wiry Concord for 5-string banjo, dulcimer, cimbalom, harp, harpsichord, piano, viola and percussion (available on Capstone Records), Mountain Thyme, based on Bulgarian folk music (recorded by the Sofia Symphony Orchestra), Alcuin's Riddle, for orchestra and 15 soloists who cross the “audience-river,” Hommage for voice, flute, 'cello, piano, and percussion, Windmills, computer music featuring sampled wind turbines on California's Altamont Pass, and Pneuma for solo flute, (also available on Capstone Records).

Of this last work, the following comments have been made:  “J’ai beaucoup apprécié le lyrisme et la rigueur de Pneuma pour flûte de Curt Veeneman”  (I greatly appreciate the lyricism and the precision of Curt Veeneman’s Pneuma for flute) —Gérard Condé, Le Monde, Paris, 29 August 1996; “a well written piece”  — Robert Dick, flutist, author of The Other Flute; “it is quite exciting!” — Molly Alicia Barth of eighth blackbird; and “strong and imaginative” — Jules Langert, San Francisco Classical Voice, 13 March 2006.

As a new music promoter, he directed the new music ensemble Sonor Borealis at University of Alberta, Canada, and founded and directed the concert series, PACIFIC MARKET: Fresh Music From Around The World, at the University of the Pacific.  As a performer, Curt Veeneman is recorded on Music and Arts.

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