Sunday June 16, 1985, my First Day in Rome. Ever! I fell in Love that day, with Rome, Italy, Italian Food, and the Italian Lifestyle. What a day. I was like a little kid on Christmas Day, the best day of the year for any true American Blooded Kid … Do you remember the euphoric feeling you’d get as a child, running down to open your presents under the tree on Christmas Day as a young child, a sort of feeling that’s hard to get as an adult, but I had it on that hot Summers day in Roma 1985 … A day I’ll never forget. It was beautiful, a game changer.

I flew from New York, JFK to Rome, Fiummacino Airport. On board the Pan Am 747 Jetliner, aI sat next to a couple, also going to Rome for the first time. As for myself I was on my own. The guy was in his mid 30’s and the girl was a few years younger. We became friends on the plane, hitched a Taxi into the center of Rome (Quite Magical itself that first entrance to the Eternal City of Rome) … I realized on a subsequent trip that the cab driver was a gypsy driver and that we got ripped-off, over-charged, but no big deal, the dollar was strong and we had split the cost. Anyway, we dropped the couple off at there hotel, The Hotel Forum, across from the Roman Forum and Colosseum. We had made plans to meet for lunch the next day. I had the driver drop me off at the train station, as I didn’t have a room yet, but had a plan to get one. This was my first trip to Europe and I was learning the ropes of travel. I had a Frommers Guide Book of Europe, Europe on $25 a Day, and had read it through and through and had learned that I could check my bags cheaply at any train station in Europe, so I did, and for the first time at the train station in Rome, which was right in the center of a number of inexpensive pensiones that I had marked down in my guide-book and would go to try and procure a room. So I went to the baggage room at the station and checked my two bags with the man there, and was off to get my room. If I remember correctly I got a room at the first place I went to. The room was just $14 and only two blocks from the train station. So I told the concierge I wanted the room, I went back to the station, got my bags and then lugged them back to my hotel. It was a simple room with a big queen sized bed. The bathroom was down the hall, and I quickly used to take a shower, before running out to explore La Bella Roma. I walked up to the train station, then made a left, and within a block I was at the Piazza Republic. I remember seeing the little tiered fountains filled with pieces of fresh coconut and water flowing down over them. These coconut vendors were all over the city but I never got any of the coconut as I found Gelato much more to my liking at just .50 cents a pop for a small one, .75 for a medium and $1.00 for a large. Or if not Gelato, I’d get a slice of Watermelon. But I’m getting ahead of myself now. Let me tell you about my first meal in Rome and how I fell in love with the Tremezzini. So I came upon the semi-circular Piazza Repubulica. Across the street I noticed a tiny little park next to the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. In this little park was a little kiosk with a few tables outside under the trees. It looked quite inviting so I walked inside. Inside on the counter I spotted these tiny triangular little sandwiches with various stuffings. I got a bottle of Apricot Juice (Sutta di Frutta di Albicoca) and a couple of those little sandwiches, one filled with ham & cheese and the other I can’t remember. I took my stuff, got a table sat down and relaxed. The Apricot Juice was refreshing and the little sandwiches quite tasty. I fell in love with them instantly and would have three everyday for breakfast along with an Espresso and Frutta di Albicocca. I walked around after that little breakfast in my first expoloration of Rome, of Italy. I just so happen to walk past the Quirnale, the Place of The President of Italy. I found Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and The Piazza di Popolo, with Gelato stops in-between, before heading back to my hotel, very tired. I was planning on going out that night, but was so darn tired from being up all-night, then a fe w hours walking around Rome with no sleep. Yes, I went back to the hotel to take a nap for a couple hours, but didn’t get up to early the next day.

The next day, I got up, took a shower, then headed out for a nice little breakfast at a caffe on the Via Cavour on my way to the Colosseum. I had three different Tremzzini, an Espresso and a little bottl of Apricot Juice. I was walking around and came upon a beautiful market near the Stazione where I bought some fresh Apricots and Mozzarella Cheese. Yumm. So I walked down to the Collesseum and to the Forum Hotel where my friends were. This hotel had a nice roof-top garden and we went up there for a cocktail and my first Campari ever. Wow, that was quite nice, sipping a Campari and Soda, hanging with my new friends and a tremendous view of the 2,000 year-old Roman COLOSSEUM just a block away. Things couldn’t get much better than this. I had Campari & Soda for the first time, and later on the trip would have my first Negroni in The Piazzo San Marco in Venice.

After our drink on the rooftop, we walked over to the Colesseum, walked around it and inside. Quite remarkable! We left the Colesseum then walked over to the Trevi Fountain and on to The Spanish Steps. We walked up the famed Spanish Steps to the top where there is a church. We marveled at the fabulous views of Rome with all the many churches and bells ringing. Wow! I had discovered a cute garden trattorria near the Spanish Steps on my previous days exploration, and went there for lunch. We sat at a table in the garden. We had a spectacular view combined with tasty antipasti, Pasta and Wine. I was in 7th Heaven.

to Be Continued




There’s gonna Be a Lot of Unhappy Cobblers in Italy






No Red Shoes for The Pope .. The Fashionistas say “Tell Me It Isn’t So.” Our new Pope, Pope Francis, already quite beloved has not donned the traditional Papal Red Shoes yet, and it seems as though he may never do so. Pope Francis, formerly know as Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina has apparently  ditched the famed Red Shoes who many fashionistas thought were Prada, but not. Pope Francis has been wearing a very modest pair of Black Shoes so-far, and inside sources say our New Pope has rejected the famed Red Shoes and might very well never wear them.

Before he left Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio was wearing shoes that were so shabby that friends of his insisted on buying him a new pair. 




  This Man Used to Make Pope Benedict’s Red Shoes and Will Be Quite Sad if Our New Pope “Pope Francis” Does Not Do the same.





Daniel Bellino-Zwicke





    Sinatra. The name? What does it that word, the name invoke? Well for me and millions of  Italian-Americans over the years, the name Sinatra conjures mostly love, Happiness,  good-times,  wonderful memories, and “Pride.” These emotions that are all one really need to be happy and content. That’s what is important. Along with good health and family togetherness. And, by the way, you don’t have to be Italian-American to love Sinatra, most everyone does.

    My love of Frank Sinatra, the man and his music began when I  was a young boy  growing up in East Rutherford,  New Jersey,  always in sight  of the wondrous skyline of my beloved New York City. As far back as I can remember,  my  mother used to play all her fine records  on her  RCA  Victor  Record Player. Songs like Strangers in The Night,  The  Summer  Wind, The Lady  is  a Tramp,  Fly Me to the Moon, Come Fly with  Me,  and  so many more. She played Sinatra all  the time, along with Sammy, Dino, Elvis, Al Martino,  Tony Bennett and  Nat King Cole. Those were her favorites and  Frank Sinatra was always  number one for the entire  Bellino Family, especially for Me, my Mother, Sister Barbara, and Uncle Frank.  

    Whether listening to a record or seeing the man live, this man  sang with so much emotion that you could  actually feel it within yourself, the feelings and

emotions he  was trying  to convey.  He tried and he always succeeded, whether he was singing a fun happy  song  like  “Luck Be  a Lady,”  “I’ve  Got  the World on a  String”,  or the incredible  way  he sang a torch song,  and  sang  these songs in a way no other could.  Songs  of  lost love  and  Bittersweet  Romances like  “You  and Me,”  The  World  We Knew,  The Second Time  Around,  and  “If  I Had You,”  many others of  course.  You could  feel the pain of hurt and lost love. They say the reason he had  this very  special touch  with torch songs was because he was thinking  of,  and singing  about  the Greatest Love of  his life,  Ava Gardner, Frank’s proverbial Girl That Got Away.

    The man  had such a way with lyrics and music, he’d  take  those  songs  and  make  them his own.

These  songs  were, still, are, and always will be wonderful  gifts  to his hundreds of  millions of  fans, to The World, to the history of mankind, to the Millions Who Loved and adored him, Frank Sinatra.

   We Italian-Americans  are deeply proud that he

was one  of our own.  He  was an Icon, The Twentieth Century’s  greatest  entertainer,  a National Treasure and source  of pride,  whom Italians looked-up-to and could brag  about, he was of Italian blood, same as us. That our roots  were from the same place (my family in particular the Bellino family came from the same town as Sinatra Family in Sicily, Lercara Friddi) as well as so many  of  our  forbearers  of  Italy to  precede us, people like Leonardo Da Vinci,  Brunelleschi, Giotto, Verrazano, Columbus,  Marconi, and Michael Angelo. In America we had Italian Americans like; Joe Di Maggio, Dean Martin (Dino Crochetti), Tony Bennett (Anthony Benedtto),  Al  Pacino,  Francis  Ford  Coppola,  Robert Mondavi,  Jake La  Motta, Rocky  Marciano,  and so many more, and of all those incredible people, Sinatra was tops. He still is.

   There are have  been all kinds of great singers in this  World,  people like  Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Dean Martin, Al Green, Pavarotti, and on-and-on, but never a performer quite like Sinatra.  His singing,  the way he handled  a song, was beyond compare. Frank sang with incredible feelings and emotions.

   If  you were fortunate to ever see Sinatra perform  live, it  was an experience like no  other. You know how he makes  you feel so good when  you listen to one  of  his many  great recordings?  Well  multiply  that  by 100  and  you just start  to  understand. The emotions  one  felt  at  a  Sinatra Concert.  Emotions quite similar to the magical  euphoric  feelings  you’d get  as  a child running down  to the  Christmas Tree,  opening  your presents on Christmas Day. You’d get that special toy you’d  been dreaming of, and. You are in Seventh Heaven. Euphoria!  Do you remember?

    For any great  Sinatra fan, seeing  the man perform live, being  at a  Sinatra  Concert, it’s akin to being a child again,  under that Christmas Tree,  to open that  special present, that’s a Sinatra  Concert. Better!

    When you went to a Sinatra Concert there would

be so much love, joy,  happiness, and adulation for

the man  that you could literally feel it in the air. It made  you shiver and sent chills up and down your spine, “Literally.” People would  be screaming out, “We love you  Frank”, both men  and women, and he’d reply back,  “I  love you too”,  in  a way,  only

Frank  could do. He truly did Love and appreciate

his  fans and had such a fantastic rapport with his audience.

    Frank had  great  conversations with his audience. Guys felt as his pal,  and women his lover, these are messages he conveyed, and his fans adored him for it.

There have been so many great performers over the years, but there never was, there is not now, and there will never  ever be another  quite like that man, Francis Albert Sinatra. Never.

    I’ve been a tremendous fan of his since early childhood.  I grew  up listening  to the Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, all the great Motown and Philadelphia  Sound artists,  as well as many other Rock and Pop Stars.

   Along with the Pop, R&B, and Rock music that most  kids of  my  age  would  listen to at the time, I  added artists of my parent’s generation as well,  artist  like;  like Sinatra,  the rest of the Rat Pack,  Louis Armstrong,  Bobby Darin, and others. These artists that most  children and young adults didn’t  listen to  unless they  were the chosen few who had the good  taste and capacity to appreciate at tender young  ages, musicians like; Armstrong, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald  and others. No matter that these older  artists were of their generation or not, their music was great, and even at such a young age, I could love and appreciate. Sammy, Sinatra, Dean and others were great performers  who made great music, and that all there was to it.

    When I was in high school, I had a few friends who  were heavily into Sinatra as well.  Most kids thought he  was “boring”  and  old-fashioned. We knew better!   We were all  of  Italian  ancestry and we were proud of  him  and of ourselves that although we were from another era, we were sophisticated enough, at such young ages to appreciate great performers of our parents and grandparents generation, we were Cool and  we  knew it!  Hey, Facts-Are-Facts, and that was a fact, “We Were Cool.” We looked  at  ourselves as The Jr. Rat Pack, Cool, Sophisticated, and Confident!!! Frank gave us that confidence and


    The sad day in which Frank Sinatra passed away,

I  received four messages of condolence, one from my sister Barbara, one from my brother-in-law Noel, one  from  my friend Selena, and one from my good buddy Jimmy Starace.  That’s how much  I loved the man, what a big fan I was, and all my friends and family knew it, thus the messages of condolence. I  wouldn’t be surprised if that happened to a couple Million other Sinatra fans as well.

   We were blessed with his presence for a long time. We  still are, through all  his fabulous recordings (12   Hundred Songs )  and  the memories, they evoke

feel ings of  girlfriends, Love, our  mothers,  fathers, and of Frank.

    I made sure that  I went to see the man perform

live on seven extraordinary  occasions. These concerts hold many wonderful memories that I will have for the rest of my life, along with the numerous dinners  with friends and family spent listening to his incomparable recordings and having Sinatra Parties on  Saturday nights when WNEW AM in New York used to  have a  show every Saturday night for years called  “Saturday  with Sinatra”, well,  as only New Yorkers could do.

   New Yorkers being Franks most loyal fans. This

is  where he  got his start.  The show  was hosted by

Sid Marx’s. Sid and some of his special guests would tell all sorts of wonderful stories about Frank. There would be guests who knew Frank personally, as well as listeners  who would call in and tell stories of how they  “Fell  in Love”  listening to Sinatra or how they met him one time, or of performances that they went to. The show was three hours of listening to Sinatra’s unrivaled music and of stories and antidotes of “The Man.” For Sinatara Fans, this weekly Saturday Night Show was pure bliss.

   Sinatra was loved all over the World, and people could tell you all sorts of interesting antidotes pertaining to all parts of the globe. I have a particular interesting memory of  him combined  with a great food and wine trip in Italy. I  was in the small wine town  of  Greve in Chianti  Classico, Italy having a nice  little  dinner  with  a  friend.  We  were in this

great  little Enoteca eating  the famed local Salumi

and Paparadelle  with Wild  Boar Ragu. We were a

bit surprised (I don’t know why) to hear both Sinatra  and  Billy Holiday  recordings playing at this little  place.  The owner  walked by  to  see how we were doing. I  gave him a thumbs-up and told him, “Great music”.

    “You  like Billy Holiday?” he inquired.  We had a nice little conversation with him about Billy, Sinatra, and wine.

    He told us that he had lived and worked for a few years  in New York.  This guy was  a big fan of Frank,

Billy Holliday, and New York City. So, that’s Sinatra, loved  the World over,  even in little towns like Greve in Chianti.