What is love?

“Love is like a dinner table with 4 legs.” – Ron C.

[The average human being] looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odor of fragrance, and talks without thinking. – Leonardo Da Vinci

And here I am with my friend Ron, a wise gentleman in his 80’s talking about life and marriage.

“Alex, after 63 years of marriage to the same woman, I can say that I consider myself lucky that in my early years of life, I found the secret for a long and happy marriage…”

 After pronouncing “63”, a woman’s voice came straight to my ears from the background saying:

“61 Ron, it’s 61!”

 I look at my friend, who was smiling secretly and making me understand that he probably was wrong…

According to him, there is a big rule that you actually don’t have to consider a rule, but as something which has to be present into your heart and soul every single moment of your life. And that moment starts right after you pronounce the words I Do signing with your honor the most important contract of your life: Marriage.

This “rule” is called the Rule of the 4 C’s. After you get married there is one thing you should never stop practicing: keeping your “dinner table” in balance.


Because you cannot eat on a table with 3 legs if this table was originally designed with 4 legs. A balanced table will never let your food fall down on the ground. A balanced table brings happiness into a family.

But what if I tell you that every single leg of this table represents a C?

The story of the 4 C’s

In order to have a long marriage you should start thinking that you might want to stop eating on the floor. We all want to eat our dinners from a balanced table. But you will never be able to keep a family upright if there is not a commitment (the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, person). After you add the first leg to your “table”, you will realize that the commitment will need the element number two, communication to put the table for the first time in a certain balance. Day after day, your marriage will work in a certain way, but that will not be enough.

Commitment and communication alone cannot bring a full balance to the marriage. You and your partner would always have to stay in two different corners keeping the table from not falling on the right or left side.


The third element, compromise (an ability to listen to two sides in a dispute, and devise a compromise acceptable to both) will then make you sit close to your partner at the same table. You two will then be able to have dinner close to each other. Only the fourth element will separate you from being the happiest couple. The forth element will let you eat your dinner using your both hands. The day you will be able to add the fourth element, companionship (a feeling of fellowship or friendship), your table will be able to stand straight alone, and you will be able to eat your dinner without worries…

“Alex, remember one thing though. Once you finished building your dinner table, you should not forget one simple thing: Keep the table always clean and healthy! Because every single day of your marriage will mean you trying to remember the meaning of these 4 words and practice them into your couple life.”

 Thanks Ron!

The woman of my dreams


I definitely lost count of how many times I met this beautiful woman, each times I closed my eyes at night.

How was I feeling every single morning?

Something like in this song of Roy Orbison – In Dreams…


Every single time, I questioned myself whether I would ever meet her.

The next morning, my best friend and I had plans to drive from Pontedera, Italy (where I was living at that time) to Manarola, Cinque Terre, for a day trip. I was so excited because it was my very first time in the Cinque Terre. The same for my friend who took an expensive flight from Canada to Italy to visit me and some of his relatives.

Should I mention how I almost missed the chance to meet the woman of my dreams?

Well, ok:

Everything starts with an important rule, when you go visit Italy, and specifically Tuscany, for the first time in your life, you must not miss Montecatini Terme.

Next day, after his arrival we drove to Montecatini Terme…

My friend Daniel and I were reading the menu, when this pretty Romanian Waitress came to ask us if we were ready to place the order.

And then?

After a beer and a *Caffe Corretto alla Grappa, Daniel read the situation. Apparently she was a bit interested in me and I was curious…

I needed to prove to my friend that I had *I marroni to find out her name, obtain her phone number and ask her on a date.

The result?

I gave a reason to my friend to be proud of me: I came back with her name, I had told her that she was cute, and even better, we had a date: The next day at 7 PM.


What would’ve happened if the next day I would have been in Montecatini Terme around 7 PM for that date?

Let’s see…

After parking the car, we ran towards Manarola downtown, because the sky was threatening rain.

After one hundred eighty-five million, three hundred seventy-six thousand, five hundred and twenty-nine pictures taken by Daniel, the rain came over us. And we needed to find a shelter.


Our only option with an empty table was Bar Enrica. Daniel had an amazing water view while enjoying his coffee and an *Antipasto di Terra. I had more than a view…

bar enrica
photo: Coffee Enrica and Daniel’s view

She was there. This beautiful woman was sitting in front of me. I sneakily looked at her maybe (if I remember well) 70 times?

I didn’t care if she became scared or something else…

I don’t remember if the radio was transmitting this song or if it was my head singing it:


“A candy-colored clown they call the sandman – Tiptoes to my room every night – Just to sprinkle star dust and to whisper? – Go to sleep, everything is all right?? – I close my eyes then – I drift away – Into the magic night, I softly say – A silent prayer like dreamers do  – Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you – In dreams I walk with you – In dreams I talk to you – In dreams you’re mine all the time – We’re together in dreams, in dreams – But just before the dawn – I awake and find you gone – I can’t help it, I can’t help it if I cry – I remember that you said goodbye – Too bad it only seems – It only happens in my dreams – Only in dreams – In beautiful dreams.”


Every single second I was looking at her and listening to her voice, I was finally able to give a complete image to the woman of my dreams. In my head, slowly, Deja vu was playing a game with my heart and soul. It was her.

My friend was talking, but I was blissfully ignoring him. I was happy I didn’t have free Wi-Fi anymore.

Subconsciously I started to imagine a life with the woman of my dreams. I was able to see her and I walking around the world. I was day-dreaming of the moments I would be able to spin her in pirouettes while we walked hand in hand.

I didn’t realize that I was watching her without being able to take my eyes away from her aura…

In the background, the most brutal and hateful phrase I ever heard came from Daniel’s mouth:

“Alex it’s time to go – look, the sun is back.”

I hated my friend Daniel in that moment.

We left…

As I was walking out the door, I was torn between the 7 PM date and this woman of my dreams…

Sadly I was building a million reasons not to stop and talk to her…

Rain then sun; Manarola and not another place. Everything happens for a reason. The reason was double that day:

I brought my friend to visit Manarola and destiny awarded my soul and made my dream come true.

Yes, but what happened?

Sarah, the woman of my dreams, came out to talk with us (convinced by her cousin Kristen) and used the most interesting excuse in order to obtain a free ride (the only time in my life I was happy that the Italian rail company was on strike) and spend some time with me/us: The tourists that need a ride. The entire conversation was between Daniel and her, because I couldn’t hear what she was saying. I was deaf in that moment and paralyzed because our two worlds had finally collided.

Photo: cousin Kristen

Montecatini Terme wasn’t the One…

… and today, I’m the happiest man in the world. The dream came true.

photo: Michigan hikes

Thanks cousin Kristen and Daniel!

* Caffe Corretto alla Grappa – Italian Espresso with some 5 years Old Italian grape liquor inside.

* I Marroni – Typical Italian expression to be used when you have to prove that you have the b…ls to do something extremely hard which requires lots of courage.

*Antipasto di Terra – Italian starter dish that typically consists in 3 different Italian crostini, at least 3 slices of raw Italian Parma Prosciutto, olives, 3 slices of Italian salami, 1 pickled red onion, 3 different kinds of Italian cheese, and 3 slices of Italian Lardo di Colonatta. Cost ranges 7 – 11 Euro.

photo: Grand Traverse Photography by Amber Elliott