One Thing & Another

Rome, Italy

Notes From My Journal: Back in Rome

K and I are back in Rome, once again to visit friends and family. And once again, I’m reminded of why Roma may be our favorite city.

No other city in the world has the range and mix of beautifully preserved historic buildings – from 600 years BC to the 18thcentury. No other city in the world has as many beautiful churches. In no other city in the world can you get better Pasta Amatriciana, Pasta Carbonara, and Cacio e Pepe.

Other great things about Rome:

* Its marvels are so accessible. Get a hotel in the center of town and you can walk to just about everywhere in 10 to 20 minutes. I’m talking not just about the Pantheon, the Forum, and the Coliseum, but the museums, art galleries, quaint residential neighborhoods, luxury and offbeat shopping areas, parks, and incredible city views.

 * The food is really, really good.  Okay, the bread is not as good as French bread, but it’s not bad. And the pizza (not originally Italian) and pasta are amazing. When it comes to pasta, stick to the Roman specialties (Cacio e Pepe, Pasta Amatriciana, and Pasta Carbonara). Twenty years ago, I found the fish dishes overpriced and overdone. Maybe I hit the wrong places. Today, the fish and meat you will be served at a good restaurant are good to excellent. And one more thing: All the food is at least good, even in the tourist traps. In fact, paying more will get you a better address and ambiance, but not necessarily better tasting food.

 * So, too, is the wine. Italian wine is among the best in the world. Roman wine is not, IMHO, the best of the Italians. Tuscan and Piedmont wines are my favorites. And the prices will please you: generally about 50% to 65% of what you’d pay for the same bottle in the same quality establishment in the Big Apple.

 * Did I forget to mention the gelato? It’s made differently than ice cream. You won’t believe it the first time you taste it, but it’s made with less fat. The fattiness of ice cream is said to sort of layer your tongue, making it very smooth but less tasty. Gelato is fantastic. Don’t feel compelled to wait on line at the most popular places. Get a coppapiccola of your favorite flavor in several gelaterias and decide for yourself.

 * The people. I read one critic who suggested that Romans are not friendly. He must have been a first-time visitor that had a single bad experience. Like most cities, Rome’s residents are busy with their lives. So don’t expect a man walking by in a (beautifully tailored) suit to stop and spend five minutes giving you recommendations. But most of the Italians you are likely to meet are service people, and they are almost always charming and helpful. Plus almost all of them speak at least some English.

 * Their English. No other accent makes English sound as friendly as the Italians’, and the Roman dialect is especially warm and melodic.

 * The art and architecture.Only in Rome will you see beautifully preserved Classical, Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical architecture and art in a single city. Any guide book will give you access to the best-known examples. But if you walk into any church (there is at least one on every city block), you’ll encounter astonishingly good paintings, sculpture, wood carvings, mosaics, ironwork, etc.

 * The beauty. It’s not just the art and architecture. It’s the juxtaposition of styles and time periods. It’s the cobblestone streets – how they rise and descend and wind about, offering surprising and often breathtaking vistas. Plus, it’s the people themselves and the sky and the ancient, untended parks and the colors. The colors!

 * The shopping. Milan is the fashion capital of Italy, but Rome has got all you’re likely to need or want in the way of luxury stores. (Not just Italian but American, English, and Continental, too.)


Today’s Word: impecunious (adjective)

 Someone who is impecunious (im-puh-KYOO-nee-us) is painfully low in funds. As used by Ben Jonson in his satiric play Cynthia’s Revels: “Who let in that rag there, amongst us? Put him out, an impecunious creature.”


Fun Fact

More Chinese people study English than there are English speakers in the USA.


From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

Books to Feed Your Kids’ Growing Interest in Making Money

There’s no shortage of highly successful people that attribute their success to reading. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla, is just one of countless others. When asked, in a recent interview, how he learned rocket science, his answer was simple: “I read a lot of books.”

As a child, Musk loved reading – science fiction novels, in particular. He would read as much as 10 hours a day, and he still reads regularly. This confirms the main point I made in my essay How to Teach Your Kids to Be Hungry, Smart Readers.

When my friend AB read that essay, he gave me a call. He knew that I feel strongly about encouraging kids to read books on just about any subject that interests them, and he wondered if I had some specific suggestions for his son. AB had always hoped that the boy would follow in his footsteps as a businessman and wealth builder, and now he had started to ask questions about the hows and whys of AB’s financial success.

“My son is already an avid reader,” AB told me. “So what, exactly, should I be encouraging him to read?”

I gave him some recommendations based on his son’s age (13). And here, depending on your kids’ ages, is a starter list that might be useful for you, too…


Books about Money for Kids

* The Everything Kids’ Money Bookby Brette Sember

 * The Kids’ Money Book: Earning, Saving, Spending, Investing, Donatingby Jamie Kyle McGillian

 * The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Senseby Stan and Jan Berenstain

 * Finance 101 for Kids: Money Lessons Children Cannot Afford to Missby Walter Andal

 * The Kid’s Guide to Money: Earning It, Saving It, Spending It, Growing It, Sharing It by Steven Otfinoski


For teenagers

 * The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of

 * The Complete Guide to Personal Finance for Teenagers and College Studentsby Tamsen Butler

 * Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teens: The Secrets About Money – That You Don’t Learn in School! by Robert Kiyosaki

 *The Teen Money Manual: A Guide to Cash, Credit, Spending, Work, Wealth, and Moreby Kara McGuire

 * Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig

 * Barron’s Money Sense for Kidsby Hollis Page Harman

* O.M.G.: Official Money Guide for Teenagers by Susan and Michael Beacham


For young adults

* Automatic Wealth for Grads…  and Anyone Else Just Starting Outby Michael Masterson

* Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School? 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By by Cary Siegel

* How to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any by Erik Wecks

* The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

* How to be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents by Zac Bissonnette

* The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by Suze Orman


 Worth Quoting

 “Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There is no better rule.”

– Charles Dickens