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June 3, 2008

Blogging from Italy

We arrived, suitably exhausted, yesterday morning, in L'Aquila, Abruzzo. The drive from FCO took us about an hour and a half. The finding of the hotel, another 15 min--some things are a constant. Finally we were rescued by a sweet man who walked me to a parking place while Ken drove. He told us to leave the car there and walked us to the hotel--down some stairs, where we could not, it turns out, have driven. The hotel people took the car keys and got the car for us--very nice indeed. We are staying at Hotel Sole, right in the heart of the centro of town.
Determined to stay awake until an appropriate bed time, we went for a long walk around the town and then to lunch at Le Fiaccole. It was wonderful! I had a fave bean soup--a lovely cousin to split pea. The antipasto misti was huge but we managed to taste everything including some seasoned raw meat on a crostini. Ken had pennette with 5 flavors--porcini, proscuitto, saffron, pecorino and one more I can't remember. I had delicate homemade spinach ravioli with a beautiful saffron sauce. This area is the main source of saffron for Italy. All of the food was very rich but luckily we had ordered a bottle of Rosso to cut through the richness.

After lunch, we had to take a short nap!

We had gelato for dinner because we were still stuffed from the late lunch.

This morning we slept IN! and had the very nice breakfast in the hotel's roof garden.

And then we went to the Castello which houses the National Museo of Abruzzo.

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We had pizza in a little place full of students and business men, strolled some more and had gelato in the Piazza del Duomo. Gelato, twice in 2 days--pretty good. Today I remembered that I don't have to finish it every time.

Ken is sound asleep in our hotel now. I am about to join him.


June 4, 2008

Another day in L'Aquila

Last night we had dinner at Ernesto, a place I had found written up in the Rough guide and it was also recommended by the people at the hotel. The meal was leisurely and, as usual, we ordered too much. I started with a fantastic salad with fresh baby arugala, apples, pecorino and pomegranate seeds. Ken had a farro soup which was so hearty it filled him up immediately. We shared the local pasta "chitara" with wild boar sauce. I had a simple chicken with red peppers and Ken had a very rich dish of small chunks of lamb, artichokes and saffron sauce. The whole meal was very satisfying but really, only the salad thrilled me.

This morning we went on a bit of an urban hike to the Fontan delle 99 spouts. Up and down and around town we walked and walked. Finally we came to it:

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We made it back to the area near our hotel and sat in a lovely little piazza for a while. At least we finally got a good workout!

For lunch we had our first porchetta pannini. And they were top notch. This stand

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actually had a wood burning oven in the back. We were lucky to get the last of the porchetta at around 1:30.

Domani we leave for Ascoli Piceno.


June 6, 2008

Beautiful Ascoli Piceno

We left L'Aquila in the late morning after a little walk. The drive through the Grand Sasso mountains was gorgeous except when we were in the long tunnel.

We remembered how to get into town from the autostrada but once in the centro, we went on a bit of a wild goose chase to get to the tiny street where the Albergo Piceno is.
Finally I called the hotel from the car and Cristina talked us through, turn by turn, until we arrived. She came running our to the front and we were all laughing and I gave her a big hug.

Of course, by the time we got checked into the room and settled we were hungry. And it started to rain. So, we walked out into the Piazza Arringo and spoted Migliori, walked right in. It is a place with a deli-style glass case displaying several lunch options. You can take out or eat there--there is a little room in the back as well as about 5 tables in the main space. I went a little overboard ordering (that's becoming a bad habit) but the veggies looked so good! I had spinach, cicoria, eggplant and a piece of roasted turkey. Ken had gnocchi pomodoro and a plate of artichokes. The vegetables really "hit the spot" for me. Great lunch!

We walked and walked after the rain finally stopped. This town is just so pretty! Ken kept looking in the real estate office windows at what was for sale--just a fantasy, but I think we would really be happy if we ever did move here.

Here's a photo I took from our bed--Can you see the rainbow?

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We were too full for a real dinner so we stopped in a a wine bar nearby--there are several. A young man was in there whose English was about on par with my Italian. We had so much fun talking with him--mostly about the vino. We drank the local Rosso Piceno which we both remember enjoying on the last visit. Before we knew it Lucca was a friend. And when he left, he went to the bar and quietly paid for our wine. So sweet--so quintessentially Italian.

After the snacks at the wine bar we really weren't hungry so we just walked around. the town is even more picturesque at night as the lights reflect off the travertine.

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Thanks everyone, for the comments.

A domani...


June 7, 2008

Temple of San Emidio

After breakfast we walked across the Tronto River to see this small temple:

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It is set is set into the tufa rock just outside of town.

And walking back, over the bridge, I shot this of a few of the towers that make Ascoli a stunning place.

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We had a very full day! We had a touristy lunch in the Piazza del Popolo at Cafe Lorenzo, including the delicious local fried olives and fabulous people watching.

We had to move our car from a very convenient spot right near the hotel because there will bee a market there this morning. Driving and parking here are a bit of a hassle!


June 9, 2008

An unexpected turn--making lemonade

Strangely enough, I am writing this from the beautiful sitting room at Genius Loci, jus outside of Bevagna. Not on our itinerary!! So here's how we got here--

We left Ascoli, Saturday morning and drove to Norcia, making a pilgrimage to the Ansuini Norceria, to but tartufo salami.

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Here I am with all the boars.

After a nice stroll we got back into the car and drove on to Viterbo. We at lunch in the Trattoria Porta Romana which was wonderful. I had tortelli with porcini--Ken, a long thick pasta (lumbracelli?) amatriciana, and we shard a fantastic sliced pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes.
Here's where we start going "off course". First of all, it starts to rain--no big deal, really. We are off to locate the VRBO house we are to rent for the week. With great difficulty, finally we find the piazza where we can park, knock on the door of the neighbor to get the key and she takes us to the house. The minute we enter I am freaking with general bad vibes. OK it was far from luxurious but the price was right. I am thinking it will be fine, BUT the smell! The place reeks of mildew. She takes us downstairs to the bedroom and we can't even breath in there! After about 10 minutes we decide to call the owner, in Ireland, and tell her we just cannot stay. She agrees that there is a problem, probably made worse by all the rain. She will refund our money and we will check into a hotel.
Here the nightmare continues. We check into the Baletti Palace Hotel--4 stars. It is a total dump. Ken keeps saying he feels like we are in Russia. The carpet is from 1945 and the room is not clean. The wallpaper is pealing from the walls and again we are haunted by the olfactory menace--it smells awful. But it is already clost to 7:0 so we stay. I had the phone number of D'Mae, fellow STer, so we called her and met at a winebar. She was a wonderful distraction--an instant friend--fun and entertaining.
Meanwhil I am panicing about where to go. Me with NO itinerary--OMG!! So, I call Michael at Genius Loci, dropping Palma's name and he has room for us.

So, we are back on track. I can see why Palma nd Brad chose this place for their Palmabella tour 2009.

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The views are really spectacular. The shower is great--Bevagna is lovely. We had a great day here yesterday, happy to be enjoying the "lemonade".

This morning we are off to Perugia. the internet gods willing, I will blog from there.

June 10, 2008

Bouncing back in Perugia

We are alive and very well in Perugia. I dont know if I can post photos from this "Internet Point" so words will have to do.
This is exactly what we love to do in Italy. Hotel Fortuna is on a relatively quiet street but right in the heart of the centro. It is perfect for wandering, looking in shops, having coffee, people watching etc. We had a very nice lunch at Altro Mondo, yesterday. Right around the corner from the hotel and full of locals--I had antipasti assortivi. They had a big table set up with several platters so I could try lots of different things. There were 2 kinds of prosciutto--the whole hams--I asked the difference and she said one was the typical and one was "cinta sinese". I asked which was better (I am doing all this in my best Italian--niente male) and she said try both and see. I actually liked the typical one better. So now I know. I also loved the farro salad with little pieces of cantelope, peas and arugala in it.

We got some laundry done at the Onda Blu.

Our room has a great little terrazza with a table and chairs so last night we ate our salami from Norcia, with wine from Ascoli and local fresh bread. Ken really O.D'd on the salami and I think it will be a long time until he eats it again.

This morning the sun is out--it's a beautiful day! I spoke to Barb (&Art) and we will gtg with them tomorrow.

Thanks for all the supportive comments!

June 11, 2008

GTG with Barb & Art

We took off this morning for Todi. Revisiting was full of nice meories of our stay there 4 years ago. We especially enjoyed the small contemporary art gallery right across from the La Scaletta restaurant.

Then we drove to Marsciano and on to San Venanzo to visit Barb and Art. Their home is really great, their town totally authentic and the lunch was fab! It was great to have home made food and especially the Zucchini Torta from the bakers blog. Thanks Barb! We loved our visit and the hospitality.

Last night we ate in Da Nana at the bottom of Corso Cavour which was recently recommended by Letizia. What a fantastic meal we had! I started with an angel hair type pasta "a la rustica" with eggplant and small tomatoes and a little dollop of wonderful buffalo ricotta while Ken had gnocchetti with a smoked goose ragu. The Ken had Faraona cooked in beer and I had pork filets with oranges and almonds. My diah was the star! We drank a Montefalco Rosso from Caprai and loved it.

Also, we discovered the Grom gelato place, new in Perugia, is about a 3 minute walk from the hotel.

So we are full agian. Overeating seems to be a permanent condition.

June 13, 2008

2 more Umbrian Days

Yesterday was a rainy one--all day it came down sometime harder but usually lightly.
We went to the museum in the morning and thoroughly enjoyed the Pinturicchio show. We both felt like it was the perfect size for us. Not so overwhelmingly big that you feel drained at the end. The English audio guide was great and well worth the 5euros.

Lunch was back at Altro Mondo. I had a nice light seafood pasta dish and Ken had taglieirini with boar sauce, a favorite. We got salads for dessert and they were nice--great Umbrian olive oil and balsamic from Modena.

We managed a walk in the afternoon, with umbrellas, to a beautiful view spot behind the duomo. But, for the most part, we stayed in and read and relaxed.

Dinner was at Osteria Bartolo, from the slow food book. At first I was really antsy in there. The place is really small, with about 8 tables and right near us was a foursome of loud talking , pompous, boastful British men and two American women. They were kind of driving us nuts until we just started to drink a fabulous Brunello di Montalcino. Interesting--I had asked if they had any half bottles--the place has an extensive list. He said no but...he came out from the back with this bottle of Brunello that had about three quarters left in it. I said "va bene" and it was well worth the 20euro he charged us for it. The menu was almost all beef dishes which was a little disconcerting to me but I ordered the special pasta of the day which was strognozzi with meatballs and zuchini. The meatballs were so tasty! and each one about the size of a marble--tiny and yummy. Ken had lentil soup which was just OK and then he had pasta with beef ragu which he loved. The pasta itself was really nice and homemade as was mine. For my secondo I just had a dish of chard. I swear it was the most delicious thing I' ve had in a long time. We also enjoyed a fablous dessert called crema di mascarpone--like a very light mousse with little pieces of very dark chocolate on top. We shared it with a glass of sweet malvasia wine. It was the perfect pairing--each sip revealing the flavors of the sweet.

My time is up on the computer...

The last day in Perugia--Gubbio

So, this morning we took off for Gubbio. Everything was totally nebbiosa--fogged in, but we assumed it would burn off and we were right. We had a beautiful, sometimes sunny, morning in Gubbio. We parked at the bottom of the town and slowly wound our way up to the Duomo at the top. We passed several amazing view spots and I took some great photos. this town is just made for a photographer! We walked and walked for over an hour. At the end, we found our way back to the car and decided to grab a quick lunch before we drove "home". A salad and a panino in a bar were nothing special but just fine for the moment. We then drove to the Roman theater to see the ruins there and visited the Antiquarium there which I found fascinating. Here we are standing on construction from the first century!!!

Back in Perugia we got an afternoon storm so we rested. The Italy/Romania soccer game came on at 6 and we watched. I love watching the soccer here when you can hear the whole town cheering out the window as you watch!

Dinner tonight was at Trattoria Del Borgo on via Sposa, also from the Slow Food book. We started with a fabulous plate of mixed cured meats, made in house. We figured we are on our way out of pork-country so we had to go for it. I had pasta with porcini and K had the pappardelle with boar sauce--not the best but all good. We shared a mailino with sage and fennel that was delicious. Walked home--all uphill and of course in the light rain.

Tomorrow we are off to Liguria.

June 15, 2008

Pictures

Today we are in Lerici. Not only is it totally beautiful but we have wi fi in the room! So I'm going to go ahead and post some photos.

First here's a sunset from our window at Hotel Fortuna, Perugia.

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I'll do some more on another entry


And here are 2 shots from in Perugia. First an Etrusan (I think?) Arch:


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Even if it's not Etruscan it is an impressive and beautiful spot--the kind of place you just happen upon walking around these Umbrian hill towns

Here's another corner in Perugia:

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More photos

Here's me with Barb and Art who are living out so many friend's fantasies.

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And here are 2 shots from our visit to Gubbio. I was crazy about these seemingly ancient olive trees planted in a very modern little piazza. You can see, they're not very tall but the trunks are so fat you can tell they are really old.

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And this is one of the Roman Theater:

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Today it's a little rainy and overcast so we are going to Sarzana to find the Lavanderia
(laundromat)

June 16, 2008

Lerici

Here's a view from our terrace, just a few minutes ago. Even though the weather is moody, the view is absolutely stunning every time!

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And here is a shot, looking the other way.

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I am happy just being here, watching the light change but there's lots more to do.

We arrived here on Saturday afternoon and looked at 2 rooms at the Doria Park before we chose this one--#557. It is a little bit bigger and 10 euro more/ night but we like it very much.

Shortly after we settled in I got a welcome call from Megan. She is a total sweetheart. She and Luigi came by for a brief but lovely visit over prosecco on the veranda here at the hotel.

So it was Saturday night in a beach resort--the joint is jumpin'. We wander down to the harbor and find ourselves waiting for a table at La Conchiglia. Four beautiful men tourists from Milan are waiting with us and help us get a table. They also recommended we try the Apribocca di Massimo antipasto. So we do. That starts a series of about 9 little plates (thank goodness we were sharing). the first plate was swordfish carpaccio with olive oil and pink peppercorns. Ken is not so big on fish so I ate that one. Each little plate was an adventure--some more familiar than others. Ken ate the little cooked shrimp with diced tomatoes and I particularly loved the little fritter with an anchovy wrapper. There was also hot octopus, hot squid with an oddly herby broth, more and more. We each got a pasta dish, too neither of which thrilled us. What did, however was the Vermentino with the fish and the scene. Being under this loud tent with so many Italians--many families. Well, I just couldn't wipe the grin off my face.

We didn't finish dinner until about 11:00. I think we have really arrived.

Sarzana

We knew yesterday we HAD to do laundry. Megan had given us a pencil map to the lavanderia in Sarzana since there isn't one here in Lerici. The hotel can get your stuff done but it is 2 euro for just a pair of socks!

Unbelievably we found the laundromat on the first try following the little drawing. Who would have thought we would ever enjoy the clothes cleaning thing so much! There was an older couple in there, too. So I struck up a conversation with them and it was so much fun. They spoke no English so it was slow going with my Italian but we really did talk-- about what? Food, of course. The woman said her husband makes the gnocchi, the ravioli and the pesto and she makes everything else. They rarely go to restaurants. He told me his secret to pesto is he uses half parmigiano and half sardo cheese. They were so nice and I really enjoyed talking to them.

Afterwards we went to Sarzana which is very pretty but was quite sleepy on a Sunday afternoon. We stopped in a bar there and Ken had a sandwhich with pesto on a nice foccacia . I tried farinata for the first time. It looks like pizza crust at first but it is made from ground chick peas. That one was quite oily but had great flavor. At 4 euros it was our cheapest meal yet, by far.

In the evening we walked a bit around Lerici and went to dinner at Il Frontoia. I had the black ravioli which filled me up after about a third of the plate. Ken had trenette with pesto. The pesto so far seems a little bland. I am thinking that with all the rain the basil may not be a flavorful this year--who knows. We also shared a really nice branzino (bass?) baked with chard and diced tomatoes and lots of fresh oregano--exactly what I felt like eating. We were saying this morning that we have had lots of wonderful dishes on this trip but have yet to have one totally fantastic meal.

This morning we woke up to rain--lots of it in the early hours. So we very slowly got ready for the breakfast. It is one of the best I've ever had in Italy. And they make most of the stuff here at the Doria Park. After breakfast we took a long walk to San Terenzo and back, all along the seaside walkway. There were lots of people out with children in strollers and it was gorgeous. I enjoyed watching some little boys fishing with nets. I'll put the pictures up later or tomorrow.

We hurried back because it looked like another storm was coming but it hasn't rained all day! The sky gets dark and threatening but no drops come down.

We had a wonderful focaccia with porcini and truffles and a beer for lunch and then "hiked" up to the Castello and went on a bit of an explore around that part of town. We are getting our exercise in today!

June 17, 2008

Lerici

Here is the photo of the boys fishing from yesterday, in San Terenzo:


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And here we are after climbing up the Castello here in Lerici.

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We had a nice dinner last night at Bonta Nascosta. The have a house "bianco frizzante" like prosecco that I thought was really good. Ken had spaghetti with mussels in a nice garlicy red sauce and I had orata baked in foil with little olives, tomatoes, carrots and a big shrimp. I loved my dish! We took a short walk after dinner and came back. This morning we are going to try to get an earlier start. Maybe...

June 18, 2008

Portovenere

Yesterday we decided to drive to Portovenere. It took only about 40 minutes and parking was easy. We hadn't read or researched anything about the place and really I expected another pretty resort town, which it certainly is. BUT as we walked through the shopping street we came upon the incredible scene of the church of St Peter on the rocky point--and the grotto where Byron swam--and the views of the cliffs of the Cinque Terre. The natural beauty and the historical beauty so intense in one spot--really a WOW!

Heres a picture through one of the many stone window frames that go along the walk:

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And here's a modern stautue of "Mother Nature" we discovered on the walk back from the church.

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We spent a long time just taking it all in, breathing there. We hiked up to the Fort also and then back down to the town. We hung out watching the yachts for a while. One was there from the Cayman Islands and we were trying to figure how long it had talken them to get here from there.

Lunch was at a little Enoteca called La Piazzetta on via Capelinni. It was nothing special--niente male (not bad). I had a big salad but Ken ordered testolino with pesto. It turned out to be interesting. She said it was a big farina pancake cut up into small pieces and then boiled??? I'm not sure if I lost some in the translation but I think that's what she said. The pesto seemed watery but somehow Ken managed to clean the bowl.

We came back to Lerici tired and satifsied. We decided to go to the market and buy some things to make a picnic in the room for dinner so we could watch the game without having to rush. We shared a Negroni at our bar in the hotel. We both hated it! So bitter! It was great fun eating out on our little terrace watching the storm clouds. Right around half time the storm hit and there was lots of lightning and thunder and plenty of rain. We could still hear plenty of cheering from the piazza below us. Italy won and it was the perfect end to our day!

This morning the view looks like this:

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June 19, 2008

A Culinary Adventure

Right after breakfast we took off to Tellaro. We walked through the peaceful little town and enjoyed the views:

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We couldn't decide what to do for the rest of the day but Megan had mentioned something that intrigued me--Panigacci. So off we went to drive in search of this pasta/bread/pancake that is unique to a small area called Podenza in the Lunigiana in Tuscany. From Lerici we drove in the direction of Parma for about 30 minutes before we got off the autostrada at Aulla and began winding up into the small mountains. Sometimes the drive reminded us of Northern California with the lush green canopied roads. Finally we stopped at this place--Da Gambin

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The restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside but it is huge inside with more than 100 tables. There were no menus; the waitress just came to the table and asked if we wanted to eat panigacci. She offered pesto, oil and cheese, or mushroom sauce. We got pesto and mushroom and switched off. This first plate had the discs of pasta (about 4 inches in diameter) which had been prepared then boiled for 2 minutes. They were flat on the plate covered with the sauce, both of which were terrific. Then she brought us a platter of proscuitto and a plate of stecchino (?) cheese and a basket of the hot panigacci right from the fire. This was an amazing combination of flavors. The cheese is almost like cream cheese, spread on the hot bread with a little char on it--with the silky, salty ham. I was ooohing and aaahing.
I asked her how they were made and she mentioned fuoco en camino--fire in what??
She could tell I couldn't get if so she invited us down some steep stairs in the kitchen to see where the panigacci are made. The camino is like a big wheel in the wood fireplace that is partly outside and partly inside the building. The cook puts the testi (terracotta discs) on the fire until they are red hot. The he takes one off and pours on a ladle full of batter (just water, flour and salt), tops it with the next hot disc and repeats this until there are about 5 in a stack. It takes about 2 minutes and the panigacci are cooked.
There are 5 restaurants which have formed the Association of Panigaccio--www.arpp.com.

Here's the shed right across the street from the restaurant

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Full of great food we returned to Lerici for a nice nap...

June 20, 2008

To Genoa

We had our last "Best Breakfast in Europe" at Hotel Doria and said goodbye to the sweet staff there--especially to beautiful Stefania who was so friendly and helpful. Our intention was to go back to the lavanderia (laundromat) in Sarzana but somehow we got a little over confident with the directions and found ourselves back on the autostrada. At least we were going towards Genoa!

Driving here, in Genoa, is like Rome--totally insane. The streets have no resemblance to a grid; none seem straight and are full of Italian, wild-driving traffic. But we had great directions and we found the city Hotel with no problems.

After settling in we took a walk. This is a strange transition from Lerici. We are in a real city--with noise and grime and unsavory looking characters--but there are fabulous shops and interesting streets everywhere. We walked a lot and found San Vincenzo street I remembered having read about a foccacia place there, on Mario Batali's site. There were so many--we just chose badly--we had a lousy lunch at a little counter. I had a spinach quiche/fritatta and Ken had a panino with salami. Ken is determined to return there today to find the right place, now that I've checked my notes, we will.

We walked down to the Old Port where it is like a carnival atmosphere. They are having some kind of "expo" of foods of third world countries. You could try Tunisian, Mexican, etc--nothing looked wonderful to me.

Here are a couple of shots from the Port:

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and here's Ken watching the fish--

Wandering home we came to via Garibaldi with its incredible palazzi. We walked inside this one to find this stunning courtyard:

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On our way back to the hotel we discovered that one of the restaurants on our "list", from the recent NYT article, was right around the corner. So we went to Da Maria for dinner. This is a very simple trattoria with a hand written, copied menu. We had a good laugh because even with my great restaurant-Italian skills we had a hard time reading the menu--in English, your eye can just fill in the blanks of unreadable script but this handwriting was do different and in a foreign language--we were lost. The waitress was helpful--she pretty much, read the menu to us. Allora--finally we ordered. I had ravioli in brodo which were so wonderful and tasty. I don't actually think I've ever eaten meat ravioli before so I can't compare but these were fantastic, to me. Ken had green tagliolini with mushroom sauce which we both thought was just OK. We had ordered Cima di vitello which we really didn't understand but she seemed to think we would like it. It was cold stuffed veal. I am not really sure what was in the filling--peas, eggs, something with a lot of flavor, but it was delicious and it came with olive oil fried potatoes. Then we shared a nice fresh salad and I had macedonia (fruit salad) for dessert. I would never think I would LOVE chunks of apples and cantaloupe but they put course sugar on top and give you a lemon wedge to squeeze over. It was great!

Full again, we took a nice walk, kind of in a circle around this little area. We passed by a concert hall and could hear the opera inside. Looking into the lobby, there were big
candles burning, going up the stairs--so pretty.

This morning we are excited because our friends David and Cecelia re coming to meet us. More fun!


June 21, 2008

Genoa

This morning we felt completely "adjusted" to the city and Genoa was happy to provide lots of interest.

We walked and walked all morning long. We went into one church but I don't really remember which one it was. We stood and stared for a long time at the San Lorenzo church. Its black and white striped marble facade fascinated us. My favorite stop of the day was at Piazza Dante--part of a very medieval looking castle, stand tall (Porta Soprana) there right beside the delicate ruins of a 12th century cloister.

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All the while people are bustling around the streets and the juxtaposition of past and present is startlingly apparent.

We were so excited all day, waiting for Cecelia (yes, cec from ST) and David. They finally made it in the late afternoon--very tired from the long train ride from Nice but happy to be here. We walked some more with them; first of all to the beautiful fountain at Piazza de Ferrari:

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We were imagining going home "after school" to a place like this:

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These buildings are mostly banks now but long ago...

Sensational dinner tonight! I had read about Enoteca Infernotta on Mario Batali's site and it was fantastic. We stared with pasta (it's so much fun to have friends here for so many reasons, not the least of which is I get to taste more dishes at meals!). The mandilli--handkerchiefs of pasta, with pesto were perfect. The pesto here is totally puree with no flecks of basil visible--just a thin, bright green, sauce. Ken had borage (we think) ravioli with a chunky meat sauce. David's choice was black and yellow lingune with squid--very rich seafood flavor. For secondi we all had veal Milanese which was perfectly cooked with potatoes and lemon wedge on the side. There was no wine list--just the consiglia (advice) of the owner. So, we drank a white first, from Savonna--a pigato--light and refreshing. Next we had a Rosso from the colli di Luni--tasted like a nice chianti. I had a delicious light amber colored grappa afterwards which I loved.

We had a nice swift walk back to the hotel afterward--all in all another great day!


June 22, 2008

Last Day in Genoa

We got a bit of a slow start but we managed to cover a good part of the historic center of Genoa today, on foot. We wound our way slowly down to the Porto Antico and back up to Via Garibaldi, stopping for coffee along the way and lots of window shopping. We are looking for a purse to bring home for Kathryn, so we went into many of those shops. Lunch was at Da Maria. We all agreed that the pastas were very good but the secondi "not so much". Cec and I both had a vegetariano Polpettone which we expected to be like meatballs without meat, but instead it was like a slice of stuffing--like potato kugel--good but not at all what we expected. Kenny was the only smart one. He ordered a salad after his pasta and no secondo.

The afternoon found us wandering around again; tis is a great city for window shoping and church hopping. We discovered the Galleria Mazzini is right on the next street. It reminded us of the Milan train station--very beautiful and ornate

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We found a great bag for Kathryn in a store that reminded me of "Express". We were just about to get her a nice leather one and I called her. She does not want leather, so we opted for a cool printed cloth one that I had seen the first day--much less $$$.

In the afternoon we went to see the Duomo--church of San Lorenzo. The detail on the facade, like yesterday, kept us rapt. Ken and Cec both didn't go in because on "inapropriate dress" so I stayed very briefly. Here's a shot of some of the detail, outside:

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Cecelia is really suffering with her back and feels like her rib may be broken. We got her an ace bandage and I wrapped her up in it in a comical scene in the bathroom in the Osteria Vico Palla. We had a wonderful waitress there who was very helpful but I am starting to realize we don't really jive with the typical Genovese food. It is just too fishy, in general. We enjoyed most, a bowl of mussels with a simple salty, garlicky broth which we all shared for a antipasto.

I am really worried about Cecelia... this afternoon, we will throw ourselves on the mercy of the Baurs and hope that the magic of their place will cure all of our ills.

June 24, 2008

Lovely Acqui Terme

Diana just walked by, gathering herbs to make, who knows what, delectable treat for our breakfast. That pretty much sums up our lifestyle here at Baur B&B. Arrival from Genoa was a breeze--only took about an hour and all of our luggage did fit into the trunk of our Peugeot 308 after Ken worked on it like a fun puzzle for a little while.

It is fun walking around town, remembering, getting our bearings. Here's a picture of the Piazza Bolente where the hot water comes from the ground:

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We have spent a lot of time relaxing, reading, and talking by the pool. Yesterday's adventure was taking Cecelia to the Pronto Socorso (Emergency room) to get an xray of her rib. We were there only about an hour and a half to be told nothing is broken. Cost: $0.00. I think all the rest is helping her recover.

We had a sensational lunch at I Caffi. Only, I didn't really like what I ordered by I wanted to try try it. I had the merluzzo, which is salt cod--now I know I don' t like it--too salty and fishy for me. Cecelia had the best dish--slices of "fassone" which is an older veal--young beef--fanned out around a timbale of black rice with some delicious grilled radichio on the side. David had the simple ravioli al plin and Ken a beautiful salad with duck breast and fruit and pate. We all shared one dessert which was a whole peach stuffed with chocolate and baked--totally decadent.

June 25, 2008

Piemonte

A Lovely day in Piemonte

After breakfast and a very informative session with our concierge, we headed into town for the market day and to revisit some stores we had only seen closed, so far. Cecelia bought a beautiful brown and gold glass pendant and I got a barrette for Kathryn. Our visit to find dish towels for my frind Molly was so much fun, looking through many samples in a store about as big as our bathroom. Strolling through the market was enjoyable—we got a bunch of supplies to have dinner at the B&B—lots of bread, cheese, salami, a half a roast chicken (we had really wanted a whole one but we just couldn’t seem to get the guy to let us have one) and something we have no idea the name but it is like poultry meat loaf—very delicious no matter what it’s called.

Lunch was nice at the simple Trattoria Bigat in town. Kenny was smart—he just had a salad, but the rest of us had pasta—full again!


In the afternoon we went for a wine tasting at Giovanni Piacenza, only about 15 minutes, beautiful drive, through the Monferrato, from here. His Barbera is the house wine at Baur B&B so we were confident of the quality. This was a totally informal and friendly tasting. We started with the Cortesea—an off-dry bubbly white reminiscent of prosecco. Then we tried his light and easy drinking chardonnay—no oak. We compared the very drinkable, dark purple Barbera d”Asti with a Barbera Superiore “Nizza”—this was the stunner. So much fruit with the French Oak—great feel in the mouth, great flavor. We asked Giovanni what fruit was in there—currents? Black berry? Cherry? He said “Barbera!” Of course!

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After the wine we drove to Mombaruzzo to taste soft Amaretti cookies. We had to have sme and some of the hazelnut variety, too. We walked to a pretty grassy spot with a great view and benches and just sat there a while to enjoy.

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Then we drove home by way of Alice di Colli where we climbed to a very high spot to take photos and enjoy the breezy evening air.

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At home we spread out all the bounty from the mornings shopping and had a wonderful feast including the Barberas of Giovanni Piacenza.

June 27, 2008

Torino

Wednesday afternoon we drove to Torino. Diana gave us great directions and it took a little bit over an hour. We parked in the underground lot near the train station and took a cab to our first stop--"Eataly"-- a haven for foodies with goods from all over the country and an interesting (but not really great--downright disappointing-- eating) upscale food court. Since we were not really in a position to be buying anything, we really just passed through and left.

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We took another cab (this driver was a football, not soccer, player and was thrilled to talk NFL with us) back to the centro and made a beeline for the church where the Shroud of Turin is kept. We saw the photos and David was really glad to have gone.

After a long walk back, including a gelato stop, we met Fabrizio who would be our informal guide for the next couple of hours. By the time we met him we were all overheated and really beat. Luckily he has a nice air conditioned car so he drove us around the city for a while and it was very informative. We did get out and walk arond the Palazzo Reale area. He showed us so many fascinating buildings and locations that I now think Torino deserves its own week!

We really wanted to get back to watch the soccer match but hunger got the better of us and we stopped in Nizza Monferrato for dinner at Due Lanterne. It was very good! Later I discovered it is in the Slow Food book.

We got back just in time to see the last minute of the game with Germany winning--we could hear Diana and her friend, Birgit, cheering downstairs.

June 28, 2008

Il Giardino--outstanding!

OK--if you are tired of reading about food, you may as well skip this entry.

We started out yesterday with a nice walk all over Acqui. Cecelia, who is feeling much better, is looking for a sundress. The weather is really warm, reminding us of home. She and David needed to go to the train station to get their tickets to go to France on Sunday.

In the afternoon we just relaxed around the pool but it's a little strange for us to be in Italy and just laying around. Given the heat, there's not much choice, though, and it is a beautiful pool!


Diana made us reservations for dinner at Il Giardino in Melazzo, a tiny town about 15 minutes drive from the B&B. and it was really a fantastic meal—so wonderful that I took notes to remember all we had. We were having such a hard time deciding about the antipasti that, the friendly and shy, Piero offered to make us a tasting of all the apps. First was very thinly sliced, perfectly coked veal topped with diced tomatoes, a chiffonade of bitter greens and of course olive oil. Next came a plate they called carpione—it had a small slice of turkey breast, a small meat ball, some onions, zucchini and carrots—all of these were in a kind of lightly pickled—sweet and sour—sauce. The next simple white plate held a fried zucchini flower and a puff called a fagotino—like a large raviolo, lightly fried with hot gorgonzola oozing out as you put your fork into it. We drank a sparkling “favorita” white with all this. I’ve been ordering the local ravioli “al plin” everywhere so here we had them—just 2 orders for the 4 of us. Cec and I had ours with sugo arrosto—just a rich meat gravy—and not too much. David and Ken had theirs with Barbera wine. Very typical of this area, they serve the bowl of ravioli just plain—on the side is a little pitcher of the wine and you just pour it on. These were truly the best of the Plin that we’ve tasted so far; they were homemade and perfectly cooked. Finally we had “vitello alla griglia”—basically a very small steak served with a lemon wedge and some roasted potatoes. We drank a Barbera from Ca Re which we loved.

We had to try the desserts and here’s a picture of the strawberry pannacotta we had for dessert. The strawberry garnish is set on rose petals.

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We came "home" and played cards.
I am starting to get sad about Kenny leaving on Sunday.

Asti

Since it has been so hot in the afternoons we decided to try for an earlier start and visit Asti. We parked in the triangle shaped Piazza Alfiera, right near the Information office where they gave us a great little map and, of course, some restaurant locations. Off we went walking through the pedestrian streets of the old city. Barsolino is an old and famous hat maker located there:

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Asti is a very pretty town with colorful banners flying everywhere (Palio connection?) and lots of flowers. We walked all over the place, window shopping, and menu shopping. We finally settled on L'angolo di Beato--mentioned in Slow Food and lots of other guide books. We all shared a colatello (like proscuitto) and melon appetizer and each got a pasta. Mine was orrechiete with chard and lots of olive oil. David was adventurous and ordered a sauce with rabbit liver. We had fun talking for a long time to the owner's son who had been to the US 2 years ago on his honey moon.

Here's Cec and me in Asti:

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We had a nice relaxing afternoon around the pool, reading, dozing and playing cards.

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Last Day at Baur B&B

This week really blew by! It is so wonderfully relaxing staying here with the pool, the flowers and Max. This is what pleasure is all about. (not to mention the most wonderful breakfasts ever!)

We had a nice morning trip to Alba today--market day--everything was totally lively.

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It is amazing how at 12:30 everyone packs up and by the time we finished lunch the streets were empty.

We ate at Conte Rosso and I had to try the pasta with summer truffles. Here they are on display outside the restaurant:

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This afternoon I was freaking out a little about Kenny leaving tomorrow so Cec and I went on a little photo shooting walk about just here at the B&B. Here are a couple of my favorites:

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the new kitchen door:

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and Micha and Diana

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I have to wake up early tomorrow to take Ken to Malpensa. Probably I won't be able to upload any photos but I will be blogging from an Internet Cafe.

June 30, 2008

Sono da sola--on my own

Well, I admit to being an emotional mess when Ken left yesterday morning but I have rallied (just as Diana predicted) and now I can honestly say, "This is really fun!"

I found an internet place where I can upload my photos but I forgot to bring the cord so--next time.

After driving Ken to Malpensa I went to Acqui to check in at La Loggia. I really love my tiny, comfortable room. It feels really safe, the shower is great and so is the AC. Who can ask for more for 43 euros a night? I took a nice walk and ended up at Xbacco for lunch. I asked the friendly waiter what the X is all about. He said X sounds like "per" and Bacco is Baccus and the phrase perbacco is like the exclamation "Oh my god" for us. He explained all this in Italian so I may have the whole thing wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's what he said.

I ate an appetizer of little meatballs in vinegar sauce-- "en carpione" and a salad. the perfect light lunch for me on this hot humid day. The grisini (bread sticks) and arneis wine were lovely, too. I had fun people watching and just slowing down and enjoying my own company.

Most of the afternoon I spent reading a junk novel in the air conditioned room. It's just too hot outside to walk around in the heat of the day. In the evening, I strolled some, got a piadina to go and went back to the room to watch the Europe Cup Final. Spain won and by one minute after the game ended I was asleep.

So, I made it through my first day as a solo traveler. I'm excited about starting language classes on Tues.

July 1, 2008

Acqui Terme

July First! Amazing!

Today I finallly started language class and I remember how much I love it. It just stirs the right part of my brain. Grazia is the teacher (found through Diana) and she is perfect for me--patient, go with the flow, but teaching every minute. She talked to us a bit about history of Italy and how the war (WWII) was fought right here--what happened to her uncle and mother during it. It makes it so real, much more so than reading a book. There is one other woman, Elizabeth, in my class and she is very nice. We went to lunch together after the class. I am thrilled I am doing it!

Susan, who is reluctant to have her picture taken, arrived yesterday. I drove the three minute drive to the train station to pick her up so she didn't have to roll her suitcases through town. I took her on a little walk right around our place and we got gelato. She was into the pesca (peach) and I tried it and it was fantastic! (Of course, I dripped some on my shirt so I used my "Dash pen" I bought in Ascoli and amazingly the stain came out.) My limone gelato was SO good with the peach--it made me think of my Dad who loved lemon stuff. So many things here in Italy make me think of him...

Susan and I went to visit Diana for a while in the afternoon and that was really nice. I was immediately sucked in to "my" lounge chair there and almost fell asleep. Only the lively conversation kept me awake. It is amazing to observe Diana in action with the workers there. She is shuch a pro! the consumate European woman.

Dinner was at the Trattoria Commercio. I ordered the recommendation of the young waitress--pappardelle con sugo della casa--a mix of pesto, cream and tomatoes, which was very good. With that I had a side of spinach and it made a nice dinner for me. We both drank the mediocre house white wine and both woke up with headaches. this was after I bragged to Susan that I never get headaches in Italy--oh well.

It is interesting how all the Italians are so ready to talk about Obama. As soon as you let on that you aren't for Bush they enthuse about Obama and the new chance for America. I guess they are so used to changing governments it's a big part of their lives.

The photo uploading thing is a mystery to me here so I don't think it will happen until I get home.

The weather is a lot nicer today. Warm but not too hot. I am so glad to be here!

Next stop--I have resolve an issue with my phone. I bought a "ricaricard" and when I scraped off the covering, the code went with it. so I have to go to the TIM store and see if I can get another one.

July 3, 2008

More Acqui

This morning, as I was walking to the internet place, I realized that I really love to stay in one place for 2 weeks, especially if it's a place I really like. I am so comfortable here, now. The faces in the streets are becoming familar as are the streets themselves (no more searching the map). This place has a nice peaceful rhythm and I am feeling very simpatico with it. I am starting to notice so many more details of the buildings, the beautiful doors, the pastel pallette, the 3-D painting around the windows... It is really a beautiful small town.

This morning I went to the cafe in Piazza San Guido. I especially like that one because they have "brioche piccolla"--a small sweet croisant and of course, good coffee. I almost always get a double cafe macchiato. I sat outside this morning and did my homewrok. Prepositions! Yuck!!! The class continues to be very satisfying to me. Yesterday, after the class, Elizabeth invited Susan and me to lunch in her apartment. It is right in town, very near everything. And it is big and beautiful. We were really impressed. It was so nice to eat some chicken--it was just leftover, cold chicken and a salad she put together quickly but we really loved it.

Susan and I took a walk to the train station afterwards and went up to the beautiful gardens "Acqui Birdgarden". ( It was getting pretty hot by then but most of the day was really comfortable as is this morning.) We both took a lot of pictures of the flowers and views at the garden. In the evening we visited Diana and her wonderful friend Birgit. We also met the hysterical, Gregorio, who has recently opened a wine bar in the Piazza Bollente. Listening to his stories, mostly about his 2 years as a waiter in NYC was really entertaining.

Telephone situation was easily resloved. I just took the bad card to the TIM store and they were able to get the money reinstated. I did need to have my passport to show him, for some reason. He advised that, from now on, I just go to the TIM store to get the credit on their computer and not mess with the cards--fine with me. Especially since I expect there will be plenty of stores in Venice, next week.

July 5, 2008

Ciao Ciao Piemonte

I am sitting at Balala having a coffee because my friend Kris' flight to Malpensa has been delayed so I have a couple of hours to kill.

Yesterday I followed Susan, the queen of the trains, on an adventure to Nizza Monferrato. Shortly after we got there, we inquired about the tower (Susuan loves towers!) and before we knew it we had a private guide, Matteo, to climb the 16th century tower. It wasn't too high or frightening at all. The view from the top was amazing! We walked and walked and my photo memory card ran out of memory! We asked about a camera store and were told that they didn't stock my kind of card but for 2 euros they burned all my pictures onto a CD so I now have a fresh card.

We came back and rested our feet at La Loggia and I went for another long walk. I am still finding lovely little surprises here in Acqui. As I came around a corner, the doors to a courtyard on Piazza Levi were open and I saw a beautiful statue of a ballerina!
I was dissappointed I didn't bump into Elizabeth all day. All the stores are having big sales so I bought Kathryn another little gift.

Susan, Birgit, Diana and I had a date to meet for a glass of wine at the Piazza Bolente at 5;30 but Gregorio's new wine bar wasn't open. Birgit cheers--So we get gelato! so we did. I took a great picture of her and another of Diana in the easy evening light. They both looked so beautiful!

Then we went to the wine bar. First I had a Piemontese Rose sparkler which was OK --followed by a nice glass of Arneis which I have really come to appreciate. It is the perfect wine for the hot weather and plentiful, light snacks. We stayed there for a couple of hours while busy Diana ran errands. She came back for a glass of Sangria which everyone was praising. They use brachetto vodka and calvodos in it!

I was really not hungry but I decided to keep Susan company for dinner and I had it in my mind to get one more pesto before I left the area. We went to the Royal Hotel where Susan loves the pizza and I had a really good plate of trofie with pesto. SO SO full, we walked home.

I got toatally packed last night thinking we would be leaving very early but Ken called in the middle of the night to warn me about the flight delay.

One last walk in lovely Acqui. I will really miss it here.

July 6, 2008

Long travel day

Finally made it to Malpensa after a harrowing experience returning the rental car. Waiting for Kris was so exciting--I was jumping up and down when she finally appeared. Susan went to catch the bus as soon as we got to the arrivals area of the airport. We went to Milano Centrale to get our train tickets and the first thing I hear is my name--there was Susan. Kris got her first coffee and proscuitto panino at the station while we waited for the train. The ride was so easy and comfortable. There was barely anyone else in the car with us all the way to Venice.

We were so excited and it was already 7pm when we got off the train. We ran to buy our boat tickets and jumped on the first number 2 we saw. After about 5 minutes I said to Kris "I have a feeling we are going the wrong way" and sure enough we were! Luckily Marco Passi called on my cell and told us just get off and take the first one coming back and he would meet us at Campo San Toma which he did. So happy to be in our lovely Corte Tiepolo apartment, we just quickly washed up and set out for dinner. We ate a Vivaldi, very nearby.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal there especially the rigatoni with pomodoro and black olives. I had really been in the mood for some tomato sauce! I drank a nice bright Sicilian white and Kris had a half bottle of Lungarotti red. The tables are close there and everyone is very friendly which we loved UNTIL-- a couple came and sat beside us. They were traveling around Italy from Holland. They drove us both nuts! They were so smug, arrogant and presumptuous, as if we would be totally entertained by his political commentary throughout our whole meal. We couldn't wait to say goodbye to them!

Today we went to the COOP and got some basics and have done a ton of walking. San Marco is a total zoo! We are determined to stay on "our" side of the canal from now on.

Right now we are in the shelter of a wonderful air conditioned internet place taking a little break.

Venice is beautiful still, but strikes me as an abused child for now.

July 10, 2008

Bella Venezia

Our days have been so full here and we have not been near the internet place. I just want to say we are so fine!

I promise to go back and fill in all the details after I am home.

This morning we met up with Andrea, a private guide for Murano who we found through Nan.Our morning was absolutely wonderful. He took us to the incredible church there from Roman times.
The floors alone were worth hours of gazing and study. Then we went to a couple of glass places.

We were so charmed by Andrea, who leads a gospel (yes, that kind of gospel!) choir in his spare time. He made Murano come alive for us.

I still feel like I am on the boat right now, it was a little rough and I kept thinking Kenny would never have made it!

More blog when I get home.

Kris is really keeping me busy!

July 25, 2008

Back to Acqui Terme

I just wanted to put up a few photos from my last week in Acqui. Taking them was really easy. Snap shots are my style but you almost can't help but get gorgeous results with the subject matter.

Here's the window of the fresh pasta shop,where I totally enjoyed watching the machines churning out the wonderful looking, local style ravioli "al plin":

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The Bollente, in the center of town, is a natural hot spring which spews hot water and has been since Roman times. Someone could sit there all day and take pictures. In the mornings people come there and fill up containers to use the water for cleaning and for some, for drinking. It has a particularly sulfurish smell--I couldn't imagine drinking it.

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Here it is at night.

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One more shot, of beautiful Acqui, from the public garden near the archeological museum.

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Looking back at my pictures reminds me of how really pretty the town is.

July 27, 2008

Italy inspired coking

I have been enjoying cooking in my own, well-functioning kitchen since I've been back. This is not a fancy kitchen--we have laminate counter tops, for god's sake, and, except the refrigerator, which I hate (that's another story) these are all the original appliances. We moved in 20 years ago and everything's still kickin'.

Last night we made a little informal dinner party for our good friend, slow-traveler, almost Italian citizen, Lyn. Her husband Antonio brought a beautiful, bountiful, platter of fresh-from-the-garden, grilled veggies and another of fabulous Italian cheeses. The big hit was a little "bar" of something called cotognata which they brought home from Ascoli Piceno. It is dried apples and quince pressed together. Eating it with the sharp Italian pecorino was a real treat! I love those uniquely Italian flavor combos. We drank Prosecco with all of this.

Our first course was fettuccine with gorgonzola, pesto and sundried tomatoes. I had been thinking about trying it for a few days and I think it really worked. the simple pino grigio worked well with the richness of the sauce. Luckily I didn't make to much--just one pound of pasta for the 8 of us was perfect.

For the main course, we had another fuller-bodied white wine which Anthony had from Ascoli. It was great with the grouper I put on the grill. I had made some lemon infused olive oil earlier this week and used it to season the fish. Our friend Tandy made a huge salad which we ate with the fish and this foccacia which I had fun making in the afternoon:

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I used one dough for two kinds--one with onions and cherry tomatoes and the other with just grated parmesean cheese.

For dessert I did the Bluberry Coconut Tart from Dolce Italiano, page 150. If the Sunday Slow Bakers missed this one you've go to go back and try it. It was absolutely fabulous. We are in our last week or two of the local blueberry season and they are just yummy! I love feeling the connection to Gina through the recipes.

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After some coffee we all flopped on the couch! Anthony was the first one asleep (so, what's new?) I was really feeling staisfied with the whole meal!


February 16, 2009

The Clock Tower in Venice

Kris and I loved our tour of the Clock tower in San Marco. We met our guide in the museum and walked the length of the piazza to the little dark green door to climb the stairs. At first we were the only two but about five more people joined us after a few minutes. Lots of great history, beautiful views and art all in one, totally easy, visit. Well, there were a bunch of stairs.

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Here's a neat view from one of the round windows. You can see the Basilica beautifully from them.

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Our guide was an adorable young Polish woman who spoke a whole mess of languages, including excellent English. Here she is on the top of the tower explaining to us about the ringing of the bell.


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We were there on a picture perfect day. The views from the top were amazing.

Here's a view of the Torre Orologio from Piazza San Marco.

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I'm so ready to go back.


February 17, 2009

La Serenissima

After posting yesterday, I can't stop thinking about Venice. The week spent there last summer was so full and so fine. My great friend and travel partner, Kris, met me for the last week of my 6 week trip. ( The first month, I spent with my husband.) We rented the Corte Tiepolo apartment in San Polo, right on the Grand Canal. Lots of time was spent watching out the windows, dreamy eyed, just taking it all in. Immediately outside was a docking area for gondole. People have asked if it was noisy and it really wasn't. Listening to the rhythms of the city we love all day was a treat. At night the closed windows left us in a quiet sanctuary.

So, here are just a few of the many photos I took, from our window.

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Here's one really "duded up" gondola. I half expected to see fuzzy Dice hanging in there somewhere.

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Here's a wierd night shot.

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And here's Kris, hangin' out, watching Venice go by like our own private show.

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By the way, we thought our location was great! It was about a three minute walk to the San Toma vaporetto stop. We were surrounded by great shopping, restaurants and churches.

February 23, 2009

Windows--Italy

Inspired by the recent photo hunt prompt, "Windows" on Slow Trav's Italy forum, I decided to post a few, shall we say, less typical window shots. There is a classic one or two mixed in.

First, our view from the bathroom window at Hotel Doria Park in Lerici. I smiled completely every time I got out of the shower and glanced out at the picture perfectness there.


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Next is my attempt at being artistic. I took this of the window at Baur B&B hwere you can always count on amazing light and colors.

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Here's another window at Baur B&B with Diana working inside. Actually, I don't think this really looks like her but you can see the colors painted on the walls--all Diana's fine work.


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Last window shot is from Siena. I loved looking at this building from the Piazza del Campo.

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I have so many more shots from inside windows and looking at them. Maybe I'll do a follow up post tomorrow.


September 26, 2009

Photo Hunt--"Twisted"

Detail from the from the San Lorenzo Duomo in Genoa Italy. It was probably built in the early 1300's.

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December 27, 2009

Photo Hunt--"Twelve"

I haven't been doing the Photo Hunts with any regularity but when I saw 12 as the prompt, I knew I had a good shot for it.

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Twelve signs of the zodiac on the clock tower, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy.

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