Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ciao ciao.

Leaving today for home.  One last look back at our Italian home for the last 3 months.  Even though we are leaving Italy today, I will write a few more entries into my blog as I have had some really bad wifi the last week and there is more I would like to share with you.  So many thanks to the Sistoni family for their generosity.

Our home, our car and my wife.  All good.

So ciao for now and wish us safe travels home.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cathy and Gigi were extremely excited to come here.  Chris was excited because she would be able to spend time in the Museo Galileo.  In 2011, we discovered this museum but only got to spend a few moments there as it was closing.  When we came here with Erin in November the museum was closed on Tuesdays.  We arrived on Thursday. On Friday Gigi and Cathy headed off to the Academia to see the statue of David.  Unfortunately, Chancellor Merkle from Germany was in town and meeting in the Academia.  No David.   So they joined us to visit the Museo Galileo.   The Renaissance period was more than artwork and sculptures.  The Dark Ages had stymied science, exploration, medicine as well as human growth.  The Galileo museum showcased discoveries in all these things.  Done with experiments, trial and error and the intelligence of these men, it was an amazing period in Europe.  I fear that the human mind,  being more and more reliant on computers, may fall back into a dark age again.  Lets hope I’m wrong.


Galileo's forefinger, thumb and tooth.  

The Globes.  
How they did it.

On Saturday Cathy and Gigi made it to the Academia to see David and we went to the Bargello gallery,  a fort that was used as a police station during the Medici reign in Florence.  I loved the cannon that was on display.  Talk about your gun control. 

Coats of Arms and The Cannon at the Bargello Museum.

After a train ride back to Perugia, our last stop was the Franco Todini Cantina in Collevalenza.  They’re not called wineries in Italy.  This cantina is just one kilometer from our house and it was the first time we had visited it.  What a mistake that’s been!  Given a tour by Eleonora, she told of its history, production and how it is attached to a B&B and restaurant, where we will have our goodbye meal on Thursday night before heading to Rome and then home.

Doing the tour with Eleonora at Franco Todini Cantina.

All in all, a very nice time with Cathy and Gigi.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Change is gonna come!

Wednesday, our run of good weather ran out.  We had planned to take a small boat over to Portofino and have lunch.  But the seas were not good and I didn't want us to end up a headline on Italian TV.   So we hopped on another train to Rapallo.  There I got confused and walked us around trying to find the bus to Portofino.  Turns out you have to take two buses from Rapallo to Portofino.  But, we made it and it was cold and a bit wet.  We got there and it was like a ghost town.  Just about Everything was closed.  So we walked out hoping to find one restaurant open.  Lucky for us, there was and they had room so we did have lunch in Portofino.  A 170 euro lunch in Portofino.  How lucky is that?  The food was excellent, however.

Spaghetti with fresh clams

Gorgonzola and spinach Ravioli

Enjoying Portofino

Getting back to Camogli, we did some more walking around.  I found this shrine tucked in behind a cafe.  Click on the picture and you can see it had a ship inside a bottle attached to the wall of a building.  That's something you don't see everyday.

Shrine with a ship in a bottle.  Very cool.

By nightfall, the skies were getting crazy and this picture shows how dramatic it was over the area.

That night it let loose.  Rain, hail, thunder and lightning.  Along with one duck right outside our window, who would not shut up.  Not much sleep that night either.  But, as Chris said, "it was pretty cool".  The next morning, there was snow on the ground in Rapallo.

Thursday we head back to Florence for 2 and one half days.  Always fun to be had in Florence.

Camogli, Colds and Grappa.

By Sunday night, after lazing all afternoon, I came down with a cold.  A real head stuffer.  Chris too.  I took an antihistamine from the local Farmacia and paid the price.  It is easy getting medication here, but be careful as you may be lit up all night, like I was.  It was like I had taken crystal meth or something.  Funny thing, I only took half the pill Sunday night.

Monday was a travel day.  Still buzzin' but tired, I drove the four of us up to Perugia to catch the train to Florence, then hop on another train to Pisa, then onto another train to Chiavari and finally onto a train to Camogli.

Tuesday, we woke to find Camogli beautiful with sunshine galore and the sea was spectacular.  When we were here in November, it was slate gray our entire stay.  Cathy and Gigi have brought us good weather wherever we have been.

Is that Blue Skies we see?

Order some drinks and they bring you snacks.  Lots of them.

At the Camogli harbor.

A bit of frolic time on the beach.  Cathy found some neat broken tiles and stones on the beach, which she is bringing home to make a trivet.  

Fishermen doing what fishermen have done for centuries, working on their nets.

Cassie and Stefano had invited us to dinner at their home.  It was a treat getting a home cooked meal that I didn't have to cook.  Stefano, being a bar owner, got a tour of a Grappa manufacturer in November and brought home some really really good Grappa.    The ladies didn't care for it.  It was awesome.  So Ste (short for Stefano) and I indulged.  It helped the cold too.

Grappa, not for the faint of heart.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

Sunday the 18th, the best games of the NFL season are on back home.  It’s one of the few days I like to watch the NFL.  We come home on Super Bowl Sunday.  I’ll miss that game, or maybe catch a glimpse of the longest pre-game show in the history of the world in Atlanta where we first land in America.  Sunday here is quiet as we ready to go north to Camogli and then spend a few days in Florence.

Yesterday we took Cathy and Gigi to Civita de Bagnorigo, “The Dying Village”.  We had lunch there.  Being a Saturday, the town was very crowded and the cats were out in force hoping for some food or whatever cats hope for.  Gigi said a vet could have a field day spaying and neutering cats.  While walking over the long bridge that goes to the town, we heard many gun shots and baying of dogs down in the valley below us.  Hunters come out during the weekend.  The big game here are boars or Cinghiale, pronounced Cheen-gal-ea.  Italians use a lot of boar in their cooking.  Sausage made from cinghiale is prized and very tasty.   

Since I had blogged about Civita previously, I thought I would post some pictures about other locales we have visited. 

Chris outside the old Gusto al Borgo

Adam and Eve in the Orvieto Cathedral.  Obviously after the apple incident.

Markers commemorating Salzburg citizens taken by the Nazi's during the annexation of  Austria.  These are found throughout the town as a remembrance to those that died.

At the winery below Mt Vesuvius.  We went there after our tour of Pompeii.

This was inlaid marble outside a wealthy Pompeii house.  It was the only place I saw this in the city.
We went to a Red Coral manufacuturer on our way back down from Mt Vesuvius.  If you remember, we were late to go inside the park.  So our guide Daniel stopped here as we had seen the sign on our way up the mountain and commented on the Red Coral.  Cameo's made from shell.

The Excelsior Vittoria Hotel in Sorrento.  A quiet winters day reflected in the water.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sometimes, you can go back.

After returning from Sorrento, Chris and I began showing Cathy and Gigi some of the Umbrian sites.  We went to Assisi and heard the monk’s chant during Angelus.  Then walked up to the town center and again saw the Roman temple that had been made into a Catholic church.  We had a lunch of lasagna, stringozzi and pecorino cheese with honey.   Then we traveled to Montefalco, known as the balcony of Umbria, to see the sun beginning to set. 

This Roman Temple is a great example of their architecture.

 On Friday, both our friends wanted to see where I had gone to school in Casperia.  So I contacted Paola and arranged for us to meet with her at her home.  Even though she was busy with other things, she and Franco welcomed us.  She made a light snack with some Proseco, cheese with pears and pressed meats.   Paola had moved out of the Agriturismo months ago and back into the town of Casperia.  Her restaurant now closed, she only takes in students in the heart of the town.  (Side note: 
a new LBC student from Manhattan Beach is coming in February).  She had arranged for us to return to the same site I studied in for a full fledged Italian prix-fix meal.  A new owner had moved in and started service last October.  Under the new name of  Azienda Agricola Il Terebinto Agriturismo, we had a fabulous lunch that lasted two hours with five course.   Walking the grounds, meeting the chef in the kitchen I had worked in, brought back so many great memories.  It was a magical day for all of us.

First course of meats, cheese, pumpkin puree and barley

Course two; Pasta Carbonara with Kale

Third course: Ravioli of Ricotta in a verde salsa

Stuffed Veal with Pork Cheek

Our Chef with Cathy and me.  I'm not too happy here.

Gigi and Chris with the Chef and new owner.

Lastly, Sponge cake with orange sauce with a dusting of chocolate

Back home at Gusto Al Borga
Showing the girls the grounds.

Check out their Facebook site is 

Finished the day by watching Gladiator, for the hundredth time.  The more I see this movie, the more I realize how accurate the depiction of Ancient Rome is in this movie.