Monday, May 22, 2006

I really must get some sleep!

I must be up early tomorrow for our full day on the Riviera of Levante, and our cooking class. These two-to-four hour bits of sleep are just not enough for this aging body!

Again, buona notte, amici.

All right, back to the things that REALLY matter.

That was just one of the entrees (yes, honestly, just one!) we ordered for dinner at Lupo's tonight, a mixed grill of seafood. It tasted even better than it looks. (More on Lupo's later.) With dinner we ordered a bottle of one of those fabulous Italian wines you seldom see in the US, dolcetto, a beautiful dry red from the neighboring Piemonte region.

And more on food:

Gelato! It really is a very different experience than ice cream. The texture is so light, the gelato gives no resistance in the mouth. Flavors are clean, and hit you just the right way.

The crucial question the gelateria poses to you at the ordering stand: cono or copetta?

You can choose as many flavors as you wish to load into your cone or cup. Besides the berry, mango, chocolate and coffee, there are flavors that could mystify. Want vanilla? Order "fior di latte," "flowers of milk. How poetic! Want mixed berries? Try "frutti di bosco," "fruit of the woods." Also try straciatella (vanilla with chocolate layers), cocco (coconut), nocciolo (hazelnut), prugna (plum), melone, ananas (pineapple) and mele (apple.

The City Between the Hills and Sea

As we approached Genoa, we caught glimpses of the Mediterranean sea. The Ligurian capital is perched in the center of a crescent-shaped bit of shoreline, and spreads upwards into the hills. It’s a gorgeous mix of buildings, from medieval to modern. (Not the best picture, I know - I'll try to get a better one tomorrow.)

See this turret-like tower right beside the apartment building?

The medieval feel to the city is still evident. The medieval quarter streets are unbelievably narrow! They're called caruggi (kah-ROO-jee).

Well, yes of course, being as unbelievably tall as I am, I suppose my arm span indicates the streets are not quite that narrow after all. But look at this now:

Here are a couple of other pictures of Genoa's streets. I am really loving this city. There's something about it, I swear, that feels like an Asian city before modernization. The narrow alleys, the streets lining those alleys...the carabinieri patrolling the caruggi and the Genoese citizens.....

....and ticketing them!! Oh by the way, I had my own brush with Italian police this morning. I was trying to call my tour mates in room 112. Was so groggy from lack of sleep that I dialed '0112' - unaware that in Italy, dialing '0' at a business will give you and outside line. And that is how I found out that the Italian equivalent of 9-1-1, is 1-1-2.

"Pronto. Carbinieri!"


Cherri and Liz inside a university foyer. The entrance is an ancient stone portico.

More of that mix of medieval and contemporary. The arch leads into a steep driveway. Wouldn't you like to have an antiquarian marble saint protecting your window?

Maybe 3 dollars a gallon isn't so bad after all.

Out of Milan, and onto the Autostrada! The speed limit is 80 kilometers per hour, which is somewhere between 50 and 55 mph.

Gasoline is about 1.20 Euro per liter – that’s 1.53 US dollars per liter; at 3.79 liters to the gallon, that’s $5.79 per gallon!

We stopped at one of Italy's ubiquitous "Autogrill" - roughly equivalent to our truck stops. But you should see the food offered. The sandwiches? They all use incomparably fresh vegetables, immensely flavorful meats such as cotto and crudo (ham), bresaola, prosciutto di Parma, salami Genovese and various other salumi.

And the bread? Well, I now have a new goal to achieve in my baking!