Friday, October 18, 2013

Benvenuti in Italia - we go on a road trip to visit friends

Last Saturday we made the trek from the village to visit our Canadian friends in Italy. We drove beneath beautiful blue skies, which made the Central Massif in France clearly stand out with its stark grey stone and black streaks filtering through it. Some trees were beginning to change colour, a few spots of red leaves here and there.

Finally we arrived in Italy. You can always tell right away by the smoke-black tunnels that you drive through. Then up in the hillsides as far as you can see are the huge but now often dilapidated greenhouses.Today we were not going up to Ceriana, the hill town north of San Remo, but instead will stay on the coast at Santa Stefano al Mare.

We were a little unsure of our hotel. It had received good reviews on Tripadvisor, but the locals knew it as a place where rooms were rented hourly. I suppose the bright red bed cover and mirror all down one wall may have raised our suspicions, although the residents seemed just like us.

Our friends were staying in the next village down, Riva. We walked down the beautiful promenade right by the sea to their apartment, taking one diversion up to the cycling and walking track. This track was made from the old railway track that ran along the coast and it goes for 24 kilometres. There are lots of apartments in this area but most of them are empty at this time of year.

Our friends took us to dinner at one of the local restaurants on the front. We started with a plate of cold meats including wonderful salami with fennel, which was delicious. For main course we had sea bream cooked in parchment paper with fennel, local black tagascan olives and cherry tomatoes. We were too full for dessert. Our friends advised us not to as the restaurant would give us a surprise. The server brought a big jug filled with soft lemon sorbet that we spooned in champagne flutes and topped with as much or as little vodka as we liked. I didn't have much vodka but went for seconds of the sorbet. What a delicious meal and what a nice start to our holiday.

We returned to the hotel on the cycling track. It was really interesting seeing the backs of many very old buildings. Back in the hotel we were reading in bed but getting very fed up with a man, with a big voice, pacing up and down talking on his cell phone for at least an hour. What to do? Seamus had the perfect solution. He climbed out of bed "nuda" as the Italians would say. He fully opened the door and said in Italian, "Eh! Basta," Enough. There was a muffled, "Mi Scuzi," and silence. I must admit I couldn't stop laughing.

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