Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Connecting with friends in San Remo

It was only a short flight from Barcelona to Nice. It is always beautiful flying in over Nice seeing the beautiful blues of the Mediterranean. We picked up our car and set off for San Stefano not far from San Remo on the Italian Riviera. Once in Italy the landscape changes. Every hill is terraced and used for vines or flower greenhouses. Unfortunately, most of the greenhouses are in disrepair as flowers can be grown much cheaper in other countries.

As we came closer to San Remo the sun disappeared, and we saw very little of it for the remainder of our trip. The weather here was no better than in the Port. Not once did we go swimming or go to the beach but at least we could walk along the Pista Ciclabile, a 23-kilometre-long section of old railway track converted to a bicycle and pedestrian path. Or we could walk along the seafront promenade. On our first walk we saw that waves had washed away some of the beaches. Every year fresh sand is trucked in and left in large piles. A couple of these piles had been washed away before anyone had a chance to distribute the sand.

The first evening we had dinner with our friends in the restaurant that was part of a butcher's shop. By day the husband and wife were the local butchers and at night the restauranteurs. They just brought food starting with Russian salad, shrimps doused in rather a lot of mayonnaise sauce and some raw meat, not my thing. The main course was veal scallopini, something that we never see on menus as it is considered to be old fashioned but it was very good.

The next evening we met friends at the local pizzeria. While we were waiting the chef brought us some pizza bread, just plain pizza cooked in the wood oven with some basil on it. Delicious. After some starters we had our pizzas but of course were too full after our starters. We didn't mind as it was lovely to see our friends.

We had a trip into San Remo and a look around their high-end shops. It is always fun to people-watch here and especially to see all the fashionable Italians walking along the pedestrian streets making sure they are seen. Another trip took us up the mountain to beautiful Ceriana. We loved seeing all the vineyards and old houses. The first sight of the ancient hill town is always breathtaking. We visited Pellegrin's bar for an espresso. The owners are always happy to see us and vice versa. They are well on in their seventies and don't open all the time so on some visits we miss them.

On Sunday afternoon the weather cooperated with us and we had lunch outside on the beach with other Ceriana friends. I had some lovely tuna in sesame seeds. Delicious. It was fun to go inside and see a baby's christening lunch with a huge family filing the whole restaurant and the baby being passed around. The massive cake looked very good.

Probably our most delicious traditional food was eaten at our friends' house, beans and potatoes with garlic and lots of olive oil. The salad ingredients came from a little grocery store that sells primarily produce grown within one kilometre.  Italian tomatoes taste like no other, especially the small tomatoes from Sicily. We had rabbit and farinata made from chickpeas, water and oil. The local bakery made wonderful bread, gigantic grissini sticks and something called Pane de

It was perfect seeing all of our friends but such a shame about the weather. Now, two weeks later our weather in the village is still not very good with mostly wind, rain and clouds. Today there were some people in the water but it is still cold. Usually, we are swimming every day by now. With all the bad weather we have completed almost all our packing except for the essentials. What a tedious job.

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