Sunday, September 27, 2015

Corri la Vita: combating breast cancer in Florence

through the Boboli Grdens, along the Arno River

You'd be forgiven for  thinking that Firenze / Florence was welcoming Ciao Bella Tours to the city. Hot pink everywhere.Thousands of people (and dogs) turned out on September 27 2015 for the 12th version of the walk or run through the city of Firenze , with the focus on combating breast cancer. Salvatore Ferragamo is the major sponsor.

The shorter walk of 4.6 km commenced at the Piazza del Duomo,  and the route took us along the Arno, across two bridges ( Carraia, and alle Grazie), past the Pitti Paace, through the Boboli Gardens, up to the Forte Belvedere, and finally to  Piazza Signoria.  Men, women, children of all ages, babies in prams or rucksack type carriers on the back of Mamma or Babo, dogs on leaches (many wearing the pink tshirt), all wearing the hot pink tshirts with a number attached..  We spotted  a number in the 40,000s

Afterwards, back to friends' home for a huge Sunday lunch with the family


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ristorante Torre di Angelucco, Martina Franca

What a find! Chef Angela Pagano provided a wonderful meal for us in September 2015. It's a small restaurant, well set up with a modern feel to it, excellent service and food suggestions, and EXCELLENT food.  Martina Franca is one of the most beautiful towns in Puglia, Italy - especially at night.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Otranto by wagon train

 We took the wagon train from Lecce to Otranto, with only one change of train at Maglie.

Although it is forbidden to cross the train lines (see Photo number 3) it is the only way to get to the little trains.  These wagon trains run infrequently .

At some stations there is still manual changing of the tracks.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Lake Garda. Sirmione, Bardalino, Garda, San Zeno di Montagna

The ferries on Lake Garda from Sirmione are frequent and on time.  Check out  or .

Our ferry departed Sirmione port at 10.55, arriving across the lake at Bardolino exactly 40 minutes later. We walked from Bardolino to Garda along the seashore,  "Passeggiata Riva Lunga" almost all on good pavement surface, and flat.  Passing little "beaches" of pebbles, many bars and snack shops, seats to stop and relax and enjoy the view, flowers, trees, Magnolias, swans, ducks, camping sites, families enjoyng their day at the beach, olive trees, pine trees,.  Not rushing, with a few stops, the walk took about 50 minutes to arrive at Garda.

Excellent Bus terminal information, not far from the port.  Bus to the mountains to escape the heat to San Zeno di Montagne, where there were approximately  4 tourists.

Back to home base of Sirmione on the last ferry at 7.15pm.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Il Ceppo. Food wonderful food in Vicenza

 Il Ceppo in Corso Palladio, 196, Vicenza reminds me of Peck in Milano, except that Ceppo is 1/10th the size.  The food is well presented, with much of their offerings made in house.

They also do A great business with Bacala, if you like that fish.  try their Bistrot del Bacala.. Sotobotega.

In these photos you can find: Provola Affumicata Fresca at a cost of E 19.90 per kg, Tortelloni con ricotta e spinaci at E 29 per kg, and a great variety of cheeses.

The top photo indicates a Festival della Sopressa - the house speciality at E. 23 per kg.

A light lunch outside on the footpath of a pedestrian road, opposite the " MUST SEE" Tempio di Santa Corona.

Sirmione, Lake Garda and Scaliger Castello

 On a map of Lake Garda in Northern Italy, Sirmione is the toe of a ballet dancer's leg, sticking out into the big lake.  The centro storico of Sirmione is a little island, now linked to the nearby mainland by bridge.

The Castello is its own little island, right at the entrance to the town.  It has not only one but 4 drawbridges over the moats ( 2 are just wider enough for one of two people or horses to cross), so to get entry to the medieval castello,  you would have needed to cross  double drawbridges. 

The castle also has a "curtain wall"  for extra security, which you can see in  the top photo.

One of the drawbridges can clearly be seen in the third photo.

The butterfly type tops of the walls indicate allegiance to the ghibelline faction (as opposed to the guelfs) in Medieval Italy.

It is possible to enter this fortress, and walk up steps to the top of the castle walls or further still inside up to the top of the tower. We climbed only to the top of the walls (an easy climb of about 80 wide steps),and the area to walk is surrounded by a low balustrade (Photo number 4).

Well worth the effort!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Men in Sicily

One of the past times of men in Italy is playing cards.  We've been following a group in Palermo, Sicilia who daily meet in a park  near the Old Gate to the city to play.  In 2015 we found that their  meeting spot has changed, and the little cafe nearby has closed down also. So, their place to store their chairs when they go home for lunch has changed too.  Now the chairs are hung on different trees.

Da Adolfo Lunch in Positano

Lunch in Positano, and how apparent chaos turned into fun.  On the way back from a boat trip around Positano we were dropped off at Da Adolfo - a lunch spot  only accessible by sea, and famous for its informal approach to excellent seafood lunches.  Chaos to start with (they couldn't find our booking) and we wondered if the waiters (all barefooted on the rough stones) would remember all our selections and requests.  Just relax! It all turns out OK in the end.  And it did.  Interesting range of people, arriving every few minutes - some obviously well know to the owner or waiters.  The cooking is done in a little "shed" above the eating area, with a window (or hole in its wall) overlooking the customers. And we got a free ride back to Positano pier.

Dinner by Sunset in Cefalu, Sicily, Italy

Cefalu is a beautiful small town on the northern coast of Sicilia. It's a town full of history (likely to have been inhabited as far back as the C9th BC) and also offers a place and time for relaxation with an aperitivo on a bench at the beach.   In May we have a special restaurant to dine under a beautiful sunset, clouds permitting.

And one of Sicily's famous wines Nero d'Avola.  The brand was of additional interest

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Il Palio in Siena 2015

On the day before the Palio of the 2nd of July, there is always a PROVA (a sort of semifinal before the big day).  There has been much preparation before this day, weeks before leading up to this most important day in Siena. In preparation, men of a contrada meet for a long lunch at  a restaurant on the spot where a few hours later there will be 10 horses racing around the track of the Campo.  The sand has been laid on the rough stones, and a few times a day is watered down by a group of workers.

The flags of the 17 contrade are blowing gently in the wind: the temperature is mid 30s.

Early on in the day it's possible to take a seat in the "reserved" sections, and just sit and watch or be watched. Later, we're asked politely to move elsewhere, where the seats may cost anything between Euro 200 and 350, depending on the spot.

This young couple may have to reconsider their allegiances The contrade are all very strong, and important events such as baptisms and weddings, are held in their own contrada..
My flag: contrada OCA, which is worn loosely around neck and shoulders.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Quattro Passi Restaurant

Another visit this year, this time with owner and chef Antonio Mellino just home from his relatively new restaurant in London. As always, we received excellent service and amazing food, presented in creative fashion.  Our degustazione menu was more than most of us could eat, but luckily one member of our group would happily taste "leftovers".  I know of no other restaurant with such attention to detail with their dessert offerings..... delicate, scrumptious and moreish! Situated in a tiny seaside town of Nerano, Massa Lubrense.