I had this grand idea of a daily photo and musings chronicle of our trip to italy. So many things often work so much better in my imagination. On a good day, I am a dweeb in the world of technology; internet connection, cell data, roaming, hotspots, data vs. internet, global wifi, Vodafone, AAARRGH! OH. You think maybe I could just use pen and paper? What a charming idea.
Day 6, on the train from Palermo to Nicosia, I lost my little green notebook (paper) and my favorite purple writing pen. (with 5 days of poetic phrases and brilliant observations) How did that happen? The trains stop for EXACTLY ONE MINUTE at the stations that are are tiny little whistle stops like di Stefano Camastrata, our stop to get to Nicosia. Seventy nine year old Mom, me, 2 wheelie suitcases, 3 carry bags; the door opens and shuts before I could get my foot out the door. Even the Italian passengers were stunned at how fast the door opened and closed.
We had NO idea where the next stop would be in relation to where our hosts are driving to pick us up. As luck would have it the best cell connection is on the train, go figure. I texted our host and they say no problem, they will meet us at Coronia, the next stop.
This time we were ready. We draped all 3 carry bags on mom and I had my hands fisted on the the wheelie bags. When the train stopped, the doors opened, I hurled my seventy nine year old mom out the door for a soft landing on all the carry bags, I jumped out with the wheelie bags as the door was whooshing shut.
I have not seen my little green notebook since I made my last brilliant entry on the train to Coronia.
Today marks the middle of this adventure, a good time to start my not so daily post.
Let us begin with a cappuccino at a corner cafe, 2 minutes from our flat, at the end of a portico covered alley. Mom and I hiked 82 steps twice a day to our third floor flat in an 800 year old stucco, red tiled roof building. We opted for the skyline view rather than inner courtyard on the first floor. It seemed like a good idea in August.
No surprise, there are cafes on every corner, mid street, down that alley and the next. I have not seen a coffee “to go” yet. One sits with a cappuccino. And a pasticcino (pastry). In the morning. Not at lunch and definitely not at dinner. In a tiny porcelain cup. You may have many, but you may not have a quad latte skim milk no foam.
It has taken us until mom’s departure home today to learn when and how one eats in Italy. Coffee is for mornings. Wine starts about noon. You may have coffee mid day, but only in the cafes, not in the restaurants. The restaurants are open from 11:00- 2:00.(sometimes 3:00) Closed until 7:00. (maybe 7:30). Open at 7:00 (maybe 7:30) until 10:30. Between 3:00 and 7:00 one eats sweets, maybe a pizza and maybe coffee, but definitely wine or Campari spritzers. There are no early bird special dinners. Unless you remember to find a grocer and buy food so you can eat dinner in secret at heaven forbid, 6:00. Gelato is eaten 24 hours a day, six days a week. HAH! You’re thinking not on Sunday? No gelato on Monday. Dolci (sweets) is also eaten 24 hours a day. With a cigarette. There are ashtrays at the tables. Oddly, the warning on Italian cigarette boxes is HUGE compared to American cigarette boxes, and yet, HUGE numbers of Italians smoke.
All this companionable consumption takes place al fresco, always outdoors. Under the porticoes, which line both sides of all the streets in Bologna center, where we stayed for 5 days. From the 11th and 12th century, there are 24 miles of domed and lighted porticos, amazingly intact, some “artisitc” highlights to some columns (graffiti).
We rode a tram along the longest portico in the world to the Santuario di San Luca. Mom was not too keen on hiking 4 miles uphill knowing she also had to climb 82 steps to our flat at the end of a long day of walking, getting lost, landing at Piazza Maggiore several times because the streets twist, turn, change names and all roads apparently lead to Piazza Maggiore.
up next: The Emilia-Romagna experience. Parmesan cheese, Balsamic vinegar and Prosciutto ham followed by a
“light lunch” at a sweet agritourismo ristorante.