29 August 2007

My brain is melting...

I've been taking a break because it is soooo hot and humid lately. Not even the sunflowers can stand the heat lately. Yesterday it was 40 degrees (104 in Fahrenheit) over here with 48% humidity! I've been inside under the air conditioning completely brain dead. My neighbors have even been asking where we've gone. So not to worry I'm resuscitating and some more blogging love will be forthcoming.

The Limone Bandito rides again!

This tart has been up and down the Italian coast looking for us bloggers and taunting us. The last one who caught him on film was Delinissima. This one I caught over the weekend in front of the Pozzuoli port. Have you seen him anywhere else? Careful he's been known to be a little acidic in character. This time he was acting a little shady.

20 August 2007

Lovely Hilltops

This weekend we went to the hilltop village of Caserta Vecchia. We were hoping for a quiet and romantic evening stroll and dinner in the medieval setting. I had forgotten how slippery those trodden cobblestones can get (I just had to wear leather sandals).

For dinner we ate at the scenic Zi Teresa. The panorama was beautiful, through the chicken wire that is. It was an interesting dinner. The ambiance isn't much (plastic tables and chairs) the food was okay (had to send back the seafood because it had over stayed it's welcome). However, love and vino were in the air so nothing was going to ruin it for us (not even all the kids with their whistles and screams).

P.S. My number 7 of favorite things in summer is: FRESH FIGS! Some have even said that they are better than sex?!

18 August 2007

Roasted & Steaming Napoli anyone?

Over the past few days it has been so hot and humid here that it feels like I'm in Chinese steamer. However, the really nice part is that the city feels abandoned (except for all of the luxury cruise liners). My favorite things to do this time of year are:
  1. to eat huge portions of slightly chilled anguria (watermelon)
  2. go into the deepest parts of the city (you know the ones with practically no sunlight and lots of laundry)
  3. eating tasty tomatoes in every possible recipe (fried, cold soup, pasta sauce, gelato, bread, roasted, sun "blushed," salad, pickled, poached)
  4. go shopping! Some of the sales this year have been very good to me
  5. sleep quietly because my neighbors are out on vacation (no car honking, door slamming, kid shouting, tantrum having, name calling going on)
  6. drive around like a maniac -traffic isn't so bad right now
However, it feels like there are more people in town than last year. When they all return in September I will be taking my sweet escape to London for the weekend. I cannot wait to sink myself into a cozy chair with some CHEDDAR, a cup of tea and plenty of mags. Hopefully, it won't be too hot. What are some of your favorite things to do this time of year?

16 August 2007

Lisbon: Seeing, shaking and tasting

We recently went on our first family trip to Lisbon and it was refreshingly fun and clean. The city is a lively mix of traditional architecture and friendly people. When I asked about the unusual layout and architecture of the city I was often told about The Great Earthquake, that destroyed 85% of the city. The Earthquake allowed a large part of the city to be planned (rather than medieval hodge podge which many European cities end up being ).
Between 60 to 90 THOUSAND people died during the Earthquake. I’m usually pretty good about history and current events but I was so shocked that I hadn’t heard about this earthquake (I remember and have heard of the ones in Mexico City, Iran, San Francisco, Pakistan, etc.). I finally asked, ‘When was the Earthquake?’ You would have thought I asked if water is wet. The taxi driver said (in a slow serious tone), “November 1st 1755.” My language skills may not be as good as I had thought so I asked, ‘Did you say 1755?’ “Yes.” It is as if it had happened yesterday.

here is a lot to see and we didn’t have nearly enough time to see it all in. One evening we made time to enjoy a Fado (typical Portuguese heartfelt folk music) in a small typical restaurant. The performance was wonderful and the guitarists were really excellent. One of the things that kind of struck me as strange was that the singers always had their eyes shut. Anyone know why that is?

Some favorite things in Lisbon were:
  • Delicious food -especially if you love cod (bacalau) and its many incarnations (try the cod cakes for you first timers). Though, it is tough to be a veggie it can be done here is a link to some of the places that are veggie friendly (thanks R for the link!)
  • Oceanarium one of the world’s largest aquariums it is really “wow” inspiring
  • Zoo area is a wonderful for a walk and there are lots of restaurants
  • Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle) wondrous views that have been around for over a millennium (try the chocolate cake at the restaurant at the foot of the castle -you will LOVE it and its chocolate goodness)
  • Mosteiro dos Jerónimus Vasco da Gama’s fantastic tomb is here as well as some of the most beautiful cloisters in Europe (to the right of the facade and down the street is a very famous cafe with really good pasteles)

MMMmmmm all this talk of travel is making me hungry. Maybe I should have written this as the gastronomic tour of Lisbon. It was a delicious trip and one I hope to make again soon!

08 August 2007

Got kleenex?

Well, it has been a very long five days. My dog Ella that you see in the post below has been put to sleep. I am just so raw and upset about it right now. I brought her over here nearly eight years ago from the US. Little did I know that I would be staying here so long and that I would spend so much time trying to get her decent grooming and vet care. It never bothered me to travel an hour away for a decent kennel, groomer or vet. What Ella gave me in return was constant love and companionship for me, my family and my other older dog.
The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
If you've never lived here with a pet consider yourself very lucky. The state of animal welfare here is disturbingly sad. Every August during vacation season many people just open the gates and let their pets fend for themselves while they go off on holiday. You see these pets of all sizes and ages digging through the trash piles on the streets (yes, we are still in a trash crisis here). Other times you just see them flattened on the road. Did I mention the surge in animal births that will come soon? Most people here don't believe in sterilizing their pets, "why interfere with their right to procreate?" When selecting a pet most Italians here prefer a male dog because "you don't need to sterilize them...it is the females that are the problem." The lack of respect and responsibility to these animals is in my opinion the height of ignorance and negligence.
Luckily, there are people and organizations that try to turn this tide. One of these organizations that does wonderful work in vet care, sterilization (of both male & female), education and more is Lega Pro Animale. I would like to thank their Dr. Dorathea Friz for helping me to end Ella's pain and suffering and for offering the service of cremation. While cremating Ella wasn't cheap it was worth it because I'd like to take her back to bury her in a happier place.

05 August 2007

Calling all Dog lovers -I Need Help!

I am desperate and at the end of my sanity. My poor old Springer Spaniel needs to be groomed badly. I've been here in Napoli for eight years now and I've gone through many groomers and in order they have had:
bad back injury
gone back to England
gone out of business
The last place hired new help that wound up injuring my poor dog until she was bloody! She is just too old for this shit and I'm seriously considering sending her either to England or the States so that she can live out her remaining months in peace. If anyone knows anyone that can get me a groomer (or at least someone who can shave her down) please email me. Grazie

04 August 2007

Museums and the Dust of Everyday Life

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
-Pablo Picasso
There is no other place in the world to cleanse the soul of dust and boredom than the Louvre. The Louvre can be an intimidating place to those who don't know what they are looking at. My suggestion is to follow your instinct or a child.
Look at the architecture of the buildings and take in the size of it all. Walk into each gallery or room and scan it for what evokes a strong emotion in you and then ask yourself why -then search for more. For those who are really museum-shy I suggest you stick to sculptures. Sculptures are the tangible renderings of an artists' vision. Imagine that the sculpture is alive and you have just walked into a private room with the subject. How glorious would it be to see the Winged Victory of Samothrace in your livingroom?
So many of us get wrapped up in the idea of importance of a piece of work that we miss looking at the garden in our search for the roses. Slow down and notice the beauty of the garden on your journey.
By the way, the Louvre is open to those of you who can't afford to visit. Check out their Virtual Tour the photos and descriptions are amazing.
[N.B. Above photo is of the Venus de Milo, which was a favorite subject matter of many artists.]

03 August 2007

Rules for Parking Neapolitan style

Just like with anything south of Rome the rules get dented here in Napoli. Let's take for example parking.
  • Rule #1 All parking is to be done socially. Don't even think of parking where you don't see any other cars. This is because either it is sure to be stolen or broken into (or both within 10 minutes)
  • Rule #2 It is okay to double park or triple park as long as you drive either a nice car with tinted windows or a large delivery truck
  • Rule #3 All parking is free (including the sidewalks) as long as you have a lookout or your Mama is in the car to argue with the traffic violations officer
  • Rule #4 Handicap parking is for anyone -why discriminate against those who aren't?
  • Rule #5 Don't be cheap with the parking attendant, what you don't pay him now you will pay for the damage later
  • Rule #6 Bumpers are made for parallel parking -how else do you know when to stop?
  • Rule #7 You can block traffic, parking or even the hospital ER all in the name a quick coffee.
Next time we will review driving for foreigners. Stay posted!

01 August 2007

Hideout in the hills

It is so hot right now in the city that I wish I could head for my favorite hideout in Umbria. The truth is that I relish the time that I have at my 12th century castle retreat. Everything is taken care of --food, babysitter, pool (pool towels), fresh herb scented air and tranquility. If I were truly industrious (which I'm not when I'm there) I would be visiting the towns of Assisi, Perugia and Gubbio. But no, instead I prefer to curl up under the giant tree and take a nap (or two).
My little heaven on earth is named Locanda del Gallo and I've been going there for a number of years now. I've been there in almost all of the seasons and none have been a disappointment. The hosts Paola and Irish are friendly and helpful. The chef Jimmy produces some of the best fresh and healthy food. The kitchen always smells divine!
I started going there when I went to my first yoga retreat with Jane Fryer. I'll never forget it because it was right after September 11th in the U.S. All of the attendees (except for me) were coming from the states less than a week after that tragic event. The time spent at Locanda was very therapeutic and relaxing. The yoga taught by Jane and Amy Ippoliti was so fantastic and in a setting like Locanda we were transported to another more peaceful world. There just is no other place like it in the world and with good friends it is the perfect combination.