Posted by: gelatojourney | February 11, 2012

Tips for fitting in

OK, everyone will know you’re a tourist – your white tennis shoes give you away.  But here are some tips that will help you feel a little more like a local while in Italy.

Tipping in Italy

Just round up

Don’t.  You just don’t need to tip in Italy.  You are probably already paying a cover charge or coperto or service charge servizio – check your bill.  Just round up.  If your meal is 19 Euro, leave a 20.  Not that any waiter or waitress will refuse your tip, but it’s just not expected.

Don’t try to buy a ticket on the bus or streetcar

Pick up your tickets at a newsstand or tobacco shop.  You may luck out and find a machine near the stop as well. You may not find a shop open on a Sunday. so purchase some in advance.  Don’t forget to validate the ticket right before you get on.

Purchase tickets in advance

Don’t order pepperoni on your pizza unless you like peppers
Peperoni with one p are peppers.  If you want spicy salami on your pizza look for pizza diavola or  salami piccante – or just wait until you get home.

Pizza will never be the same.

 

Pay for your daily gelato before you order it

Tell the person at the register how many scoops you want and pay at the register –  then take your receipt to the person scooping the frozen goodness.

Get a receipt first

 

Don’t touch the produce!

There will be plastic gloves available in supermarkets and the seller will bag your fruits and veggies at a street market.  Don’t request specific pieces of fruit or vegetables – it’s seen as rude – just assume the seller will give you the best.

Hands off

 

Don’t expect to be the center of attention at a restaurant

Don’t expect small talk from your waiter or waitress.  There will be no refills or quick removal of dishes.  The wait staff is there to take your order and bring your food.  They will be very busy, but will be glad to help if you flag them down.  When you are ready for the check, get their attention and pretend to sign an imaginary check. They will bring it to you – probably not right away though. The table is usually yours for the evening, so slow down and take your time.  Don’t feel obliged to order something from each course either – order what you like.

Slow down and enjoy your dinner

 

Be careful with your Caffè

Enjoy your coffee after your meal – except  breakfast.  Coffee is enjoyed at the end of your meal and after your desert.  If you don’t want to stand out, don’t order a cappuccino after 11:00 am.

Before 11:00 am

 

After 11:00 am

 

Never!

Need more help with coffee? – here’s a link -http://goitaly.about.com/od/foodandwineofitaly/a/italian_coffee.htm

Any additions?  Please feel free to add your own.

Happy travels,

Gary and Charla

Posted by: gelatojourney | July 2, 2010

Words are funny

We saw so many signs that made us laugh but they didn’t really fit into any category.  We saved them for last and here they are.

Everyone smokes in Italy – not indoors – that law passed a few years ago – but EVERYWHERE else.  The 14 year old who nearly hit you with his Vespa was smoking – seriously.  Our hotel was trying really hard to quit.

The patch really seems to help

Cigarettes have HUGE warnings on the packs.  They are not subtle.  The one we saw the most translates “Smoking kills”.  The lady in the shop told us this one says “Smoking makes your skin look old”

and it makes your breath smell bad too

So a bar in Italy is actually a place for a quick, cheap lunch.  The have cold food or will stick a sandwich or piece of pizza under a broiler for you.  The food is actually pretty good.  Here is some pizza and lasagna I had for lunch at a “bar” near Campo del Fiori – it was cheap and delicious

Great food, great prices

But, they have some pretty crazy names.  The Italians seem to like English words.  We would often see t-shirts that had english printing on them but they were usually just a collection of unrelated words that made no sense.  The same with bar and shop names.  Here are a few –

Convenience type store - apparently a good one

Charlie must be a common Italian name

Never saw Papa Bar

But no Gentleman Bar

Go for the Movie Tie In

My favorite

Low Cost Snacks

I don’t know what this says – but apparently it will kill you

Danger Will Robinson!

Toilets were interesting in Italy – at this gas station aim seems to be a problem – lack of seat was pretty common

Sanitized for your protection

Look at the center

Bancomats or ATMs were a little confusing – especially this one

Appropriate crack?

How about some food items –

They're everywhere

As opposed to moderately sparkling water

I should have bought some Fonzies just to see what they were

Vending machine pizza

Baby food made from . . . horse!

The biggest jar of Nutella I've ever seen

This shoe store was near our hotel

If we can't fit you . . . well you might need clown shoes

Those are some BIG shoes

Big and stylish

Up to size 21

This one was at the Vittorio Emanuele Monument

They are very concerned about the uneasiness

At Pompeii we were looking at the entrance to The House of the Tragic Poet – the entrance mosaic says “Cave Canem” or “Beware of Dog”.  While I was taking pictures a real Canem decided to enter the picture.

Pompeii is full of canem

Shall we do a bit of shopping?

The sign says it all

First Man Sandal and now a Woman Sale

Taxi ad

OK, No Problem

So now you see why I have to move to Italy and teach English

Posted by: gelatojourney | July 2, 2010

London Calling

So we made our way to Milan’s Linate airport in plenty of time just to discover that because of a general strike in Italy, our flight to London was delayed an hour. This meant we would not make our connecting flight to Los Angeles. After some discussion, they decided they would give us hotel, meal and bus vouchers for London. I was excited because it meant a day in one of my favorite cities. We arrived at Heathrow and made our way to the lovely Ibis Hotel. We dumped our bags and made our way to the city. We got off the tube at Victoria Station and then headed to Westminster. From Westminster we walked up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. We wandered around St. Martin’s in the Field, The National Gallery and bought some cheesy London souvenirs. Hey, everyone needs boxers printed with the tube map. We trekked up to Picadilly Circus and then to SoHo. We had dinner at Wagamama – the noodle bar and then back to the hotel. I would of enjoyed just wandering the city all night and sleeping the whole way home – but we did make our way back to the Ibis for a few hours sleep. London is always beautiful and it was nice to spend even a few hours there – but now it is time to go home. Our flight went well and we got some sleep on the way. Once we got to LAX, I caught the shuttle to Union Station to catch Amtrak home and Charla caught the bus to San Luis Obispo. It was good to be home. I always feel patriotic when I return. It’s nice when the customs agents say “Welcome Home”. Home is a nice place and even though I was tired, Braxsten came and spent the night. What a great ending to an amazing trip. We’re ready to go again soon – let us know if you’d like to tag along. Here are a few London pictures just to prove we were really there.

Cheerio Bob!

Tent city and war protest outside Westminster

The Cenotaph - War Memorial on Whitehall

Trafalgar Square

This phone booth smells funny

Statue of George Washington - he is standing on soil brought in from Virginia - not British soil

Charla phones home

Increased security on Downing Street

Saint Martin in the Fields Church

So good to be home

Posted by: gelatojourney | June 29, 2010

The Last Supper in our last city

Well, Milan was not really our last city.  We had a little surprise at the end of our trip – more on that later.

We caught the train to Milan with a little sadness.  Vernazza is a very special place and neither of us wanted to leave.  I think my next trip will just be a month in the Cinque Terre and nowhere else.  Maybe a couple of day trips but I just want to veg here and get really tan and relaxed.  I’ve heard about people visiting the Holyland and developing “Jerusalem Syndrome”.  They just can’t bring themselves to leave and end up staying.  I could so do that here.

Just one more Vernazza picture

But, we made it to Milan, and were ready to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper.  You have to book in advance to see it and they only let 25 people in at a time – for 15 minutes.  You have to go through airlock doors before entering the climate controlled room.  Da Vinci painted the Last Supper on the wall of the monk’s refectory or dining room.  A crucifixion scene is on the opposite wall. These pictures gave the monks something to contemplate while eating their cafeteria food.  It is not a fresco.  Frescoes are painted while the plaster is still wet and this was painted on dry plaster which allowed Da Vinci to take his time and not be rushed to paint before the plaster dried.  Because of this dry method, the painting started to deteriorate just a few years after it was completed.  It’s latest restoration removed hundreds of years of dirt and restoration painting.  The refectory was destroyed during the bombing of World War II but the two end walls had been sandbagged and were saved.  It was exposed to the elements for many years while before the room was rebuilt around it.  Last trip to Italy we had our big “Wow” moment in the Sistine Chapel.  This was the biggie this time.  Even faded and damaged, it takes your breath away.  The expressions and positions of the disciples are just how you would picture them as Christ said, “One of you will betray me”.  Wish I could have pictures to show you but they are very strict about that too.  I got a nice bookmark though.

Next we made our way to Piazza Duomo.  The Duomo in Milan is the third largest church in the world and feels huge.  Saint Peter’s does not feel this big – in part due to forced perspective – but Milan’s cathedral is and feels enormous.  There was a crowd of several thousand in the piazza watching Italy play Slovakia in the World Cup on an enormous jumbotron.  Italian flags, red, green, and white wigs, and the drone of vuvuzela were everywhere.  It was exciting and a little scary at the same time. The Carabinieri and the Italian army were there to keep the peace if Italy should win.  Even at the very back of the cathedral we could hear the crowd and tell when a goal was scored.  We entered the Galleria Emanuele (really old and giant shopping mall) next to the piazza and the crowd was there too.  Super Bowl has nothing on World Cup.  We ducked into a book store and it was all over when we came out.  Italy had lost and the crowd was gone.  We stopped into a McCafe for a snack.  Now I am not a big McDonald’s fan – but these McCafes are cool.  They serve coffee and fresh pastry on real china.  I had a Coke Zero – boy do I miss ice – and we both had a slice of Nono Torta – Grandma Cake.  I hope these little cafes catch on over here.

Italy vs. Slovakia

A little dark - but you get the picture - huge crowd

Big crowd, big t.v., big disappointment for Italy

Nona Torta and an ice cold Coke at McCafe

Galleria Emanuelle

We checked out Teatro La Scala, the famous opera house where some kind of protest was going on.  We should have paid attention to these omens – more on that later.  This year is Alfa Romeo’s 100th anniversary so there were car displays set up around town as well.  Milan definitely has a big town feel but still feels very Italian – duh.

Protest at La Scala - with a band

Happy Anniversary Alfa Romeo!

In red too!

After the game was over, they reopened the elevator to the roof of the cathedral.  Seeing the spires and statues up close was very cool.  They even have a stage and seating set up on the roof for concerts.

Roberto's Bambino Grande in Milano

Milan's Duomo from the roof

Concerts up here must be incredible

Concert seating

Amazing view from up here

After a quick gelato – our last – it was time for dinner.

Our last gelato

After checking out Rick Steves’ recommendations we ended up at a Ligurian style restaurant called Le Bricioli.   So even after leaving Vernazza, we get Ligurian food one more time.  None of those Milanese risottos for us.

One last piece of pizza

It’s a little sad to be leaving Italy but we are looking forward to being home as well.  Three weeks have certainly gone by quickly. We watched a little CNN in the hotel before getting to sleep – What’s this about a general strike planned in Italy?

Stay tuned for more strike news.

Posted by: gelatojourney | June 29, 2010

Vernazza Day Three – Monterosso al Mare

First off I’d better let you all know we are home.  We got in Saturday.  Charla took the bus home from LAX and I took Amtrak. We still have a few days left to blog about – so let’s all just pretend we are still there.  Ah . . . I feel better already.  Speaking of blogs – please check out my brother Rob’s blog at rundad.wordpress.com.  He writes about running, christianity, life and all kinds of everyday things and does it much more eloquently than I do – never thought I’d use eloquent to describe Rob – but you’ll like what you read. And now back to La Cinque Terra . . .

We made our way to Monterosso al Mare by train (5 minutes) rather than the hiking trail (1.5 hours).  Monterosso is the northernmost of the five lands and the largest.  When you step off the train you are in a beach resort.  There are rentable beach umbrellas, beach lounge chairs and changing rooms.  It looks like it would be a great place to spend a day on the beach soaking up the sun and enjoying a sandy beach.

We saw a group of kids on a field trip led by a nun and a priest.  We never saw them on the beach but we did wonder what kind of swim suit the nun was changing into – is that a sin?  They all had on different colored hats to keep them in their groups and looked like they were ready for a break from school.

A beach field trip - Italian style

We had a decent lunch on the beach.  I had the “touristic menu” which means I got two courses and a drink for a good price.  Then we made our way to the old part of town.  We somehow missed this during our first trip to Monterossa but it is really a nice little village once you get away from the sunbathers and striped umbrellas.

Monterosso al Mare

The Pirates are coming!

Old town has its own, slightly more local feeling beach and a nice little piazza.  I sure wish we had something here in the states that compared to the idea of a piazza.  Maybe a hundred years ago, the town square filled this need, but we sure could use a piazza or two here at home.  I guess the mall has become our piazza.

Old Town Monterosso

There is a very nice church near the piazza – dated 1307

Chiesa San Giovanni Batisto in Monterosso

millo cccvii - 1307

Next to the church of Saint John the Baptist there was a little chapel called Oratorio Mortis et Orationis – Orotory of the Dead.  During the Counter Reformation, to offset the rising influence of the Lutherans, the Catholic Church created brotherhoods of good works called “confraternaties”.  They were kind of like religious Rotary clubs.  Monterosso had two called the White and the Black.  This building is still the oratory of the Black group.  They arrange funerals, provide for widows and orphans, and pray for the dead.  Sorry for going a little “teacher” on you again.  The building was full of “death” symbolism – creepy but interesting.

Orotory of the Dead

Inside the Orotory of the Dead

They hang this banner up at the Monterosso Dennys during their monthly dinner meetings

I bought a little ceramic plaque with fish that said “Cinque Terre” and Chala bought a little green ceramic door that reminded us of our door back in Vernazza.  We had some gelato and jumped back on the train to Vernazza.  Of course we had to stop in at Il Pirata for our daily slushie.  I had the famous coffee slushie with whipped cream.  Massimo was proud to show off the bowl of whipped cream and let us know that it did not come out of a can.  Charla had the melone and strawberry slushie with more of the wonderful fresh whipped cream.  These Canoli brothers are amazing.

Sicialian slushies in Liguria

We stopped at the enoteca and bought some “trofie”.  Trofie is the local, worm-like pasta that is served with pesto.  I also bought a bag of “croxetti” or coin shaped pasta.  Ligurian families would stamp this round, flat past with symbols or their family crest.  It can also be served with pesto.

While we were getting ready for dinner, a funeral procession passed by under our window.

Vernazza funeral

Everything came to a stop - even the loud tourists

Now it was time for the beach.  Charla sat and I sunned on the rocks and read.  I am reading An Italian Education (don’t know how to underline in these posts) by Tim Parks.  He is a Brit who married an Italian woman and they are raising their children in Italy.  It is so funny and so perfect for reading here.  The woman who shared my rock helped me with the pronunciation of my new favorite Italian phrase – “facciamo la corno” – or “make the horns”.  When something negative or bad luck comes up in conversation, you say “facciamo la corno” and make horns with your index finger and pinkie and ward of the bad mojo.  The book has really filled me in on some of the culture I have been missing out on as a foreigner.  I had a nice swim.  While enjoying my last swim I ran (swam) into Scott again – we have enjoyed visiting with them.  Then it was time for dinner.

Charla's Reading Rock

My Reading/Sunning Rock and my new Italian friend

Gary enjoying his last swim in Vernazza

Our almost last Ligurian meal (more on that from Milan) was at Trattoria Capitano.  We sat next to some Swedish airline attendants – I know this sounds like the set up for a bad joke – but they were really nice.  I discussed foreign adoption and education with the one seated next to me.  We told them about the Canoli brothers and their wonderful deserts. Then we said good-bye and made our way back to Il Pirata for the third night in a row.  Of course we ran into Scott and Cindy again but then the Swedes showed up and the party began.

We are packed and ready for Milan – can’t believe this trip is all but over and we are leaving these wonderful five lands.  Here are a few more pictures of our favorite place in the world.

The most photographed cats in Italy - tourists follow them around for pictures - feline paparazzi

Can you tell I missed Braxsten?

On the hill above town

Vernazza's church on the harbor

Even more beautiful at night

Arrivederci Vernazza!

Posted by: gelatojourney | June 25, 2010

Football!!!!

Let’s take a break from Vernazza – like Vernazza is so stressful – and talk about Football. 

The Italians are crazy for soccer and it has been fun to be here during World Cup.  In every piazza in every town you will find little children, teens and even old men playing football or just kicking the ball around.  One night in Lucca we stood in the piazza and watched the game broadcast in at least four little sidewalk restaurnts.  Our peaceful dinner in Sorrento was less peaceful after a couple of dozen Brits took over the place and started watching the game.  But nothing holds a candle to seeing thousands – I’m not exagerating – thousands of fans filling Piazza Duomo watching yesterday’s Italy game.  They had it projected on a gigantic jumbo-tron right in front of the duomo.  Police and the military were there to keep the peace and you could hear the crowd as we visited the church.  The crowd spilled over into the Galleria Victor Emmanuel next door and let me tell you they were intent on that game.  Here are a few pictures from yesterday.

Crazy crowd in Milan's Piazza Duomo

Italy fans

Italy lost

Your Superbowl part wasn't this big

World Cup Lucca style

Street soccer near the Pantheon in Rome

Beach football in Vernazza

The amazing thing about seeing the crowd in the piazza was how quickly and quietly they left.  Maybe they were sad about losing but we ducked into Galleria Victor Emmanuel and when we came out, the crowd was gone.  I’m not really sure how crazy things might have become had they won.

Now, back to La Cinque Terre!

Posted by: gelatojourney | June 25, 2010

Vernazza, Day Two

The Best Day . . . ever

Tuesday is market day in Vernazza so we woke up to the sounds of the vendors setting up their stands under our windows. You can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, and even household items like soap and t.p. . We wandered the village for a while and picked up our usual pastry from the shop across the street – 20 feet from our door.

Right outside our door

We wandered around town for a while, grabbed a quick lunch. Besides pizza, I had another large piece of farinata. Farinata is a local fried bread made from chickpea flour, water, oil, and pepper. It is cooked on a copper pan in a wood burning oven. It’s kind of like a thick crepe or pancake, only not sweet. I have to find the recipe for this one.

We got on the local train that runs through all five villages and headed off for Corniglia. Corniglia is the only one of the five villages that does not sit on the water and is the smallest with a population of only 240. It sits high on a hill above the ocean. Thank goodness for the little green shuttle bus. We ran into Cindy and Scott, the Americans we had dinner with at La Pirata – they heard us talking about going to Corniglia and decided to go too. We had excellent views and gelato here. I had a scoop made from local honey and one made with cinnamon. There was so much cinnamon that you could feel the gritty texture of the ground cinnamon – this may have been the best yet. Charla had pistachio and grapefruit – an unusual combo – both very good.

Cat in Corniglia

Would you like door #1?

We got back on the local train and headed to Manarola. They have a very steep harbor access and we saw a small boat being lowered into the water by winch. We had a nice walk around the village and got back on the train to Riomaggiore. Riomaggiore is where I tried an unusual Italian speciality. Gelato on a bun. They have little brioche buns that they slice open and you eat your gelato sandwich style. It was pretty good. Maybe I’ll share this idea with Superior Dairy. Mmm – Superior Dairy chocolate chip on a bun – I think it will catch on.

Gelato sandwich

Laundry in Manarola

Main Street Manarola

Riomaggiore

We decide to come home to Vernazza by boat. It cost a little more than the train but we had great water views of the other villages and it was much faster than waiting for trains.

Shuttle boat

Corniglia from the boat

The boat gave us great views of the villages

We arrived back in Vernazza and headed up the hill on the path north to Monterosso for some pictures of the town from above. The trail was steep and crumbly but I don’t think you can take a bad picture from up there.

The path to Monterosso

Mini monorails to bring the grapes down from the hills

View from the trail

"To the sea" and that is just where I went before dinner

We made reservations at Trattoria Gianni – where we had dinner during our last visit here.

Then . . . after a long day of hiking . . . I went swimming in the Mediterranean! It felt so good but I forgot how salty it was and I had forgotton my goggles in the room. I had a nice swim and we got ready for dinner. Before dinner we walked back up to El Pirata for a melon slushie. It was so good. I have learned that if you have never eaten a canteloupe in Europe, you have not eaten a true canteloupe. In the states, what we eat as canteloupe, is really “muskmelon”. I still enjoy a good musk melon but this original canteloupe is really good too. Full of slushie, we made our way down to the harbor to Gianni’s. The trofie al pesto was just as good as we remembered. Trofie is a little hand rollled paster that uses some potato flour. They look like little worms. Mixed in with the past are skinny little green beans and potato. It is so good I can’t even tell you how much we enjoyed it. I did not lick the plate but I wanted to.

Trofie al Pesto

Next we made our way back to El Pirata for desert. Who did we run into but Scott and Cindy. We enjoyed another desert and visit with them.  I had the same desert I had last night and this time I did lick the plate. We took pictures with The Canoli Brothers and headed home for some sleep. This has been the best day yet – but we still have one more day in Vernazza.

Our favorite restaurant

Ready to lick

Clear plate is hard to see

Scott

The Canoli Brothers - our favorite Sicilians

 Well, it is really late here in Milan and we fly home tomorrow – so I’m going to have to tell you the rest of our story when I get home. 
Ciao,
Charla and Gary

 

Posted by: gelatojourney | June 24, 2010

Cantaloupe

This quick post is for my friend Kris who asked about melons.  I don’t want to go all Cliff Clavin on you but I recently read that what we call cantaloupes in North America are really muskmelons.  True cantaloupes are not available in North America.  That said – we had two awesome canteloupes and one frozen cantaloupe slush and even cantaloupe gelato while in Italy.  Whatever you call them, they are very different and amazingly sweet.  Yes, we took pictures of melons – or melone. 

Here is a link that mentions “true cantaloupes” http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cantaloupe

Roll that beautiful melone footage

Our first cantaloupe

I know - I slice them funny

My favorite way to eat cantaloupe - muskmelons too

There were so many wonderful fruits and veggies – tomatoes are really exceptional in Italy

Pomodoros

 

Pomodoros

They were much redder in real life

Great produce

 

More produce and not the cat that bit me

There you go, Kris.  I am working on a few more “topic” posts for when I get home.  I’m working on one showing all the crazy signs we saw and one about bathrooms – doesn’t that get your attention?

Now back to Vernazza!

Posted by: gelatojourney | June 24, 2010

Finally . . . La Cinque Terra!

Our Vacation from our Vacation

We caught the 9:57 train from Florence to La Spezia – a terrible little town but the gateway to La Cinque Terre – The Five Lands. The Cinque Terre is a string of five little villages allong the northwest coast of Italy. In order they are – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia (no harbor, sits on a hill), Vernazza, and Morerosso al Mare. We are staying in Vernazza. We have a tiny little room with a cave bathroom, tiny kitchen (micro, fridge and sink) and a window that looks out onto Via Roma – the main and only street. No cars are allowed on Via Roma except on Tuesdays for the Mercato where I plan to buy cheese and dried mushrooms. This town is so quiet – once the daytrippers leave in the afternoon. The only sounds you will hear are the ocean, the church bells, and the odd train passing through the tiny station at the top of the town. We love this place. I am trying to find a way to spend a whole summer here – I’m serious. I could eat cheap pasta, give English lessons and spend my afternoons swimming in the Mediterranean. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.

Vernazza at last!

Via Roma, the only street in town

Clothes not washed in the sink!

Thank goodness for signs

Our normal laundry routine

 Yes, Rob, that is a Fleet Feet shirt.

Cats rule Vernazza

 

This one bit me about five seconds after the picture was taken – drew blood the little beast!

Ahhh!

Boats still in the piazza after the previous day's rain

Moving the boats back into the harbor

We sat by the harbor, did some laundry, blogged, and had a great but expensive dinner. We headed up to the top of the town to find a Bancomat (ATM) and got a little distracted. First we noticed El Pirata Restaurant. This place is like a Rick Steves legend. The place is run by two misplaced Sicilian comedian brothers who make the only American style breakfast we have heard about. Not really being big breakfast eaters, this did not appeal. They were really pushing their Sicilian style slushies – granite – so we tried watermelon. “No ice – all fruit” he kept telling us. So we paid 3.50 Euro for one and it was so good – like eating a sweet, frozen watermelon. This gave us the energy to hike to the cemetery at the very top of the hill. The school for all 24 students is also at the top of this hill. The cemetery views cannot be described so check them out.

View FROM the cemetery

View OF the cemetery

Don Rollando - he'll make you an offer you can't refuse

 Vernazza’s city government was communist up until the 90s but the picture on this lady’s grave stone still surprised me.

Nonna really admired Che

At the bottom we asked about reservations at El Pirata – they had tables available right then. We shared a delicious tomato, mozzarella, and rocket salad dressed with just olive oil and salt. It was perfect. I had pesto lasagna and Charla had gnochi with pesto – pesto was invented here in Liguria so it’s kind of a big thing. For desert, Charla had a canolli and I had panna cotta with fresh berries and balsamic vinegar – yeah, vinegar. It was the best desert I have had on this trip and I’m thinking about having it again tonight. The two brothers provided the entertainment. They insult each other and joke with you. When I asked how a certain dish was a brother answered “Oh, I don’t eat here”. It was 50 Euro well spent. We sat next to a couple of teachers from Texas who were on their honeymoon – Hi Scott and Cindy – we enjoyed their company as well. We have been taking pictures of our food, but this was so good we forgot.

What a great evening.

Vernazza is even prettier at night

The Best Day . . . ever

 

Posted by: gelatojourney | June 24, 2010

Sunday in Florence

 
 We made our way to Piazza Puccini on bus 35 and walked to Via San Donato for worship with the Florence congregation. They worship in a domed family chapel from the 1700s. The families estate was destroyed in the bombings during World War Two and only the chapel was left. The congregation bought the building after the flooding of 1966. The acoustics were wonderful. the 35 or so people there sounded like a huge choir. The singing was all in Italian but they were songs translated from English and so we were able to sound things out and sing along. Communion was all in Italian. The sermon was bilingual. They were a very friendly congregation and we enjoyed visiting with them after worship.
 
 

chiesa di Cristo

Not your typical church of Christ building

The dome made for amazing singing

Yes, that's Kum ba Ya in Italian

 After worship we made our way back to Piazza della Repubblica to a department store with a roof cafe. It was closed due to the rain. I looked at Bialeti Mokas while I was there. The sales lady directed me to the Bialeti store across the piazza. Serena, who spoke excellent English, helped me choose just the right moka – stovetop espresso machine. She had been a nanny for an Italian family living in London and was fun to visit with. She gave us some restaurant suggestions from her neighborhood across the river. We followed her dirctions and ended up at Gustapizza. It was excellent and so we stopped back by the store on the way home to thank her.

Piazza della Repubblica

"Belly Button of Florence"

 OK – I’m going all teacher on you here.  Piazza della Repubblica was created to celebrate the unification of Italy.  Florence was the national capital from 1865-1870 until Rome was “liberated” from the Vatican.  It sits on the site of the original Florentine Forum and the Jewish quarter was razed to build the piazza.  The column is called the “belly button of Florence” and marks the intersection of two Roman roads.  OK, class is over – back to shopping for a moka.

The Bialetti Store - I'm ready to make coffee now

 Have I mentioned how great the coffee is here?  Just ask for “caffe” and you will get a wonderful little cup of warm espresso.  Warm, not hot.  It is very strong and you don’t get much – but it is not bitter at all – like Charbucks.  My new task is to learn how to make a good cup with my new moka.

It's hard to carry a moka bigger than you are

Serena's favorite place for pizza

Round Table will never be the same

Pizza Marinara - yep, no cheese

 Wait – This isn’t Pizza Pathways it’s Gelato Journey

Gelato at Grom

 Florence has been great but tomorrow we are off to VERNAZZA! We have saved the best for last.

Ciao,
Gary and Charla
 
 P.S. I forgot to add the shopping pictures back after I deleted this post.  I didn’t get all of your comment, Kim – about the shoes.  Sorry, I’ll blame wordpress and Italian internet.  Here they are again.

Something left over from Fasion Week - at least that's how we translated the description

It's Ferragamo, ladies! They even have a shoe museum

 

Break out those credit cards

Vintage Ferragamo

No clue - something expensive

Ah Armani

OK – now it’s time for some real shopping

Ferrari Store

 

I'll trade in the FIAT!

My Little Pony . . .

Oooh, you can see me in that picture.

 
 
 
 

 

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