Tag: cannoli

The stuff of Italy

The stuff of Italy

Surely it’s impossible not to love Italy.

I remember the first time we came – our plan was to spend a few days, then head to Brindisi and catch the ferry to Greece. But Italy sucked us in; we bought one of those limited kilometres train tickets, carefully counted our lira and camped all over the place.

And now Italy has sucked us into its big, bold warmth again. Every city we’ve been in so far I’ve turned to the others and just grinned with the sheer happiness of being here, with my friends, in the sunshine, exploring, eating, relaxing, learning. I’ve had these moments in other places too, but Italy is special.

Because Italy is jam packed with stuff. Crammed into every corner, stuff. From the west to the east, down to the toe and through the islands, great stuff upon even better stuff. Old stuff, new stuff, delicious stuff. Painted stuff, historic stuff, ruined stuff. Pretty and designer stuff. Famous stuff to see, secret stuff to discover.

And in all of that stuff, I can’t think of a single thing that’s wrong. Sure, there are lots of tourists, and some things can be expensive, but whatever. It’s all a part of it. You want history? Italy’s got it. You want food? Every restaurant, cafe, gelateria is a winner. Art? More than covered. Shopping? Don’t get me started. Wine? Don’t make me laugh.

We’ve eaten pasta, pizza, pastries, gelato, cheeses, meats. We’ve seen paintings, frescoes and statues, visited churches, palaces, towers, ruins and monasteries. It’s never-ending – people-watching piazzas, rich, perfect coffee, beautiful wine, scenic landscapes. Quirky little shops, designer stores to look but not buy, markets to haggle in. Big cities, little towns, each with its own identity, its own showstoppers.

And now we are in Livorno, coastal town, with other close friends and even more to explore – canals, markets, food, day trips.

So much stuff.

For the third time in my life I threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain. A guarantee I’ll be doing the turn and grin again.

Conversations in Venice

Conversations in Venice

“Where are we going?”

“I want to go back to that shop.”

“Is this the right way?”

“I don’t know.”

“I think we’ve been here before, I recognise that restaurant.”

“No, that’s not the same one.”

“Piazza San Marco – how did we end up out here?”

“Turn around, we’re going back in.”


“We turned left here, perhaps try turning right this time.”

“This is the third time we’ve been over this bridge.”

“No, that’s not the same one.”

“Is this our hotel?”

“Yes, but it’s in a different place now.”

“We’re back in San Marco.”

“Yes, I can see that. Let’s try this alley.”

“Ok, it has shops in it.”

“That’s a nice building.”

“We saw it ten minutes ago.”

“I think we’re close.”

“How about this shop?”

“No, that’s not the same one.”

“It has the same things in it.”

“Not quite.”

“We haven’t seen this bit before.”

“Yes we have, four times.”

“Here it is!”


“Here’s the restaurant where we had dinner last night.”

“No, that’s not the same one.”

“We’re back in San Marco again.”

“Yes, but now I know where we were going wrong.”

“You do?”

“Do you?”

“You’re never going to find….”

“Here it is, do you want to wait outside for me?”

Retired hurt

Retired hurt

San Francisco

We’ve been in San Francisco for three days now, and I’m yet to finish a meal.

Our first breakfast was at Sears Fine Food, where breakfast comes with hash browns. That’s at least three potatoes right there. Plus Southern corned beef hash, made with an additional two potatoes. Needless to say, I could not finish.

Dinner, Tad’s steakhouse, and one magnificent steak the size of my face, plus a baked potato the size of my head. Needless to say, I could not finish.

My plan for yesterday’s breakfast at Pinecrest Diner was just oatmeal. “Or perhaps cereal,” I said to Don, “but no more potatoes.”

“Scrambled eggs,” I said to the waitress after Don had ordered.

“Do you want bacon as well?” she asked.

“Oh, go on then.” Wisely Don said nothing. And of course the whole lot was served on the biggest hash brown I’ve ever seen.

Needless to say, I didn’t even come close to finishing.

I must say though, a big breakfast certainly keeps you going for most of the day. Yesterday morning’s potato mountain held us through until 3pm, at which point we embarked on a walking food tour of North Beach with Avital tours.

Oh. My. God.

Four courses at four fabulous Italian restaurant institutions. Rich tomato seafood stew, arancini balls, woodfired pizza, fresh ricotta filled cannoli. Sourdough bread. Red wine. Thank goodness we were at the top of the hill at the last stop and could just roll back to the hotel. With the leftover pizza and cannoli.

Because we couldn’t finish it.