#2 Italy, June 8, 2017

#2 Italy, June 8, 2017

Dear Everybody,

What a nice day we had in Anghiari, a wonderful medieval town, practically unchanged from those times. We walked on the walls and all over the town, admiring Tuscan views and the beautiful buildings. We capped it off with pranso, (main meal at 12:30). We shared three courses—-you’ll see why—here’s the ‘starter,’ meant to be for one person!

The primi was pappardelle (pasta) with venison sauce; the secondo was sformato di selvaggina, a ‘custard’ with pheasant, two kinds of partridge and wood pigeon in it topped with shavings of black truffle! The drive over and back was challenging, going over the mountains on skinny roads, but I think I’ve got my Italian driving mojo back now.

Saturday was Burt’s birthday. First thing was to open his daughter, Caddy’s birthday card. She knew he would be lonesome for his little dog, Anthony!

We did errands, then walked over to Roberta’s house to greet the family. We invited them for pranso for next Sunday. It looks like we’ll be 10 at table—-Roberta’s family plus Mateo’s girlfriend and her mother, and Luigina and Giovanni. Burt is busy planning the menu.

Of course Burt made his own birthday dinner—-lots of things including breaded lamb chops with lemon.

Sunday we drove over the mountains to Caprese Michelangelo, the town where Michelangelo was born in 1475 (the name of the town was just Caprese until Michelangelo became famous). We visited his house and the castle before joining many other diners at the Buca di Michelangelo Restaurant for a 12-course pranso to celebrate Burt’s day-after birthday. The menu; (well there wasn’t any printed menu, but here is what we were served—-from 1:00 to 4:00 PM:)

Red Wine from Umbria, Still and Sparkling Water
Melon with Prosciutto and Tuscan Salami
Salad of Cabbage/Pine Nuts/Onion
Four Bruschette—Liver Pate, Tomato, Cream Cheese/Anchovies and Porcini/Melted Cheese
Acquacotta (Dry Soup with Leftover Bread and Many Veggies)
Crespelle (Pasta Crepe with Cheese, Pureed Potatoes/Bechamel)
Ravioli (Spinach and Ricotta Filling; Sauce with Mushrooms and Tomatoes)
Bistecchine in Taglia (Beef Tenderloin Strips) and Green Salad
Batter-Fried Mushrooms
Roast Meats—Lamb, Pork, Chicken and Pigeon with Oven Fried Potatoes
Semifreddo di Ricotta (light desert)
Espresso
Cordials: Grappa, Lemoncello, Fernet Branca

Our table:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Our View:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beef Tenderloin with Salad, and the Roast Meats:

 

We drove to Poppi and took the bus to
Florence on Tuesday. That is a most beautiful bus ride over the ‘spina’ (spine) of the mountains, although this day was cloudy—-it even rained a bit while we were in Florence.

We spent most of our time in the Mercato Centrale, which is the ‘new’ market, built in 1872. We bought three ‘meats,’ a prepared rabbit roast, some cinghiale (wild boar), and a Florentine Steak to make on the grill. Burt carried an insulated picnic box with frozen bottles of water in it, which kept our meat cool until we got home about 5:00 PM.

The main event was eating lunch there. One of the specialties is lampredotto, (the dark part in the picture) which is made from the lining of a cow’s 4th stomach (not the 1st—-that’s tripe (the white part), not the 2nd or the 3rd!). We wanted to try their sandwiches as Burt wanted to compare them with what he had been cooking at home for a couple of days. This is a very old, traditional working-man’s lunch in Florence.

We bought our sandwiches, with a glass of red wine from the Nerbone kiosk that has been there since 1872. Yes, it was delicious—-and Burt’s lampredotto compared well with this expert’s.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Arezzo trip on Wednesday was a repeat of things we’ve done in the past, but love to do
again.

We saw the 15th C. murals by Piero della Francesca in the San Francisco Church, which are stunning. Here you see the meeting of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

There are many other very old murals, or fragments of them, in this church. “Pentecost” is a 14th C. mural by Spinello Arentino.

 

 

Afterwards we saw a special movie made with sterioptic pictures (3D) from the 1890s. They were about the ‘Grand Tour’ made by wealthy people at the time. Interestingly, I had seen most of the cities/places on my back-packing trips!

Lunchtime found us under the portales overlooking the main Piazza, designed by Georgio Vasari in the 16th C. Burt had ‘chest’ of veal, sweetbreads and beans; I had grilled vegetables and some bites of his——I’ve been eating too much for lunch lately so I’m not hungry for Burt’s wonderful dinner meals, so I’m trying to correct that.

Dinner that night was the rolled roast of rabbit that we bought at the Mercato Centrale. When we bought it, the lady selling it kept saying (in Italian) “40 minutes.” I asked if we were to come back in 40 minutes—-would she be making another roast for us??? We traded this stuff a few times until I finally figured out she was saying to roast it for no more than 40 minutes! Burt roasted it for 40 minutes, and made carrots and batter-fried porcini mushrooms to go with it——um, good!

In the meantime, we’re preparing for our party on Sunday, which will be pranso with Roberto’s family. We’ve got a very long shopping list for today, and Burt will cook up a storm on Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday night we grilled a big Florentine streak, which we enjoyed with grilled radicchio and salad, with a good Nobile Montepulciano wine. 

Hope you’re all fine—-we’re really enjoying Italy and its perfect weather.

Posted in 2017, Italy | Leave a comment

#1 Italy, June 1, 2017

#1 Italy, June 1, 2017

Dear Everybody,

Once again Burt and I have flown across the pond to stay in Partina, the village where my son- in-law grew up. This time, in deference to our age, we spent the first night in thehotel connected to the airport in Rome. Having slept well, we drove to Partina (3-hour drive) the next day in perfect weather, Tuscany showing off beautifully!

We stopped at Bibbiena to stock up on some groceries, then finished the drive here and opened the house. The fig tree in the backyard and the olive tree inthe front yard have been trimmed back; the sage and rosemary that we planted last year are thriving. We had to have a little help from a neighbor to get the electricity and water turned on, and the hot water heater lit. Now all is well.

Our first night Burt cooked monkfish, that he had bought in Bibbiena, along with zucchini with blossoms and a potato. Of course it all went with a good bottle of Orvieto wine, which we had bought last year when we visited Orvieto.

Burt wound up with a cold from traveling, so the first few days we took it pretty easy. Luckily he finds cooking relaxing, so that went ahead full steam. The second day Burt bought an ensemble of pork products and made delicious pork chops, cooking them with pancetta and a little pork sausage. This, with juices, was served over a slice of Toscana bread, along with fennel and some good wine.

The next day we had veal with a tuna sauce and globe artichokes. And yes, the roses are from the front yard. Burt thinks they are “Beverly Sills” roses. How lucky we are to have access to all this good food. We were listing all the meats/dishes that we want to make while we’re here—-I’m not sure we’ll have time to eat in a restaurant.

Each morning we go to Soci (2 km away) to have a cappuccino and croissant at the ‘Big Ben Coffee Shop.’ They have wifi, which we used all the time last year, but for some reason Burt’s computer isn’t able to connect with this year, although mine works. Weird! Then I have a new debit card from my new bank account which wouldn’t give any money from the first four ATMs I tried. Luckily on the 5th one, it worked. I remember once a friend of mine who came here with me had an ATM card from another credit union and she had the same story—-it finally worked after she tried several.

We have had some ‘wildlife’ vignettes! When I swept the stairs going down to the basement from the terrace, there was what I thought was a big rock there. Not so——it was a huge green frog or toad! I was pretty surprised when it moved! Then in the middle of the night Burt saw a firefly light up against a window. Also when we look out at the streetlight at night, many insects are reflected buzzing about there, and occasionally a bat darts through them all and scoops up a few!

Burt calls our car the ‘Mafia Car,’ as it is kind of funny- looking and has very dark back windows. As usual, yesterday, we drove it to the Coop (Supermarket) in Bibbiena, where we ran into Roberto’s sister and brother-in-law. We told them we would be inviting them over for pranso 
(lunch) the weekend after next.

 

 

In the Coop we tasted some ‘pig head’ that they were selling, all cooked.  Then we made a stop at our favorite cheese shop in Bibbiena, too.

 

 

We bought 65 euro ($70) worth of cheese, salumi, and a few other specialty items. They gave us a half- kilo of penne (pasta) as a gift. How nice!

 

 

We’re both feeling just fine, now, although traveling is kind of
 hard work! I hope you’re all fine——we’re having lots of fun!

Posted in 2017, Italy | Leave a comment

#4 (final) Oaxaca, Mexico, March 21, 2017

Dear Everybody,

SOME SCENES FROM OAXACA:

 

 

Our local music academy where whenever we walked by, students were learning stringed instruments.

 

 

 

Our local tortillaria, where we got fresh, warm tortillas just before many of our meals.

 

The local barbershop, where the barber had two motorcycles.

 

 

 

 

The local lavanderia (laundromat) where we took our clothes——they did the washing and we got them back beautifully folded.

 

 

When we walked through downtown on Saturday, there was a huge political rally going on in front of the Cathedral for the Morena party. This is a new leftist party that has been quite successful.

 

 

 

There were quite a few women dressed in similar style participating—-maybe all from one village? And Voter Registration, too!

Saturday afternoon at 4:00 we went to a mescal place where we had inquired earlier if they had tastings. It was closed. Thinking it would open at 5:00, we went across the street to our Santo Domingo Church, as there were many beautifully long-gowned women and men in suits heading that way. It turned out to be a wedding, with the bride and her father lining up outside of the church. As she walked to the church door, there seemed to be a problem. It turned out that the strap on her shoe had broken (high wedge with strap to hold it on) and repair was needed. The wedding planner came to her rescue (I don’t know what the solution was) and they proceeded to the door of the church. Burt and I ducked in the back pew. The two priests came to greet the wedding party, and they all marched down the long aisle.

The guests kept arriving late to the ceremony—-up to 40 minutes late! A full choir sang an anthem from the balcony. It was wonderful to see the beautiful church all lit up—-I never have seen that before, even during Mass.

Burt and I slipped out and went back to the mescal tasting place at 5:00——still not open.

On the way home we encountered the Zandunka restaurant that seemed to feature mescal. We inquired and learned that yes, we could have a tasting.

We had two flights of three mescals each, and wrote down the names of the ones we liked so we can buy some bottles to bring home. The mescal industry is such a cottage industry with dozens of different methods and additives (like chicken breast!) to make different flavors, that trying to buy a particular one in the USA would be impossible.

Having had tiny tastes of six mescals, we proceeded home for Burt to finish cooking our dinner, which was a two-kg Red Snapper, or Huanchinango. It had been fun to buy it that morning in the market. It appeared to be fresh caught (according to Burt) and he asked the boy to scale and clean it. He marinated in a bunch of stuff, then roasted it in the oven.

We feasted on fish, black beans (flavored with avocado leaf), and rice. Burt also took care to preserve various parts for fish stock to make soup for the next day.

The day came to make our investment in four bottles of mescal to bring home. Having taken notes from our tasting, we found a shop—-actually it was a puzzle to find: the address was 528B Reforma. When we got on the 500 block of Reforma, the house numbers started at 526 on the corner; proceeding down the street, they went to 524, 522, etc, down to 514. Thinking we didn’t have the right address, we continued walking and the next number was 528, and there was the shop! That’s Mexico!

The shopkeeper was cordial and very helpful. We bought mescal from four varieties of Agave cactus; there are many,
many, apparently. Then they had tiny tasting cups which Burt and I both bought. Mescal is supposed to be sipped (they say kissed) very sparingly—-in fact, the waiter at our tasting said one is supposed to take a sip and ‘blow out’ immediately. I had trouble making this work—-so it goes.

Meals that day that were poached eggs with huitlacoche (corn smut) and crema over rice for brunch; and fish soup with aioli for dinner.

 

That evening we attended a concert by the Oaxaca Symphony at the Macedonia Alcala Theatre.  That theatre is spectacular—-to think that it was built in Oaxaca in 1903! How many people could there have been there then?

The orchestra strings played Elgar and Grieg (21 players with four women, including the concertmaster); then the full orchestra played Beethoven and Mozart (34 players). It wasn’t up to the level of the SPCO but enjoyable, especially in that thrilling theatre.

 

Luckily it started at 6:00 PM so it was more on our schedule. We were home by 8:15 and tucked in bed soon after.

 

 

Monday, our last night we had martinis on the patio along with wonderful buttery guacamole and chips. The gin isn’t so good, or so strong, so we filled our glasses with ice and olives.

 

 

We’re home now, and all is well! Thanks for reading all this——we had a wonderful time!

Posted in 2017, Oaxaca, Mexico | 2 Comments

#3 Oaxaca, Mexico, March 18, 2017

Dear Everybody,

Wednesday afternoon we had a nice rain, which the Oaxaquenos loved, as they are very short of water at the moment. Burt was bringing home our clean clothes from the lavandaria and so got pretty well soaked. Luckily the clothes were in a plastic bag.

It still dripped a bit as we walked to a restaurant for dinner that evening. We went to the Hosteria de Alcala, in a pretty courtyard of an old house. We had the Botana Oaxaquena for Two, which was wonderful. It had: cecina (the pork thin-cut meat), tasajo (the beef thin-cut meat) chiles rellenos, tacos with negro mole, chicharrones, guacamole, queso fresco, string cheese, and a ‘tart’ of bugs. We even had flan for dessert. It was still dripping a tiny bit as we walked home.

Breakfast the next morning was ala Burt—-starting with papaya and yoghurt; then a scrambled egg dish containing eggs, chorizo (Mexican sausage), strips of tortillas, tomatillos, and onion. We had a little Clamato (plain) to drink—-we’ve been using this to make Micheladas in the afternoons, which is clamato and beer, with a little other stuff thrown in—-kind of like an odd Bloody Mary and very refreshing.

One morning we spent some time at the huge Santo Domingo Museum, which is in the old convent of the church. We looked at the things from Tomb 7 in Monte Alban (from about the 8th C) which are gorgeous. A skull covered with turquoise and beautiful gold necklaces showed off the level of art in those ancient cultures.

A highlight was the Jardin Botanico (Botany Garden) out in back of the convent, which was viewable from many corridors. It is totally of cactus—-hundreds of kinds, and beautiful. They planted it first in 1993, but are adding to it all the time. With the mountains in the background, it is stunning.

On one of our trips to our Mercado Sanchez Pascuas, Burt bought Huitlapoche or Corn Smut! This is a fungus that grows on corn ears, and is considered quite a delicacy in Oaxaca. It looks strange——some here call it ‘Raven’s Poop,’ which gives you some idea of it’s ‘beauty.’ That night Burt cooked pork with Green Mole and the Huitlapoche, which he put inside a tortilla, frying it lightly like a quesadilla. It tastes quite mushroomy, and was good, as was the Green Mole and Pork. At the market Burt had also bought the most wonderful huge orange. It was so pretty and orangy smelling that he made candied orange peel for dessert. The next morning we had segments of the orange with yoghurt for breakfast.

For cocktail hour, we have been mostly having our usual gin martinis; however, I mistakenly bought olives with pits and they are very tiny olives. So it goes.

Friday evening we went to the hotel Quinta Real for their buffet and show. They mount a mini-Guelaguetza, which is the summer festival when all the surrounding villages put on their traditional dances. It was considerably different from when I saw it three years ago, and not as good. However, the costumes were brilliant (actually their native clothes) but it did take us out until 10:00, which is late for us! At home we only go to the daytime performances. And of course, eating at 7:00 is late for us, also. Still, it was a nice outing.

As we were walking up to the hotel, in a little park a dozen or so young men and women were dancing in this style——just a ‘pick-up’ game, I think. Yet, it was sort of organized, with some recorded music and the girls
wearing full colorful skirts over their tee- or sweat-shirts. (You need to swish the full skirts to do the dances) This one was almost more fun than the ‘real’ one.

As you know, we rented a house for two weeks and, except for the Mexican plumbing frailties,which we soon became acclimated to, we like it very much. It is on a pedestrian street, although locals can drive their cars through a gate to park them, which makes it nice and quiet and private.

The front door opens into the biggest room which is the dining room, where we ‘live,’ eat and talk.

There is also a small living room with a desk,
which I use to do my pictures and blogs.

The kitchen is fine—-at least Burt’s results are wonderful. I am the dishwasher, which requires heating water as there is no hot water in the kitchen. That’s ok, all the good food is well worth it!

We can hear some dogs bark, which makes Burt happy (a dog lover!) and we can hear the trucks that come around on neighboring streets to deliver gas and water, since they make some loud special noises to let people know they are available. Otherwise it’s very quiet.

There are three bedrooms and three bathrooms. There is a dearth of electrical outlets, as one would expect, and we make use of the third bedroom largely for the accessible electrical outlet to charge my iphone. Burt has brought lots of music on his computer and a speaker system, so we have lots of music of all kinds.

The lady came to clean and change linens on Wednesday. They also got a water delivery (not the drinking kind) which was quite an operation. They filled several big tanks on the property with huge hoses. Laura said that right now Oaxaca hasn’t much water. I’m glad it rained the other day! Laura lives in the next house, and she and I can text on our iphones (we each have translation) so that it’s not too hard to be understood. Yes, I know a little Spanish, but Not Enough!

I’ll get this off to you all—-hope you’re all fine!

Posted in 2017, Oaxaca, Mexico | Leave a comment

#2 Oaxaca, Mexico, March 15, 2017

Dear Everybody,

Oaxaca is really wonderful——the weather is perfect, the food is outstanding, and there are lots of artisania shops with lots of interesting things to buy. We’re both trying hard not to buy things since neither of us has room for much more! However, Burt bought a hand made bag in the exact colors of his bathroom in which to put extra towels. It was for sale at a restaurant where we had breakfast a couple of times.

Still this is Mexico and not everything works so well. The second day we managed to plug up a toilet and the oven in the stove wouldn’t light so we had to call for help from our landlady, Laura. We also have a refrig that works fine, but it’s hard to open and when you jerk it to get it open, it moves, so eventually one has to pause and push it back in place. Then the drinking water has to be purchased in big bottles. We use a pump-thing to make the water come out. It’s amazing how much we use—-for drinking and cooking.

On the way home in a taxi the other day, Burt forgot his visor cap, so when we went to Walmart’s to buy some needed housewares, we also bought him a Bogart hat to keep the sun off his head. We think it looks pretty sporty. Speaking of taxis, they are so available and quite cheap so this works out much better than renting a car.

Burt has been reading up on the seven moles of Oaxaca and attempting to learn the different chilies. In our little market that is only a few blocks from our house we saw a whole area devoted to mole ingredients.

We were also able to buy three herbs that Burt wants to get to know, as well as some squash blossoms for the chicken soup that he is making. Here you have avocado leaves, Hierba Santa, the squash blossoms, and epazote.

It’s fun to walk around the neighborhood and see what’s available. We found a laundromat a block away and made good use of that. Luckily they do all the work!  Near it is a chocolate shop—-Oaxaca is very big on grinding their own cacao beans and making world class chocolate. We stopped in after delivering our dirty laundry, rewarding ourselves with a morning hot chocolate.

On Monday we had our dinner at the Casa Oaxaca. We had looked in on this restaurant earlier and Burt had photoed the menu with his iPad. We had studied it carefully and chosen our dinner. I explained to the waiter that we wanted to order three plates, but we wanted to share each of them. No problem—-what I really like about Mexico. Wherever and whenever you are eating in a Mexican restaurant, you can have whatever you want, whenever you want it, and however you want it.

We started with Margaritas—-Burt had his with mescal and I had mine with tequila. His was the more interesting, and later we ordered another to share. It was quite intense——Burt says “an iodine taste like Islay Scotch.”

Then a waiter came and made a salsa to our order (picante or not so) tableside.

A tlayuda appeared, gratis,—-a crisp blue corn tostada with queso fresco (fresh cheese)—-very good.

Our first course arrived, which was a fried tostada with agave worms, grasshoppers, chicatanas ants, guacamole, onion, radish and mayonnaise infused with chicatanas ants (so said the menu).

Following, preparations were made for our second course—-a traditional fish soup served with fish, octopus, clams, mussels and shrimp but cooked with a hot stone tableside.

The third course was suckling pig——luckily a small amount as we were getting pretty full!

What a wonderful meal, a beautiful setting upstairs outside, overlooking the Church of Santo Domingo and a friendly, competent waiter. Our walk home, about six blocks, gave us a chance to digest our over-the-top dinner!

Tuesday morning we took a taxi to the HUGE Mercado Central Abastos. We walked around in it for two hours and I don’t think we covered more than a fourth of it. A young girl was butchering a beef hind——and another lady was making beef tasajo. This is when they slice beef VERY fine and when they get almost to the end, they turn it around and slice back again; they keep doing that so they wind up with one loooong piece of very thin beef, kind of like an accordion. They salt it as they go.

Of course they have all the usual produce, chickens and veggies, but we prefer to buy those at our neighborhood market. We did see a big display of all the grasshoppers, ants, and bugs, but didn’t buy any, although we bought some sal gusano and sal chapulines (salt with ground bugs)—-to put on our fruit in the mornings.

Finally we did buy some ready-made tamales to bring home to eat tonight, which Burt re-steamed, just to be sure.

On the way out, we came to the live produce market—-there were chickens, turkeys, bunnies, doves, ducks and more!

Today we had breakfast out, and what a breakfast. We started with capucinni, and then we both had Huateque, which was a dish of two fried tortillas, two eggs, ham, black beans, string cheese, and tomato sauce with some very good chili sauce (picante) to put on it. That required a walk so we walked to a supermarket, but on the way came to a nice store that had the things we wanted to buy, so we popped in there and then took a taxi home.

On our walk to the store we encountered the Rincon del Aquaducto, a 400+-year old aquaduct. At one time it brought the water supply to the city.

More adventures to come!

Posted in 2017, Oaxaca, Mexico | 2 Comments

#1 Oaxaca, Mexico, March 12, 2017

Dear Everybody,

Since Burt and I met one and a half years ago, we’ve managed to travel together quite a bit. We are now in Oaxaca, Mexico, renting a house for a couple of weeks. The house is on a tiny pedestrian street, accessed through the ‘Arcos,’ a four-hundred year old aqueduct.

On our first day a trip to the market yielded a bottle of mescal, the old workingman’s drink made from cactus, but today made into a specialty of Oaxaca, in fine looking bottles. So we tried it out on our patio, and yes, it had a worm, and yes, Burt ate it!

The first morning we went out for breakfast. Burt had negro mole over tortillas and onions; I had ‘divorced eggs’—-one with red sauce and one with green sauce.

Burt has been cooking up a storm; one day we had wonderful shrimp cocktails; another day he prepared a half of a pig’s head, which yielded four kinds of meat——snout, ear, tongue, and ‘other.’ We ate it with negro mole sauce, rice, and beans with cheese.

We’ve gone for some long walks—- a couple of times to the Juarez market which is down by the Zocalo, the park that is Oaxaca’s living room. Burt got a shoeshine while we stopped and had an ‘agua con gas’ under the portales.

The Juarez market is huge and we enjoy it a lot, but we also have a small market about two blocks from our house along with a
tortilleria for fresh tortillas——um, good. We did buy a half a chicken in the Juarez market, and examined other possibilities for later in the week, including all the chilies and the myriad of herbs needed to make our own moles.

 

 

 

On the way back we visited the most beautiful and ornate Church of Santo Domingo, admiring all the detail, done several hundred years ago.

We’re really having fun shopping, cooking and eating.

Posted in 2017, Oaxaca, Mexico | 1 Comment

#1 Sardinia/Malta, Oct. 8, 2015

Dear Everybody,

What a hassle flying is getting to be; still I made it to Caglieri, Sardinia, my first Cagliaridestination. This lovely island in the Mediterranean is part of Italy. Its capital, Caglieri (pronounced Cull’-yer-ee—-roll the ‘r’) is a beautiful city.

The waterfront Waterfronthas lots of big cruise ships and many yachts.

The main piazza houses the train station, the City Hall, and the bus station, where you buy your tickets in a booth in the local McDonalds!.Town Hall

I’m staying in a very nice hostel near the main piazza; they serve an Italian breakfast of a croissant and all kinds of coffee. Yes, the coffee comes out of a machine with buttons, so it’s not perfect, but what is?!

I spent most of my first full day getting organized. I had forgotten my electric adapter so I had to chase all around to find one to buy. Then I bought train and bus tickets for some day trips, and also for when I leave, next week.

Spaghetti with ClamsFor linner, seafood rules, here. I had spaghetti and clams and VERY good wine at a restaurant down the street. There are sidewalk restaurants every 30 feet here—-the locals must eat out a lot!

I popped into the San Sepolcro church right next door, visiting a 4th century Baptistry in the crypt.4th C. Baptistry

On the Piazza San Sepolcro, just down some steps from my hostel, it’s fun to watch the locals at rest and Piazza San Sapolcroplay.

 

The next day I took a walking tour mapped out in the Lonely Planet to see the sights. Unfortunately it was the first hot, humid day, and the tour meant climbing up and down—-it kind of wore me out! Still there was lots to see.

 

 

I’ll spare you all about the churches, except the

Cathedral of Santa MariaCathedral of Santa Maria had two wonderful marble pulpits carved by Guglielmo da Pisa in 1312. Several of the buildings had been rebuilt after World War II—-I hadn’t realized that Sardinia was bombed.

2 Pulpits-Guglielmo da Pisa-1312

Roman Amphitheater

 

 

 

 

 

Of course the Romans were here, too,

 

 

and built an amphitheater but it had been badly pillaged for building materials so was barely recognizable.

 

 

 

Still they have concerts in this place in the summer!

Cagliari

Lion on Lion Gate

 

 

 

 

From the Castello, way up high, with its thick walls,
one has marvelous views of Caglieri. And the Lion’s Gate does have a couple of lions on it.

The next day I tackled the museums way up high in the Castello. Just walking up is a chore! The Archeological Museum was a gem! Neolithic-3200-2600 BCEThere were some beautiful cross-shaped females faintly reminiscent of the ones in the Greek Islands. Then there were the bronze figures that go back to the Neolithic time—-6000-3500 BCE. There are lots of them, all interesting. DSC03561Most are about three inches high, but some are as large DSC03555as eight inches. These nurighic bronzetti have been invaluable for archeologists to learn about the lives in this era.

Of course the Romans were here—-Roman-Antestook over the island in 227 BCE. They, too, built temples and left their mark.

DSC03571

 

 

Following that museum I went to the Pinacoteca, which had art from the 1400s to the 1800s. Prominently displayed
Cavaro-St. PaulCavaro-St. Peterwere four works by Pietro Cavaro who founded the Stampace School of art and is Sardinia’s most important artist. I did think the St. Peter and St. Paul paintings were special.

Van Gogh-The GardnerBut wait! There was More! In the San Pancrazio building they had a display of ‘recovered’ art. All of this art had been stolen or illegally excavated. The Italian police did an investigation and found over 5000 pieces in Basil, Switzerland, which they confiscated in 2013!. Included were many nurighic bronzetti, as well as a Gaugin and a Van Gogh! There was some wonderful old religious art, too, by some of the Florentines.

MusselsI staggered back down the mountain to a good restaurant where I had great seafood for my linner. My ‘starter’ was mussels—-well now I’m spoiled and won’t want the ones I buy at Whole Foods. These were so good! I suppose they were harvested that morning. I followed this up with pasta (with local sausage) and King Prawns.

Oh, I forgot—-the night before last I had decided to getEvening Stilt Walkers-Piazza San Sepolcro some air and as I headed down the steps to the Piazza San Sepolcro I heard music—-it was a free amateur show with stilt walkers, dancing to recorded music. So I had a small beer as I watched the show. Yes, Caglieri is a lively town!

Today I took an 8:00 bus to a town called Pula. On the way there I saw flamingoes in the backwater from Flamingoes on the way to Pulathe Mediterranean.

From Pula I got a shuttle toRoman Baths go to Nora, which has lots of layers of history. Nora was founded by the Nora-Roman Site-250 BCEPhoenicians in the 6th C. BCE; the Romans took over the island in the 3rd C BCE.  Virtually all of what I saw dated to Roman times. There were Roman baths and mosaic floors and there was a Roman Mosaic Floorsmall theater.

Small Roman Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the shuttle bus returning to Pula wasn’t coming for two more hours, and then, if I waited, I would miss my Caglieri bus. The Lonely Planet book said it was four km—-easily walkable but when we came, I noticed that it seemed much longer than four km. Then which way to go? I started walking and wondering if I were on the right road. Yes, I finally came to a sign that said, “Pula.” I kept going but it WAS more than four km and it was getting late. So I stuck out my thumb to hitchhike. I know, Europeans don’t hitchhike (nor any more do Americans, I think) and several cars went by. Luckily one stopped—-an older couple from Milan—-who didn’t look like ax murderers! They dropped me at the Piazza, but it was still an hour until my Caglieri bus. So, even though it was too early to eat, (only noon), I did anyway. I had a small draft beer and roast goat cheese. Was that good! On the way home I stopped and bought more fruit—-the cheese and bread with olive oil was pretty heavy!

After I got off the bus I checked into renting a car for a day, since an important World Heritage Site of a Paleolithic Nuraghe settlement—-in fact the most important one on the island—-isn’t reachable by bus with any good timing. I’ll probably do this on Saturday. However, the Sardinian drivers (like the mainland Italians) are skilled but aggressive. The way those cowboy bus drivers were slinging those buses around in the bus yard—-some were even double buses with the accordion connection—-didn’t bother them. They backed them up very fast, right up to a building, two feet away. I hope they don’t sling me off the road!

Anyway, all is fine and I’m enjoying Sardinia. I’ve been mostly alone in my dorm (I think the lady is ‘protecting’ me) so I’ve been kind of isolated. That’s why I stay in the dorms—-to interact with other travelers. I finally had three roommates last night, of which two were from France and one from Germany. Everybody is surprised when they find that I’m American. I think not many come here.

Posted in 2015 Sardinia/Malta | 1 Comment