Saturday, 14 June 2008

Home and Answer

Home is also a good place to be.

Uneventful journey back and collected by Fran from the airport (thanks to Fran and Matthew for the taxi service).

We don’t envy Jim and Margaret their trip home – left Albiano at 7:00am this morning, getting train from Pisa to Rome this evening, flying early Sunday Rome – Munich – Heathrow - Edmonton

Our new combined weight – which no one guessed correctly – is 127kg

Friday, 13 June 2008

Last Day

Friday morning more rain

An extended lunch at Loreno and Margaret's . A most enjoyable afternoon. Loreno on cracking form – strange how wine seems to have less effect in Italy.

Glorious afternoon and managed a final swim before another dinner and another thunderstorm which lasted more or less all night. As a result the garden and roads were awash when we set off this morning.

Azzurri live to fight another day.

See you soon.

Close to end

We finally managed to get up in time for a trip to Cinque Terre although somewhat tired and emotional from the previous night.

Despite some minor disagreement with the lady on the Sat Nav system, we found our way there and back although I am sure she doesn’t know her way back from Lucca. Jim did a superb job of fitting the car into an impossible space in the car park.

I have never been to Cinque Terre before. It is beautiful but possibly too much so – a fairy tale place.

We started at Riomaggiorre then took the train to the end of the line (10 minutes away). On the return leg we stopped at Manarola, the village before Riomaggiore, and then walked back along the coastal path.

A light drizzle started as we set off on the 20 minute walk back but of course being Italian rain it was warm and dry.

On the drive back it rained and summer appears to have disappeared from Barga also.

Glorious Summer

We had a weather scare in the morning stemming from a text message from Phil saying he would be on TV as RAI was covering Wednesday’s Papal blessing. As it turned out RAI chose to show coverage of a parliamentary debate about rescuing Alitalia. However while trying to find Phil we saw an Italian Air Force officer giving the weather forecast saying that it was going to turn nasty later in the day.

We therefore called Loreno to change our dinner plan from a BBQ to a restaurant. However, by 4:30pm the weather was still glorious so we reverted to the BBQ option, did a quick shop and had a great BBQ. We then walked up the hill to Albiano for grappa and limoncella before venturing back though the vineyard in the moonlight and following the fireflies.

Summer Time

Surprisingly summer arrived on Tuesday as had previously been forecast.

Disappointing meal at il Molino with surly service.

False Start

Looked a promising start to the day but by the time we had finished coffee with Ann and Ricco Capani at about midday it had turned cloudy again.

The Capanis have a small but beautiful house with a spectacular view of Barga.
Evening dinner was at Da Riccardo where all the tables were occupied with people with Scots accents. Even the owner and her daughter were Scottish Italians – nevertheless it was an excellent meal.

More dark days – this time on the Italian football front.

Dark Days

I know I promised not to speak of the weather again but enough is enough. The weekend was particularly bad with heavy rain and thunder storms.

Jim & Margaret’s friends Vic and Gay came over on Sunday with their daughter from Rome and her partner with their two children. We BBQd the lunch in the rain and ate indoors. The children and I managed a brief swim in the pool but I only went in because there had to be an adult in the pool with one of the children who couldn’t swim.

Defrosted the fridge with a hair drier.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Sunday Mass

The church in Albiano is very small as is the size of the congregation, most of whom seem to be returned Scottish-Italians I remember from the olden days that Sunday Mass was a time to meet people and socialise and this appears still to be the case. So we ended up talking to the Capanis whom we met last week with Peter’s friend and who were at the wedding yesterday. So they have invited us for coffee tomorrow.

Eating and Prize

Our (Jenny’s and mine) combined weight on departure was 125kg and we have had a few meals. A special prize will be awarded to the person who accurately and flatteringly guesses our correct weight on our return.

To give you a pointer, we had two complementary meals here courtesy of i Cedri. Friday was foccacia, maccheroni al ragu, and stuffed suckling pig that had been BBQd for seven hours . Saturday was antipasto, risotto, pasta al pomodoro and talgliata (slices of grilled steak that was close to perfection).The only problem was that i Cedri was catering these meals for a birthday party and then the wedding. Therefore we should have realised that there would literally be hours or so between courses making for a late night. In fact last night’s dolce did not arrive until this morning – not that we would have een in a position to eat it last night as we were had already eaten too much.


The wedding party entered the Duomo to cloudy skies but returned to sunshine. Shortly afterwards a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning forced them to retreat indoors from where they emerged periodically between the successive storms. Anyway it appears to have been a great success.

The bright spells in the afternoon enabled us to do some swimming and I think I have cracked bilateral breathing for my crawl which now looks even sexier.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Hard Life

On principle, I refuse to mention the weather and this is our last word on the topic – it is raining now but summer is now forecast to arrive around 10 June. However it had previously been forecasted to arrive yesterday.

Nevertheless we are catching enough rays to develop a tan but enough is enough.Despite the weather, arrangements continue for and English wedding here at i Cedri. Although we are not involved, we are benefiting from a free pre-wedding meal tonight and the wedding dinner tomorrow. After a few drinks tomorrow, I may try to work myself into the wedding party.

Mum and I, stumbled upon a wine Cantina yesterday morning and then stumbled out after a generous wine tasting (Claire should have been there) with a 5 litre bottle of wine. Unfortunately, I cannot now remember what it was so that we bought so will have to go another day. Particularly exciting was the fact that we found out that my nonno’s vineyard recently won the prize for the best wine in the Lucchese (i.e. Lucca) region and that they have it in stock. I may have to bring you some provided you keep it as a treasured family heirloom and don’t drink it – in which case I need only buy the 8 euro version.

The apartment we have rented is a traditional Italian house dating from the 1920s when it was built by a local who had emigrated to Chicago. Without any justification we like to think that it could have been Al Capone. Three large bedrooms that can sleep six, a bathroom and separate walk in shower room. There is far too much space for just the two of us; so we need some visitors. A great feature is that it is a convenient stroll down to Alpino and Oneste’s to catch the last evening drink and then back for poker.

Unfortunately neither of our trips is long enough to warrant our own internet connection and the Italian idea of an internet access points is like being back in the dark ages.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Forza Azzurri

Preparations in hand to watch the football in suitably non-partisan surroundings.

Apartment for return trip looks really good although limited garden. Walking distance for getting back from Oneste and Alpino for poker. Sleeps six so start booking your places now.

Weather continues miserably but summer is said to be arriving before we go though we have heard this before.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Food and Thunderstorms

Both are continuing but still enjoying ourselves despite the major frustrations of Italy's (or at least Barga's) internet system.

Lunch with Loreno and Margaret at the Bugno - an enjoyable light two course snack with wine before dinner.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Weather from Scotland

Barga maintains its close ties with Scotland by importing the Scottish weather as result of which everything is unseasonably green and we are now sheltering from the rain indoors, blethering and blogging - although without the essential internet link.

Saturday and Sunday were pretty good, for Scotland, and we were able to sit out, swim and prendere il sole – possibly too much in my case as I fell asleep – due to some tiredness from alcohol with our meal the previous evening at the Buigno with Delio and Fede and the fact that someone – no names, no pack drill – forgot to pack my pillow.

At mass on Sunday, we met a lady, Mhoira McFarlane (no Scottish, or English, spellchecker for that matter) who knew the Scottish artist Peter Luti from his days with the Scottish Highers. She is now with the Foreign Office in Florence.
Dined at the Altana Sunday night and rounded off the evening with the usual grappa and limoncella at the Alpino with Loreno and Margaret and trying to spot people Loreno doesn’t know.

Off now to drive round Barga and see if we can find a wireless hot spot to access the internet before resorting to the internet access point at D&D.