Friday, May 30, 2008

A “Get to Know Me” Meme

I wasn’t exactly tagged, but Valerie in Le Marche did invite us bloggers to play, so I am!

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?
Hate to admit it, but don’t even remember. I think it was the last James Bond film and it was in the states. I am considering going to see “Sex in the City”, but not sure it will have the same “impact” in Italian.

2. What book are you [re]reading?

Again, embarrassing, no books these days. But hey, it’s high season here in Italia, so a woman’s gotta work! Last book was “Eat, Prey, Love”....maybe that’s why I have not read since, how stupid beyond the first few pages.

3. Favorite board game?

WAS Trivial Pursuit but have given up board games since moving to Italy. Boy, I sound like a barrel of fun, don’t I?!

4. Favorite magazine?

RED (British), DOVE (Upscale Italian travel magazine) & VILLE E GIARDINI.

5. Favorite smells?

Wisteria and jasmine which are so in bloom right now, yum! And my dog, Lucy, no joke.

6. Favorite sounds?

Lui saying “buongiorno” each morning when we wake, the chime of Lucy’s collar and snorts.

7. Worst feeling in the world?

Feeling betrayed or feeling alone. Good thing those don’t happen often!

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?

Luigi to the left and Lucy to the right (but on the floor!), can it get any better than this?!

9. Favorite fast food place?

In & Out Burger and it’s been a lonnnnngggg time....

10. Future child’s name?

God willing and time permitting, Carolina for a girl and Michele Francesco for a boy.

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lots of money I’d….?

Pay off any family debts, buy “The Mother” (the most fantastic house in Lerici) and adopt a few children.

12. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?

I consider Luigi one sort of. And of course there’s Lucy, but on the floor again! :)

13. Storms - cool or scary?

Cool, but way too common this year. I’m over them for 2008.

14. Favorite drink?

These days I am in to Spritz with Aperol. In California, no doubt, a margherita rocks with salt. Hmmm, maybe time to buy some tequila???

15. Finish this statement, “If I had the time I would….”?

Like many, write a book about my life in Bella Italia. It would be pretty entertaining. Also, completely gut and redo the garden. And learn to sew.

16. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?

All of it.

17. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?

I’m really ok with being blond.

18. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in?

Laguna Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Florence, Montecatini.

19. Favorite sports to watch?

Beach volleyball and then I’d say calcio and collage foootball (American that is).

20. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you?

I have not had the pleasure of meeting Valerie in person yet, but I do enjoy her blog lots.

21. What’s under your bed?

3 boxes and some Lucy hair, for sure.

22. Would you like to be born as yourself again?

No doubt.

23. Morning person, or night owl?

Morning person, but not too early!

24. Over easy, or sunny side up?

Over easy on a bed of refried beans and tortillas and some great Mexican salsa!

25. Favorite place to relax?

In our garden overlooking Lerici and the sea after dinner. Simply paradise.

26. Favorite pie?

Fresh out of the oven American Apple Pie.

27. Favorite ice cream flavor?

Stracciatella (chocolate chip).

28. Of all the people you tagged this to, who’s most likely to respond first?

I don’t know how to tag! So whoever wants to, just join in! :)


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Back to Reality...

I'm getting off my "Sicily kick" (for now) and returning to Liguria.  The truth is, I live in one of the most beautiful and colorful places in the world.  I invite you to peak into the place I call home...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

And oh the food...(This one's for you, KT!)

The honeymoon has not quite ended in my love affair with Taormina.  
Today the focus is the fabulous and delicious offerings of Sicilian cuisine.

For you non-fish lover's, I send my regrets.  Because you are really missing out by not being adventurous when visiting the island.  I mentioned Mendolia Beach Club in my last post.  And here is one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

We also enjoyed a creative and mouth-watering meal at the Ristorante di Nettuno (Via Tysandros 68/D) in Giardini Naxos just down the hill from Taormina including a "Tris of Fish Pasta" and Pasta al Nero di Seppia (spaghetti flavored and tinted with the ink of cuttlefish).

And a whole lot of grappa!

Then there are the desserts.  My photos and narrative won't even do them justice.  Cannoli (a crispy fried pastry filled with fresh ricotta, yummmmm) ...

and Cassata (sponge cake of ricotta, sugar and candied fruit) are my favorites. Try the Cassata at Granducaand the Cannoli at Mendolia or Licchio's.  You can also find a colorful and fun assortment of marzipane candies that look so real, you almost hate to eat them!

*For you "non-fishies", I suggest you try the Caponata (friend eggplant chunks in a sweet and sour sauce), Maccu (bean and fennel soup), Arancini (fried balls of rice, veggies and mozzarella), Pasta alla Norma (spaghetti with a spicy sauce of tomatoes, eggplant and ricotta) and any flavor of honey you can get your hands on.  I personally devour the honey-suckle flower honey from Oro D'Etna.

Now top it all off with this and it's time to say "buona notte"!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

One Perfect Day...

Have you ever been somewhere and thought it can't get any better than this? 
That is what I feel everytime I spend a day here:

Isola Bella, just below Taormina (to the right of Mazzarò Bay). It has become habit for Lui & I to pass the first day of our Sicilian vacations here.

The actual beach is really called Mendolia, but the beautiful island (also known as The Pearl of the Ionian Sea) is what most people refer to when visiting the bay. There is a rather lovely villa perched on the island between exotic flora and fauna that practically drops into the sea. It was a private residence until 1990 when it was bought by the Region of Sicily and became a nature reserve.  You can take a short tour of the island in the mornings.

Back at the Mendolia Beach Club you can rent a lounge chair and umbrella for 7,50 Euros and enjoy the beautiful views and crystal clear water. 

The beach club has a snack bar with a good assortment of inexpensive sandwiches and pizzas. Or you can avoid the mid-day sun for a couple of hours and treat yourself to a fabulous seafood meal in their beachside restaurant.  

I am usually a bit "leery" of touristy beach restaurants, but after three excellent meals there, I am convinced this place has mastered the art of good food, warm hospitality and one of the best dining ambiences to be had in Taormina. Additionally, they make (or have delivered, not sure) some of the best canoli I have ever tasted!  And their after meal almond wine is a must.

So, my advice to anyone visiting Taormina during the warmer months would be to set a day aside for Isola Bella.  You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I am in love...

With Sicily that is! Just back from 5 days in Taormina and suffering from a severe case of post-trip doldrums.

I know that Taormina has its (full) share of tourists and can get pretty crowded when those cruise ships come in, but it is also beautiful, rich in history and architecture, full of good food (more to come on that subject), glamorous and a perfect base for exploring one of Italy's most interesting regions.

More notes soon, but in the meantime, enjoy a few photos from paradise...