Monday, October 27, 2008

ZAP!  I've been tagged...

Scintilla at Bell'Avventura sent me this.  Let's see if I can actually do this right (and those who follow me!).  Here are the instructions:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Here it goes:
  1. When I was 8, someone ran over my left pinkie toe and it's been paralyzed ever since.  Sticks up straight when I bend the others.  Guess it could be worse huh?
  2. My dream job was to swim with Shamu at Sea World (still wish I could!)
  3. For exercise and mental release, I turn up the music and dance around the house - alone.  I've only been caught once by my husband who proceeded to join me.  Quite therapeutic.
  4. I am scared to death of getting on a motorcycle or scooter (bad place to be for that huh?).  Two wheels, a motor and hand brakes just don't make sense to me.
  5. If I had the time, I'd learn to sew and paint.
  6. I am a closet KISS fan (love "house dancing" to I Wanna Rock n' Roll All Night"...)
Now it's my turn to tag:

Buon divertimento & have a great week!

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's That Time Again!

The olive harvest has come to the Golfo dei Poeti a little early this year.  Usually it's the month of November when you see the red nets unravel around acres and acres of olive trees lining our winding roads and the hills. But due to the unseasonable weather (cold and rain in the spring, hot and humid summer, warmer than usual fall), the olives were starting to fall!

Our home and borgo is surrounded by uncountable numbers of these gorgeous, green and lavender glistening trees. And there is only one man who can get the job done right - our dear Gugliemo (William in english) - caretaker of nearly every holiday home in our borgo, my gardener and grappa drinking partner, and all around sweet man who sings while he works.

That's him hard at work cutting down the overgrown, olive laid branches (for which I recuperate a good part of my view, grazie!).  He and his wife take each branch one by one and either pick the olives off directly, or hit two branches together so the olives fall off (somewhat) naturally.  He's been at it for nearly weeks now and still has about a week to go.  But as he says, "Bella Bionda (can't pronounce my name correctly so he's settled on that), Gugliemo (in the third person!) e un'uomo preciso."  William is a precise man.  Which is his way of telling me, he'll not only get the job done, but he'll get it done perfectly.  He has also promised me a nice bottle of olive oil awaiting my return from California.

Is it safe to say I have a crush on the gardener?!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Learning to Love La Spezia: La Pia & Farinata

We all need a little “comfort” food now and then. My favorite is a typical Ligurian dish called Farinata. And the best place to have it (along with a slice or two of the famous thick crust pizza is La Pia.

Opened in 1887 (no that is not a typo), La Pia has been serving the same basic menu of farinata, focaccia di castagnaccio and pizza in the same old brick building for more than hundreds years. Signore Pia opened his establishment to provide “cibo per i poveri”: food for the poor which in those days referred to manual labor workers, artists and sailors. It is said there was always a line out the door during the lunch hour, and that hasn’t seem to change much over the last century! La Pia is still packed all day long. If you are on the go, you can just grab a slice in the “forno” (oven room) or if you want a complete dining experience, you can still in the old dining hall sharing tables with locals. The place is a gold mine and rightfully so!

Farinata is a thin, pizza-like pancake from La Spezia. It is made by stirring chickpea flour into a mixture of water and olive oil to form a loose batter which sits over night before baking it in the oven. It sounds so simple but the magic is really in the oven, in which farinata can only really be perfected in a wood burning one, just like those for good pizza. It should be crisp and golden on the top, soft and moist on the inside, with a hint of olive oil. Farinata may be seasoned with fresh rosemary, pepper and sea salt or topped with onions and cheese, but it is best eaten plain, right out of the oven.
If you are ever in La Spezia, you should not pass up this finger lickin’ delicious dish made at the best place in town.

La Pia
Via Magneta 12
La Spezia

Monday, October 13, 2008


I finally had a chance to do a little blog reading and came across a nice piece written by Cherrye in Calabria about girlfriends.  It made me smile that she has been able to find friendship and company amongst other expat gals down in the south.  But it also made me think about the fact that after 5+ years here, I can count the number of Italian girlfriends I have on less than one hand, and have very few expat girlfriends close by.  Without sounding too "whoa is me", sometimes it really stinks.

Truth is, I did choose a place to live where the locals are notorious for being "chiuso". There isn't the warmth and open arms policy of many other areas in Italy.  I spent the first 2 years up here on our hill over Lerici, just trying to be accepted.  The stares have waned but the concept of me being an outsider remains (minus a few old men who seem to get a kick out calling the California blond their friend!).  I've have met some very nice expat girls but they're not exactly close by and have lots going on in their lives, so get-togethers are few and far between.

My solution has been to drown myself in work.  Be so busy that I can't find the time to worry or think about cultivating friendships.  Che scema sono! (What an idiot I am!)  The "season" is coming to an end and there is a lot of satisfaction in what I have been able to accomplish work-wise.  But I give myself about a "D" in the making friends department.  Despite the challenge it is to make or find them, I am not making it any better by cocooning myself behind a computer or constantly taking off to meet clients in another Italian destination.

It's time to make girlfriends.  It's time to make the effort.  It's time to get off the hill and be social!