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Last week was our final week of Italian language school in Sorrento. We decided to stay on a few days longer as our study limited our time to explore and linger over meals.  The extra time has given us the opportunity to try some local restaurants.

 

Inn Bufalito antipasti

 

First, Inn Bufalito in Sorrento. This stylish and friendly restaurant specialises in meals based on the local water buffalo. We had excellent antipasti of buffalo milk cheese, buffalo salami and buffalo pepperoni. This was accompanied by a lovely sharp pecorino (sheep) cheese, broccoli greens, marinated artichoke hearts and foccacia. The antipasti would have sufficed for lunch, but we had already ordered a main course of pasta each.

One dish was a buffalo ragu served over pacchero pasta. The second was fusilli con zucca e salsice, pumpkin and sausage.

Wisely, we refused desert offers and had a macchiato each.

As if the scenery on boat ride to Positano weren’t enough, we were also treated to a stunning view over the Mare Tirrenia from Ristorante Bruno along the via Cristofo Colombo.

 

view from via Cristofo Colombo Positano

 

It was the 1oth of October so we toasted Italy and Chris Columbus with a glass of local red and a plate of scialatielli, a local hand cut pasta. Mine was dressed with lovely little prawns, black olives and a fresh tomato sauce.

 

Scialatielli at Ristorante Bruno

 

A final bliss point has to be the Frittura de Pesce that we ate at the Feste Sagra del Pesce (festival for the blessing of the fish). A feather-light batter on rings and tentacles of squid, sardines about the size of my middle finger, prawns with crunchy tails, a giant chunk of lemon (Sorrentine lemons are fabulously juicy), a crunchy roll and a cup of wine.  All for 5 Euros!

 

Sagra Del Pesce

 

Last week was our final week of Italian language school in Sorrento. We decided to stay on a few days longer as our study limited our time to explore and linger over meals.  The extra time has given us the opportunity to try some local restaurants.
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Yesterday afternoon, Annie and I went to Florence on the train. San Giovanni Valdarno, where we are studying, is only a 30 minute train ride away. We were fortunate to have the father of one of the school’s administrators give us a commentary on the church at Piazzale Michelangelo, Chiesa di San Miniato al Monte. Oracio told us much of  the history of the Basilica and spoke only Italian, so it was a real challenge for our language skills. The church dates to the 11th century and what really captured  me were the unfinished frescoes showing just the outline of the figures in a red chalk or red earth, and the original inlaid marble floor in the centre of the nave depicting the signs of the zodiac. I could not get a good photo of it but there is one on Wikipedia.

Frescoes at Chiesa San Miniato al Monte

We had taken the bus up the hill, but walked back down the hill to the Arno river, across the Ponte Vecchio then proceeded into the city centre via the most incredible gelateria GROM – http://www.grom.it/ita/.  Annie and I shared a coffee and yoghurt flavoured ‘coppa’ and it was truly a culinary bliss point.  We are returning tomorrow and we are NOT sharing.  It may be our lunch…

The last time I stood on the Ponte Vecchio was in 1980 with my oldest girlfriend Beth Parsons Forsythe.  Yesterday I was so happy to stand there with my big sister Annie.

Ann and Lou on the Ponte Vecchio

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We have arrived in the Tuscan town of San Giovanni Valdarno for two weeks of Italian language study at ‘Il Sillabo‘. But not before first stating out with family in Rome.

What can I say about Roma? It is crazy and hot and crowded and charming and noisy and beautiful and well, you get the picture. It’s an enigma. There are four million people inside the big ring road that surrounds Rome but the suburbs are spread way outside that ring. Finding parking is an art form at which our 20-something cousin Giulia is already an expert.

Thanks to our lovely cugini (cousins), we have been taken to some of the main sites and, more importantly, to some of the local joints.

You would think that Rome’s water supply would have been sucked dry by now, but not so. There are fountains on the streets of the old city and ancient quarter where you can drink freely. Locals and tourists alike stop to drink or to refill water bottles.

Maybe there’s something in the water that makes the coffee so good. I don’t know…it’s just different. So, ‘when in Rome’ and all that…

It’s just different, the coffee.

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