Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Italy & the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…

Lately the phone has been ringing off the hook here at the editorial offices.  So much so that we’ve taken to not answering it.

The callers haven’t been readers wondering why we’ve been persona non publicato, or expressing gratitude for the lack of idiotic commentary.

Instead, it’s been a steady stream of fund-raisers and poll-takers, apparently attempting to make up for their inability to bother us while we were out of town recently.  It turns out we had inadvertently (I think) disabled the answering machine feature on our phone before we left.

Well anyway, the Poppycock’s recently enjoyed a 16 day trip to Italy.  We spent most of it in a medieval walled village in Tuscany, and the last two days in Rome, where we took two tours that were true ‘immersion’ experiences, with sauna like conditions thrown in.  Here are a couple of pictures to give you some idea of what we enjoyed.

The first is taken out of the front window of our apartment, showing some sort of min-festival parade taking place in the street below:

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This next one is a view of the surrounding countryside from the other side of our apartment:

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Such a trip, with no TV, no radio, and no newspapers to speak of, really distances you from the same old, same old.  And it is very difficult on several levels to adjust upon return.  That includes getting back in the loop and commenting on various goings on, as has been our habit for years now.

So in case you were concerned or wondering about us, fear not.  All is well, and we are well.  We are finding it a struggle, however, to work up much enthusiasm for getting ‘back in the loop’ and offering up our unsolicited essays.

Especially given the onslaught of real summer conditions.  Weeds looked like they had put in two months of growth in the two weeks we were gone, and various other summerizing chores need our attention.  We have family arriving tomorrow, and with that, the inevitable slide into what we hope will be a more carefree summer routine, in which we let our usual interests and more mundane pursuits slide. 

Summer is too short to mess up with obligations, real or imagined.  So while we have a few items lined up to take care of, we have no illusions that our publishing schedule will return to normal, whatever the hell that is, until summer is over, whatever the hell that means in Maine.

So now you  know the rest of the story.  But before we close this item, some tips and tidbits from our trip to Italy.

Tuscan Vino Rosso:  There is no such thing as bad red wine in the Tuscany region.  Everything we had, from about $6 a bottle on up, was wonderful.  You just can’t go wrong.

Rental Car GPS:  If you are going overseas, and plan on getting a GPS for your rental car, I strongly recommend you get it from Auto Europe, headquartered here in Portland.  They’ll rent you one independent of who you get the car from, although they are the best for that too.  You’ll save money on the GPS rental, and at least in our case, the lady in the machine spoke highway numbers, etc, in English, not Italian, which I have been told happens with other sources.

Currency Exchange:  Make sure you have sufficient Euro’s with you when you get there, and you might as well plan on getting an ATM card if you don’t have one.  I tried to buy some Euro’s here in town before we left, and got nowhere with three banks.  My own said they could order some for me, and have them in a few days.  The others wouldn’t even do that for non-customers.  I don’t know what the exchange rate would have been; there wasn’t time to wait for them to arrive.  AAA does have them on hand, but only in fixed packages costing $100 US or $250 US.  Their rate is terrible, but I’m glad I had some.  Rates at the airport are just as bad.  Once in Italy, a hike to several banks resulted in repeated refusals to change US $ to Euros, or to providing cash advances on our credit card.  In each case, a referral to another bank was given, with the same result.  Fortunately, our friends had an ATM card and helped us out.  The rate of exchange is most favorable that way.

Squash Blossoms:  Yup, you read that right.  If you’ve never had them, and we hadn’t, you’re missing out on a real treat.  We bought them at a local farmer’s market in our village, and prepared them by dipping in a simple, light batter (tempura like) and sautéing in a little olive oil until golden.  They are delicious….kind of like vegetable candy.  It may be the only way to get them around here is in your own garden.

Add these to the simple but wonderful food we had dining out, and the fabulous fresh pasta dishes we cooked, and the veal scallopini dishes we prepared, the fresh rustic fruit tarts, the desserts to die for, the fresh pesto, and ……….

There’s just too much to ever tell you about, and just the mere mention is driving me crazy.

So buongiorno, buongiorno, buongiorno.  At least for now.

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1 comment:

  1. Welcome back, having spent considerable time in Italy I know just how you feel.

    ReplyDelete