Ok, so what did we do since the last post?
We really liked the town of Pisa. The Leaning Tower was of course was great to see, but as with everything in Italy, it was crowded with tourists from every corner of the globe. Of which we are obviously part of. While we wanted to see all these famous places and sights, we did at times feel like we were part of a great mob of tourists, all rushing to tick off must-see items on a list.
We were hoping to find a workaway spot in Italy over September. What we would have loved to do, as with the other workaway gigs we did, was to stay put and explore an area more thoroughly. But alas, it didn’t work out this time. Instead we made our way up the coast from Pisa towards Cinqueterre in Liguria. The entire Ligurian coastline is breathtaking with towns dotted along the hilly coast. So we followed the hundreds of other tourists on the well organised train ride along the coast to the furtherest town, Riomaggiore. I was a bit taken aback by the number of people that traipse through these ancient towns day in, day out. These were towns that until the recent past lived their traditional lifestyle, growing grapes on terraced hills, isolated from the wider world. Most of those terraces are now overgrown and the towns sole purpose seems to be the tourist trade. Unfortunately, the walking paths from Riomaggiore to the next two towns as closed, so we made our way along by train. We then walked from Cornalia to Vernazza along a not very well maintained path. We were surprised the the lack of care taken to the path, considering it is a UNESCO Heritage listed National Park and world famous tourist site. Crumbling hand rails, building materials and rubbish left behind left us a little bit sad. It did however not take away from the absolute magical beauty of the landscape and dramatic coastline that did leave me breathless.
From Cinqueterre we made our way along more spectacular coast views towards Portofino and San Rocco. I spend a few childhood holidays along this coast, in a town called Alassio.
We are bringing our italian leg to an end. It was too brief of course. Italy was fun, delicious and a cultural highlight. History is in everything. In the architecture, the food, the language and customs. It is so all-encompassing, that I wonder if it hinders progress and change. We saw an Italy that was achingly beautiful, telling its story and celebrating a rich culture. But we noticed run down cities and houses, uncared for monuments and roads, rubbish lining streets and beaches. But its people have style and pride and are streetwise and tough. So I wonder who a struggling Italy will face the next chapter of its history.
We will certainly be back. Piers and I are dreaming of taking our older selves on another italian adventure, this time exploring an Italy away from the crowds, if that is even possible.
We are continuing along this most beautiful coastline, passing places like San Remo, Monaco, Nice and Cannes. The plan is for a visit to Marseille and then the Camargue. The kids have requested no more big cities and more Nature. So we will do just that, trying to extend summer with some mediterranean beach time.
What have we been cooking in this van of ours? Here is a bit of a sample of our Italian favourites. While being on a tight budget, we did manage to eat out a few times in Italy. It would be hard not to. Pizzas were absolutely delicious, particularly in Naples. Pastries for breakfast of course….when in Rome…My highlight was however shopping for ingredients for dinner. I did a few pan friend lemon chickens, pastas like ‘Aglione’, ‘Carborana’ and ‘Arrabiata’. I have perfected frying potatoes to roasting perfection, and cook seasonal veggies italian style in olive oil and garlic.
So here is our favourite dinner.
Bistecchina alla pizzaiola
- Make a simple sauce by sautéing 2 cloves of garlic in olive oil with a pinch of chilli. Add 2 cans of quality tomatoes. Season with Salt and Pepper and dried oregano or fresh herbs like basil, oregano or rosemary. Simmer until tomato and oil start to separate.
- choose from veal, beef or chicken fillet. The meat must be very thin, so get the butcher to do that for you or beat it with a meat hammer. Season with salt and pepper and coat in flour.
- Once the sauce has simmered for 30min. add the meat to the sauce and cook for 15min or until the meat is cooked through.
- Serve with roast potatoes, steamed vegetables and bread to mop up the sauce the italian way.
Till next time,