Osso's first trip to Italy

Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2016 09:29 pm
There was just a TV report of a bad earthquake in Italy.
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2016 09:40 pm
Very entertaining read.

The bit about sneaking a photo made me smile. Now everyone's taking photos of everything, regardless of rules.
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Reply Wed 24 Aug, 2016 06:21 am
Oof! this is so hard to hear about, much harder for those who live or lived there. Amatrice!! the 'home' of bucatini all'amatriciana..

I wonder how close this earthquake is to the last big one in the mountains.
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Reply Wed 24 Aug, 2016 08:47 am
3/11 --- Venerdi ----- Friday again

Breakfast in dining room, lovely room, tablecloths, dashing waiter, fresh crocus and iris bouquets. Cookies, besides breakfast.

We went straight to Galleria Accademia. Best gallery I've ever been to. Many beautiful paintings presented very well - beautiful building. Floors downstairs in mosaic stone. Jacopo and Gentile and Giovanni Bellini; Carpaccio; Titian; Giorgione, Tintoretto, Veronese. Easy to look at these, v. interesting, beautiful, whammy. Have been reading Canaday lately in spare moments on just these painters (back in CA).

Then out for caffe (not so good as in Rome, again.) Walked around left bank and over to St. Mark's via Santa Maria Formosa (after Pz San Giovanni e Paolo). Stopped for glasses of wine at Sta M. Formosa. This is by the Rialto bridge. They turned out to be giant glasses at $7.00 total. We sat and sipped and watched the piazza. Got a pizza rusticca w/fungi (great) and focaccia w/ham and olives (great) and later, from a shop, a spinach and ricotta tart (not great) to take with us on our walk. (Hah, back in CA, I tried to make my own ricotta tarts, must have liked that more than I wrote in diary. Well, it was a cold tart when we were walking and then noshing on some bench.)

At pz San Marco, took photos of kids with pigeons .. and then back to hotel for warmer clothes. Out again and over to Sta Maria della Salute to watch sun go down. Actually was better on the left bank side by the shipping/port area. Got wine and fruit to take back to room. I bought a glass spider earlier, probably a mistake re carrying it. Also forgot to mention we had sweets by the Accademia Gallery - walnut torte, gelato.

At the hotel we had small sherries in a little bar area and read in the sitting room w/chandelier of Venetian glass above .
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Reply Wed 31 Aug, 2016 05:15 am
Here is my first trip to Italy.
Long before mobil phones and other things to make life easy, I got a letter from a relative in Berlin, if I would like to go with her to Capri.
That really was tempting and my parents thought she would be a good and deasent company for me and her mother thought the same about me. In those days parents had something to say.
There was and still is a train from Oslo to Copenhagen and I had to catch that around 5 a.m to catch the Stockholm - Berlin train in Malmö.
We got up - as we say before the Devil´s grandmother had her shoes on. Not expecting anyone we knew on the station my father just put a raincoat over his pyjamas.
The train was late - he waited in the car - the train was still late. So he decided to drive me to Malmö. 150 kilometers. Still in pyjamas - no money, no wallet and just hoping enough gasoline to go back and forth. Guess I gave him some of my travelling money.
We made it just before the train for Berlin left the station. I did not have any
time to call my mother that my father was in Malmö.
The train went on the ferry in Trelleborg and we crossed the Baltic to Sassnitz.
This was when the wall still existed and the men in East Germany were very strict.
The windows in the train were covered up so we did not have a chance to look out on the "prosperous" East German landscape.
Then came the pass control. One man controlling passports, he being controlled by two controllers, who all were controlled by soldiers arned up to their teeth.
The atmosphere in the train seem to be below zero on this otherwise lovely spring day.
Arrived safely in Berlin where I enjoyed a couple of days before we two took
off for Capri, by bus thru East Germany.
Going thru East Germany one was controlled at certain points - a few. And
here was a FOREIGNER - a Swede. My passport was controlled, I was controlled and every time we got more and more delayed. Then there was a discussion if I should be hidden in the bus and smuggled out or everybody should except the lost time.
Luckely decesion was to NOT hide me. Had I been hidden and found everybody would have been in even more trouble.
People had left the bus on route in West Germany and now we were at the Italian border to get a train to Rome.
Of course our train has left long ago, so we waited for the next one.
An easy trip to Rome arrriving late in the evening and no train to Naples.
Just one - which the man working at the station thought we should take.
A train just for military - we were put in an compartment with officers.
Got to Naples early in the morning or late night - no ferry to Capri.
All of a sudden an Italian came, grabbed our suitcases and said - "Folow me!!! Girls cannot walk alone here at night". He showed us an hotel, and left
We were very tired and slept well the rest of the night and caught a ferry to Capri.
Spent two very relaxing weeks there before going back. She to Berlin and I direct to Sweden - without complications.
Reply Wed 31 Aug, 2016 08:01 am
Quite a trip you had back then, saab. I've not been to Naples, had wanted to go there as I've read a lot about it (good and bad).
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Reply Wed 31 Aug, 2016 01:51 pm
3/12 --- Sabato ----- Saturday

We had breakfast at the hotel, then walked over to the Doge's Palace and toured through it and the nearby Bridge of Sighs. Quite dark and cold, all of it. There were a couple of paintings I did like, one by Tinteretto, Three Graces. We walked back and checked out and trudged over to the train station, got 1:30 p.m. tickets to Bologna, picked up coffees and sat and waited for the train in front of the station.

Train ride fine, crowded after we were on it for a while; went by/through Padova, Ferrara, then off at Bologna. Walked across street to get guide book and headed through a part of the city w/phalanxes of shopping and strolling teenagers, and then to the piazza with our hotel, somewhat crummy but we're here. John has the beginnings of a cold, oof. We read the guide book a little and then set off for a walk. Found a nice dinner place but couldn't wait for it to open. Stopped and had some wine at a bar that had a nice selection of scotches, which we both like but just had a small glass of wine. Went to a trattoria and had tortellini alla casa, delicious, and zuppa di verdure and good bread. Collapsed to bed early.

Rose to a shower that did not drain - growing in appreciation of the hotel in Venice - which got better the longer we were there. Toilet did not drain either. Neither in fact did the bidet. Sink did drain. We decided to punt and checked the train schedule: 2:04 to Firenze, ok! Then we had coffees at Bar Mexico ("go sit down"), we obeyed, which was dumb as the price got a lot larger. We knew that, just obedient.

Walked down an endless gloomy passage of pavaglione to the Pinacoteca Nazionale, finest in northern Italy (my foot). It was excellent for its manner of display of early works, Giotto panels, but not the stunner the Venice Accademia was. Great framing though. Panels were brought up to surround the paintings or frescos.

Then back out to the city streets and the ever present pavaglione, horrendous heavy arches. Goethe was absolutely right. He left and we left too. A little lunch at the same good trattoria, tagliatelli & tortellini. Went back to hotel (turned out there was a class of school boys there that evening with the drain fails), got screwed on travelers check exchange and trudged again to station. Got 1st class tickets for a change and expensive final coffees. Bologna made our wallets leak. Bologna, bye bye.
Trouble getting settled on train, not together. I ended up w/3 smokers, aarrgh.

Off train at Firenze, over to get a map. I was too slow choosing and was growled at by the map seller (I huff), and then over to Tourist Info to check map - had called Leah when we were in Bologna to check reservations at Le Due Fontane. Figured it out and moved through the crowds. Not actually far, but hard. Somehow I get to be the one to move aside, me with the heavy bag. Sneakers breed disrespect, I figure, and bags probably add to it.

Got to pz Sta Santissima Annunciata, hotel looks good, piazza interesting, also noisy. They'd heard of us.
(insert in 2016 - Leah is the daughter of a best friend of both of us who went on a trip to Italy and stayed many years because she met a guy in her hotel, and that was that. He was/is a business man in Firenze, at the least owning breakfast concessions in hotels. Thus, our reservation for a place on a piazza I still love.)

We get to the room and there is sparkling wine in a silver ice bucket. Room with balcony facing the piazza. Great bathroom. Happy at last! Leah called, will meet tomorrow, gave us addresses of restaurants for dinner. We went for a walk. John is sick but game. We ended up getting a better map across from the Duomo from girl in souvenir shop. Walked to Ponte Vecchio and back. Got mediocre gelato at "cafeteria" (lesson). Back to bed, early.

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Reply Wed 31 Aug, 2016 03:06 pm
3/14 --- Lunedi ----- Monday

Woke up, stayed in bed late, John with cold, last thing he wants.
We got up at nine, dressed, and went down to breakfast - croissants and caffe latte, and .. cake. Nice waiter. Then to Farmacia for nasal spray, then a book on Florence. Over to Duomo - Santa Maria del Fiori.. and the Baptistry and Opera del Duomo (which we skipped) and Bank of Tuscany - piggy insulting blond when I filled out a form incorrectly, and then off to Basilica di Lorenzo, which we liked. iIt was rather like the San Giovanni in Rome with street market outside. This held Michelangelo's Medici Library, with superb stairs, ceiling/reading space cramped. Walked to the Ponte Vecchio - which has open and closed gold necklace shops ); pretty view to 2 sides in mid bridge. Thus over to Altarno. Teens, teens..

Then I quickly see Pitti Palace and look for Lynn and David's pasta place (no).

Then we went around the corner for coffee and shop of many goodies.
Reply Wed 31 Aug, 2016 04:13 pm
Lunedi got cut off, I'll post it all again here:

3/14 --- Lunedi ----- Monday

Woke up, stayed in bed late, John with cold, last thing he wants.
We got up at nine, dressed, and went down to breakfast - croissants and
caffe latte, and .. cake. Nice waiter. Then to Farmacia for nasal spray,
then a book on Florence. Over to Duomo - Santa Maria del Fiori.. and
the Baptistry and Opera del Duomo (which we skipped) and Bank of Tuscany
- piggy insulting blond when I filled out a form incorrectly, and then
off to Basilica di Lorenzo, which we liked. It was rather like the San
Giovanni in Rome with street market outside. This held Michelangelo's
Medici Library, with superb stairs, ceiling/reading space cramped.
Walked to the Ponte Vecchio - which has open and closed gold necklace
shops; pretty view to 2 sides in mid bridge. Thus over to Altarno.
Teens, teens..
Then I quickly see Pitti Palace and look for Lynn and David's pasta
place (no).

Finally we pick a trattoria, Quatro Stagione, that's not thrilled with
our selections (broth w/tagliatelli and minestra verdure + 1/2 liter of
rosso di casa, but good anyway.)

We wandered through the Boboli Gardens, and Pitti Palace, closed, seemed
ugly and uninviting. Up through Boboli was Fort Belvedere with good
views of Firenze. We backed down hill, over re-built bombed out bridge
to Santa Croce piazza and church.
Church quite interesting, Michelangelo and Machiavelli and Galileo and
Rossini all buried there. Warm, as the floor is rose colored except for
sepulchral insets, stained glass and brilliant colored windows. A couple
of Giotto’s frescos to the right of the altar, enough to see what was so
good about Giotto - lively faces on monks hovering around somebody in
bed. There was a Cimabue museum to the side, which we skipped. Went back to hotel w/coffee stop at the corner of Santa Croce. The district on the way back was sort of normal, even had a laudramat. I cast my eyes on some boots but did not try (39,000 lire, about $32.00.)

Back to our room, and a refrigerator exploration. Long John scotch, part of the Johnny Walker line, for me, and John had an Orvieto pint and opened a grappa.

Leah and Sandro met us at Le Due Fontane; we had Campari and soda at the bar, and went up the hill of Fiesole several miles past town to a trattoria, friendly and comfortable. Three wines, antipasto - prosciutto, two fattiy salamis (finochieri? two spreads on bread, one chicken liver, butter, capers, anchovy, the other, some vegie thing. Next, potato ravioli, tagliatelle, canneloni.

Then, fried rabbit and grilled flavorful pork and fagiolini ceci beans.

Then back downhill to Michelangelo’s Hotel and a stop at the bar, and then back to Due Fontane. Nice evening. Much to drink over time - I tried Frenet branca and something like it, and some Bruchladdich.

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Reply Thu 1 Sep, 2016 03:04 pm
3/15/88 --- Martedi ----- Tuesday

Up late, but not too - breakfast @ hotel. Over to Uffizi, memorable experience, crowded but bearable. Liked Starnini, Uccello, surprisingly. Still remember both Bellini sons and Carpaccio well at the Accademia in Venice. Got the book this time, and caffe there.

Back to hotel and then art again, at monastery San Marco, close to our piazza. Interesting spaces - cells of monks included Savonarola's. Fra Angelico frescoes, especially at the top of the stairs, the Annunciation, beautiful; some Bartolomeos.

Then to lunch @ Za Za, recomended by Leah, inexpensive and good and family style tables. John had pasta e fagioli and I had tagliatelle with funghi porcini. Um!! good. Then we hunted for American Express to buy their guide book. Over the Arno we bought a small Pinocchio for Alexis, got gelato cups, then went back to hotel for nap. Out for a walk, dinner, good. Home to regroup.
Oh, I sipped some of John's grappa, not horrible.
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Reply Thu 1 Sep, 2016 04:38 pm
3/16/88 --- Mercoledi ----- Wednesday --- only 12 more days, eek!

Pitti Palace, pretty jumbly.
Espressos at Rivoire @ Pz Signoria. Then to San Marco piazza, walk, lunch on side street as it started to rain, then camped out at Le Due Fontane, called Leah; John got cookies.

3/17 --- Giovedi ----- Thursday

Stamps, shoes for me from shop by hotel, pay hotel, rent car ... and off we go to Greve in Chianti. We are staying at Albergo G. Verranzano in the main piazza.. Had lunch @ Montegliari. v. good; 32,000.
Rustic, fireplace going.
Good Lasagna for Jo, penne w/porcini and sausage for John, house wine good, it's a vineyard. Then star - torta di mele casa linga.

dinner @ hotel - zuppa, and shells w pepperoncini and half bottle of wine.

~ liked Greve.
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Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2016 02:13 pm
3/18/88 --- Venerdi ----- Friday

Got post cards; had crummy run-in with the Cassa di Rispiarme cambio about signing a traveler's check then got angry with John for being angry at me for being "hot" in the cambio. Then I lurched the car backing out of the parking space, us being in a cold Fiat.

Wandered through valley and ridge route of the Chianti area (nice stop at small set of buildings and vineyard, Villa a Sesta) then around Siena south to Montalcino. Crazy drivers, but pleasant between harrowing episodes. They pass insanely. Let them go...

Montalcino is lovely. We took a room at Albergo Giardino; lunch at Ristorante El Moro, run by nice family. Zuppa for me, w/pane; John had tagliatelli. Wine. We tasted our first fresh pecorino, and then a dolce each.

We walked up to the Rocca (fort), which had an enoteca tucked in the corner.
Dinner at the Albergo Giardino - John's veal great, my chicken was fresh, overdone to me, tasty though with truffle cream sauce. Guy from the Albergo nice, showed us the good view from the Montalcino City Hall.
Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2016 02:52 pm
er, that should have been Ristorante Il Moro..
can't read my own writing.
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Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2016 05:25 pm
3/19/88 --- Sabato ----- Saturday

Caffe latte and cappuccino @ Caffe Brunello, and good sweets; nice bar,
marble counter.

Disagreeable discussion with hotel desk man, who wouldn't cash a traveler's
check for the bill or take visa. Bank closed, must go to Siena. So, we
go. John has a sore throat. Short crazy drive. Get there and park (big
deal). I ask a carabiniere where the cambio @ San Domenico is; he tells
us to go to Piazza del Campo. A hike. It turns out it's THE Campo.
Actually like Siena. Find the office of tourismo, stand in line while
people make out their itineraries -- eventually though they cash three
one hundred dollar t. checks, thank goodness.

Back on the road after picking up a postcard and due cappuccini at a bar
on the Campo. Over to Quercio d'Orcia, and then Pienza.

Lunch at Pienza - 2 pastas, wine, and water. Homemade noodles and sausage and sauce, very good. Took a look around town. Pretty, liked it. Town planned well, according to books. Pretty because air and light comes through to the streets, and to the warm toned stone buildings. Lots of flowers around. I bought a plate for Mary, our neighbor in Venice CA. Back to Caffe Dante for cappuccini and bathroom.

Then over to Montepulciano, charged through town on foot to get to the top, but not enough time to make it and get back before dark. We turned around, went to a Farmacia for shampoo and toothpaste, and headed back to Montalcino and its tricky streets before sunset. John's throat worse, but he was able to go for a short walk to a bar where we were able to sample some small glasses of Brunello di Montalcinos (we liked the non Reserva, huh) at Caffe Brunello. I bought a sweater in a nearby shop.

Dinner at R. il Moro, just zuppa for both, and some vin Santo to wash it down.
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Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2016 06:12 pm
3/20/88 --- Domenica ----- Sunday

We left Montalcino (due cappuccini @ Caffe Brunello w/quatro dolci/ then headed out to the west (south, then north, then west) on "green" road, changing country,and up to Strove by Monteriggione. Stopped at Strove, a small restaurant and albergo named Casalta. Got an exceptionly nice room, a place I read about in my tiny American express guide.

Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2016 06:53 pm
Sorry, I dld not catch up; more later.
No place I care more about than Casalta.
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Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2016 03:35 pm
Ok, I'll start again on Sunday's story, repeating the first few sentences.. with a little editing..

3/20/88 --- Domenica ----- Sunday

We left Montalcino (due cappuccini @ Caffe Brunello w/quatro dolci/ then headed out to the west (south, then north, then west) on "green" road, changing country, and up past Monteriggione to the village of Strove. Walked through village to a small restaurant and albergo named Casalta. Got an exceptionally nice room, didn't ask the price, it's a place I read about in my tiny American express guide. Each twin bed had a window view, there was a good bathroom, and oak armoire, a chest with marble top, and clock w/ Leda and the Swan (Zeus), and a mirror with spent swans. V. sexy...

Good food! Antipasto was a selection of marinated sea food - real anchovies and little clams, and a squid and baby squid and octopus and mussels and clams stuffed with pesto - enough for both of us to have some of each, all for 6000 Lire or $5.00. Gee.
Then pastas. I had spaghetti alla Casalta, piping hot, with lots of fruits de mare - spectacular dish, and John had spaghetti alla Strovese, a pasta with tomatoes, herbs - rosemary, garlic, basil, oregano - delicious; white wine with the mid day meal.

Then more walking around the village, and not too many paces away we saw Castello Pietro, a bit run down but people living there. People in the village nice, as was the guy with the hoe that we had talked with when we parked. His garden was fenced in, to keep the chickens and rooster in line. No stores in the village, or only one, a small co-op.

We drove over to Monteriggione, which was full of italian and german tourists; bought a newspaper. Back at Casalta, we sat in the fairly large sitting room with a big fireplace burning, and big low table with guest books (fun to read). The owner, Giorgio, fixed us each an aperitivo cocktail with Strega + Martini Blanco and some other spirits I didn't catch the names of, tasty. Giorgio pulled open a large album of photos about Siena and The Palio, proud of Siena's history. I'm not crazy about crowds like the Palio races have, but we enjoyed all the photos and history.

For the evening meal, zuppa di fagiole (pureed white beans in chicken broth with noodles) and an almond and cream torta and tiramisu (creamy/nutmeg). We decided to stay another day. Johns' tooth now questionable, taking it one day at a time. His upper respiratory infection manageable, though not pleasant. Resting here seems a good idea.

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Reply Wed 7 Sep, 2016 05:06 pm
3/21/88 --- Lunedi ----- Monday

Breakfast not so great, bread and jam fine but not good coffee. But the room was only 55,000 Lire, $44. Then off to Colle di Val d'Elsa, a 2 tiered town. Cappuccini and then drive to San Gimignano. San Gimignano very touristy, but since it is Monday in March, essentially empty of tourists. Liked the fort - a fellow whose room was part of the fort structure, had an amazing garden of grape vines, roses, vegies, calendulas, bulbs, plum tree, and dog. Of course, a photo of the dog. Movie screening apparatus in central fort area. Picked up a Herald Tribune. Espresso coffees and stopped at bakery for cantucci and panforte etrusco and mandorlata and bottle of Vin Santo. Got a map for Mary. Back to Casalta. Hung out. Giorgio told us that in season (not season yet) the inn is a place for cyclists to stop.

Took walk down back road, lovely. Read paper in lounge. Giorgio brought us Compari. Eventually, dinner time -
Some antipasto - a little less this time, and Spaghetti Strovese for me and Penne and Scampi for John (the shrimp had heads) - all blended well, basil tomato base. For dolci, gelato semifreddo, a vanilla ice cream surrounded by chocolate and then w/espresso poured over.

Then up to bed. John's URI better during the day, bothered him at night. But we got enough sleep. Nice beds, especially in contrast to the mighty miser's inn in Montalcino. Fresh towels, good hot showers.
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Reply Wed 7 Sep, 2016 05:56 pm
entertaining read-along

Reply Wed 7 Sep, 2016 06:34 pm
Thanks, and I'll explain more re circumstances after the diary.
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