Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mamma Mia!

Tuesday 19/6/07
Total: 5.7k
Week Total: 5.7k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1260.6k

Time: 37.27min
Av pace: 6.32min/km
Av Temp: hot, sunny, no breeze
Rel. Humidity Av: humid
Where: Praiano, Amalfi Coast

Praiano is a beautiful coastal town on the Amalfi Coast with streets that go up or down, or you take the other option and negotiate hundreds of steps up or down. So it was going to be an interesting run! Good six foot training! We stopped to watch some donkeys being loaded up with concrete tiles and then they were lead off down the road, down steps to somewhere, where it was unloaded and then the donkeys came back up the steps again for another load.

We have only experienced a few mishaps since picking up the car from Rome airport! These mishaps include a flat tyre (within the first 2hrs of getting the car and it happened on the outskirts of Napoli), clipping a parked scooter, knocking some rubbish bins, and a near head-on collision (that was scarey!). Driving along the Amalfi Caost road on a Sunday afternoon was an education - everyone was heading back to Naples and beyond. There were zillions of scooters and cars, and traffic jams, and tiny, narrow windy roads that barely fit 2 vehicles across, and jaw dropping cliffs and scenery. Though I hardly appreciated it because I had my eyes closed half the time as Mr CJ tried negotiating his way. It was a baptism of fire!

The flat tyre was something we could have done without. As I said, it happened on the outskirts of Naples and when we went to change it we discovered there was no equipment in the car needed to change a tyre. Likewise with Mr B and Strewth's car. Mr B rang the hire company on the mobile, trying to get roadside assistance and 20mins later when he got off the phone we hoped the message got across. Then a polizia car pulled up and 2 lovely policeman got out, assessed the situation, and changed the tyre (well, one did the actual work while the other one supervised). Just as they were leaving, the roadside assistance guy pulled up on his scooter and was not impressed to discover that the tyre had been changed. To cut a long story short, it took almost a week to sort out the tyre situation, a couple of trips to Sorrento, the purchase of a new tyre, and several hours of me trying to negotiate the Italian telephone system and repeating 'parla inglese?' innumerable times.

In short, the Amalfi Coast was great, the isle of Capri was overpriced and overrun with tourists but the return boat trip was great - we stopped at several grottos and had a swim. Bellissimo! Our apartment was reached by going up over 100 steps; this proved tricky at night after a couple of wines! Food-wise, I prefer Roman pizza to neapolitan pizza, had some lovely pastas, a very overpriced lunch on Capri, and gelati galore. Straciatella (choc chip) is my favourite. Some of the best lunches have been when we have bought fresh bread, mozzarella or parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto cotto and tomatoes. The worst coffee was at a restaurant at Pompeii; have had some lovely limoncello and then others that would grow hairs on your chest its that strong!

Sunday 24/6/07
Total: 8.5k
Week Total: 14.2k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1269.1k

Time: 55.48min
Av pace: 6.33min/km
Av Temp: cool to start with but it did warm up; blue skies
Rel. Humidity Av: dry
Where: Camucia, near Cortona, Tuscany

We have moved again. Now we are staying at an agriturismo on the outskirts of Camucia, with Cortona up on the hill. There is some flat here as well as hills as we dicovered when Strewth and I went for a run. First we headed along a gravel road which ran alongside farmland (whiff up the country air - the smell of manure is very pungent in these parts!). We turned when we saw a couple of barking dogs up ahead - we weren't tempting fate! Then we ran through Camucia heading up the hill to Cortona - more six foot training! It went up and up and up! In fact the guys were impressed when we later walked up this very same hill to get to Cortona. And to be quite honest, I thought it was easier to run it than to walk it! We also encountered a very aggressive doberman but fortunately there was a big fence and gate between him and us!

Later we all walked back up the hill to Cortona (Under the Tuscan Sun place) - its about 5km from where we are staying. Its a lovely hilltop town - there is probably one flat road in the entire town! Wandered around the town during the day, had panino with mozzarella, prosciutto cotto and pomodori for lunch with a very good cappuccino (I know its not the done thing but I am a tourist!). Walked in on a guy in the toilets....oops. He couldn't lock the door and I never heard him call out as I was opening the door....oops. That evening we drove back up to Cortona for dinner at the Trattoria La Grotta. From the carpark outside the walls surrounding the towm we travelled up by escalator to the town! It seemed really bizarre - an escalator out in the middle of nowehere but we appreciated it nonetheless! It saved going up innumerable steps though by now we are getting pretty good at stairclimbing! The meal was superb! We had antipasti to start; then I had tagliolone with tarturo nero (pasta with black truffle) and Zuccotto for dessert. It was really delicious and I can understand now why people rave about truffle - I have never had it until now. We walked around Piazza della Reppublica to a Teatro (the name escapes me) where we watched some dance performances by children and teenagers.

Today was an experience in patience. First we went to the post office to send some postcards. Simple you might think. Aaah, that's what we thought too. But first you must get a ticket and wait....and wait....and wait...and wait. Even when the people behind the counters don't appear to be doing anything, you must wait. 35mins later we got our stamps! Then this afternoon we drove to Perugia to visit the Perugina Chocolate factory - as you do! They were filming something outside the entry to the museum and once we were inside the museum there was no chance of us escaping until they had finished filming. There are only so many times you can wander around looking at everything related to Perugina chocolate. Even the samples they had available weren't that great. Mr B asked if we could join an English-speaking tour of the factory. No problems they said, or something to that effect. When the tour finally happened, 1 hour later, it consisted of 7mins of walking above the factory floor - no commentary, nothing! It wouldn't have mattered if we had joined a Japanese speaking tour - there was no commentary!

Still, this is Italy and despite some minor frustrations, its a beautiful place.


Lulu said...

Ah, the joys of Italia! I've had many experiences in Italian Post Offices and I've found it pays to take along some reading material..

Sounds like you're having fun despite the car and dog dramas.

iliketoast said...

i suddenly have the desire for coffee

Ewen said...

The Gold Coast coast doesn't quite have the same ring as the Amalfi Coast.

You said 'good six foot training' twice! I'll quote you on that!

Ho pensato che parlaste italiano fluente?