Thursday, June 5, 2014

Menu del Giorno

We have been here for 6 days. And we have both settled in to a weird sleep rhythm that has nothing to do with home. But it's doable as long as we don't have to be anywhere early since i'm waking up now at 10:30 am. And Brian got 10 hours of sleep last night also waking up after 10 am. My problem is i wake up at 1 am and can't get back to sleep for hours.

This is not really a Menu of the Day but it was easy to look up in Italian

1. pearl, i think i cured Brian of his sleep pattern by changing the scratchy sheets on our bed to the ones i brought from home! hahahaha.... Y'all can laugh all you want about my bringing me own pillow and sheets in checked luggage, along with our own aeropress coffee plunger pot and Starbucks French Roast but it was some of the best stuff i brought. 

2. The only problem i see is there is no vaccum to suck the air of the bags they came in. So i might just leave my pillow here, which is fine, since i brought my older down one instead of my heavier tempurpedic one. 

3. We have had a few bumps in the road because the family we have hooked up with here (Brian knows the woman through work contacts,  but not her husband and the four twenty-something kids who are with them....and i knew no one) seemed to think we needed to check in daily and do stuff together all the time. We traveled to Florence by train with them for a 13 hour excursion to which left us both exhausted because we just followed where they took us. The trip came with a long history lesson from her professor physicist  husband about all the naked statues and buildings, which after awhile got boring for me. And we had yet another underwhelming meal from a restaurant they chose. (I think they are trying to appeal to the kids?) So when we got home we decided we have to find a nice way of getting away from them and be on our own. They have been here for 8 years in a row and have taken to being our tour guides even as we don't want a tour guide. 

4. I have still yet to have a fabulous meal. Brian agrees. I think this family's idea of cuisine is different from ours. Maybe because neither parent likes cooking as she told me. (I get the feeling they might be Olive Garden eaters) and are looking for the cheaper meal. In fact today we are supposed to meet up again and they want to eat at the exact same restaurant of their friend from the first day where my gnocchi didn't taste as good as my own homemade. That caused a fight between me and Brian and then we laughed at how we must be getting into the Italian culture since we don't often fight like that. 

5. I'm feeling better about asserting myself now though. I do not know these people and was somewhat put off by their status, he is a physicist and a college professor, nice but boring. She has a doctorate and runs her own communications company that is on the college circuit. Speaks all over the country. Used to be a news anchor. Both brilliant. And she is a major extrovert, he is super nerdy and very professorial. (I feel like i'm on a school trip with my teachers. )

6. Enough of that. I have discovered that it is the white wines i like here better than the reds. And in Florence i found a wine shop next to where the kids were shopping for leather coats. And oddly enough it was owned by a woman from Chicago. She showed me how to look for bottles where the wine is made and bottled at the vineyard. DOC is what to look for: Denominazione di origine . 

She was right. Also i'm loving pinot grigios here. And the DOC ones are better.  Another is vermentino. They taste like summer in a glass. It is also getting too hot here to drink red. 

7. Brian is taking some amazing photos. I especially love the ones that he can capture of the people. So far I've only used my tiny coolpix camera but it has 10 megapixels so it's not bad. I plan to use my real camera today though when we walk to Cortona. 

8. I love the rural area where we are. It's a 35 minute walk uphill to Cortona and nothing much around us otherwise except for this pretty cool grocery store with great proscuitto and cheeses and the best yogurt i've ever had! It's called Yomo. I wish i could find this at home. It's better than gelato to me. 

9. Italians are so nice. I love how they say Good evening when we say Bueno Sera. I love how they dress. They seem to wear so many clothes! It's so hot outside these past days but they are walking around in layers of very smart looking clothes. And the women are wearing beautiful high heels. I don't know how they walk around on these stone streets in those things. 

10. We are going to rent a car maybe tomorrow and head out on our own (i hope) to some of the cities that my friend Aysin (who used to take people on small tours for Brian's college around the world) told me about. She knows we like the smaller villages with lots of culture. So far we have only been in giant crowds of tourists because we are following this family.


jojo cucina cucina said...

Because three of the members of this family requested friendship on Facebook from me i should say please don't refer on Facebook to anything that i've written negatively about this trip...not that anyone would, but just in case. I want to get away from them but i don't want to hurt their feelings!

jojo cucina cucina said...

I did forget to mention the smells of Italy. I love sitting outside our door because there is a lot of honeysuckle on the other side of the building. There is also another kind of smell that i can't quite identify. It's not floral. I can't describe it.But i love it.

pearl said...

I just wrote a long-ass comment (brilliantly clever, mind you) and this stupid thing signed me out. I hit the wrong button.

Synopsis (some of us have to go to work...):
Glad you are having a grand time

Totally get the traveling companions bit - touring with my own grandkids, much as I love them is a pain. We have to do what they want and eat what they want (according to the parents...when did that become the norm)

Hope you can gracefully extricate yourself and wander on your own

Food in Italy - and anywhere else - runs along the same continuum: garbage to so-so to good to great to spectacular. And it's not a bell curve - there is more at the lower end. Plus, spectacular is harder to find if you are on someone else's budget. Just like anywhere. Hope you can find spectacular before you go.

And this reliving of the Prince(ss) and the Pea is cracking me up. There will never come a day when you see me give up a couple of great outfits and a fabulous pair of shoes to make room to pack the bed stuff!

jojo cucina cucina said...

I wouldn't want to travel in a pack with even my favorite 6 people in the world on a vacation! To give you an idea about the kids, they went to Rome yesterday on the train while the parents stayed back (we took them to dinner at their favorite place that we went to the first night) and the kids ate at McDonald's.

And Brian and i were smart about it this time. We got to Cortona ahead of them, walked up the hill and went all around the town while it was quiet and took a lot of photos. This time i brought my good camera. Then we finally found a great Italian meal! I loved this little restaurant. Sat outside, watched people go by. Talked with the owner (who knew some English) and drank a really nice pinot grigio. I am loving the Italian Pinot grigios. Never cared for them back home. We also took photos of our food but i can't upload on an iPad.

jojo cucina cucina said...

We also watched the flag throwing with them before going back. I had a nicer time with them last night - we drank wine while they ate and we also talked to her friends. One of the waiters is so funny and speaks English very well. But then they wanted to know if we could meet them for coffee and then later go to Oriviete ...and i'm like why do we keep having to do something every day? Yesterday was Brian's and my first time alone for the hours before dinner. Not sure what we're going to agree to just yet.

We are getting a car tomorrow i think for the rest of the trip.

jojo cucina cucina said...

yes! pearl i can see that traveling with grandkids would be an even harder thing! I did tell them yesterday when they asked about Orviete (because they mean the 6 of them) that i did not enjoy traveling in a pack because i want to be able to look at what i want to look at without holding anyone back. And those kids wanted to buy leather coats in Florence (which two of them did) but it took a long time of waiting for them to do so and that was not fun. I was nice but direct about how i need to be able to go off on my own - even Brian and i do that. And they act like they understand but then it's almost like they forget what i said i'm afraid. I also added that i can't do it for a 12 hour excursion either - i'm too old for that.

If all else fails, i still have 7 Xanax left since i don't think i need it for flying anymore. So that's my fallback! hahahaha.

jojo cucina cucina said...

OrvietO...not Orviete.