Saturday, June 04, 2005

Day 19: Trento-Lerici

We say goodbye to Trento....we found it a very congenial town--pleasant to walk around and well located for day trips. However, in general, the food was not a highlight. The trip to Lerici is almost all on "autostrade"--south through the hills above Lago di Garda, past Verona and Mantova to Modena, then west to Parma and southwest to La Spezia--about three and a half hours in normal traffic. There appears to be some kind of backup on the autostrada between Modena and Reggio di Emilia so--on a hunch, I get off and take the regular highway to Reggio. It is slow, but when we get back on the autostrada we notice that the traffic is backed up until just before we we may have made a good choice and saved some time.

We leave the autostrada in Fornovo di Taro, a small dusty town in Emilia-Romagna, to have some lunch; the possibilities look a little thin, but we stop at a nondescript bar (from the outside) which is at the bus stop in the middle of town. Inside it is quite pleasant...we order sandwiches and we are invited to sit at one of the outside tables while the sandwiches are being made. In fact, the sandwiches--prosciutto and mozzarella cheese on good bread (we have had mediocre bread since we left Orvieto)--are great. We are struck by the care and flair of the place when we are waiting to pay. The proprietor is making some drinks for some locals and carefully cracking ice cubes one by one by holding them in his hand and hitting them with a mallet before putting the cracked ice in the glasses. Obviously, he takes a lot of pride in his business.

We are happy to be back in Lerici, one of our favorite places in Italy. We plan on taking it easy for the next three days, sitting on our terrace and walking around town. This will be our vacation from our vacation. We check into the Doria Park and check out the view from our top floor room.....beautiful as always. The town lies below us, with its newly redone piazza, the castle, the harbor filled with boats, and the Gulf of La Spezia- beautiful. After a rest, we head down to the town and take our usual stroll to the rock jetty at the end of the fishing port. Today being a very warm Saturday, the rocks are crowded with sunbathers who are working on their tans (some exposing more area than others.) After stopping for a gelato, we visit the proprietor of the wine store in Lerici; we have stop to see him every time we are in Lerici and have very interesting conversations about politics and the state of the world. He enjoys the chance to use his English and also likes the opportunity to expound his conservative political views.

For dinner tonight, we are going out with Luigi Pini (the desk clerk at the Doria Park with whom we have become friendly ) and his wife Shona. He is taking us to a trattoria in the hills above La Spezia that is owned by good friends of his; he sometimes goes in to work on a Saturday night when they expect to have large parties. The specialty of theTrattoria DiMeo is asado....marinated beef in the Argentine style. Apparently, some people from a neighboring town emigrated to Argentina in the early 20th century and later moved back to Italy. When they came back, they brought a taste for asado and this trattoria is known for the dish.

After a stop at their apartment and a brief visit with their son, we head up to the restaurant. The staff is extremely welcoming to us all and they are obviously very fond of Luigi and Shona....there is lots of joking and hugs as we arrive. The whole evening is very enjoyable and the food is also terrific--plates of salumi served with sgabei (deep fried dough not unlike an unsweetened Chinese doughnut), large portions of asado served with chimichuri sauce as well as roasted potatoes, roasted peppers and fresh tomatoes and onions. This feast is followed by a nice sized bistecca fiorentina, which was very much appreciated by the steak lovers at the table. The house red wine went down very easily and the sgroppino (a spiked liquidy lemon sorbet) was very refreshing. A very lovely evening....

Luckily Luigi is driving and he negotiates the winding road back to Lerici with ease. The late night view from our terrace with the lights shining around the harbor is magical. Tomorrow we plan to do as little as possible.


Anonymous diana eden said...

Hi Jim and Diana
Looking forward to your comments from Siena. Dominic and I will be there soon.
Too bad you won't still be in Italy after June 26th - we'd loved to have shown you Montisi (MM's place).

4:15 PM  

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