Monday, November 27, 2006

Dessert, Wine and Cinque Terre

One more delightful thing I can say about Milan is regarding dessert shops. S.M. and I shared a chocolate souffle, and if that was not enough sweetness, I then decided to entertain this hot chocolate menu that I had seen in various coffee shops. The hot chocolate or drinking chocolate, as some here may call it, (thogh it has obviously never taken off) is more of a light pudding type drink that you can also just use a spoon to eat/drink. These drinks come in so many flavors...I would give anything to have tried them all, but only allowed my self to get as far as milk chocolate and hazelnut. The best one I had was in Milan.

(drinking TIP:A challenge I may face some day...Italians don't drink vodka. I was lucky to see more than a bottle of unknown vodka in any bar...I did try a new drink called the "Americano" at that Victorian bar in Milan...It had Martini, Campari and soda...tasted very grapefruit like. They use flavored liquors a lot with wine and soda.)

From Milan, we took several trains for several hours south east to the coastal villages of Cinque Terre...a nature and marine park tucked away in a series of little inlets at the very end of the Levante side of the Ligurian Riviera.The scene: Jagged cliffs along the silver sea, terraced slopes, mountains, forests that looked straight from "Lord of the Rings", and what they call "land architecture" used to cultivate the vines of olive and fruit. On our first day, we checked into our amazing little apartment on a cliff in the village of Riomaggiore. The view from our windows was like nothing I have ever seen before...and there was a cat that hung around our door wish the little groups of fisherman outside that they called "Boot". There was one quaint cafe open up the most steep main street where we ate breakfast (a croissant a day) and had coffee, small shots of expresso, etc. There is an internet cafe at the train station and the most english speaking tourists we came across. These were the fist people to look us in the eye and say hello in Italy. There were mostly college aged kids with backpacks everywhere. I am sure this place is really happening in the summer, but for me, I liked it sleepy. I'm an off season kind of girl.
We ended up buying groceries and wine at a little market for dinner in our own little kitchen those two nights in Cinque Terre and I believe that is where we ate best. We had some cheese that the shop owner recommended, local wine, proscuitto, pesto, bread and the most real, red sweet strawberries I have ever tasted.
We made the extreme hike through 4 of the 5 villages which took, possibly 6 hours on our second day? It gets dark at 5pm, so we had to stop at the 4th and take the train back. There was no one to be seen on our trails during the first leg, but we came across a lovely girl named Ashley from CA. who was trying to find her way and she hiked the whole day with us. Some spots were so dangerous and vaguely marked, that I would be concerned for anyone's safety walking alone. The views and scenes were so spectacular that we stopped often to take pictures. The hike was SO intense, that I realized when I got back, that I had melted the glue in my hiking boots all over my socks, which then had to be thrown away. These were hiking boots I have worn 100 times, by the way. I was sore from that hike for at least 5 days, but it was beyond glorious. The villages are still preserved as old Italy, and the best pesto, gelato, anchovies, olive oil and lemoncello can be bought throughout the area.
One strange and random tip...half way thru the hike between the little villages of Riomaggiore and Monterosso, in a clearing is an alter to cats. We saw about 20 cats just grouped together lounging in this one clearing. They were tame and friendly and behind their picnic table wasa stone-alter looking thing that had dishes and cat food cans stacked in it, like people pass this location on to one another so that people will always bring the cats what they was magical and a delightfully freaky thing to stumble upon.
I have to thank my friend from AUSTINIST for suggesting this part of the trip. It was the most relaxing, even with the hike. The air was so clear and we had the windows open a lot listening to the waves crash...
I could spend a week in this place alone. Highly recommended.
VERY important tip: NEVER cut your spagetti into smaller bites in Italy. If there is some mysogynist Italian man nearby, he will humiliate you in public over it.

a few photos...I can post more on request, but please check out their website above.


Blogger supergirlest said...

you took me there!!! i'd love to visit italy someday... some friends went to tuscany for a week and said it was amazing.

it really sucks that people weren't friendlier! i've always heard such nice things about italians from those i've spoke with that visited there! did you forget to say you were from canada? :)

drinkable chocolate? i'm IN!

cinque terre sounds beautiful.

this vicarious adventure is the tops. keep 'em coming!

2:07 PM  
Blogger supergirlest said...

p/s - i've tagged you! go to my blog for instructiones! :)

2:11 PM  

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