Those Cheating Bastards

Trip Start Jun 09, 2005
Trip End ??? ??, 2006

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Flag of Italy  ,
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

After the World Cup, it took an awful lot of persuasion for me to convince Mick that Italy wasn,t completely full of cheating bastards, and really wouldn,t be that bad.

We have spent the last week or so doing nothing but sleep, stare at the sunset over the Mediterranian, and eat. Sounds miserable, doesn,t it? We are staying in a tiny little fishing village called Riomaggiore, which is collectively part of a region known as the Cinque Terre (literally 5 towns). There are no cars allowed, so the only sounds are the ocean, a lost rooster who crows throughout the day and incessant church bells. The place has alas, been discovered by the wretched tourist, to the point where at the height of summer the locals would be outnumbered at least ten fold. We, fortunately have come at the time of the year when it is about half and half, and is quite bearable and peaceful. It is still warm enough though, that I had my first swim in an ocean for over a year the other day. Bliss! We both seem to be talking in some weird hybrid language with spatterings of French, Spanish and Italiano all mixed up. I find myself going to say Ciao and saying Au Revior instead, or Gracias (spanish) instead of Grazi. Very confusing for the poor person who has to listen to me mangle their language. We do know how to say beer in about 6 languages know, which can occasionally come in handy.

We have, for once, stayed put in one place long enough that we can sit back and really get a feel for a place. Both the locals and the tourists have kept me sufficiently amused. Who is my favourite? Would it be the old randy italiano waiter who barely grunts when he puts your food down but still manages to pinch the bums of the waitresses and chat up every single woman who happens to enter his lair? Or the middle aged-divorced American who literally begged the italian bar owner to take her home for the night and was totally unshamed about it. The young Canadian tourist who whipped her bra and silicon gel fakies out at the dinner table last night? I kid you not. Or could it be the middle-aged Australian winnie blue/bundy rum monster(otherwise known as Zac to a few of our friends) who was trying desperately to crack on to all the young american college students hanging around town by crooning such cliches (sorry, classics) as Brown eyed girl on his acoustic guitar. Actually, we ended up going out for his Birthday dinner last night, and he wasn,t QUITE as bad as I make out.

Every spare inch of land in Riomaggiore (and there is not very much of it, as it is really steep land) has been terraced and is covered in lemon trees, olives, grape vines and veggie patches. As I sit and have my coffee in the morning a progression of Italian mommas and poppas (why is it that Italian women either dress like Donatella Versace, or nuns. At what age do they suddenly turn into Italian mommas in thier sensible shoes, big baggy nanna dresses that make them look like they are going to a funeral and permed hair?)slowly make thier way down to the hill with big woven baskets of veggies or fruit picked that morning to the local fruit and veggie shop. Laster on in the afternoon there is another progression of guilty looking men with a bottle of something tucked under an arm, as they look around furtively - I wish I knew where they were going! the fruit and veg is still covered in dirt and are bruised and battered, but without exception (okay, maybe that one microwaved lasagne was not so fresh) the fruit and veg that we have been eating are the freshest and tastiest I have ever eaten. A person could get used to this. In England (and probably Australia too, we just don,t make it so obvious on the label)the fruit and veg comes from improbable places like Israel and Chile and are so plastic looking it is sometimes difficult to figure out if they are actually vegetables, or just display items. And that is pretty much exactly what they taste like. Eating like we have the last few days, has got to be better for you. Yesterday, one of the locals brought us out a plate of the fresh mushrooms picked that morning with a little bit of salt, pepper, olive oil and peccorino cheese (completely raw, by the way). Bellissimo! Every night, we have fined on mussels that are fresh out of the water from the next town over, or swordfish that is straight out of the ocean right in front of me. Mick and I have spent most meals pulling each dish apart, desperately trying to figure out what the ingredients are and how come it tastes so good. The answer is pretty simple really - there is no secret ingredient - just fresh ingregients cooked as simply as possible. It is all seasonal - if its not in season, its not on the menu. Why can,t we do this in Australia? It just makes so much more sense. Anyway, that,s probably enough about food for know. You think we were obsessed with food BEFORE we left Australia. We are going to be REALLY annoying know.

Everything shuts at lunch time, after opening at around 10am and then will slowly start opening again at two or three or maybe four. In short, the way of life around here is pretty damn good. I know that I am only here for a week, and it easy for me to only see the good things that exist here and gloss over the bad things, but from my limited point of view life aint half bad in Riomaggiore. There,s not a lot to do here, but that,s kinda the point. If the rest of Italy is like this, I,m not coming home.

Ciao! Arrivaderci!
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