Friday, January 17, 2014

Days of our Lives

It's hard to believe we’ve been here in San Vito Lo Capo for almost 4 weeks. “What have we been doing?” I hear you ask. Well, not much it seems.

The weather has been mostly good apart from some horror days (wind, rain). Our days have developed a rhythm that we delight in as a complete break from sightseeing.

Late breakfast reading email, papers online etc to start the day. Then we ride into town for a coffee in the sun (mostly). Then a half hour bike ride up a few hills to work off last nights dinner, followed by some shopping.

View of the town from our morning bike ride
Food shopping here is an adventure, as you are never sure what you’ll find. First stop the butcher to see what he has. We’ve got a favourite butcher now so he knows us, but the first time was hilarious. The other customers were friendly, and of course ask “Inglese?”. No, Australia. Ahhh!! Australia bella! And so the conversation goes, all in Italian with me understanding every 10th word. A lot of knowledgeable nodding and smiling and Si, Va bene goes a long way. Then we lurk in the background while they discuss their purchases in great detail. This can take 20 mins. The pork and fennel sausages tied with straw are worth waiting for!

Next we find one of the vege trucks. We ride around the streets until we find the friendliest one with hopefully the freshest veg. It usually takes about 3 trucks before we find what we want. Fennel is everywhere (it grows wild here) along with artichokes, cauliflower and tomatoes. Everything else is hit and miss, and menu planning comes after shopping. As in “what can we make with this lot??. Fennel salad has become a standard. Just slice it with a mandolin along with red onion and douse liberally with lemon juice and olive oil. Then add whatever else you have to hand. Delicious.

Friday morning is market time and the selection is slightly better. The flower man usually has spinach and broccoli. The olive man is the usual shyster (seems to be universal) and the cheese comes in enormous chunks. We always walk away with far more than we want, as the locals don’t understand the concept of only one pepper or one eggplant.

Just another sunset
As you can imagine, shopping takes up the best part of the morning. After lunch we go for a bike ride or explore some of the area. We’ve now hired a cheapo car (11 euros a day) so we can go further afield.

Beach further along the coast
A few days ago we drove to Monreale, near Palermo to see a cathedral. Once we got into the centre we were starting to wonder if it was worth it. The driving here is lawless, a bit like dodgem cars and we weren’t sure if we’d make it out unscathed from the very narrow streets. Cars are not so much parked, as abandoned and passing or parking on a bend seems to be compulsory. Luckily we jagged a parking spot near the Duomo or we’d have simply given up.

This 12th century Romanesque church is completely decorated in Byzantium/Greek mosaics. It is simply stunning. The colours are not as vibrant as the Ravenna ones but the craftsmanship and artistry is mind-blowing.

Monreale Duomo

Lawrence’s brother, Stuart, flew down from Bonn for a few days last weekend. The weather was gorgeous and we had a great time sitting about in the sun chatting and sipping on local wine.

Today we went off to see Marsala, famous of course for its wine. The town was so mind-numbingly dull that we just left and went to a Trattoria nearer home that knew had fabulous food. We can buy Marsala in the supermarket!

Nearby town of Trapani

It’s not all beer and skittles though. We did have full week of no alcohol and eating nothing but fresh home cooked food, as a good start to the new year. 

Monreale Duomo cloister - more mosaics
PS: We are still caning the poor old Poms in the cricket..!!