Wednesday, 21 October 2009
The 50% off Mille Miglia extravaganza (Part 3)
For those of you who have not been reading Parts 1 and 2, it’s called the 50% off because the full Mille Miglia (1,000 miles) is a journey of … a thousand miles. We only did half of it, hence the 50% off.
Anything for a bargain.
*continuing from Chioggia, the fishing town with Orange Campari
After spending the day previously in Chioggia, we returned to Ferrara to discover that half the town’s residents, and the next town’s tourists, had all turned up in Ferrara for the Buskers’ Festival. Now, up to that point, I’d not heard of such a thing as the Buskers’ Festival, but this was a nice discovery.
The little cobbled pavements were bustling with the heat, laughing people, dancing children, men holding plastic cups of golden coloured beer, and tanned beautiful women with white teeth. The smell of salami and cheese panini filled the air, beautiful music floated in and out, and the sound of laughter was just so invigorating that we felt the need to join in, to explore.
No pictures here as we were too busy looking around, and didn’t want to worry about the camera bag with that many people around.
The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel which was surprisingly empty considering the fact that there were so many people in town the previous night. Anyhow, less people = more food for us, always a good thing when there are no waiters watching.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’d definitely not seen caviar on any of my breakfast menus before.
The buffet selection was huge, which was just as well, because our appetites were just as huge.
We continued our journey towards the country on a hill, San Marino.
The views from the bottom of the hill as we were going up changed slowly from hot, dusty and orange to cool, clean and green.
Ever seen one of those winding, spiral car park places? San Marino was like one giant, winding car park, with one road going steeply upwards with an almost U-turn bend going up the other way. The shops were tiny, the streets were cobbled, it was absolutely wonderful and unlike any other place I’d been to before.
No matter how wonderful a place is, one has to eat (I could have substituted the first bit of that sentence with anything, really).
Scusi moi, waiter. Could we have a table with a view, please.
The price of everything in the restaurant was so reasonable that we felt the need to order 3 meals between the 2 of us. As we couldn’t not order a pizza in Italy, nor could we miss out the Bolognese, there wasn’t much hesitation when the waiter came around to the table.
Being an absolute fan of the carbonara (my version is pretty good, but I have to constantly keep up the with competitors), I had to order it here. You must understand how difficult it can be to order something new when I only seem to be ordering carbonara everywhere I go.
The carbonara was enjoyable, though slightly different. Because I’ve had so many versions of this dish before, sometimes in rustic restaurants in London, sometimes in posher ones, and a few times in Italy, I’m quite lost as to which one actually is the authentic version.
This version had some cream in it, but also quite a bit of water resulting in a soup-like sauce. Instead of using just egg yolk, they must have had some egg white in it also, as there were bits of cooked egg white floating about in the sauce. A little bit cheesy, a little but salty, and a little bit … scrambled, it was one of the more interesting versions I’ve had.
The Bolognese was just OK. Nothing much to say about the sauce other than the fact that it tasted very same-ey, like plenty of other versions I’d had before. The pasta could have done with a bit more cooking, or a bit more oil when it was being cooked, as it kinda soaked up all the sauce, and then got stuck to other bits of pasta, resulting in one dry dish of pasta.
The pizza was the best dish of the meal. Soft and chewy dough, with fresh vegetables and cheese on top.
After the meal, we wanted to continue going around (literally) town, but the shops were beginning to close as the tourists slowly left. So, with no where to go, no shopping to do, and no more scenery to photograph, we decided to go back to the hotel and watch some Italian television (no subtitles either, what fun).
The next day, we drove to Assisi which is one of the towns on the way to Spoleto, the destination of the day. Not knowing much about Assisi, we were very surprised to discover that it looked very similar to San Marino, though without the steep hills.
Being another warm day with fantastic sunshine, we parked the car somewhere in town, went through a Roman tunnel (don’t ask me why it’s Roman) and looked for the town centre.
Those cobbled streets are really something, aren’t they. It was lunchtime, so we looked for a restaurant which would most resemble a non-touristy place but most of them were either full, or looked too expensive. Just as we were about to give up and go to McDonald’s (as if, just kidding) we found one little cafe which had Bob Dylan blaring out of the speakers. The bf decided that we just had to eat there, if not for the Bob Dylan factor alone.
One spinach sandwich and half an hour later, the waitress gave us the salami sandwich free as it was taking them too long to serve us. Of course that wasn’t enough, so we decided to get more food from another shop further down.
One thing I noticed here in Italy is that the sandwiches are usually prepared ahead and left in a fridge type place on display. When a customer buys the sandwich, it is warmed up in a Panini grill and it suddenly transforms from a cold, dry looking piece of bread to a lush, cheesy, warm sandwich.