Saturday, October 01, 2005

Liguria eats and feeds

Yes, I'm on the coast still. It eats time, film, and money. But oh, how it feeds the soul.

Swam at San Fruttuoso at dusk. And again at Lèvanto. If I'd skipped the Portofino promontory (and San F.) I'd have got to Lèvanto a day sooner. So instead of swimming, I'd have been wetsuited among the surfers whom instead I only watched as I came down the hill into town. A half day board rental was only 15 euros, but when I mentioned to the guy in the shop that it was for the next day he told me the swell was on its way out. Sure enough, when I went to the beach at 7am the next morning the waves were gone. Still, from the two dips I conclude that swimming in the Mediterranean is good for you. This is scientific. I strongly suspected this truth before, and now I have incontrovertible proof.

Cliff jumping is also good for you (though I suspect this requires a strong heart, more tests needed), at least at Riomaggiore, where I was last night. And where I am again tonight, as I doddled too long this morning, only got as far as Porto Venere, so took the boat back since I liked it so much here and because Alberto, the guy I was walking with for the end of the day, offered me dinner in Manarolo, the next town over. Maybe I'll drink with some Croatians later. Yes, I'm more sociable again, after initial shyness in the new language.

Must run and shower before dinner. Tomorrow, boat in the morning to P.V., to check out Byron's grotto, then up to La Spezia, and inland, melancholically. I'll miss the coast; it's been good to me.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A warm breeze

That's right, these are more salty words wafting your way, don't you wish you were here, too? Ah, the Mediterranean is great, even if hazy while I'm in townnow.

Last Saturday I missed a random soul/funk night. This Saturday I missed Desmond Dekker! And not even because I wasn't in the right town. No, no, I'm in Genova alright. It's just that the doors were at 10, and with two supports d'you think he'd be on before 1am? Neither do I. And after a long haul from Campo Ligure, my feet just couldn't take my weight for that much longer, never mind hold a skank. So just around the time everyone else was going out, I was going to sleep. By the time I get to Rome it'll probably have been 3 whole months without dancing, so when I get back to London someone better find me a Keb Darge night fast or there might be conniptions.

Turin turned out great, and I stayed there rather longer than planned, thanks to a last minute connection from Stephen. A big shout out to the fantastic company of Luciano, Francesca, Milla, Alex, Susanna, Maurizio, not forgetting Stefano. And a general hoorah for having bad weather on a rest day instead of a road day, which meant less crowds at the cheese festival in Bra.

Now I'm on the coast again and it's hot. I might even shave my beard tonight, though I'd planned to grow it until Rome (all the Italian papers last weekend proclaimed the arrival of autumn, but my English blood disagrees). We'll see what the day holds. Already I've bought maps and trail mix, eaten falafel (not Italian, I know, but I needed vegetables), and blagged my way into a museum. I was willing to pay the 9 euros, and spend the time with the paintings, even though I'm not keen on museums for this trip. I just wanted to find the room with the Paganiniana first, make sure I had the right spot. And 'playing' dumb tourist got me into it. So I skipped all the canvas, and spent an hour with the 'Cannon' Del Gesù (that's a violin, for those of you...). I'm gonna try not to geek out on you too much here, but it's really amazing. The modern setup doesn't look quite right, even though it's really well done. And it's too high to get a decent look at the scroll (which seemed bigger than the pictures make it look). Still: soooo gorgeous. I tried to spend some time with the Vuillaume opposite it, also owned by Paganini and sold eventually to one of his pupils, cause hey, it's a Vuillaume. But by comparison it just looked so vulgar, only held me for a few minutes.

What else... Oh yeah. Grapes and dogs. There are a lot of both between Turin and here. The vendemmia started in the area last weekend or early this week, and one kind fellow gave me some freshly picked grapes (dolcetta, and I've forgotten the name of the other kind, should have written it down) as we chatted some more in the town square, having walked the short distance into town from his vines, which supply enough wine for family only, unfortunately for me--the grapes were tasty.

The dogs have been decidedly less friendly. Every villa has at least one, and they're all loud, aggressive. Usually the gate is closed or they're on a chain, but not always. I've had a series of closer and closer calls. So, for the record, if by mischance I should get mauled to death by some rogue beagles, someone better build me a roadside shrine or there'll be some haunting for sure. And if I make it back alive, keep your dog on a string around me as my distrust for the species might take a while to fade.

Since my low mood only lasted the two days from Asti to Acqui Terme I'm back in high spirits (blame the sea air if you like), and it'll be with a happy step that I head along the coast tomorrow, making La Spezia in 4 days or so. Some of you threatened to meet me in Rome, in which case you might like to know that I think I might get there around October 20th, but I can't be too precise just yet.

Right. I need to go have some ice cream to cool down.