Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Montalcino - October 19, 2010

So for some reason, our hotel in Sorrento as well as Rome didn’t have an alarm clock (or any clock for that matter) in the room. What is this, Vegas? So we asked the front desk for a wake-up call for 7am but we were sceptical and didn’t want to miss our 8:10 ferry so I left the iPhone charged in over -night and set the alarm. Over charging anything with the adapter scares me as it gets a bit hot, but I risked my third arm (yes, my phone). We both woke up way before the alarm anyway and were downstairs eating our hotel breakfast of yogurt and a roll with cappuccino. Let me rephrase, I was eating, Kelly was still full from dinner. I convinced him to have a yogurt to help with digestion. Another Princess Cruise ship in the port again but they weren’t going to get us today! We jumped on that ferry to Naples before they could swarm. Flee! Flee! Flee! I was surprised at how many people were commuting to Naples and especially considering Naples has one third unemployment. We found the taxi stand at the port and encountered a heated argument between two cabbies. A lot of yelling and arm waving. I think someone’s fare got taken. We grabbed a cab and headed to the train station. Half way through the ride, when I noticed that people walk right up to the cab window, I locked my door and had Kelly do the same. They were, of course, only waiting to jaywalk but it was disturbing nonetheless. We made it to the train station without incident and bought our tickets. Kelly pointed out a couple of stray dogs having a nap in the station so I had to go give them an ear rub. The female was enjoying it but the male was scared and walked away.
Waiting at the train station, we kept hearing this Kinder Bueno commercial with that stupid Tal Bachman song being played over and over and over. I must send a nasty note to either Kinder or Tal when we get home…. Our train to Chiusi took us back to Rome and was a bit sketchy. I guess that’s why people pay the higher train prices. It’s not just for speed. The guy walking through selling watches hidden in his newspaper was interesting but the next dude selling socks was a nice touch. At least they appeared to be new and not taken from some poor, unsuspecting sleeping tourist. The dude sitting next to Kelly in our car was looking at me and making me uncomfortable. Not terribly, but enough so that when he wasn’t looking, I moved my necklace pendant to the back of my neck and kept my rings under my bag. We made it to Chiusi unscathed and as usual, I couldn’t find the WC (turns out it was on the train platform) so that meant, beer time. Had an ok spinach and mozzarella panini and a Moretti. Yes, that’s right, Kelly’s eating again.
I’ve sure noticed a lot of Hello Kitty paraphernalia everywhere we go. I didn’t realize it was so popular here. They have whole stores devoted just to the Kitty.
Our train to Siena was a two car commuter train but more comfortable that the others we’ve been on. An hour and a half ride then time to find the Avis rental car. I expected to see graffiti on the trees given the previous train trips. We arrived in Siena and headed to the Avis rental outlet via taxi. The old guy running the show didn’t seem to know how to work the mysterious box in front of him so he called a younger guy into the office to work the computer. He arrived about 10 or 15 minutes later, set up our reservation then took off again. We’re now cruising around in a VW Golf with Mario Andretti and his side kick. We followed the map properly to the first arch but instead of taking the left to get to the second arch, we kept going straight. Hmm, Kel, I think we’re going the wrong way. Can you turn around? Eventually, we get to a traffic circle and I see another sign to S22 so we go that way. We pass a sign, leaving Siena. Then another for entering Siena and shortly followed by leaving Siena. Guess we went the long way? We made it to the S22 and head towards Montalcino but getting into this town was also an adventure. The directions I had from the caretakers of the B&B were to head into the town and curve left, park in front of the realty office. Well, there’s more than one entrance and we go in and head left. Nope, that wasn’t it. Go back. Then we end up back on the little highway. Turn around. Finally, we get to the right entrance but don’t see a street sign or realty office. We end up parking and walk around to see if we can find it. No luck so we ask a local lady who speaks to us in Italian and is making walking gestures to two big steps. I think she was saying it’s the cross street of I-don’t-knowa and over-therea. So we nod our heads and go up the street. I spot the B&B, Palazzina Cesira, as we’re heading back to move the car since we were in a 15minute parking zone (and as it turns out, right in front of the cop shop so parking tickets are a given). We went back to the car, moved it up a few spots and headed back to the B&B to get the directions and parking pass to the parking lot.
Kelly went to park the car (and got lost, but we won’t dwell on that) and I sat chatting with the lovely owners, Lucilla and Robert. Our room is very spacious and lovely – and opens with a skeleton key. Lucilla gave us a great recommendation for dinner so we headed out to Tavern ail Grappolo Blu and had bruschetta, tomato salad and pasta. Kelly had ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta and I had small shells with peas, bacon and hot chillies. Both were great. I made a faux pas by sprinkling parmesan on my pasta. The owner came by and shook his head at me and said that it would ruin and dull the flavour of my pasta. Well, too late. Not sure if the parmesan changed the taste much as I only sprinkled a bit, but I thought it was good. We walked back to the B&B and stopped at a bakery that was still open to get a cannoli. It was good, but not as good as the one we had in Positano. We’re now on a mission to try cannolis, as well as gelato (the gelato place was closed by the time we came back). We’re back on track to having one bottle of wine a night since we caught up with two bottles yesterday, in case you were counting (and how dare you count). We have breakfast scheduled for 8:30am tomorrow – Lucilla takes your order the day before and is making us an omelette and eggs. I noticed this room doesn’t have a clock either. Ok, what’s the conspiracy and why didn’t anyone fill us in? I would have brought a travel alarm clock had I known. We head out at 9:45 tomorrow for our cooking class. Can’t wait!

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