Thursday, 29 July 2010

Italian Holiday VII - Thursday & Friday


An email from Emma, longer than her others and dealing with such matters as the food and people - our main recent concerns. She is just about managing with the food and the people are fine - so it seems

We had another relaxing day by the pool planned - there is some cloud today, but it is warm enough anyway. Gradually during the day, the wind increases, but we are sheltered enough behind the wall and hedge. My reading today was mainly articles from The Philosopher's Magazine

A rough plan for Sunday to stay one night in hotel near Genoa as I won't have time to reach Jerome in Nice after taking Linda back to Rome airport. Prices are higher than here - presumably the premium for the "Italian Riviera"

On a wander through the town, we buy some Orvieto classico white wine - inspired by our visit the other day.

And I have more thoughts on trading - mainly related to psyching myself up for a faster ramping process.

High winds on the lake shore - still hot though

Linda computing in her "Myleene Klaas" M&S white bikini - I am a big fan of this outfit

Enjoying the post-storm sunshine on the lake front

Tonight's meal is at the other restaurant away from the lake shore. This does some really excellent food, great wine and is cheaper than Il Molo - amazing the overall standard of food in this town


The weather has finally turned against us. Dark clouds and rain forecast - indeed thunder storms are due. We decide on a trip out to Perugia. First target is the huge shopping mall to the south-east of the city that we found on our last day two years ago. More wine is bought and Linda spends some time in Zara.

On to the city centre and the first rain. This picks up rapidly and soon there is lightning overhead and huge claps of instantaneous thunder. We are forced to shelter in a bookshop for half an hour. Linda looks at all the pictures in Italian pilates books, while I look at the art books, the large philosophy section (all Italian of course) and the small selection of books in English - which reveal that there are film versions of the other two "millenium trilogy" books.

Eventually we are back outside for a drink under the very awning on a street cafe. We don't stay much later in the city - but nice to see it again, we very much enjoyed being here two years ago

Linda walking down Perugia main street in the wet

A calendar for 2011 has a really great picture of this scene - not taken in the rain!

Storm over Passignano

We have a quiet afternoon at the hotel and then settle in the Mayfair bar.

Not the best day of our holiday so far, but as Linda says - if it didn't rain occasionally, there wouldn't be a lake!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Italy Holiday VI - Tuesday and Wednesday


Perhaps inspired by not being here much longer, we have a busy day planned for today and set off first thing to Pompeii. This is much better than I expected - for some reason I had got the impression that it is all rather tatty, but actually I thought it was very well presented. It is not too busy first thing and I can get some nice pictures without crowds everywhere. I didn't have time to read Mary Beard's book on Pompeii but our guide book is pretty good

The Basillica

The Forum with Vesuvius in the background

Plaster cast of a dog

A typical restored street - I though these were very impressive. Vesuvius again in the background

Frescos at the Villa Mysteries

Erotic art at the Pompeii Brothel - minors look away now. This seemed a very popular stop with the tour groups

What are they doing?

Storm clouds briefly gather

Where the current restoration action is taking place

A particularly fine fresco I thought

The main ampitheatre - closed for several years due to crowd violence between various town supporters

We have lunch at the restaurant attached to our car park - paying so much for our meal entitles us to free parking.

Then on to Vesuvius. I am seriously out of shape at the moment but am able to manage the ascent ok. In the far back of my mind remains the idea of going to Nepal next year. On today's showing, severe training would be required for this plan to be remotely feasible. Impressive views on the way up, an impressive crater (with just the tiniest plumes of smoke). And unable to identify Pompeii from the top. But a good afternoon

We get severely lost (again) on the way back to the hotel. We turned off too early and ending up in Naples docks. Then moving back towards the motorway we couldn't find the way back on, though we could see it high above us as we drove. Of course, this means we have seen the "back streets of Naples" as per the Peter Sarstedt song Where do you go to my lovely? Linda is not impressed with this though, being more concerned about some of the odd driving we encounter in this period.
We spend the evening at hotel with another last snack food on balcony, then watch Spy Games, which we have seen a few times but always enjoy


An early start this morning and we are glad to be away. Our hotel definitely did not live up to our expectations, but we did do what we wanted to in this area. We are very excited about the return to Passignano though. On the way I purchase six bottles of Barolo from a motorway service station for just E6 per bottle - hopefully a bargain

On the way to Passignano we visited Orvieto which is really and which we should have sent longer in. We finally have a pizza meal - one of the best we've ever had. Then a brief walk round. Clearly the cathedral is amazing. Our timing is poor though and many places are closing for siesta (even in a tourist town). So we leave after lunch, with just a few bottles of wine purchases in the town.
I'd like to say that this is an example of the fine photography I take while on holiday but instead I have to admit that it is a picture in an art gallery window
Restaurant where we had our pizza lunch
Quite an amazing Cathedral, it must be said
As fine a cathedral as one could wish for it seems to me

We arrive at 3:30 at Passignano on Trasimeno and go for a walk along lake shore - in part to check out other restaurants to try. Later we have drinks on lake shore as the sun starts to go down. I am now reading Alison Baverstock's Marketing your book My book project will start in September and I am thinking about starting a new blog to cover just this project.

We settle on one of the back street restaurants for our meal tonight and it is our the best yet. I have spaghetti with clams and asparagus, followed by monkfish with grilled vegetables. Stupendously good.

Back at the hotel, tonight's movie is Pirates 2 - a XXX parody of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. I am struck by a number of things. Firstly, the sex is surprisingly rough. Even between the girls it is surprisingly rough. Secondly, they all seem to be enjoying themselves. Finally, one or two of the girls are just stunning. I am especially struck by the girl who played the lead villain and a brunette who was in just one scene at the end and looked great wearing just a pair of pirate boots!

The girls of Pirates 2 - I particularly like the two girls on the far left and far right - not very keen on the female lead, the blonde third from the left.

I was very taken by the villain of the film - apparent played by someone called Katsuni. Very exotic looking

Italy Holiday V - Sunday & Monday


Our next transfer day - from Passignano to a small town near Naples, mainly famous as being the birth place of Sophia Loren
Now there is a body shape to be reckoned with

Our drive down via Castiglione del Lago - first to a large supermarket on the edge of town to buy wine and provisions for the next day or so, and then a shop in town, where we buy more wine (including some of the Montepulciano that we had with a meal the other night), and acquired some empty boxes to store some of our loose wine in

The shop we bought our latest wine in

It is inevitable that if you are planning a trip to four different venues, one is bound to be the worst - and this is it. First up, it was extremely hard to find, as we didn't realise that it was behind a petrol station on the autostrade. We went past it three times before finding it, each error resulting in a long detour to get back to the right place - and that was despite the many signs for it.
And did I mention that it is located behind a petrol station on an autostrade - not quite what we thought it would be when we saw it rated 4* on expedia

The beautiful Agave Residence Hotel - in the distance, behind the petrol station.

But actually, the pool complex is quite nice and we have a kitchen in our room with a fridge, so we can buy our own stuff.
We set off to visit the Port which does seem to have some ok restaurants, but then we get lost 3 times on way back! Not a good start to this leg of our journey. A tentative plan to stay here an extra day or two has been abandoned. Instead we are thinking about cancelling Rome and going back to Passignano - we liked it there!

Our dinner is on balcony, with its view of the petrol station, the autostrade and, technically, the Bay of Naples in the far distance. We are greatly puzzled by how it is 4* and are considering writing a review for expedia - we'd do it now but the promised wi-fi internet access in our room doesn't work

Tonight's move - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was pretty good we thought. Neither of us have read the book, but perhaps are tempted by it now


We have another day by the pool planned for today and it is actually quite nice as we don't have the front view but are tucked in at the back of the hotel. Lots of reading and 40 lengths of the very nice pool

We get internet access eventually by sitting in the reception area and I am able to book the Hotel Lido again and cancel Rome - we both feel much happier and the change only costs us about £25

We have decided to cut down on costs while we are here so we can eat out lots when we get back to Trasimeno - so more apples, cheese and bread tonight, plus magnum ice creams that we buy from the garage and which go very soft in our inefficient freezer

We are also cheered up by watching My Cousin Vinny - life is always better after seeing Marisa Tomei's performance

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Italy Holiday IV - Friday & Saturday


A simple plan for the day - we will stay at the hotel all day. This is our first day in the sun this year. For once, I remember to cover myself in factor 20 suncream. There are several musicians using the pool today - some talk about today's soundcheck being at 5pm and signs of a PA being set up in the park near our hotel

Today's reading is Barry Miles's Bukowski biography. I have read four or five of Bukowski's books, but years ago. I am quite a big fan of Ferrera's film Tales of Ordinary Madness with Ben Gazarra and Ornella Muti in the lead roles. Apparently Bukowski hated this film and preferred Barfly.

Gazzara and Muti in Tales of Ordinary Madness

Following this, I have started on Graham-Dixon's book on Michaelangelo and the Sistene Chapel. It is apparent that the town is gearing up for some festivities of some sort. A huge cooking area has been created and seating set out for loads of people. At this stage, we are unsure what is going on - is it for the Blues Festival?
Preparing for the night's festivities.
Linda at the Mayfair Bar
Crowds begin to gather in the streets and we discover that today's event is some sort of boat race between four of the local villages.
The boats themselves
Il Molo - where we ate last time we stayed here and is very good indeed
Linda with her antipasto di Mare - the £16 starter that one of us had each time we went here

So to the boat racing. There are four teams, but appear to be loads on team members. There are actually two male paddlers for each boat and they steer a course across the lake front road a buoy in the distance. Once back at the jetty, a girl who leaps out of the boat with a flag, after which more males carry their boat along the main street.
The winning team carry their boat to the finish line

The third and fourth teams racing for the line - Passignano are in the red tops

Not feeling 100% tonight following our day in the sun. My guess is slight de-hydration despite drinking 4 litres liquids today - coke, water, lager and wine.

The evening's festivities in full swing

But of course the Trasimeno Blues Festival is in town and we are able to watch the set by "Lightning Malcom and Cedric Burnside" on the small area of park near the lake. Actually this is a pretty good show. Afterwards we stay and see the first couple of tracks by Otis Taylor and his band (who turned out to be the people we had been with at the pool this morning). But we were pretty tired by this point and didn't stay for the entire set.
Lightnin' Malcom and Cedric

Tomorrow night's festival is headlined by Dr John and is in Castiglione just round the lake shore. We are quite tempted by this (or at least I am, Linda doesn't know who Dr John is)

Tonight's movie is Couples Retreat which is pretty poor except for some very funny yoga class scenes

Very much how I looked while teaching yoga - the body, the postural adjusted, everything was exactly like this


First thing I am unable to resist working out the trades for the past week per the systems - I rationalise this by noting it is necessary as data doesn't last long enough till we get home. But really I am very excited to see how the trading has gone having just about managed to avoid looking at the markets during the day while we are on holiday. I am also concerned that I will be annoyed if the days would have been good and regret not having been trading. So Saturday morning seems like a good time to review things and it looks like it has been a very good week.
At breakfast we spot Lightnin' Malcom having some food and feel compelled to tell him how much we enjoyed his set last night. He accepts our compliments with good grace and we leave him alone.

Another day by the pool - Linda is especially keen to just crash out and read. My reading today are articles from the magazine Philosophy Now - which reveal again how much I know little about, or only have a little knwledge e.g. the excellent article about Oedipus that I read today.

I am reminded of the Emo Philips joke from Oedipus - what has four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night? A donkey, which has four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon after you cut two off, and three in the evening when you stick one back on again

Oepidus battles the Sphinx
Antigone leading the blind Oedipus out of the City

Dinner out is at Il Molo again - tonight sitting on the road. No boat racing tonight, though the feast take place again

Linda dining in the road - more racing to come on Sunday apparently