Thursday, October 24, 2013

Italy: Montecarlo, Lucca

Hello Everybody!

Trying to catch up on my posts.  This ipad blogging is a bit of a challenge for me.  However, I'm determined between my phone and this to get 'er done!

We started out the day with a later wake up call.  Had some breakfast and this amazing orange juice that I consume more than my share of every morning.  Fresh squeezed and delicious!  Out the door, we headed to the most amazingly beautiful winery and five course meal.  We had the amazing Anatella (Have no idea whether I'm spelling her name right or not..Sorry Anatella!) show us  around the farm and then the vineyards.  She showed us the olive presses and explained First press and Cold Press to us.  Very interesting.

Next, it was the thing I dreaded most and one of the main reasons Cesar came...The cooking class.  Papa, the chef showed us how to make pasta.  Bowls with flour and an egg were in front of me and I cringed and said just do it Jim!  You are on vacation! As my sister once said, try something new everyday...I can do this.  cracked the egg with shell in bowl...picked the shells out and stirred the four until I had what I thought was a disaster, but Papa ensured me with a nod of his white capped head. I kneaded the mess and added flour until I had a somewhat consistent mixture.  I had somehow managed to throw flour on Kay, give a nice coat of flour to my phone and decorate my apron with an assorted mixture of dough balls and more flour.  Don't ask me how it happens...It just does!

I cut my pasta with a pasta cutter and then looked around to show off what I thought were my most beautiful spaghetti noodles to Cesar and the gang.  Cesar, of course, had perfect noodles and was making ravioli, tortellini and all kinds of stuff...I was just pleased as punch to have made something that even resembled a flippin' noodle!  LOL!  We ended our class and again walked with Anatella for a more informative walk through the vineyards.

The time for the HUGE lunch was ahead.  We were seated and served the antipasti first.  Sun dried tomatoes, salami, prosciutto, olives, bread and more.  Then came the pasta...delicioso...the meats....and the biscotti for dessert.  fantastico!  We had a marvelous time in this beautiful area.

Once back to the albergo, we were so exhausted. I thought I would lay down for a precious hour and a half nap...I even set the alarm clock...I felt once I was down, it was going to be hard to get back up...Lawd have mercy on the weary!

Almost immediately, I fell quickly into a much needed afternoon siesta.  The phone rang 20 minutes later and Johnna whispered into the receiver..."We have found a store that we all need to go to.  It's only 10 kilometers away (in some city I would never be able to recall)..hurry and throw on your jeans and let's go."......I have no idea what 10 kilometers means, but Cesar, Johnna, Darcie and I were off on an adventura...and folks it was an adventure for sure.  

The sisters had talked with the front information desk and one of the clerks told them about this amazing store.  The clerk called to see if the store was open ( the shops close here after lunch and reopen around 4 or 4:30 and stay open until 7 or 8.)  We were good to go. They called a taxi and gave Johnna the number and address to the shop.

We were off...Y'all, there is no thrill ride at any amusement park that beats a 10 kilometer ride through the winding hillside roads of Italy in a speeding taxi!  I just learned to NEVER EVER WITH SUGAR ON TOP look out the front window when in an Italian taxi...look down into your the person next to you and maybe a quick peek out the passenger window, but never watch where you are going...and one other quick Italian tip...keep everything that you love and want inside the open taxi window...

I honestly do not know what the speed limit is on the roads here.  I have no idea if there is a speed limit...If there is...they wouldn't care...Our driver was hyped up on espresso and drove the auto thought narrow lanes at death defying speeds.  Thoughts of Grace Kelly  driving around the corners of Italy at high velocita came quickly to mind.  It was actually a blast.  

We were there in no we drove up we saw all these amazing vintage items in the window.  The anticipation grew. We were ready. As the taxi was letting us out, we all noticed that the stores lights were out and they were closed for the day. Ahhhhh!  Disappointment and disbelief set in. We were so close to all the amazing eye candy that would be potential treasures to pass on for generations...ok, a bit thick, but the glance we had through the shop windows did give one goose bumps of excitement. 

We decided to call the store as the hotel clerk was kind enough to write it down for her.   I dialed the number and handed the phone to she was the Rosette Stone Queen.  She started talking and said things like..."Buono Sera...." which sounded so authentic...I was so glad to be on an adventura with someone who at least could communicate.   Next came, "Are you still open...yes you you're not does that mean you are you speak English?"  Frustrated she handed the phone to Cesar who knows Spanish but broken Texas Mex Spanish.  Cesar spoke a few words that I was proud he knew and still no comprende..the phone was shoved to the taxi driver's ear who didn't speak one word of English, but knew somehow by magic what we were trying to relay..He said something beautiful in Italian to the person on the other end and hope was insight that we would be able to enter this amazing vintage store...He started laughing hysterically....we waited for some announcement. And he turned and said we had been calling and talking to the taxi service the whole time!  Not the store...Good Gravy!

So to make a long story short...the store was closed...we had an amazing ride and we ended up shopping and eating our way back to the hotel... I finally got to take a nap...

Have an awesome day!

The Gentleman Crafter


  1. What a disappointment, but certainly an adventure! I would love to learn to make my own pasta - well done to Cesar for being the star pupil! Perhaps he could give us some tips on the next Ustream show?

  2. oh what a hoot of a story! Even though the store was closed after all, y'all will have a great memory to cherish! I'm loving your travelogue and all the fantastic pics your posting on FB!!

  3. It is my dream to see Italy but I will never go there. Thank you for taking time to tell us about your trip.

  4. Your trip sounds amazing. Congrats on your pasta making. I know what you mean about flour getting everywhere. LOL! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip. You have such a fabulous writing style.

  5. Jim, you have kept me enthralled with your adventures in the one place in the world I long to visit. It is first on my bucket list! Please keep the adventuras coming our way. I laughed out loud here at work when you told us abut repeatedly calling the taxi company instead of the store!

  6. I LOVE this story! These are the kinds of adventures my sister and I have when we travel.

  7. Jim, this part of your story made me laugh out loud! You are a great story teller. I am loving your trip vicariously, and I am making notes for my European adventure next year! Keep up the fun!

  8. I have no idea how long the journal will be for this trip. Between the stories, the pictures, the adventures, it will have to be volumes and volumes. So glad you can laugh at these things. Only you Jim, only you.

  9. Oh that's just too funny! Hope you enjoy your last few days on this magical trip!

  10. I sincerely do not remember the ride being that hair-raising, but then again I was in the front seat :-) LOL so funny to read your memories of our "avventura"!


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