Monday, July 31, 2006

Mt. Etna

This is a picture of Lori, Kent, and I from Mt. Etna (at least where your'e allowed to go). That peak in the back is as high as we could go. This picture is also at the end right before we went back down. The clouds rolled in and you could only see short distance. I have others with a blue sky that I may put up later.


I little post here to record an event this weekend. IT RAINED!! It hasn't rained in over a month and it probably won't rain again until September but yesterday it ruined a possible day at the beach. It came down in buckets too. The road turned into river. I think this is the first time Nello has heard thunder and seen lightening but he didn't seem afraid at all. I thought all dogs and cats head under the bed for storms like yesterday. In the end it only rained for about a half an hour and then it was nice and cool for another half an hour but after that it was hot and humid again. I've never seen the heat and humidity return so fast. In the midwest you would get at least a day, maybe two, of cool weather after a major front like this. This morning we had a few clouds left over in the sky so it may have affected two days of the beach for most people.
This is going to be a long week at work. Very few people are in as most have started their August holiday already. I can't even figure out where to go, but my August holiday will start after this Friday. Where will I go...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Still July

This weekend was very tiring. I went to the beach on Saturday and Sunday. I think this is the first time my whole weekend revolved around going to the beach. You have to go with enough stuff to allow yourself to relax, eat, and drink. Speaking of eating I have to thank Ottavio and Matteo. I had my first “Ricci allo Scoglio”. This dish is simple to prepare. You need a mask, a snorkel, and a fork. There’s nothing quite like eating raw seafood in the sea. Ricci are sea urchins and “allo scoglio” is on the rocks (not ice, stones). I’m not too fond of the taste but I had to try them. It felt good to eat a few after one left its spines in my foot. The day was so good that Sunday night we pushed the boundaries of when to leave. We hung around too long (about 7:00 PM) and at this time there was almost no left on the beach so we set up a little beach soccer match. I was already tired from throwing the Frisbee around for about 30 minutes prior to this as the crowd thinned out. Now more running and after several hours in the sun, this is a tough workout. The game was short and hilarious as we played even when the ball was in the water. And just like the world cup it came down to penalties in the end. But the problem with the game was the chain reaction it caused. After it we tried to meet for dinner at 10:00 PM, which was pushing it and everyone knew it. In the end I think we sat down to eat around 11:00 and finished after midnight. It was pretty quiet after dinner as it was apparent that most people were wiped out. So we were left with time for a gelato and then off to bed around 2:30 AM. Some of the others that don’t work on Monday may have gone off someplace else.
Monday is a day of recovery. I’m a little upset because I’m still pretty white. I used SPF8 and I’m definitely a few shades browner than I ever get in USA but I’m still not dark enough that it’s apparent I was at the beach all weekend. I don’t look like a Southern Italian. Well, it’s still July.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ostuni Barber Shop

Kent was in good form taking photos, while Lori and I are walking quickly around Ostuni, Kent was pooking his head into places and the people in this barber shop loved having their photo taken. There are a couple of others but this one kind of reminds you of an old shop going about it's business like it's 50 or 60 years ago.


I'm back. I guess I have't updated this in a while. The heat has returned so beach is the only option. You wouldn't believe the number of people I saw out at 2:30 AM last night. It's not comfortable to socialize during the day so wait until after dark when things cool off. I think I saw in the news that the States are really hot too. I guess people don't thin to not eat or go out until 11:00 PM.
The website for Mount Etna is: I still have not bought tickets for an August vacation but everything at works looks like I can go so I will doing some serious searching now.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

End of the family visit

I’m back on my own again. Lori and Kent had a great trip and I think everyone here enjoyed meeting them. I also know that Lori and Kent enjoyed meeting EVERYONE here. It was great to have my friends here meet part of my family and vice versa. Family is important here so I think my friends here know a lot more about me now.

In the last two trips L, K and I ran around seeing things in other parts of Italy. This trip was more at home here in Brindisi. Of course we did travel too, with a trip up to the Gargano and one down to Sicily. In both trips we managed to see and do things that I still hadn’t done in all the time I’ve been here. I think I may have relied on Kent’s pictures a little too much but I guess that’s one of benefits of their visits. It was sad dropping them off at the airport but I cheered myself up with some good music on the way back. Now they have left and things will get back to normal, although it shouldn’t be normal for long because August is right around the corner. This year I want a real vacation in August like Italians do. I have a plan but more on that later.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sicily and WHO'S THE CHAMPION???

Whew. Another HUGE weekend, this time I took Friday off so we could go down and see Sicily. This is my favorite part of Italy to visit. The land, the history, the food and the people are all amazing. Now as far as living, Puglia is better for me because it seems a little more stable and flat. I like visiting Sicily but I’m not sure I could live there. The real down side of this weekend was how long we were in the car. The drive down and back took much longer than I expected. The A3 from Naples to Reggio Calabria had way too much construction and truck traffic on Friday. Then on Sunday there weren’t many trucks but the A3 was closed for a good part of the way. It was a royal pain but I’m getting off the subject. Our hotel in Toarmina was great and Roberto was perfect host. Also I’m glad I was able to get a room with AC. When we arrived in town it was raining hard. The heat and humidity were teaming up to make just walking a real sweaty experience. The rain actually ended before we reached the hotel and then things started to feel better. Friday night we walked around Toarmina and it’s a great city that I thought I had seen before. It turns out the town is much bigger than I ever knew. Even Saturday night we were still finding new streets with more restaurants and MORE shops. Saturday we spent the morning at the Greek theater that has Mt Etna as a backdrop. This place still gives me chills, just think how long it’s been there and how easily Mt. Etna could have destroyed it over that time. Then in the afternoon we climbed Mt. Etna. We were prepared with jackets, long pants, and shoes with warm socks. This all came in handy because we saw snow! It’s 90+ when we leave the hotel and at the top (of where you can go-9,500 ft) it was 9C (48F) with a HOWLING wind. It was cold. Your ears and nose really felt it. We also were very lucky because as we were leaving the clouds came in. It was really strange because the already completely barren and rock surface was now in the midst of clouds blowing through. This was a perfect movie set for some far off planet where you would be surprised to find life.
Sunday morning we saw an exhibit of Miro in a local church that was turned into an art gallery. Kent managed to enlighten some nice old ladies on what Miro was doing. After that we picked up some traditional Sicilian delights, cannoli, paste di mandorla, and marzepane. All of these things were good at halftime of the game. Speaking of the game, we had the usual crowd over and again the game was a near heart attack for all watching. Everything was life and death at this stage, the penalty kick, and the goal by Italy to level the game. The second half we were begging for more offense from Italy. In the end it came to penalties and for the first time in history Italy won in a penalty shot out. Game over and EVERYONE in the streets!!!!!! It was a flood of people, scooters, cars, and flags all heading to the center of town. I love living in town. All we had to do was cross the street and join the river of people. It was fun to see the celebration because people were having fun but they weren’t getting falling down drunk or doing stupid things like destroying stuff. A good party atmosphere and I think my ears are still ringing this morning from the horns, whistles, fireworks, and screaming. IT WAS LOUD!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Celebration time

This is just one example of what was going on last night at 2:00 AM when we started to head back to my apartment.

What's all the noise about?

Last night was a thing of fairy tales for Italy. A game that was incredible. Italy and Germany were both attacking. The whole game was held in check by the goalies and defenses that all refused to let ANYTHING through. I was getting worried because Italy had some good scoring chances but nothing in the NET after 90 minutes!!! Then with almost no time left in the SECOND overtime period the Italians got the deciding goal (most people were convinced that if it went to penalties then Germany would win). The screaming in my apartment was hilarious. How could you not feel excited after 2 hours on the edge of your seat? Then we calmed down as the game started again and Germany came down in force for one last chance to tie. When Italy stole the ball and made a counter attack goal to go up 2-0 then THE party began. An almost instant parade of cars, flags, and horns blaring went through town. We all went to the seaside to have a gelato and watch the madness. What could be better? Kent, Lori, and I walked home at 2:00 AM but you could see that others were going to be out for a while. I have never been so emotional about a sporting event, at least one that I was watching. I’m amazed because work seems to be the back to normal today. Italians don’t go out and get drunk to celebrate such events so they recover much quicker than we or the English would. To get to the final is great, but if they win it all then it’s something you can tell your kids about. The time you were in Italy when….


Another unique site in the Garagano area. This is a traditional "device" that's used to drop nets in the water and catch fish. They were abandoned years ago but now people are restoring and even using them again.


I swear this is a photo I took and not a postcard. It shows what this area is like. High rocky cliffs and small beaches. Some are hard to get to!!

A hike in Gragano

Kent is scouting out the trail ahead. After we came out of the trees and into the open it was nice with a fierce but cool wind.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Let’s see what was special about this weekend. Well the first and most important thing was watching the Italy vs Ukraine game Friday night. We had a blast over Dora’s house, as the Italian team really seems to be playing better as they get into the tournament. No controversy. No red cards or penalty kicks. Three well played goals.
Then Saturday morning we took off for the Gargano Peninsula. This is area that is the “spur” of Italy. Now we know why. It’s like rock that the sea can’t erode. We hiked up a mountain, Monte Calvallino, on Saturday afternoon. The trail started out in the woods with little clearings full of flowers and then opened up to a bare and rocky hillside. It was VERY windy when we came out of the woods but the wind was refreshing especially after the heat and humidity that’s been hitting Italy for the past few weeks.
After the hike we drove until we arrived in Rodi Garganico. A small town with what looked like a good beach. We asked at the local cafĂ© about a hotel and they pointed out a hotel, which fit our needs but…. What we didn’t know was that the town was celebrating their patron saint on Sunday. Now this is a good time to visit a small Italian town because everyone is out and there are usually street vendors and rides. It’s very exciting. The problem is the rides (and therefore most of the noise) were right next to our hotel and the ruckus went on very late. I don’t know when they stopped because I managed to fall asleep anyway. Then at 7:30 AM they sent off fireworks, again right by our hotel, to start the day’s activities. Not the big pretty things, just the kind you shoot up in the air and they make noise. Not the best way (and time) to wake up in the morning.
Sunday we drove along the coast stopping frequently to take pictures, some of which we’ll put up here. We walked around in Vieste and found a really cool hotel that’s in the centro storico and has it’s own stairs down to it’s own almost private beach. I picked up a flyer and it’s not that expensive. I’ll stay there if I come back in the summer. I don’t recommend the beach at Mattinata where we stopped. It seems to be a manmade beach with some kind of gravel throw down. People here were also laying out on bare rock so I guess these people are a little tougher than me. I want sand.
Sunday night was nothing but good news. We returned to Brindisi and the cool wind seemed to have followed us. It was not unpleasantly hot like Friday. A walk into town gave me a wealth of information. They were setting up a concert in the middle of town, AND Alla Corte di Bacco was open again. My favorite bar has returned. Now it’s under the management of Francesco who I already know because he manages Goblin’s Pub another place I go when they have live music. Also in the same Piazza I see that Monica has returned and is working with Tonino at La Locanda degli Angeli. It’s good to see her again even though she broke my heart a long time ago (that list is getting long now!). I’m sure she’s already working on another plan to leave town.