Wednesday, April 30, 2008

focaccia forever!

hmmm. it's almost 9pm and i'm already ready for bed. i'm becoming more and more of an old lady as each day passes. we ran thru the whole show from beginning to end for the first time today. i also worked on one of my monologues with gaby, which included some rooting around in my own personal stash of issues -- this exhausts me.

so let's review the weekend instead! last thursday, after a morning of rehearsal, we ran errands all over town:

on the bus,

to a fitting,

to a beloved cafe called cucchi,
where i had a latte with cocoa powder on top and since i was hungry, i pointed to a croissant sandwich that looked good. i knew that there was egg in it, but i couldn't identify the other ingredients from the sign in the glass case...

until i opened the sandwich and saw the anchovy lying there next to my uovo. i ate it, but i'm pretty sure it's something i'll not be ordering regularly. i was much more enchanted by the canoncini that laura bought for us at a tiny bakery that's known for their canoncini.
these precious treats made our wait for the train so much more delightful. i cannot wait until we visit that bakery again. forget drugs. this is the way to go. i wish i had half a dozen in front of me right now.

and then we began our journey to the sea. my fellow actors took direction well when i asked them to look like lost tourists at the train station.
laura's husband, matteo, and his family, own a home in a little seaside town called recco. it was dark by the time the train pulled into the station and, of course, we were starving. after all, it had been a whole two and half hour journey. we went to a local restaurant that specialized in focaccia, and we tried every single variety they had to offer. let me tell you something, i have never been a fan of what is passed off as focaccia in the united states. i won't even order a sandwich in new york if it comes on "focaccia", but this...mama mia! and this wasn't even the best of the weekend. we also indulged in salame, cheese, and fava beans. they bring you a basket of whole, raw favas, as if they were edemame, and we ate everything together with the focaccia. perfecto!
fed and watered, we walked to the house. most of the walk was along the sea, but then we took a rude turn uphill, and after 310 steps (i personally took multiple breaks for things like breathing -- i brought up the rear), we were rewarded with a lovely home with a massive, old kitchen. my room was adjacent and i immediately went to bed.

the next morning, i opened my eyes and wondered if it was extremely early, or if it was a very overcast morning, because it seemed so dark in my room. then i realized that my window shutters were closed. when i opened them, it became the scene in the wizard of oz after the tornado when dorothy opens the door to reveal the technicolor extravaganza that is munchkinland. the sun was shining, the birds were singing and all was right with the world.

while javi slept, laura, gaby, and myself went back down the 310 steps to buy necessities for the weekend.

we bought trofie pasta and pesto, which originated in this area of italy.

we stopped by the fish market and picked up a fish, but not this one.

and, of course, we needed vegetables for a well-rounded diet.

after delivering our tasty treats to the house (we took a bus up the hill!), gaby and i made our way down to the sea. they tell me that the water is polluted, but it looked beautiful to me.

i even tried my hand at topless sunbathing. "when in rome" and all...there are no photos of that, but here i offer you beautiful gaby the mermaid instead:

then it was back to the house for some afternoon tea and a harvest of oranges.

dinner soon followed, and i was transported to another place.

i was completely ready for bed as i began to slip into my food coma, but my fellow actors (younger, all of them) voted for a walk down to the neighboring town of camogli. of course, i didn't want to miss anything. it was nighttime and camogli was bustling with people dining, strolling, felt as if i'd stepped into a "seaside, italian town" on the backlot of a hollywood studio. none of us are big drinkers, but gaby and laura felt compelled to take javi and i to the pirate tavern for some rum. i tried to look awake, but was not completely successful. being a pirate is exhausting. (look closely at the first photo and you'll see johnny depp.)

the next morning, all of us set out for an invigorating day hike in the local mountains. matteo warned us that this particular trail was the most difficult of our hike options, which seemed to encourage the others, but made me (out of shape, sedentary me) somewhat anxious. the first half of the hike was great. there were astounding scenic views overlooking the mediterranean, sometimes from a slightly steep drop-off,

leafy-cool-shadowy areas, spring flowers in bloom (this one was about the size of a dime),

and german bunkers leftover from world war II.
from inside the bunker:

in front of the bunker: Mastering the Group Photo:

after i'd become overconfident with a false sense of my great hiking abilities, the real test began. the sun was beating down on us and i could feel my forehead starting to sunburn. every little rock seemed to poke right thru my faux-converse soles. and then i came around a bend and saw the beginning of the Chain Trail. i've named it this because chains bolted into the side of the mountain started appearing wherever the trail became too treacherous and steep to hike without clinging to something.

i took the next photo while gaby was making her way across a particularly threatening section of the trail. she's in the center and the photo doesn't show the water-slicked rock that we had to walk on, or the fabulous flowered handbag that gaby was carrying. and you can barely make out the woman to gaby's right who needed someone to scoot along in tandem with her to keep her from falling down the mountain. this was the last photo i took until the end of the hike because at this point, matteo carried my purse so that i could use both hands to grasp at the side of the mountain. mille grazie, matteo!

matteo and laura

because i am in amazing cardiovascular condition, the final uphill hour of our expedition was my biggest test. i again, brought up the rear. the trail went only one way: vertically. my face matched the bright red of an italian tomato. each gasp was a personal victory. finally, i could see the summit. a group of italians were taking a break at the top and spotted my slow-motion scramble up the rocky trail. they started shouting words of encouragement to me in italian (at least, i'd like to think they were encouragement). even if i'd understood what they were saying, i didn't have enough energy to respond. i did understand their heavily accented "...and the winner is...". i reached the summit, barely upright, to applause, at least, that's how i remember it in my oxygen-deprived state. the downhill side was a welcome change and i was rewarded with this view of our destination, san fortuoso.

as i rested my quivering leg muscles on the rocky beach, we enjoyed the absolute best onion focaccia ever created, along with a fruit i'd never had before, nespola.

we took the ferry back to camogli, which i was happy to explore in the daylight. i was exhausted, but i think my joy at having survived the Mountains of Italy fueled the rest of my day.

camogli from the sea

matteo naps on the ferry.

we peeked in at a wedding in the local church.

young whippersnappers playing a game.

back at the house, we fortified ourselves with vino and potato chips while laura soaked her weary feet.

then there were signs that they'd had too much sun. or perhaps the sea air was overwhelming.

ravioli (pansotti, like pansas, like little bellies) was put on to cook and focaccia to toast. this local pasta is filled with tasty herbs from the area.

catching up on reading while dinner cooks.

our entertainment for the evening was watching matteo demonstrate his swedish (or maybe it's danish) mosquito zapper. just press the button, and swat at those annoying pests for that good, satisfying zap. it's fun for hours!

sunday morning, the garden called to me. not only did everything look beautiful, but the smells of the orange blossoms, honeysuckle, and jasmine, combined with the sea air, were enough to make me delirious with sensory overload. i'd also like to mention that my favorite fruit, the fabulous fig, grows everywhere in recco.

a view from the garden. the morning mist is rising, camogli is in the distance, a fig tree close at hand, the sea is calm - waking up to this every day would be okay.

this is in the kitchen. i was loving the old flashlights.

once the others woke up, we did laundry and worked on the show. and some worked on their tans.

it was difficult to pull myself away from there, but pull i did. and now i'm back in milano. s'ok. i'm being brave.