Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A personal alarm call

Michael Skypes with Antony (and Bella on full-lung volume) in the wee hours before he comes to bed. Antony should be out in the field with the rest of his battalion, but true to form has come in - injured again! He was getting out of the personnel carrier and about to put his helmet on when his (very thankfully unloaded) rifle fell and bounced back off the ground hitting him in the head, splitting it open above his eyebrow. A night in hospital and he is back home with his girls for the week and is now sporting a beauty of a shiner of a black eye!

99 bottles hanging on the wall - hang on a second - no, they do NOT hang on the wall. At 6 am this morning they are being very unceremoniously dumped and crunched by the recycling truck whose crazy driver seems to want to stop outside every hotel as though to say to the tourist - you lush, you!

Eventually we doze again and then at 7:30 am the bells of the church across the laneway chime out my personal good morning anthem - the Ave Maria. I can tell you it was pretty spectacular. Helen mind you, sighs, rolls over and pulls her pillow over her head while Michael follows his customery morning routine with his 21 gun salute giving the bells a decibel run for the money! (those of you who know him, will know what that means!!!)

It began to rain late last night and this morning is still pouring. We open the shutters about 9 am when we are finally ready for breakfast. The sight is dismal yet captivating. Breakfast is in the breakfast parlour on the ground floor. We are actually quite surprised at the number of people who are having breakfast as the hotel really appears very quiet - from the number here it must be almost full!

Helen opts to take a walk in the drizzle - she wants to explore a little and go to the Post Office. Michael joins her and I return to blog (and squeeze in a game of Scrabble). Michael gets some fantastic wet weather photos - you know, the Lake in a mist, clouds rolling like surf across the valleys in the mountains behind us, water trickling down the terracotta tiles on the roof of the building across the narrow street from us - almost close enough to lean over the small balcony we have and touch.

There is an amazing cloud rolling up and over the top of the hill at the back of the town that looks like a scarf draped elegantly around her shoulders. What mazing sights on an otherwise dreary day.

Later we head out for a coffee, going past La Cambusa (have a look at their web page, it is honest and shows why we value our encounters with people like this) to say hello to Beatrix and her family. Beautrix is not well and has stayed home today, but her mother Rosario is just as warm and welcoming. Hels asks for their recommendation for somewhere for coffee and she says that she is just about to go for some herself, would we care to join her. We happily accept the invitation - how nice it is to be included by some of the locals. So we join Rosaria and her youngest daughter Sarah for coffee where we chat about Stresa, other places not to miss in Italy and our homes back in Maryborough - you know, the intimate small talk that makes the world turn for us all.

They leave to go back to work and we leave to travel far - to the shop next door! Both Helen and I indulge in our love of paper products and I even get Bella a little something. Hmmm, wonder if Helen also got other specials?!!!!! Time will tell! Then its back to get the name of the restaurant they were talking about, and to the hotel. Of course, I want to go via the church to have a look. It is a simple parish church with very little statuary, but lots of paintings - all high around the top of the walls and set into framed alcoves. We can't take photos. There is a lovely saying to welcome visitors near the front door:
If you are not a believer, if you believe in someone but not in Christ, if you are seeking for something, if you think you have found some other reason of lief, come in anyhow and be trustful. Such simple welcoming words to invite all. Nice.
Michael and Helen go off in search of pastries and I manage to catch up with Gen for the first time in about a week.

This afternoon is spent with some blogging, a frustrating hour trying to find out why the car is still not ready, writing angry letters of complaint to both Opel in Germany and Vauxhall in England and looking at other options. Our 3 weeks in Italy is down to two, we have lost the opportunity for a week in Tuscany with Hels and just hope that we can squeeze in some key destinations before she leaves in exactly two weeks. Looks like we might head east to Venice and then south and west to Rome and Pompeii - anything else will be a bonus.

We get photos with Rosaria and Sarah as we head out to dinner at their recommended restaurant just around the corner from our hotel - Pappagallo. Just as well that we headed up at 7 pm. By 7:30 pm there is not a single table free. We soon learn why too - the food is just fabulous. Rosaria has recommended a couple of special ones that we order:
Cozze marinate (Mussels marinate) Helen and Michael
Bresaola della Valtellina (Dried beef with oil and lemon) Maria
Trenette alla Saracena (Flat spaghetti saracena style - tomatoes, pesto and olives) Michael
Fagottini pere e formaggio (Money bags with pear and cheese) Maria
Lavarello spacceto burra e salvia (Lavaret with butter sage) Helen
All from the dessert trolley - fig tart for Michael, strawberry tart for Hels and Chocolate Tart with Pear for me! MMmmmmm
And as we leave, the wait staff who have been such fun even though they were very busy, took time to present Helen and I with the very gracious gift of a local calendar each and agree to a photo. Arrivederci guys - thanks for the great night especially to you, Lollipop Boy and Dean Martin!

When we get back to the hotel, out across the lake (between the buildings), we see the island of Isola Bella lit up like a birthday cake - sweet.

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