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siena: mangia, mangia

July 13, 2009

best damn pasta evah

Holy cannelloni!  Between starting school and moving into a new apartment and painting walls and shopping for mattresses and god-mothering baptisms and celebrating birthdays and fighting stomach flus and suffering nasty colds… when does a girl have time to blog?  I will tell you all about my Montreal adventures soon, but for now… where were we?  Ah yes.  Italy.  Siena.

Il campo

March 20, 2009

This morning’s Italian adventure begins with a shower.  But not just any shower.   One might call it an open concept shower, if one were so positively inclined.  I, personally, call it a drain in the floor.   I wonder if I’m missing something but above me is a shower nozzle, in the wall facing the toilet is a faucet, on the floor is a drain.  I’m pretty sure those are the makings of a shower.   However, there is nothing to separate said shower from the toilet, bidet and sink, not even the comfort of a curtain.   My mind is tempted to throw in the towel but my stinky traveling feet beg to differ.  And so I shower and water splashes everywhere and I have that feeling I get when I leave a motel room; the sudden urge to make the bed, though I know they are going to wash the sheets anyways.

When I leave the hostel, the sky is a little grey and I’m suddenly not in the mood to hang out in Florence (she says with a Florence is sooooo yesterday’s news attitude.)   Sure I could go to the many museums but I’m not feeling it (I will get the shocker out of the way and tell you right now that no, I did not go to the Uffizi during my time in Florence.  Go ahead and gasp.).  So I walk to the station and purchase a ticket and hop on a bus to Siena (from which the paint pigment is derived), a bumpy bus ride, a twisting, winding bus ride out of Florence into the beating heart of Tuscany.

window in siena

Tuscany is like a dream, mustard colored villas with terra cotta roofs, pink and white petals blowing in the wind, rolling green hills – though not the same green as England.  Here it looks like September traveled back in time to have a spring fling with April and spawned a green lovechild tinted with a hue of harvest.  It is the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen so far.

Il Campo

I arrive in Siena at 9:15 on the coldest day since my arrival.  Positively fucking freezing.  And I’m all it’s good, I’m from Montreal, bring it!  I am wearing a thermal, a hoodie, a heavy duty rain jacket, a hat and scuffs.  But soon my lips turn blue and I can barely press the shutter on my camera and this is the point when I shamefully admit that I reach a low in my trip.  A bad attitude that is probably compounded by ovulation and a sore throat.  I begin to feel terribly sorry for myself (oh! the disappointment that comes with expectations not met).

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This lasts for about an hour then I remember a moment back home, when I was having breakfast with my cousin on a cold February morning.  The thermometer read -17 degrees and we were talking about my trip and I mentioned something to the effect that I anticipated a moment or two of melancholy, to which she proceeded to cry crocodile tears and said “Boohoo, poor me, I’m in Italy, sob sob, eating gelato, sniff sniff, drinking wine.  Oh! the misery!”  I laughed and thanked her for that image as I would surely use it if I found myself indulging in self-pity.  Sure enough, that memory put everything in perspective today.

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The sign said pasta del giorno 5 euro, I said sold.  I liked the atmosphere, I walked in.  And now, I sit in the sweetest trattoria/grocery store/butcher shop preparing to feast on a steaming bowl of penne with prosciutto, olive oil, funghi and green peas (with token unlimited parmesan) and a quart of vino del casa. I’m pretty certain the whole thing is topped with a little spice called bliss.  Mama Mia, do these Italians ever know how to cook a mean pasta.  Warms the soul, the body and the spirit.  The funk is gone, life is good.

Cold days, it turns out, are meant for gastronomical adventures.   This trattoria with copper pots hanging form the ceiling, giant jars of olives on the shelf, a bottle of wine on every table, braided garlic on the walls, is my perfect Italian experience.  I see the sun peeking out from beneath the clouds like a shy child.  I know it will shine bright shortly.  I just have to give it time.  And when it does, I go to the nearest gelateria and continue to carry out my mission to eat gelato daily.

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After a day of walking in the cold and seeing a duomo strait out of a Tim Burton movie with a steeple lined black and white, and traipsing Siena’s medieval walls with its funny characters and lounging in Il Campo’s shell-shaped centre, I buy a bottle of Chianti, spicy pecorino cheese and pane rustico from the shop with the wild boar head wearing spectacles.  I then hop on the 4:10 bus back to Firenze.

wild boar head

pane rustico

By the time I get back to the hostel, the sky is painted pink and I feel like I should be out there chasing the sunset but my body is tired, so instead I uncork the wine, unwrap the cheese, open the brown bag filled with juicy green grapes and break the bread.  From my warm hostel room, I watch the sunset, take a swig of Chianti strait from the bottle and bite into the best damn bread and cheese I’ve had on this entire trip.

You create your own experiences.  Life right here, right now is pretty perfect.

Still, I can’t help but think of him.  The one I will see again soon.



11 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim permalink
    July 13, 2009 5:33 pm

    Welcome back. I think I was going through a mini withdrawal: )

  2. July 13, 2009 9:51 pm

    lordy I love your adventures. all the things I long to do.

    welcome back – congrats on the new place and feeling better.

  3. July 13, 2009 10:34 pm

    I LOVE it!!! I love Italy and all the wonderful adventures that go with it. The boar head is classic. I think I encountered a washroom just like you described in China. Water, water everywhere.

  4. sophie permalink
    July 14, 2009 2:15 am

    I concur with the withdrawal symptoms!

    Ha ha! I also had tha bread from the De Miccoli store… a classic.

    Going to school??? Exciting! Something related to writing?

    Can’t WAIT for the rest… now quieted with this lil’ fix. 🙂

  5. July 15, 2009 11:21 am

    hmmm so nice to read the newest installment – and so nice to share your lows with your highs i do declare you are human after all 😉 the best kinda human too — glad to hear your feeling a bit better and so excited for you to be starting school in your new apartment etc hope to catch up soon HUGS

  6. July 17, 2009 5:19 am

    standing on the street looking up at the window with the pale aqua shutters and red geraniums is my new imaginary happy place. your photos evoke emotion and connection. your words tell a story that leave me wanting more.

  7. July 18, 2009 2:09 pm

    that day…is exactly what we travel to italy for.

  8. July 20, 2009 6:23 am

    Hi! I just found your blog via A Daily Dose of Zen …

    Lovely pictures and descrptions! I’ll be back soon for sure.


  9. July 21, 2009 10:58 am

    Now I can’t wait to hear the rest of this story – or all about your exciting Montreal adventures!


  10. July 28, 2009 6:12 pm

    I love your pictures! Tell me which on you like the best on my latest post.

  11. August 26, 2009 12:55 pm

    Here it looks like September traveled back in time to have a spring fling with April and spawned a green lovechild tinted with a hue of harvest.

    That, my friend, may be the best descriptive sentence I’ve ever read. And, I’m pretty darn well read. Good Gosh! You sure can write.

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