The Worse the Journey, the Better the Stay

Sunday 21/8/2005

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Diary and Notes

I have a superstition that is all my own (I think) which I have come to believe in after many trips to many places. The jist of it is, that the more a pain in the arse to get somewhere, the better it is when you arrive. It's a bit like the old addage that something worth having is seldom easy to obtain - but in a more free-wheeling kind of way.

That said my journey to Italy was perhaps the worst I have ever had.

I wont go on too much about the people at Alitalia cancelling a flight because there weren't enough people to make it pay and sending us by bus instead, nor about them losing my luggage in the transfer, getting into an argument with a security guard who was an officious little twerp, nearly missing said bus, arriving in Genoa hours late, tired, hungry and pissed off.

I was met at Genoa airport by my chum Marcello and his dad and then there was still an hour's drive to the little town in the middle of nowhere in a part of Northern Italy where nobody goes. By the time we arrived I'd had enough and wanted to go home.

But I hadn't counted on Italian hospitality to soothe the aching bones and clear the weary mind - and what great hospitality it was.

Marcello's mum had made a great effort and had cooked up some traditional Ligurian dishes for me to try - things I had never heard of and very good they were too.

This was the first meal I'd had in Italy (apart from lunch at the airport but that doesn't count) and it was truly fantastic. There was loads, absolutely loads. The salami and prosciutto were excellent. This was followed by cima - a shoulder of veal stuffed with egg, herbs and peas, sewn up and boiled, palpettone - a fluffly baked potato cake, a courgette fritata, loads of salad, some excellent local cheese, cakes and bread.

I drank about five glasses of wine, poured from giant bottles without labels and then had coffee and grappa.

After all this I was feeling decidedly better.

I think Marcello's mum and dad thought I was a bit odd taking photos of dinner, but as I don't speak a word of Italian and they don't speak English, it was up to Marcello to explain and I get the impression he just told them I was crazy.

I did learn one or two phrases over dinner that might come in handy in the days to come: 'Mi piage' being perhaps the one I'll be using most often - I like it, and 'multo buono', or very good.

After dinner we strolled into town (opened the door and stepped out into a cafe) and had a glass of beer. I could easily become accustomed to this - va bene, I'm fine.

Cake Blog

Marcello's mum made me a selection of little cakes - the really were quite superb. The chocolate ones are called maiden's kisses or something like that. The pointy ones were my favourite, almond flavoured - Mama Mia!


  • Prosciutto, Salami and Olives
  • Chima
  • Polpettone
  • Fritata
  • Salad
  • Bread
  • Local Cheeses
  • Mini Cakes

    All washed down with local wine (red and white) and then a couple glasses of grappa with the coffee.