Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On the fifth day of Christmas....

Well I didn't get 5 gold rings and I don't mind because I've gone off gold.

I held a 22 minute conversation this afternoon without coughing! Still not sure if I am stable enough to go to yoga. Because once it starts...
I ought to spend a week rebuilding my energy. Oh bother. I was so looking forward to classes again :(


Last night I went downstairs for a midnight snack and, I kid you not: the clock on the oven read 24.00. I watched and waited and then it became....0.01.

Oh yes my life is so interesting right now.


And so we come to day 5 of the vicarious Italy trip.

Christmas Day - Sorrento

Our drivers had taken us into town the afternoon before simply for something to do after Pompeii. I bought myself a chocolate mohair mix cardigan. Nice and fluffy, and when I put it on, for the first time since leaving London, I felt warm!!! To my fingertips!

So this I wore on Christmas day with my aquamarine scarf. Mmmm cosy.

It felt a little like we'd been taken out to stave off possible boredom at the hotel, but there were rumours of a parade at noon, so a few of us stuck together and wandered around for a few hours first. Went into the basilica, stood over the harbour, saw some pretty buildings.

We had a mid-morning coffee at a lovely big cafe on the main square. Because it was Xmas Day, we got plates of assorted little pasticcini biscuits.
Oh yes, the second night in Italy I gave in to all the coffee and drank a caffe latte. It was yummy, to say the least. I had given up coffee years ago because even cafe au lait made my digestive tract feel acidic. But I had no problems here, so for the remainder of my sojourn (thanks D) in Italy I stayed with mid-morning caffee lattes. I could just about handle cappuccinos but they gave me that feeling so I avoided them.

We were right in the square where the procession would pass, so we sat tight and waited.
After the lead police car had squeezed through, the crowd moved back only when the Sbandieratori flag throwers had pushed them outwards. No one would want to get hit by a flying flag, now, would they?
This was something I had never experienced before - men in full parti-coloured medieval dress skillfully tossing around giant feudal flags accompanied by hypnotic drumbeats. Like so:

If you would like to see a short video clip of this performance, please click HERE.

(It will open in a new window. Yay, Motime now hosts media!)

We returned to the hotel in time for lunch at 1pm, and spent the next 4 hours eating.

1) Seafood salad - squid, pickled sardine and mussels on a bed of lettuce. (yum sardines!)
2) Canneloni (or minestrone soup) (nice canneloni)
3) Egg & oxtail soup (comforting)
4) Steak and chips
After this I thought we'd get dessert but then the waiter came around and laid forks on the table.
"What's this for?"
"But we've just had steak! Is it dessert?"
"No it's for fish."
5) Grilled white fish and prawns on salad (quite nice)
6) I think there was more after this, but our table rebelled and asked for gelato.
Mum and I stuck around for the:
7) Bowls of mixed nuts with nutcrackers, bowls of apples and oranges
8) Plates of unshelled pumpkin seeds

It was 5pm. Christmas dinner was scheduled for 8pm. So Mum and I did stair exercises and walked around the terrace for about half an hour.

It goes downhill from here, so beware.
While watching TV, drinking water and resting from the exercise, I began to feel queasy and voila, part of the lunch made a reappearance! And there was that horrible chilly feeling you get in your shoulders beforehand.

The last time I hugged any porcelain was 10 years ago. That time it was food poisoning from cheesecake and went on for hours, but this was over in a minute and only confirmed that I must have an allergy to mussels, which I used to love when I was little until I suddenly reacted to them one night. (It was the same after eating a bowlful in Normandy in 1996 - I felt like shit on the train back to Paris, but thankfully everything stayed down.)

Anyway, needless to say I will never touch another mussel in my life and I won't miss them, silly little things.

We did not go down for the dinner and dancing, and poor mum, who always feels bad when I'm sick, went to sleep. I started getting hungry around 10pm, so I went downstairs to see how the celebrations were going, and to get a mug of chamomile tea.

Nino the night manager was there: "Melissa! How are you?" When I said I wasn't feeling so good, and used the universal comme-ci comme-ca hand rotation, he crowded round and said I could go into the dining room and ask the bar for whatever I wanted. However, he stayed behind me and asked the barman for a cup of chamomila for the signorina and said something else besides, then shimmered back off to the foyer. While my tea was being made, our tablemates waved me over to ask if we were OK - to my surprise, nearly everyone had turned up for dinner. They had just finished the meat and peas course, which I could not bear to see or smell.

The barman (who was a cutie) laid my tea tray. He put a sugar in the saucer, I took it off, and then he put it back again. OK.
When I reached into my pocket he waved me off saying it was free!

So I went upstairs to drink my chamomile - with sugar - and two Pims jaffa cakes, put my headphones on, found the second half of Handel's Messiah on the radio and ended up singing along to the end! All better.


Neapolitans (I can't say the same for Romans) have a knack for cluttering up the pavements and roads with themselves. They stand in tight clusters of between 3 and 5, smoking, shouting, gesticulating.

So the police had quite a task clearing and re-clearing the square. People wouldn't even let the lead police car through for a few minutes, one woman crossed in front of it as though nothing was happening!

There is something very Greek in the way the men greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. The older members of our group couldn't handle it, but I said nothing. With these old English people you have to mete out multicultural enlightenment in small doses.
(Thank goodness we weren't in the middle east - they get 5 kisses!)


Jia Li said...


Oliva, I found the Apple Cider Vingar, could you give me the rest of the ingrediants and how to make that drink your mum takes for Arth.?

Rebecca said...

Fun! I was in Sorrento for Easter a couple years ago - great processions and performances. And great limoncello. Which hotel were you in again (there are only a few).

Olivia said...

Jia Li - will you be on MSN later?

Rebecca - no one matches the Italians for their medieval pageantry.

Eh, I prefer 'meloncello' - try it sometime.

We were at the Hotel Mary in Vico Equense. The staff are so hospitable.

M. said...

Mussels, eh? There are worse things in the world to be allergic to, like ice cream or something you love to eat.

The only thing I know about Sorrento is that song about Sorrento, which is now stuck in my head. Must visit Italy some day!

Rebecca said...

You should do Easter in FLorence if you like the medieval pageantry! Look it up sometime.

I just realised that the photo on my xanga right now was taken a couple years ago in Pompeii. hee.

Olivia said...

Mers - yes, imagine if I were to go off tea! Or cake, chocolate, marmalade, Nutella, milk.....

Rebecca - Florence is on the very top of my list for next stop in Italy!

I remember you said about that pic you clambered around all the stones in the rain and got under fences and all sorts of mischief.