Thursday, May 15, 2014

Italy 2014: Day 14: Thursday: May 15: Noli

Another beautiful day...we are living right this year.  And when we look outside the door, we see that we hadn't been dreaming.  The view from the terrace is still there.

Breakfast is served on a roofed veranda on the other side of the of the nicest breakfast venues yet. And breakfast is fine if not extensive....but includes an unexpected plate of freshly scrambled eggs made to order.

Since we are "on vacation" we go back the room and relax for a while...Diana does some piecing for her quilt project

and then we decide to go to town to walk along the water and in town.  The weekly market is set up along the promenade and we do a little window shopping and watch the fisherman work on his net.


We shift into sightseeing mode and visit the early Romanesque church of San Paragorio which dates from the 11th century.  

which was carefully reconstructed in the late 19th century by the Portuguese architect and archaeologist Alfred d'Andrade.  The interior is restrained and dignified...our favorite style of church in Italy.


with an unique reconstruction of an old bishop's chair.

We stop for a fresh orange juice at a beach-side bar and decide to get in the car and drive down the coast and have lunch.  The drive out of Noli south is very striking.....the road tunnels under the cape and then is carved right out of the rock face before straightening out over the beach.


The coast road at this point is a continuous string of beach towns that melt into one another.  Some of the towns have pleasant waterfront promenades and parks but often the beach view is obstructed by lines of bathing establishments (stabilimento) that rent out chairs, cabanas, umbrellas and beach equipment as well as running bars and restaurants.

Some of the towns we drive through aren't as attractive as Noli and in some it is difficult to reach the waterfront by car because it is market day or car traffic is limited.  We continue on to Loano, about 20 kilometers from Noli. We park and I take a look down the street for a suitable place for a light lunch.  Nothing in the area has  a view of the water so we choose a sweet looking wine bar and sandwich place called L'Uva e Mezza that has tables outside.  The sandwiches we have are fine (piadinas - an Emilia-Romagnan tortilla-like flat bread)

but the highlight of lunch is talking to the owner who is very friendly and is happy to use his English.  He tells us about his visits to Washington DC as a student and we strike up a conversation about my work and how he came to Loano.  We exchange cards and he gives us recommendations for local sightseeing and restaurants and urges us to contact him (by e-mail) if we need any help.

Back in Noli, I walk down the path to town and continue to explore Noli which is more extensive than I had originally thought.  I check out some possible restaurants for dinner and stop for while to watch the men on the bocce court.

We decide to eat at the hotel again because the meal last night had been so great....but unfortunately lightning doesn't strike twice.  For a number of reasons, the meal is a disappointment....the menu doesn't work as well for us, the service isn't as attentive or gracious (there were six tables occupied rather than two) and some of the touches that we had found appealing last night didn't seem that way tonight.  The "extra" dishes were repeated so they were not a surprise.  The first course--a smoked mackerel preparation--was the best of the meal but the pasta--another version of cappellacci  served with raw shrimp wasn't to our taste.  The next course--hake dusted with chickpea flour and fried--was bland and I thought it was overcooked.  Diana liked her fruit salad served in a cellophane basket very much and my ice cream was fine...but the magic was gone. 

Luckily food means nothing to us... :)

No moon tonight but the stars are bright in the sky.

Tomorrow, more resting and more exploring.

Jim and Diana