of vanilla ice cream. I have just shared a pot of strawberry and vanilla with her after a very late lunch of foccacia with proscuto and tomato and capuccino. We ate in our favourite town of Figline where, only 3 days ago we ate the most awful dinner that cost the earth at the Torre di Guelpha restaurant. Don't get me wrong, I love Italian food, but it is at its best when it is simple; fresh ingredients cooked in traditional no nonesense manner, a fresh pasta with tomato and mozarrela sauce, or salad with Parma ham, fresh tomatoes and curly lettuce. The Italian restauranteurs are trying to beat the French at their own game of haut cuisine and they can't. Not yet, they need centries more practice and should stick to what they are good at, using local produce to present the simplicity the terrain has to offer.
We had an unusual visitor to our apartment earlier this morning. As I aired the sitting room by opening the front door and window in the opposite wall, a swift flew in and made a reckkie of the oak rafters. He circled the ceiling over and over in a flash of colour, until I was dizzy watching him. Any attempt at capturing him on camera was doomed to failure, as he darted in and out of the lense viewer before I could press the shutter. After about 3 minutes, he flew out and began searching the eaves of the castle opposite. Late last night, I lay in bed with the inner window shutters open as I listened to my i-pod and watched the bats performing the same circular ballet over the castle's roof.
MWNN has commented repeatedly on the huge variety of species of birds we see in the forest that surrounds us at Bisticci (the castle complex of buildings bears that name). We have seen more woodpeckers and finches in our few weeke here than all our years of cruising in France, Belgium , and the UK. We are surrounded by beautiful natural resources. Olive trees grow wild in these here parts, often alongside ancient vines.
Earlier this afternoon we re-visted an Outlet centre on the edge of Incisa and bought some pashminas and a few leather-bound books. Then we drove on to view a castle we'd seen from a distance during our travels through the local valleys. There we found a little vinyard offering tasting and discovered a wonderful wine whose name is the same as our boat. On tasting it, we found it to be as good as a twice-the-price Cornas although it is made exclusively from the San Giovese grape which is not grown in France. Needless to say, we bought a half case, along with a 'dry' desert wine of the 1998 vintage.
Why the Italians should want to 'muck around' with their home grown produce to provide 'sophisticated' meals that are not part of their heritage beyond our comprehension.