Back home

Back to the good old USA.  We actually got home right before 4th of July because we wanted to be home on America's birthday, but an awful flight home had us having a little more jet lag then normal and I was grateful our neighbors had tons of food because we didn't get our act together in time to try to BBQ.  But I have great neighbors and we got to celebrate the 4th with lots of food and friends and fireworks.  Even if the sisters and T and I were feeling a little out of it it was still fun.

Here is one of my new Italy scarves serving as a top for 4th of July!

One thing I did do right away was head to a Farmer's Market.  The food in Italy was good, but the summer fruit in California is a symphony this time of year.  The flavors are so intense and amazing.  My favorite, white nectarines, were at their sweetest and my hands were sticky with their juice before I even made it home.  Cantaloupe everyday until I ran out.  Cherries.  Summer squash noodles and shishito pepper blistered and served with beer.  Quickly we transitioned off the pasta and back to the garden of California.

And another trip to the Farmer's Market... totally loving Persian cucumbers right now! T is having a thing for apricots...

And we also transitioned back to eating alfresco on the back patio.  But this time, I noticed a bit more wine accompanied dinner.  Here is dinner on the 5th of July.... Chorizo and Clams.  Similar recipe from Tyler Florence HERE.  This is so good.  Especially when eaten crusty bread and white wine. It was good to be home and cooking again.  


Bordighera Italy

After Florence and Lake Como, we finally made it to Bordighera, Italy. Bordighera was my original destination for this Italy trip and I was excited (and a little nervous) to finally get to see it. We were back down to the six person crew and had rented THIS apartment through AirBnB.

A professor T and I had in college grew up in this town and I had always wanted to see it.  Of all our destinations, it was the one where we had to speak the most Italian.  Everyone was happy to practice their english with us, and us our Italian.  It was much closer to "real" Italy for me.  The shops closed during the middle of the day.  Coffee was drunk standing at the bar and aperitivo was always happening.  We even started our first day, almost right off the train with aperitivo at Cafe Monet.

(Photo by Jay)

I think I was charmed by this town almost immediately.  When we checked into our apartment the two ladies who checked us in didn't speak a lot of english, one hardly at all, but they were sweet and excited to show us the apartment.  Later that evening when we were walking to dinner in Bordighera Alta (the old part of Bordighera on a hill) the one who didn't speak very much english saw us walking by a store she was in and rushed out to say hello.  She asked how everything was in the apartment and where we were going to dinner.  It might have been that right after that moment when the Little Sister turned to me and said, "Let's move here."  I was in love.

This part of the trip was a combinations of early morning walks on the boardwalk next to the beach, dinner in Bordighera Alta or closer to the ocean, and ALWAYS aperitivo!  

We spent one day in Monaco because it was just a short train ride away.  It turns our Bordighera (on the Italian Riviera) is right next to France (on the French Riviera) and when I looked North I was looking at Monaco and France.  

One of my favorite memories was when we had aperitvo on the patio at our apartment.  T ended up making Trofie al Pesto from some things he had bought at the Thursday Farmer's Market. We had lots of wine and laughs at that meal.  It was amazing!  I think we went out for gelato that evening too!

(Photo by T)

Speaking of the Farmer's Market, I was up early with Jay and T walking the ocean boardwalk the day after we arrived and was excited to see a Farmer's Market setting up.  But then the Farmer's Market became this huge market selling all kinds of scarves, and purses (designer knock-offs), clothes and shoes.  Turns out they have it every Thursday and we (well mostly the girls) had a great time shopping there.

(photo by T.  He called this "The Shoppers")

We settled into this town very quickly and I really did love it.  We found a great wine shop that we enjoyed exploring.  The hardware store made us extra keys and we even rented beach chairs with umbrellas one day. 

(Photo by Middle Sister)

We spent the majority of our evenings in Bordighera Alta and even had dinner at the same place twice!  It was run by a sister and brother with Mama cooking!  It was called Antica Trattoria Garibaldi and we really enjoyed our meals there.
(Photo by T)

We also enjoyed walking around Bordighera and finding fun photos.

I really enjoyed Bordighera and will return again.  The city is a bit of a resort town for the French and Italians, and I loved being near the ocean, the convience of the train, and being able to walk everywhere.  It was charming to have people get excited when they found out we were from California and so many people had visited California before.  It was fun to talk to them and compare California with Bordighera.  We (the group) thought they were very similar.

On our last night we walked along the boardwalk and had aperitivo overlooking the ocean.  The weather was amazing and it was a beautiful way to end our trip.

(Photo by T)

The next day we packed up and were back on the train.  The Sisters and T headed to Milan and Jay and A headed to the Cinque Terre.  I think the trip was almost perfect.  I left each place wanting to return and was even craving Italian food when I got home.  I think I forgot a piece of my heart in Italy and look forward to returning soon.....  Until then.... CIAO Italia!


Lake Como and Varenna

Part Two of our Three part Italy trip was on Lake Como. This was a Middle Sister idea. T met us in Milan and the six of us continued our Italy trip in the Italian Alps. I had rented a Villa through VRBO (read about that HERE) and I was blown away by how amazing it was. You can see our house tour HERE. Here is a photo of the Villa. It is the grey-tan one on the left.

While the Florence part of our trip was about always being on the go, our Lake Como trip was more about slowing down and enjoying the lake. Even though it took us a few days to get into that vibe.
(photo by T)

Our Villa was centrally located in Varenna between the old town and the ferry terminal. Jay (now know as Giacomo Aperativo) found great places for us to eat on TripAdvisor and T and Jay's sister-in-law and their niece and a friend came to visit from Belgium! We ended up being a big group.
(photo by Captain Giacomo)

We explored the central part of the lake on the day ferry passes. Sometimes we were all together, and sometimes we were not. It was kind of the joy of the ferry system and being in a smaller area. We always met for dinner and enough of us had Italian phones (or phones that worked in Italy) that we could text message each other if we need too.

Some highlights from this part of our trip included:

A fabulous meal at Ristorante La Vista
(photo by T)

Dipping our feet in Lake Como. It was cold!
(photo by Jay)

T making friends with the Carlo as he fished outside our house and Carlo giving him fish!
(Photo by T)
(Photo by Jay. You can see T talking to Carlo!)

The violin player who was outside the Villa the first day we arrived. That is our gate on the left. You could hear the music in the house!
(Photo by T)

Watching Italy play in the World Cup in Italy!

Being trapped in a down pour during Aperativo and then trying to make it home.

Our miss adventure to the Fox Town outlets.

Watching 50 people try to help a tour bus get on the ferry. You can see all of our group in this photo (but me) if you try.

Finding fabulous scarves in Bellagiao.

T and Jay getting to see their niece in Italy.
(Photo by Jay)

Paddle boarding Lake Como for A and the Belgians.
(Photo by Jay)

Finding Italian "Food Trucks" at a market in Lenno and getting roast chicken for 3 euros!

Early morning ferry rides with beautiful light and glassy water.

All in all, Lake Como was a great addition to our trip. It helped us slow down and relax. It showed us the Lake kind of life. Our Villa was fabulous and a little over the top. It worked for us because we were a big group. The food was pretty good and the ferry system was great! Aperativo happened everyday and there were a few dance parties on the balcony.

It was raining on the day we left and I said Lake Como was sad we were going. I was sad too, but think we spent the perfect amount of time there. We were able to relax and explore the area. I would recommend Varenna as a home base and look forward to the next time I can visit this area.
Next stop, Bordigheria!