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At the heel of the boot of Italy

A map of Italy

The highlighted part is where I am at now. In Puglia. Things have moved along slowly. Appointments have been changed due to some unforeseen circumstances. So now it is already Thursday and we are still way down there at the heel of the boot that is Italy. Yesterday, we left Bitritto for Presicce. An amazing aerographic artist for our vespas lives here. I personally have never so far south at the boot of Italy before.

My verdict? It is amazingly beautiful!!! We went to the southern most tip of the boot, a place called Santa Maria di Leuca and I fell in love! Even though it is a little difficult to get to this point but boy, is it worth it! Do keep in mind though that this is the south and all these little towns are little towns. There are no big shopping complexes within easy reach here. If I am not mistaken the nearest shopping complexes is either one, 30kms or the other 60kms. If I am not mistaken the nearest airport is in Brindisi which is about 200+kms away or in Bari. But we are very near Greece. I think it is because of this proximity that the building also remind me of Greece. All whitewashed and with beautiful colours accenting them.

Presicce, though small has quite a few historical buildings. All worth a visit. I also discovered that Presicce has a whole subterranean city! From wikipedia, I couldn’t find much onPresicce but I found a page on Santa Maria di Leuca. I discovered that it houses the 2nd most important lighthouse in Italy after the one in Genoa! We learn something new everyday! We are here after the summer season so things are much calmer. I like the tranquility but I would advise that you make a trip here just at the end of summer, last week of August, to still tap into the summer vibe though things will already be winding down then. The summer here goes all the way till end of October and starts in April. Summer is in full swing in July and August. It is still 30 degrees today with loads of sunshine. So if you come here now, it is quiet, sunny, with not much to do but to just relax.

What surprised me the most of these places is the fact that, if you don’t know that you are in the south of Italy, the restaurants, bars and clubs when in full swing in summer, reminds me of Cannes, albeit on a way smaller scale. Everywhere you go there are full wifi services. I am so used to the other south. Calabria, where you can’t really get decent hotel service nor wifi anywhere (except maybe at Tropea) that I prepare myself for the worst. I bring extra pillows (small ones), a huddle for our won wifi connection and be prepared to roast in the heat every night at hotels or B&Bs without proper air-conditioning. Since our journey started, from Rome to Nola in Naples and Bitritto, and even here in Presicce, I have not used my huddle for wifi even ONCE! I am impressed. Even in little Bitritto the B&B was exceptional. It had everything and more. Though M was a little disappointed by the breakfast which I kind of knew it will not be worth getting up for. 😛 But over all, very good service. Every one of the places we stayed had the full cable options too! There were the usual local channels, MTV, BBC, and all the other major European news channel.

I took some photos of the coastal towns from Santa Maria di Leuca all the way back to Lido Marini and back up to Presicce. Presicce is inland but only less than 4kms away. Though the photos won’t do it justice but you will have an idea of the beauty of the place. We ate an amazingly beautiful restaurant in Presicce which I will blog about next. Of course, the food was good too!

Before the battery on my computer dies off (only 6% left cause M used it and didn’t charge it :P) I will try to upload the photos.

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Gastronomic delight in Bitritto, Puglia

I tried to blog everyday but I failed. Since we left Sunday for Rome, we have had full days and by the time evening rolls by, I am dead tired. I am now too. But I told myself that I had to, just HAD TO blog about this evening’s meal before I forget the names of everything. So here goes.

Have you heard of Bitritto? Neither have I till today. I knew that we have cousins here but I was always told that they were in Bari. Well, technically they could be in Bari as Bari is only a mere 6kms away. I like Bitritto for it size and relative suburban feel. Also for the fact that it is a mere 6kms away from the big city. We have been busy catching up with the cousin and his family so no pictures of the town. Anyhow, you should come to visit it on your own too. Not a city like Bari. Just a small centre. Its centre and surrounding houses remind me of the back streets of Siracusa, Sicily.

Luckily I insisted we get to the gym today and our cousin’s son was so kind to arrange for us a day pass for a really nice gym or rather a fitness and health centre called Villa Camilla. Exceptionally beautiful. If you are ever here in this part of the world for business or holiday get yourself to Villa Camilla. Indoor, outdoor pools with indoor, outdoor jacuzzis, deck chairs dotting the pool area, hammams, saunas and the gym of course. Then, they also have all the massages you could ever want to relax and forget the day’s worries. Beautiful place. While there, I ran 5.25kms in 40 mins. Writing this down because I chose by mistake an old treadmill that doesn’t have the Nikeplus+ settings, so my run was not recorded. Dang it! And I have just signed up for the “3 runs a week” challenge.

Ok, ok. I realise I am getting carried away. The result of having so much to say but not blogging. I am sure you are looking forward to what the title of this post is supposed to be about. I am getting there! 😛

So, after gym we came back to our B&B to shower (we didn’t bring anything to shower there) and get ready for dinner. Finally got picked up at 9pm. Yes, they eat late here in Italy, especially in the south. We made our way to Ranch, the restaurant way out in the middle of the olive tree fields. But they were closed. Which in the end worked in our favour. We made our way to another little restaurant in the town centre know locally as “Il Papillion”. Hopefully that is the correct spelling as there are no signs outside this restaurant to indicate that it is even a restaurant or that it is even there!

We were greeted by Stefano the amazing chef and owner of the place. Because we are almost family, the feast began!! First and foremost, fried olives!! @_@ OMG!! They were so good! Never have I tasted fried olives! Then came plate after plate of amazing stuff. There was also a plate of ricotta cheese with orange marmalade! Yes! you heard me right! Orange marmalade! And homemade too!! Yummeh!!! The other dishes were different versions of parmigiana. One was with zucchini in white sauce, zucchini covered in cheese and oven baked. Another was a “fritelle con tonno” basically fried eggs with tuna covered in cheese, tomato puree sauce, oven baked. Normal parmigiana which is made with eggplants sliced thinly and layered like a lasagne (all parmigianas are layered like lasagne) covered with cheese and tomato puree and oven baked. A plate of mozzarellas which is a staple together with a huge plate of “prosciutto crudo” which is smoked/cured ham. There is also a plate of tripe in tomato sauce.

Then came the chef’s infamous coffee pasta. It was tagliolini type pasta in white sauce with coffee. I don’t know where he added the coffee but the aroma of coffee permeates throughout the dish. It was amazing!! To top off the already exploding (my stomach, of course) dinner, the chef tops it all with a homemade dessert. A amaretto, tiramisu like dessert! It was out of this world good! Like our cousin says, we should start all dinners with desserts and work our way back. 😀

I had to take a coffee to help my digestion along. I was already exploding before the pasta came along but greedy me had to try everything. I am now typing this in bed with my laptop on my lap but the tummy protruding and resting on the edge of my computer. Huge mound that is so hard to ignore. 😦 I hope tomorrow’s hotel has a gym. I should check.

Before I go, I will leave you a few photos of today’s dinner. Thought that I would leave you to your imaginations? Nah…the photos are coming right up!

Here you go!

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Toodeloos people! I now have to somehow try to sleep and not have nightmares from a full stomach. urrggghhh! But, no regrets!

 

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Happy 5th Anniversary!!

Us at Palumbosila, Calabria

Today marks our 5th wedding anniversary! Has it been 5 years? It doesn’t even seem like it has been 5 years. It feels like it was just yesterday that I moved to Italy. Or even got married. Which is a good thing. It is, as they say, time flies when you are having fun and it crawls when you are not. I guess the adage is true.

Congratulations to us, darling!! Here is to many, many more to come!! Loads of love, hugs and kisses!!

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We have just celebrated our anniversary a day before with a dinner with the family. We didn’t tell them it was our anniversary dinner. We wanted to do it today (Sunday) but we have decided to leave early for Rome so that we don’t have to wake up at 4am on Monday morning just to be in Rome in time for the 10am appointment we have with our clients. Then after that meeting, we are making our way to Naples for another meeting the day after. I think it is a good idea that we take it slow and not kill ourselves driving the entire day for the next 3 days.

After Naples we are going to Puglia for another meeting and to collect some vespas we bought. Then the entire journey back. We will be making a stop as it is 2200kms from Genoa to Puglia. We just have not decided where we would like to rest for the night yet. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @mouseytong to find out where we decide to stay.

I enjoyed our dinner as it was with family. 🙂 I wish my family was here with me too, but they are never to far away!

Goose night, people! Happy Anniversary to me!!

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I am so wired!

photo taken in Saigon, Vietnam in 2009

This is how I feel like. All those wires criss-crossing at a junction. I receive notifications on my Blackberry from time to time on various sites that I am signed up to. Just today I decide to check up on another site that I have not visited for some time and realised that I am so wired. Imagine this, just a mere 6 years ago, the only time I am ever on the computer was to type up my homework (while in Uni) and to do research online. I was hardly ever online. Fast forward a few years, I started a blog on Multiply, joined a needlecraft group on Yahoo, NEEDLESnCRAFT, where I got back my love for crochet, signed up for ebay and amazon. Then I started blog surfing. Before you know it, I follow quite a long list of blogs that I can’t even finish reading in a day! Also because I get carried away. Then I added, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, ChurpChurp, Linkedin and the list goes on…..oh! and the latest, Instagram! I am so wired it isn’t even funny!

So many! I can’t even keep track of it all anymore! Well, I can. I just need to dedicate more time to or be more vigilant with my time. Try not to wander off so much. Evidence of this “wandering” is right here. Just for this post, it took me close to 3 hours and I am only here. I have googled at least 8 actors and some movies as they are playing on tv. 😛 From there, I got carried away by the movies they were in. Some looked interesting enough for me to click on it and then the adventure starts again.

Anyway, in this age and time is anyone to wired anymore? I have a love-hate relationship with technology. More love than hate, especially since I have started to live so far from my family. I wasn’t to wired before, so some technology was too much for me. But since moving here, I have embrace it more. I like the fact that we can have face to face chats now with relative ease and not fuzzy bad connections. I like that I can search and watch movies, series and more on live streaming especially when I get tired of dubbed stuff. I still feel funny watching in Italian in the cinema here and when I see it playing on cable back in Malaysia in English, I just stare and stare at the pictures and it feels so strange. Of course I watch other dubbed movies or series but they don’t sound strange because I can’t understand the original anyway! It is like watching a Cantonese movie dubbed in English and Italian! It is happening right here, right now! I was channel surfing when I saw Drunken Master 2. I thought, “Oooo..Jackie Chan’s movie. Should be nice!” They sometimes do show the movie in the original language (there is an option to change) and I thought this would be the same. I have watched a Mandarin movie in the original language before.

But no! The original language option is in English. Though Jackie Chan’s voice over was done by him the rest just sounded so strange. So, so strange. @_@ It is even stranger because I have seen the original a number of times and all of Jackie’s movies has all these funny puns and lines. They are all lost in translation. 😦  I had to change the channel!

I am getting off tangent again. I should sign off soon before I get distracted again and it will take me another few hours just to finish this post. I already down 5 hours. Shit! Yeah, you can pretty much guess it that I got in at least 2 movies and a chapter or 2 of a crime series.

The conclusion, being so wired is both good and not so good. Is that even a conclusion? Anyone else feels like this sometimes?

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Losing out on a technicality

Not sure if you, the readers, realised that I have been diligently posting a post EVERY single day. 🙂 Just a little upset on the fact that I will be breaking my “a post a day” today. It is still the 18th here, but on my laptop is already the 19th, 4.21am. I thought it over, but I don’t quite like to type a post on my phone. That would really drive me crazy. So, I am losing out on a technicality. Yes, I could just change the time on my laptop but I keep it on Malaysian time for me to keep track of it when I call my family with skype. I do the same with my mobile when in Malaysia. I leave my Italian mobile on Italian time to keep track without having to subtract or add each time I want to make a call. Lest, I wake anyone up and scare the bejesus out of them.

It scares me silly when my phone rings in the middle of the night. Only in emergencies will my mobile ring at night. It happens occasionally that clients don’t realise or remember the time difference and really frightened me. I would wake up shocked, stare at the phone, compose myself when I realise that it is not from home or any other family member and answer. This is the unwritten rule at home. I think it is the same for everyone. If I can, I never turn off my mobile at night. My dad used to ask me why. At that time, I was staying away from home, at college and sharing an apartment with friends. There was no home phone line. Everyone had their own mobile and I was contactable ONLY via my mobile. That was why I kept it on.

One night, I heard my phone’s battery dying. Since I was already in bed, I decided to let it die off. Remembering my dad’s words. It was the old Motorola where we had to change the batteries while the other charges on the charging pods. The next morning, I changed the batteries and the first message I heard over the phone was, “Ann, dad here. I have some chest pains and I am driving to the hospital now.” I was shocked! Next message was, “Ann, your dad is in the hospital. He had some chest pains. Go and see him.” Imagine how I felt that morning. I rushed to class, handed in my assignments and asked a friend to drive me to the hospital. From that day on, when I can help it and I don’t have to ie. in flight, I never turn my phone off. Though my sis says that there is no point having a mobile if I never carry it with me. 😛 She says, the phone and I are almost always miles apart.

In my defense, when I am home or in the office, the mobile is either on the table or the couch and I don’t carry it with me everywhere, like going to the toilet or to the kitchen to get a drink. Cause it is still near me just not attached to me. M says the same. hehehehe! but M does have the worst timing in the world. He calls when I am in the shower, in the toilet doing some business and the only moment I walk away from my mobile. Always! I could be next to it for 23 hrs and 59 mins but that 1 min I walk away he will call. Worst timing ever! >_<

Anyway, I don’t want to change the time just for this post. I shall have to bear with it. *sniff*

Just a photo to end this post. Totally unrelated, of course.

A French Shepard. First time for me seeing one. They are so beautiful!