Idling on the Adriatic

We left Assisi yesterday morning as they were setting up for the day’s new Calendimaggio festivities. The incredibly straight tree trunk that we saw on the ground in front of San Rufino on Tuesday had been stripped of its bark two nights before, and then somehow stood on a base, ready for what would probably be a lovely Maypole dance. But we traveled on, after first admiring the lovely Assisi train station, with medallions in the ceiling for each of its destinations, or maybe some other geographic connection.

Weary of all the festivities, exhausted by early Renaissance art, and just plain worn out by constant exposure to history and beauty, we are clearly in need of a break from our travels – the old “vacation-from-our-vacation” gimmick that serves us so well on every major trip.

So here we are in the resort town of Pesaro, right smack on the Adriatic and absolutely in the 21st century. While we will be doing a few touristy things till we return to our previously scheduled programming on Tuesday, these four days will also involve the sun and the beach. The great news is that this is early in the season and considered cold by some, though the sun is blazing hot.

We just had three hours on the beach with barely a soul in sight – better yet, barely a soul in earshot. No music, no screaming children, no homicidal teenagers, no motorbikes – not even any birds. This is a new definition of paradise.

Don’s Food Corner

Not only are we taking a vacation from our vacation, we’re taking a break from Italian food — just briefly.

For lunch yesterday, in our hotel – clearly designed to appeal to what someone thinks is American taste – we each had a salad.  A Caesar salad and a Niçoise salad.   The Caesar salad had a fairly close approximation of what we might find stateside, but the dressing that came with it was so skimpy that another portion had to be ordered.  And although it was served on Boston Bibb lettuce instead of romaine (hey, isn’t romaine supposed to be somehow related to “Rome?”), the bacon was perfectly crispy. The Niçoise salad had all the proper ingredients, like tuna, green beans, and olives. But unlike the way it is prepared in Nice, the olives were pitted.  All in all, however, both salads were welcome diversions.

Then, tonight we went to a Chinese restaurant. We’ve had all kinds of Chinese food.  From Cantonese to Hunan to Szechuan to Long Island.  We’ve had Chinese food in multiple American cities, plus England, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, France, the Caribbean and even Hong Kong.  In each place, it’s been a little different variation on a recognizable theme. But it’s never been exactly the same.

Today’s Italian version was yet another interpretation. We assume it has been adapted to the Italian taste. Amusingly, the menu was divided into the Italian menu standard.  Namely, Antipasti (which on the menu here was translated as “horses d’oeuvrs” and included spring rolls, shrimp toast, etc.), Zuppa (the soups, including wonton soup), Primi piatti (the noodle and rice dishes) and Secondi piatti (the fish and meat dishes).

In the interest of taste comparison, we ordered some basics:  Spring rolls, shrimp toast, wonton soup, chicken with cashews, beef with bamboo shoots. All came out pretty much as we had expected (and hoped), though in this particular Chinese restaurant at least it was all rather salty and anemic at the same time. But, like our American-style salads, it was a welcome change of palate.

To our surprise, we were handed fortune cookies along with the check, with fortunes in both English and Italian. One promised that a trip to Hawaii was in order. The other cleverly observed that half of digesting was chewing.  Very wise.

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