Sunday, June 15, 2014

Due Golfi train ride (Sorrento log 4)

Today we went for a trip called the Due Golfi train ride. Someone who doesn't know Italian might think that this has something to do with golf (maybe the golf is due something?), but it literally means 'Two gulfs'. Practically, it means a trip in the hills above Sorrento; at one point, we were surrounded by water: on the right hand side, the bay of Naples, on the left hand side, the bay of Salerno.

We took a taxi to the place where we would be picked up; a minibus took us through the winding hills to a town called St Agata. Here we transferred to one of those toy trains which one sees sometimes (there's also one in Sorrento which we saw the other day); this then took us around the various villages in the Sorrento peninsula, stopping at a limoncello factory and at a shop which sold agricultural produce. The trip lasted for about two hours; we saw sights that we probably won't see on our impending trip of the Amalfi coast and there was a certain amount of childish fun riding around on a train.

We had the foresight to take with us a suitcase of dirty clothes, as I knew that there was a laundromat next to the pickup point. So when we were dropped off, back in Sorrento, we went into the laundromat and did laundry. This cost all of ten euro (soap, laundry, drying) and took about an hour; unfortunately, it was quite humid inside the laundromat and I started getting a headache. Fortunately, this dissipated after lunch.

On our way back to the hotel (dragging the suitcase full of clean clothes), we passed by the Inlaid Wood Museum. This had been recommended to us by one of the shopkeepers when we bought some inlaid wood products; it lies on our route from the town centre to the hotel, but was always closed when we passed (it shuts at 6:30pm). Today it was open (entrance 8 euro each), despite what the linked website says (today is Sunday).

I wouldn't say that this museum is for everybody (and in fact, we were the only people there at the time), but I would heartily recommend it for anyone who is interested in the subject. There are also a few rooms devoted to Sorrento as it was in the nineteenth century - mainly paintings but also with a room of bedroom furniture which has to be seen to be believed - which I found very interesting. The comments book (which we signed at the end) showed that many people do in fact visit the museum. 

For the price conscious amongst you: we had a light supper in the hotel, which cost all of 12 euros. I calculated that having the same in a restaurant would have cost 16-18 euros, which means that it's 33% cheaper eating in the hotel. I thought that the hotel has an arrangement with a nearby restaurant, but it turns out that they employ someone to make the food in the hotel kitchen (that someone is also one of the breakfast waitresses). From an economist's point of view, I wouldn't have thought that this extra activity can pay its way, but obviously they know better. After all, with so many restaurants scattered around the town, some are going to be fairly empty with barely enough customers to cover the rent; here, the overheads are going to be much lower, consisting solely of the cook's salary.

Here's the recipe for making limoncello (I'm not sure of the relative quantities): pour a litre of 100% alcohol (!) into a closed container and add lemon peel. Leave for a week. Filter out the lemon peel, add sugar and mix. This means that limoncello is fairly lethal: today they said that it was about 30% alcohol but I think that it's much higher. There's a slightly less lethal version which is made with either lemon peel or melon; milk is added as well thus lowering the alcohol percentage. The recipe sounds very much like the recipe for making gin. Here's another recipe, which starts off with vodka and adds water, so the result is going to have a lower alcohol percentage. Limoncello should be served cold - someone explained it that this way, first one tastes the lemon and only afterwards does the alcohol kick in. I would be pleased if someone could make a teetotal limoncello....

Well, actually there is something like that; it's called lemon soda and I've been drinking it for the past few days. It comes in a can whose picture appears on the left. Whilst similar to ordinary lemonade, it has a much more pronounced lemon flavour and is extremely good when served cold. The one I had today was not cold and was less good. No preservatives added. Obviously I can't take one home with me (as opposed to a bottle of limoncello) because it's carbonated.

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