Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nothin' Wrong with Chocolate

Posting was delayed again, thanks to a hotel which overcharged for Wi-Fi. And me being freakin’ exhausted. Whenever we leave a hotel, it’s pretty early in the morning (and we have to have our luggage ready to go even earlier), so travel days are a bit tough on us.

So, where were we? No, literally, where were we? I don’t remember much just now.

I believe we left the story in the hotel where I was watching The Simpsons – that was in Ragusa. (Many in our group were complaining because the accommodations weren’t exactly 5-star, but I overlook a lot for English-language TV. Besides, the bed was comfy; the shower worked – I’m cool with it.)

We went to a little town called Modica, to stop in a little chocolate factory. I’m all for little chocolate factories. They showed us how chocolate is made – we had to put on little paper gowns and hats (I felt like a Lunch Lady) to go back into the area where the chocolate was prepared. (Compare this with Maria, the marzipan lady. She let us into her kitchen no matter what we were wearing. And there were flies all over the place. I kept calling the flies her “secret ingredients.”) There followed, of course, chocolate tasting – which, for many, was followed by chocolate buying. (I quite liked it – it was super dark, I tasted 70%, 80%, 90%, and “with salt.” The with salt was seriously yummy. Like a chocolate covered pretzel, but without the interference of all that wheat.) The chocolate shop was very small, however, so they were only able to take half of us in there at once. So, while the other half of the group was tasting the chocolate, we wandered the little town. I sent my folks off in search of an ATM, while I found myself a cioccolateria.

Our tour guide has spoken quite a bit about coffee, espresso, and cappucino, but she hasn’t mentioned anything about the sippin’ chocolate. But I saw a cioccolateria across the street from the chocolate shop, and zeroed in on it. Armed with a menu and a truly minimal knowledge of Italian, I managed to order myself a small cup of cold sippin’ chocolate. Sat there reading a book, sippin’ my chocolate. Felt very European.

(Subsequently, I asked the guide about cioccolata. She said Italians only have coffee before 11:30, and there’s some time restriction on gelato, too, so I asked when you drink cioccolata. She replied, “All the time.” I am totally down with that.)

Back on the bus, we headed to a little town called Noto. Stopped for lunch (a pasta with salmon bits) and then had a walking tour. (We’ve had a few “walking tours” this trip, which we’ve actually deemed “standing tours,” as they are comprised largely of standing around being lectured to, interspersed with minimal bits of walking.) The Noto walking tour was pretty minimal – indeed, the high point of it was supposed to be a tour of the Noto Cathedral, but it wasn’t open, so we stood around in front of it getting lectured to. Here’s the takeaway from Noto: It was a baroque-style town. It was seriously hit by an earthquake (let’s say late 17th Century) and the whole thing was rebuilt in the baroque style. It’s pretty. I have some photos. Mostly of the underside of balconies, because that was a really cool way the wealthy showed off their wealth.

We got an interesting story about the Noto Cathedral. It was hit by another earthquake in, let’s say, not very long ago. (15-20 years.) Apparently, the genius scientists said that the cathedral was fine – don’t worry about the cracks. People in the cathedral would complain about the ominous settling noises, but everyone said it was fine. Yeah, you see this coming, right? Damn thing fell down. They were pretty lucky that it happened overnight, so nobody was injured. I found this to be a rather interesting factoid, because by the time we got to our hotel for the evening, the news told me that Italy had just convicted some seismologists of manslaughter for failing to predict a recent severe earthquake. While the scientific community is up in arms about this (as earthquake prediction is nowhere near an exact science), having this happen the day we saw the Noto Cathedral – a building on which the scientists clearly dropped the ball – made for an interesting illustration of the competing point of view.

From Noto, we continued on to Syracusa – home of the hotel which overcharges for internet.

Bonus pic:  an old city on a hill we passed when driving -- after the chocolate shop and before Noto.  I want to say it was the Old City of Ragusa -- as opposed to the newer one where we were staying -- but I'm not positive.  Still, it does have a great look to it.

1 comment:

M. Waheed Iqbal said...

Nothing wrong with chocolate unless we take in a safe limit. Chocolate is found to be an effective food for losing weight, chocolate reduces cholesterol and fat level and reduces the risk of hear related issues. But overusing it may be harmful due to high caffeine..
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