The First “Day Off”


I slept in yesterday, which was lovely. We all slept in, actually, especially Sep who didn’t wake up until 11 am.

Sundays are our days off. That means I don’t cook at all for anyone other than myself if I want (which turned out, yesterday, to not be completely true). So for breakfast I had yogurt with banana and toast with butter and smoked salmon. I think I’ll be buying smoked salmon every Wednesday or Thursday when I shop so that on Sundays I can have a Deliciously Out-Of-The-Oatmeal-Norm Breakfast.

After breakfast we went on our first Excursion. First we adventured to Porto Azzuro, which is what Zizi describes as the “Yachty-Bourgeois part of the island.” I didn’t get quite the same impression, and actually quite liked the narrow winding streets, small boutique-style shops, and open-air restaurants we encountered everywhere we went. We settled down to eat at one of these places and ordered both fried and seared anchovies and marinara pasta with crab. I was still full from breakfast so I had wine, gelato, and coffee instead. Many of the shops weren’t open, as it was a Sunday, but I wished they had been because there was an abundance of sparkly hair clips for sale.

We drove from Porto Azzuro to the place we’d decided to hike, Volterraio.

“The Volterraio Castle, the most ancient fortification on the Island of Elba, can be seen from the ferry as you come into Portoferraio. There are doubts as to the origins of its name: some say it comes from the Etruscan word Vultur (vulture), others say it comes from the Volterra area, place of origin of the architect Vanni di Gherardo Rau who was in charge of the reconstruction work in the Xlll century. The first part to be built was of Etruscan origin; it was enlarged in 1281 by the Pisans who used it solely as a military defense. It is one of the few fortresses on Elba never to be raided by the Turkish pirates who sacked Elba on more than one occasion.” (

It provided us an absolutely gorgeous view, as you can see from the pictures. The cove (port) you can see in the pictures is Portoferraio, the town in which Casa Fangati resides. The hike was short but steep. It took us about half an hour to make it to the top, and once we were there we explored the fort for about two hours. I used the self-timer function on my camera a lot. We also saw some Italian mountain goats! I love the picture with Sep standing alone on a ridge. He’s looking up toward a lofty goal, which seems implausible because he’s already so high up. It was such a beautiful day full of gorgeous panoramic views.

We descended at around 6 pm and drove to a little tiny town I don’t remember the name for. It was quite charming, with hand-painted street signs and steep, winding streets. I got some gelato there and we all had some underripe (but still delicious) apricots off a tree by a mineral museum. Then we wound our way back to the house.

It was quite a complete day, although I wish we had been able to go out to dinner with the Professor. I’ve been told that on Sundays he usually takes people out to his favorite restaurant, Pizza 2001. Unfortunately for us, his niece, David, and our guest took him there for lunch while we were hiking and he was too tired to go out again for dinner. Instead we collaborated on making a quick dinner of zucchini and spaghetti with butter and sage. It was nondescript and not worth photographing. After dinner we sat around the living room playing cards and talking. Giacomo taught Sep, Dean, and me a new game called Briscola. It’s like hearts but with a different type of cards (without familiar suits or numbers). I included a picture of the ace (most powerful card) of each “suit” above. It’s quite a fun time! We also played gin rummy later on, which I’m sure will continue as we only made it through two of the six rounds.

I will add another blog entry tonight with the meal I’ll be making. I hope it turns out well! I’m actually quite glad to be cooking again- being off duty and giving over control of the food to others was stressful, un-satisfying, and confusing overall. It will be much simpler next Sunday if we go out as planned!

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