Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sardegna - Monday, searching for bells

During our short four day stay I was impressed by the generosity and helpfulness of the Sarde people. Saturday night several people stopped to give us directions. On Monday, in the pouring rain, I got on the bus to go to the Cagliari city center and the bus driver had no tickets to sell. (Saturday night we bought tickets as we got on). I asked him in Italian if it was possible to ride without a ticket. I had money in hand! The bus was moving too. He told me not to worry. As I went toward the back of the bus, a girl in her twenties, opened her purse and gave me a ticket. She wouldn't accept my money.

Leo later commented on the fact that these people were much friendlier than Florentines, who are a bit put off by tourists. They welcome their money but are also glad when off-season arrives and the city returns to a normal rhythm.

As I was riding this bus Number 1 for the second time, I didn't feel nervous at all. In fact, I saw a street market and got off the bus to take a look. Then I waited (in the rain) for the next Number 1 and resumed my trip. A bus ticket is good for 90 minutes.

The hardware shop was closed on Saturday night so we were unable to check for goat bells. On Monday I went there first and asked here, but go down the street to the Calciatore shop. I asked him to write down the name...oh's too easy to find...just go right out the door, head south and you'll see it. It's just a block or so.

Back out the door and not feeling totally confident because he was talking fast and it seems strange to think I really did understand him

I started walking. And there it was! The hunter's supply store. I mentally doubled checked my words.  Capri for goats. Campane for bells. I entered the shop. Three older men were chatting and quite surprised to see me come in. I asked my question and the answer was "certamente!" certainly! "Which kind do you want?"

I was so excited.  You really have them? In Italian, I explained I had heard the bells on Saturday up in the hills and I've been desperate to buy one. I told him about the farmer who offered to sell one for 100 Euro. The shop keeper told me the farmer was crazy! They only cost about 6 Euro.

He put three boxes of bells on the counter for me to test. I was thrilled. I'm sure they're still talking about the really crazy person who came in and rang about 20 bells to find just the right ones.

Then I decided maybe I should get a bell for my friend Debbie! She would really appreciate the sound of this bell. Then I picked out one for my brother, since he has 4 sheep and surely one of them is the leader. He has about 35 acres, and the bell might be a good Christmas gift.

I left the shop with quite a few bells. I want to string them together with a ribbon in my living room so I can ring them and recall that wonderful feeling I had in the natural hills of Sardegna. I'm really a country outdoor girl in my heart.

I had such an interesting Monday just walking here and there. I never opened my map. I went back to the bookstore where I had bought two cookbooks on Saturday. I saw Leo looking longingly in a book of aerial photos of Sardegna's coast and interior. After bells, it was my second and last must do for the day. It made a great Christmas present! 

I walked down to the harbor area to inspect a tall ship -- I could see its masts from the bookstore. They were loading up with water and provisions. I went back later with a take-out (kabob and potatoes--yumm) lunch from an Arabian place I found on a side street and watched the activity again.

The harbor master was checking papers of another sailing ship--that single sailor looked British or Australian. They were standing just 6 yards from me. There are no safely rails here. One could just tumble right in. I saw a sign warning of the danger of cars going over the edge. Careful parking at night here!

On another side street I found a cookie shop -- not a bakery. They had a large picture outside of a white-haired woman making cookies with a big oven behind her. I stopped to read the fine print and decided to enter with hopes to buy something. When I'm not sure about a shop being open, I always ask "Permesso??" (translates "May I enter?")

This is their story: The family has a bakery shop in another part of town. The white haired mother of the girl I spoke to was working over there. The mother makes hand-made traditional cookies, using a gigantic black and white oven. That oven, plus her marble topped working tables, and a big industrial mixer are here in the shop I entered. Plastic boxes of different types of cookies--perhaps eight or ten are spread out on one of the marble work tables.

On one side of the shop are shelves where little empty cardboard boxes showing a label with a picture of "Mamma" and her two daughters. The daughter I am speaking with had designed these cute boxes. Over to the side, are fluffy colorful balls of wool yarn. Off to the other side a laptop computer. This is their new business venture! To sell cookies via the Internet! Mamma has finally agreed to let her cookies fly off the island to be sold. I was in the shop for about 30 minutes talking and I bought a box with one of each type of cookie Cost: 8 Euro -- not too much at all. I have their card with the website address. So far they have only sold to a place in New York. I told her I would write later to see how much it might cost me to buy more. She told me the cookies are made the old way without fat. In the old days, fat was too expensive for a peasant and so they used the ingredients on hand: honey, dried fruits, plentiful almonds.

We had a nice talk about how the Sarde food is easy to digest and healthy. She told me older people can eat these cookies without having stomach pains.

Another interesting item I discovered were the houses are located on steep narrow streets. I saw what we call dutch doors with neighbors chatting to each other. The streets reminded me most of Cinque Terre, with the same slopes and pastel colored buildings and laundry hanging. But the laundry here was not across the streets, but parallel to the building.

Last night I took the bus back to hotel and made a quick stop to buy some local salt. Leo called me right in that moment and met me in the store a few minutes later. He thought local salt was a great idea too. He bought salt, cheese, a salami, and a bottle of fish roe. We had eaten pasta sprinkled with it the night before. Delicious!

I brought Asumi and Alessio (my hotel owners) some special pasta, a package of cookies and salt which are specific to Sardegna. Asumi has never been there. Alessio was thrilled, especially with the salt. They brought out a gift for me! A cookbook. I really like them a lot.
We had a long discussion about food, a favorite and serious Italian topic. Alessio told me the world's longest living people are on the island. They eat well, the air is fresh, the sea water is unpolluted so the fish for eating is nothing I've ever tasted.

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