THREE DAYS LATER in Montenegro:
It is already hard to commit to this blog because we have limited Internet on the boat (expensive) and we always seem to be busy. Today I have cancelled all excursions and am holing up in my cabin after a brief walk around the UNESCO heritage town of Kotor in Montenegro. The old town is 12 to 14th century and lovely, the entire port town surrounded by mountains with the clearest water traversing down the mountain to the sea below, transparent and indigo blue. The view from my cabin is straight up the mountain... from here I see the old fort town and the protective walls built on a steep incline all the way to the top. The weather is cool (around 19 deg C, I would guess) and it suits me because I heat up swiftly.
So, after a stunning day in Amalfi, we moved on to the Aeolian islands and visited Lipari, the largest of seven volcanic islands, in grey, dismal weather which prevented us from seeing clearly the other six islands of the Aeolian archipelago as they were pointed out to us.
The following day we docked at the port of Otranto in Apulia, and drove 50 minutes to Lecce, “the Florence of the South” in a pouring downpour that made the guide give up and leave us to our own devices. Lecce does deserve its epithet because the entire old town is 16th century Baroque (King Charles V of Spain) built in beautiful honey coloured sandstone. This sandstone is exported all over the world, along with olive oil extracted from the 60 million olive trees that dot the landscape of the “heel” of Italy. Apulia is not far from Calabria, but I am not sure in which direction, with Sicily to the south and the Balkan countries across the ocean to the east.For the last three nights, for an hour before dinner, we have attended piano recitals organised by the French equivalent of ABC Classic radio. The first night was Chopin, the second Argentinian tangos, last night exceptional virtuosity displayed by a Russian master, 44-year-old Nikolai Lugansky, who is currently at the top of his game. His skill was head-spinning. I have never heard the piano played like that, nor heard such sounds emerge from ye humble piano. All quite interesting, but I know what I like and so far I have enjoyed Chopin’s nocturnes, and the moving, melodious music of Schubert (two of his Impromptu pieces, I believe) while the rest has not been especially restful to listen to. Today, as I miss lunch in deference to the non-stop eating, I will visit the gym, finish my John Grisham best-seller, and forget about antiquities and classical music. I confess, dear friends, that I am nothing less than a plebeian 21st century gal!