Tuesday, June 16, 2009


About 27 years ago to the day, as a naive 18 year old, I jumped on a plane from New Zealand to France to join my boyfriend (now husband) in the South of France.
After settling down our priority was to find jobs.Domenico had made some contacts in Nice and St Jean Cap Ferrat, so after a few weeks I started work at Le Gourmet Italien Restaurant in St Jean.
Le Gourmet was owned by Gianni D’Angelis who Domenico actually worked for years previously on the island of Capri and unexpectedly bumped into again in St Jean as he was working as a waiter next door at Le Sloop restaurant. Gianni was a typical Neapolitan and an absolutely superb chef, he took me under his wings and showed me the ropes, luckily his English was brilliant which helped as my French was limited even though I had studied ‘O’ level french at school.
So the summer was spent working 7 days a week serving the rich and famous, making loads of tips, then heading to the beach to sleep in the afternoon before starting the evening shift. Back in those days the port of St Jean was thriving.

In 2006 we stopped off in St Jean during out camper vanning trip and was surprised to see that Le Gourmet was still there and had in fact expanded to include a Neapolitan pizzeria. After a few calls the staff tracked Gianni down who came to spend the evening with us, it was lovely to catch up after so many years and for him to see our children, we reminisced a bit and he kept saying how I was always his favourite waitress…how sweet!! Unfortunately Gianni’s health was not good and he was getting on a bit, but he couldn’t keep himself away from the restaurant, it was in his blood.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that we heard that Gianni had passed away. His partner for the past 30 years is still running the restaurant, though only the pizzeria part, the other has closed down. Domenico and I quite often go down to see her and help out occasionally, it is a lovely restaurant though the port in general has lost its charm from years ago and a lot of places are looking tired. The menu’s are still the same as they were 27 years ago ….nothing has changed with time. The prices too are absolutely over the top... for example a margarita pizza in Naples will be no more than 5 euro, in St Jean the average is 15 euro…crazy!! They say they have to justify the high prices because the season is shorter now.

After travelling the world and running our own restaurants we can see where things are going wrong and what needs to be changed in St Jean, but unfortunately the owners are stuck in their ways and won’t make changes to adapt with the times…which is a real shame.
DJ and I have recently finished a website for them to bring them into the 21st century http://www.gourmetitalien.com/

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nice & Dog Walking

We have been back in Nice now for the past month and still trying to adjust, I think that the fact that we don’t yet have our own place here and still living at Domenico’s brothers apartment hasn’t really helped with the process. But it seems the sensible option for the moment until we know exactly which part of the coast we want to settle. Then we can find a larger place with some space for Milly, she certainly misses her country lifestyle!

It puts a lot of pressure on me having to take her out several times a day for a walk and Nice is not the dog friendliest of places considering so many people have dogs.

I have started a daily regime of taking her up to Mont Boron a short climb from where we are living and running the tracks with her, though it is becoming more difficult in the heat. It is a beautiful part of Nice with views amazing views of the city with its beaches and around to Villefranche and St Jean Cap Ferrat.

Most of the time the other dog walkers are pretty friendly once they know that Milly is not aggressive, she can be a bit too friendly though and I sometimes see a look of fear when we are walking towards some one with a smaller dog. But usually a quick don’t worry ‘elle est gentile’puts them at ease.

One of my worst cases and there have been a few, was when a nasty French chap was coming towards me with 2 poodly dogs not on a leashes and barking away ferociously. I kept Mill under control and she looked at them as if to say ‘what is all the fuss about’, but he had the cheek to say that I should have my dog muzzled, when it was his dogs larking about. I was so angry, I wanted to say to him in my shocking French what an idiot he was, but the words didn’t come out in time, so I stormed of muttering under my breath!!

I have found that the French always have something to say and can’t keep to themselves. I was also verbally attacked one day on the promenade by a woman riding a bike with her dog in the basket. Telling me I should not be walking the dog as it was too hot and the ground would burn her feet! It was a lovely spring day and definitely not too hot, and there were plenty of other dog walkers out who she didn’t approach!! Why pick on me! I need to take some serious French lessons so I can stand up for myself in these situations, as I become mute when I can’t say what I want to say.Very frustrating!!.

On a lighter note, Domenico & I have met some super people and are slowly making new friends through the Nice Meet Up group, loads of events have been organized from walks though to dinners which has been great and have a good laugh.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Back Home in Le Marche for a bit...

At the beginning of May we made the 8 hour drive from Nice back home to Le Marche I always love going back, though was in for a bit of a shock when I saw how much everything had grown, it had been such a wet spring and the week prior to us going the weather had changed to a heat wave, so everything was flourishing and overgrown. I have never seen the countryside looking so lush.

Casa Nostra
Our main priority was trying to cut back all the wheat that had popped up surrounding the house,even between the paving...it was a major and exhausting job with the weed zapper machine and my shoulders really felt it for days later. But it was good being able to walk around and not have to worry about random snakes in the overgrowth.
The stalla was full of swallows making babies.....well actually laying eggs! And Milly spent the days in and out trying to catch them, as well as chasing the lizards...so many without tails running around now! Domenico managed to save this little chap before Milly caught site of it.

It was going to be a very special weekend as an old school friend James who I had made contact with through facebook after 28 ish years and his partner Jon were coming to stay.

Domenico, Jon & James with the Sibillini Mountains in the backgroundBeach at Porto San Giorgio

They have both spent a lot of time in Italy though it was the first time in Le Marche for both of them, so we tried to cram in as much as we could in the 2 days they were with us, in between lots of eating and drinking! A fabulous weekend...

The view from Fermo looking out to the Adriatic & the Centre