Now this is where I get confused… my Italian friends variably tell me this is a main course.
But my old Italian teacher Donata said that it’s a primo and that the secondo be chicken, meat or fish along with the contorno of vegetables.
Chicken cacciatore, all across Italy: Should you decide a bistecca is not for you and object to, or just don’t like, veal then pass up on the Bistecca alla Fiorentina.., besides its serving suggestion isn’t well done enough for mio.
The simple to make (and most Italian dishes are) chicken cacciatore which involves frying chicken cuts with base ingredients of onion, garlic and tomato is something even I could cook.
Particularly as I’ve been shown my penne from my tagliatelle by my friend Catherine Fulvio at her Ballyknocken House & Cookery School https://ballyknocken.ie.
Fragola Gelato, Rome: Now, you might be expecting a tiramisu here but I’m not a coffee, creamy signore… in fact the only cream I like is ice cream.
So dish me up a fragola (strawberry) gelato and you’ll not get a peep out of me (well, maybe!). See https://www.rome.net.
And I’m going to deviate from the script here with una ciocolatta calda densa, a hot chocolate that is more of a thick chocolate pudding.
A Grappa perhaps, or a Limincello… and the latter has made it over in our move from Ireland to Scotland.
And returned to our freezer. And now that mia moglie has gone into the distilling business with her alcohol sanitiser then it’s a small step surely to making Limoncello.
Now we just need some lemon trees and a Mediterranean diet.
Of course a full Chianti or Valpolicella is usually what il dottore ordered.
But instead I’ll opt for a pinot grigio seeing that it’s a white meat dish.
And seeing that I want to evoke Rome and an al fresco family meal just outside the Pantheon.
Then I’m going to plump for due bottiglie di Lazio Pinot Grigot Cantina Gabriele.
And we’ll maybe slap on some Vivaldi and look up at our painting of the Castello Sant’Angelo in Rome and know that we’ll be back.
Because, of course, we threw some coins into the Trevi Fountain.
Cork to Majorca: 2 May on Marella Discovery – Highlights of the Mediterranean, inside cabin, AI, seven nights from €939pps.
Dublin to Majorca: 19 May, Marella Dream: – Spanish Delights, inside cabin, AI, seven nights, from €979pps.
Shannon to Majorca: 16 May, Marella Discovery – Cosmopolitan Classics, inside cabin, AI, seven nights from €1149pps.
A prince and Princess
And because I’ve seen first hand how hard and how genuinely caring Princess Cruises ate about their guests.
Here picked up from the old Twittersphere a tribute from a First Officer to his captain.
They are few and far between and I’m still looking… a good boss.
Captain Arma was last to leave #DiamondPrincess. He is a hero in our eyes.
You want to know where they’re sailing?…
How about up to €450pp flight discount on select America-based sailings departing in 2020 and 2021. The deal runs from today – April 30, 2020.
The flight discount is available on over 120 voyages, ranging in length from seven – 28 days.
The sailings cover destinations across northern and central America including, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Panama Canal and South America.
Several sailings on the 3,660-guest Sky Princess, feature as part of the offer, as well as the 3,660-guest Enchanted Princess, which will be christened in Southampton at the end of June this year.
Voyages include: · A 7-night Mexican Riviera cruise onboard Royal Princess, departing October 10, 2020. Sailing roundtrip from Los Angeles, ports of call are Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Prices from €1495pp
He stood on the ship bridge, togged up to the nines, his hand shaking as h publicly reconfirmed his love to his wife. ‘I’ve got Parkinson’s,’ he said. ‘This is our 50th wedding anniversary. We really wanted to do this because I don’t know if we’ll see my 51st.’
The story was told to me on the first day of my mini-break on an Island Cruises jaunt around the west Mediterranean.
I had inquired as to what a lectern and a Bible under a glass case were doing at the heart of a control room.
Which I could only liken to my vague memories of sitting awestruck in an aeroplane cockpit as a boy.
I imagined the couple holding hands and looking out of the waves, letting their minds drift over their years together.
I hope they celebrated 51, 52, 53 years together and are still going strong. Because if any holiday can be life-reviving then that holiday is a cruise.
We took off from Toulon, halfway through the liner’s tour from Italy round to the Balearic Islands.
But although only on the mothership (its size must really experienced to be believed) for a few days it became my floating home from home.
Home that is if you enjoy the life of a country gent or a Beckham.
Life on board
But let me killl off some preconceptions straight away.
You’re stuck on it: Well, why would you want to get off when you’re in the middle of the sea. And you’ve got the sun beating down on you and you can look over the rails at the waves swishing comfortingly below.
The sea is always the same: Only if the weather remains the same, you’re stuck in the same spot and it’s always the middle of the day.
The sea is constantly changing and so are your surroundings, so much so that you’ll think that you’re wasting time by sleeping particularly if you can be taking in a breathtaking sunrise.
The onshore excursions are too short: Yes, if you just go to a plaza an sit drinking beer. But I would defy anyone not to get spring in their step whey they are awoken by the captain announcing you are in Barcelona.
And you look out for the first time on the statue of Columbus pointing to the US.
Las Ramblas is a shoppers’ paradise but personally I found the sea front more alluring and spectacular.
I was also put off by the market stall on the main thoroughfare where hens in cages are sold.
For the best way to see Barcelona, take advantage of the helicopter option. If you’ve never been in a chopper, don’t worry about noise.
You get earphones or turbulence because it’s like I imagined Aladdin felt on his magic carpet. Landing too is a skoosh like stepping off a stair.
Sports mad? There seem to be more pools, football arenas and studio per square metre the any other city I’ve been to.
For the soccer-mad Briton a visit to the Nou Camp is awe-inspiring. The dilemma is deciding whether to ty to pack in more sights or to return to the liner to enjoy a few extra on-board activities.
Just don’t cut it too fin or they’ll leave without you.
Don’t imagine you will run out of things to do on board. You can swim, drink, eat, and of course, eat.
You’ll never be bored
The buffet is an eat-all-you-like when-you-like, what-you-like treat… that comes at a price!±
Out guide told us that on average people put on a stone a week during a cruise.
He said this while downing a large glass of water. He has come down from 25 stone to 18 with a plan which involves drinking litres and litres of H2).
You can also gamble on board in get ship’s casinos. Or having sampled foods from around the world in any of he exclusive restaurants you can burn it all off in the gym.
Have a go on the rowing machine while looking out over the swell or opt for a massage in the on-board health suite.
Or simply do nothing.
When do we ever really give ourselves that luxury,
Turn off the mobile phone and just relax by the pool.
Even if somebody wanted to see you you couldn’t get to them so you might as well ignore that phone.
In the evenings it’s sheer indulgence to be able to saunter on from your living room (read, the restaurant) to your lounge (read, the theatre) to enjoy West End-style shows.
But then the dy finally comes – damn, I’m only halfway down the cocktail list when we have to get off.
Thankfully though, it’s not Old Blighty yet. As part of our package we have a couple of nights stop-off in Palma, Majorca.
We stayed in Santa Ponsa, in a lovely secluded hotel called the Jardin del Sol Suites & Spa which is close enough if you want to be near the busier main village.
We used the hotel as base and what a luxurious base it was. A Jacuzzi bath and a shower with sprinklers.
You will get hot if you go to Majorca in high season but that’s great, it gives you the chance to have a bath and a shower.
And if you want a siesta, then you can sprawl out on the hotel’s triple beds!
Michael and Catherine
The balcony looks out on the swimming pool and the glistening sea.
Drag yourself away from it all though and get out into the north of the island, it’s the most picturesque part of Majorca. But don’t just take my word for it.
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have a home there.
You’re in the high part of the island here and the views from the top of the passes are stunning.
The pick of the tourist attractions is the monastery at Valdemosa.
Let’s go Chopin
It would be interesting enough for its history, religious relics, position and scenery.
But it is all the more fascinating because of its association with Frederic Chopin, the composer and his lover George Sand.
Ostracised by the religious zealots in the village, the sickly Chopin was taken in by the monks and nursed by Sand.
You can still see his manuscripts and what is claimed to be his piano.
There’s only so much high culture you can take though, and any trip to Majorca would not be complete without some Spanish dancing.
The Son Amar show in a huge arena in the middle of the island crams it all in.
And that’s just the food which is shovelled on to plates and whisked away while you’ve still got your fork in your hand.
Still, there’s a show on.
The least said about the comic the better – maybe humour doesn’t always travel but the flamenco dancers and the magic art were well, magic.
But like the sun setting on the horizon over the Med on the liner, so it had to set on my cruise.
With my in-flight magazine on my lap and looking out on home soil again, I thought of circling Barcelona in a helicopter and the view at sunrise on my Island Cruise trip.
Reasons to cruise the Med
Watch the sunrise: You can watch the sunrise anywhere but you can’t watch it appear over the horizon with a cooling breeze around you on board a luxury cruise. Pure poetry!
Take in a cruise show: You can just watch while nursing a cocktail in your hand, or budding thespians can take part in one of the talent shows.
Step ashore in Barcelona: And then a take a flight over the city. It’ll be the smoothest flight you’ve ever had. Swirl over forests, haciendas, Las Ramblas, the specatacular seafront rebuilt for the Barcelona Olympics and the statue of Columbus.
Join the monks in Majorca: Visit the monastery that housed the hard-living hard-loving George Sand and her composer beau Frederic Chopin. Their short life together on Majorca could make a Hollywood blockbuster.
Learn flamenco in Spain: The La Mer Show is good old-fashioned Spain for the tourists, bu too less enjoyable for that.
Operating out of Palma, Majorca, until October, Island Cruises offers 14-night cruise-and-stay packages from £675pp.
Comprising a seven-night cruise followed by a seven-night stay in one of 29 Majorcan hotels.
Cruise and stay packages at the Jardin del Sol Suites & Spa with accommodation on a half-board basis start from £965pp.
Flights are available from Glasgow and Edinburgh, supplements apply.
*Since this article was published in The Scotsman in 2003 Island Cruises has gone through a number of changes with TUI now moving the previous brand forward with great success.Hence you being redirected to https://www.tui.co.uk