I slept later than usual this morning, having not much to do but revisit some basilica, cross a few historic buildings off my list and take care of some logistical matters before I leave Ravenna tomorrow and head to Pistoia where I will meet up with the rest of the Aegean Center. I had been investigating alternatives to the usual Ravenna/Bologna/Firenze/Pistoia train route and after a couple of friends informed me of a narrow gauge rail that might take me from Point A to B, I asked around. The information desk at the stazione ferroviaria di Ravenna was somewhat helpful although she had only two routes on her schedule. The first was the above-mentioned standard line. The second leaves Ravenna by a bus which takes me to the Faenza station where I board a regional line that winds down to Firenze, where I change trains for Pistoia. There was no listing for the Porrettano Railway, my narrow gauge adventure. Further investigation on my own found online references, but nothing that could help. It seems there is a push to repair and restore this historic line to working order, but for me, tomorrow, the answer was ‘No!’ So I go by way of Faenza. If all goes well I should be at the Villa Rospigliosi by 1600 hours or something close to that. The view on the train from Faenza is still supposed to be lovely.
In the past few years my travels have taken me away from my home base for longer and longer periods of time and as a result I have had to look after myself as I would in more familiar surroundings. One aspect I have been enjoying is getting my hair cut. There is a masculine aspect to going to a barber unlike the experience of going to a salon, typically the domain of women. This is not a sexist comment, just a realistic one. In the USA and Europe there are fewer barbers now and more ‘hair stylists’ or whatever they wish to be called. There is nothing like a traditional barber. Four years ago I had my hair cut in Athens by a Bengali immigrant and I swear it was the best haircut I ever had. While on Paros I go to Niko, the Greek barber on Market Street in Paroikia. I realized the other day that my hair was looking, and feeling, a bit shaggy so I inquired at the front desk of my hotel. I was directed down the street towards the train station. So this morning, after having purchased my tickets for tomorrow’s journey I stopped in to the ‘barbieri’ for a cut. There was no sign on the door save for ‘Barbieri’ and a telephone number. I went in, was seated in front of the mirror and the man went to work. 30 minutes later I looked and felt much better and the bill was 12 Euros. Not bad. Only 2 Euros more than Niko. I like getting my hair cut in a strange town. It makes me feel as if I have engaged with the place on a different level than the rest of the tourists.
Tonight I also ate my last dinner here in Ravenna. I have had a few dinners and not all were great. Some were fantastic and overpriced, and some aspired to greatness and fell short. The best was the first night at ‘Vecchia Ravenna da Mario‘ so I went back for more. Like my experience on Serifos a few months ago I have come to the conclusion that I should have eaten there all the time and in doing so would have saved money and had a better food experience. Tonight I had ‘tagliatelle alla ragu’ and ‘pollo alla cacciotore’. Really great. As I have already reported, noting like home-cooking. The pasta was hand rolled and cut just before it was cooked (perfectly al dente) and the chicken was delicious, served with mushrooms, tomatoes and small black olives. Dee-lish! I finished up with caramel panna cotta and an espresso. It was a big meal so the bill as about 30 Euros, but it was worth it. I had dinner last night at another place and the bill was 37 Euros. The restaurant, how shall I say it, reached for a brass ring to high to grasp. Next time I come to Ravenna, I know where to eat.
So that’s it for Ravenna. I have seen some amazing mosaics, had some OK, good and wonderful food and have had my hair cut as a start to fall semester of the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, Italian Session 2012. Next post..Pistoia…Ciao!