l'oeil, or trick the eye, is an art form that
is ultra realistic, creating a three dimensional illusion
from a two dimensional painting. Think of Wiley Coyote painting
a tunnel on a rock for the Roadrunner to smack into. Then
imagine a whole little village with that kind of fake stuff
everywhere. Thats Ovada. Its really cool.
our walk along the streets of Ovada, a quaint little town
between Genoa and Alessandria, with our beautiful friend,
Claudia, hostess extraordinaire.
She has introduced us to so many of the most wonderful, out of the
way Italian treasures and has an incredible knowledge of the specialties of each region she reveals to us.
passion for her country shines through her eyes and is immensely
infectious. She also has a wicked sense of humor, as this
narrative will show.
under the impression that walking around with food was not
cool with the cuisine-serious Italians (gelato being the
exception, of course), so we were very excited when
Claudia introduced us to farinata. Ovada is known for this street
food made of chickpea flour.
Farinata is baked in a wood oven in
a pan similar to a pizza tin. It is cut into every-which-way
slices and handed over wrapped in paper. We waited in quite
a line for these crispy on the outside, soft in the middle,
straight out of the oven delights. It is pretty heavy, so
one order goes a long way.
farinata in hand, we explored. Ovada is delightful with
its distinctive shops housed in brightly colored, window
box bedecked buildings. Draping plants and flowers festoon
each balcony and little details
abound - a crest here, a little mural with an odd color scheme there.
a few hours of walking, Veronica looked into a shop window
that was painted like the interior of a circus tent. The
striped canvas and billowing interior was so realistic,
it took her breath away. She could almost smell the elephant
dung. Excited, she pulled Claudia to the window and pointed
to her find. Claudia simply smiled and did a 360 degree
point to every single building around us.
It was ALL fake! Yup, every last bit of Ovada is one big optical illusion. Bricks, windows, arches and niches. Fake, fake, fake and,oh
yeah, fake. Its incredible. Claudia just stood there
like the cat that ate the canary - if we werent so flabbergasted,
we would have punched her for letting us walk around like
idiots for two hours.
God for the hearty farinata because, armed with this new
knowledge, another lap of Ovada was necessary - this time
snapping photos every two feet or so. Oh! Look at
this one (Oh! Guardate questo!) became the phrase
of the day.
"If you are tempted by the awakening of your own long-dormant wanderlust, Going Gypsy can serve as a primer. . . . The questions [Veronica] poses about 'what next' are relatable ones for all empty nesters." —PBS's Next Avenue