Friday, October 16, 2009

Italy


By Claire
We are in Italy, in the Cinque Terre to be exact, between Genoa and Pisa on the map--the Italian Riviera. The weather is perfect with blue sky and warm temps. We are thrilled! It was hard to leave our wonderful campground on the French Riviera but we knew we had Italy beckoning.

Last dinner in France. Chuck cleaning his plate


Morning view--so hard to leave!


We were on the road just before 9, a record for us lately. We seem to be sleeping very well and long. We stopped at our last French Aire (rest stop) and had wonderful views of Monte Carlo.





Picked up our last baguette and some cookies for our lunch later on. I love their gas stations!

After dozens upon dozens of tunnels, Italy!




Italy is just so, Italian. Even driving the autostrada it is gorgeous and they don't waste an inch of space. Houses and crops were to be seen on top of the tunnels. We saw so many greenhouses. I wonder what they're growing?

Greenhouses



Before we knew it, we were at Camping Valdeiva Villaggio, €17.60, a great price since we were expecting to pay €22.50. This was not our usual ACSI campground with the great rates of €13 or €15 per night. However, being over 60, we rated the senior citizen price. It even has free WiFi. It's a wonderful place. The camping manager was waiting for us by our camper with a big smile after we parked. She showed us around, we chose a site and got set up then met her in the office where she went over everything with us. How to buy tickets for the train, what time she can take us to the train, how to get home, what time she'll be there to pick us up. She was so friendly and nice, a real welcome to Italy. I quickly rinsed out the laundry I had set up in our bucket agitator in the camper, got it on the clothes rack, gathered our things, and we were off. She dropped us at the train station on her way home to do her own laundry, and we ran in to buy our tickets for the train leaving in 6 minutes. We were told to stamp it on the yellow machine. We found a yellow box but it was out of commission. Raced down and then up some stairs, asked someone and were told it was back at the ticket office. Raced back, taking two stairs at a time, found the box, got the tickets stamped, tore down and up again and then hurried up to wait. Not bad for a couple of senior citizens. The train ride was great with views of the sea between tunnels and then, there we were at Vernazza! I am really pinching myself now.



People actually live here and grow their gardens but how do they get there?


We wandered the 3 block village, enjoying getting slightly lost.






We decided some Sangria was in order and planted ourselves at the nearest bar with outdoor seating.



However, we were surrounded by Americans. Loud, bragging Americans. I heard one say that once you've seen Vernazza, you've seen the world. We were mostly able to let it go and just soak in the scenery. An old woman we had left at the water's edge had finally made her way to where we were. She ran into a friend and when she broke into a smile, it completely changed her face.

Now it was time for gelato. Chuck had two flavors, amarena (sour black cherry) and tiramisu, and I had one, café. Yum. Back to the harbor for some time in the sun and people watching.

Cat on a beach


Father and son


Totally relaxed, we made our way up and up the steep, winding stairs to Il Castello, a restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean.



We ordered the Risotto al Frutti di Mare for two and a bottle of the house red wine. Fresh caught this morning and delicious.



One more gelato (you have to travel with Chuck to understand this)- café for me and café and spicy chocolat for him - then we were running to the train station (about 40 feet away). We actually figured out which track, the train blew in, we jumped on and settled back to enjoy our dessert. Before we knew it, we were back at Deiva Marina waiting for our ride home.

We are now cozy and comfortable in Homer, Chuck reading The Agony and the Ecstacy by Irving Stone--still a good read.

Tomorrow we plan to hike the 5 villages of the Cinque Terre. Our ride leaves at 8:40 am.

3 comments:

Arianna said...

Jealous does not even begin to describe... Enjoy!!

Elaine said...

Hi Chuck and Claire,

Thanks for your wonderfully descriptive and beautifully documented blogs. You both look happy and relaxed. I'm looking forward to seeing where "we're" going next!
Take care, Elaine

Chuck and Claire said...

Arianna
Well, the 4 of you could join us for a bit... ;-)
Chuck

Elaine
Thanks for the feedback. It helps motivate us when we realize that people we know actually follow us. And, we end up with an electronic record of the journey.
Chuck