Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Trip to Italy (and maybe some runs) Part 10, Hello Coastline!

Chiara's Car Fully Loaded
Note:   You will notice that Blogger began acting up halfway through this post (not wrapping text around pictures). After completely wasting 30 minutes trying to cure its actions, I just gave in. Hope it's not too annoying.

It was time to say goodbye to the Villa and head for the coast. I confess to looking forward to the move mostly because the villa, while wonderful, was boring. And I, having never been to Italy, wanted to see stuff. So, we were off to Cinque Terre, five cities along the mountainous coast of Western Italy.

We were up moderately early for our departure. Kevin and Alex were on to another adventure, Blane and Leslie were headed to Monterosso (which was our destination), Kyle, Kaycee, Rachel and Joey to Rome (I think), John and Patty to Vernazza (one of the Cinque). First on the docket, Linda, John, Patty, and I needed to return "Chiara's Car" back to Chiara. First, however, I need a nice little run before attacking the day. An easy 3 miles would suffice.

The rental company sent directions. The GPS identified the train station. John's iphone zoomed in on the target. STILL, none of this accounted for the absolute madness of
Trattoria Desserts
the area within three miles of the train station. Rich, the driving, chilled, saint truly earned his wings in this version of a bad Larry, Moe and Curly episode.


Undaunted by the madness around me, we arrived at our destination on time, with a full tank of gas, and ready for yet another visit to the epic Firenze station. Possessing a little time, we grabbed a light lunch in this cozy place right across from the station called the Trattoria Dall'Oste. Service was good, we created room for our massive amounts of 
luggage and settled in for some eats. The food was good, the pastries and desserts were 
better. They had these little Nutella cookies that Linda became somewhat attached to, and 
I could see why.

The train ride from Rome to Florence was easy. We got on board, we placed our somewhat 
massive luggage in the luggage section, and we were off. Boarding the Florence train, no such
luggage compartment existed. That was an issue because 1) the train was packed 2) the 
overhead bin was smallish 3) our bags were HEAVY. It was a royal pain in the ass and nobody, 
and I mean, nobody was of any assistance whatsoever. Despite the Herculean task before us, 
we managed to stash our luggage up above, and find four seats. By the way, did I mention it 
was like 95 degrees in the anything-but-air-conditioned train. 
"Road" to the Porto

The train departed on time, and arrived in La Spezia, except for one minor detail, no place to 
park. What? I thought we were on a schedule here. Am I on Frontier Airlines? SO, we wait 20
minutes to park. Somehow we lug our bags OFF the train only to discover that figuring out what 
to do when you've missed the train is difficult in Italy. Some 20-30 minutes later we're on the 
train to Levanto with stops along the Cinque Terre. We bid a fond farewell to John and Patty in 
Vernazza and arrive in Monterosso ten minutes after.

Each of these five towns is right on the coast. Getting off the train was one word (other than
painful): stunning. The water was gorgeous, the shops and hotels sparkled, everything was
as could be imagined. While searching for the perfect coastal accommodations, I looked mostly
at Vernazza and Monterosso. Stepping off the train, I knew I had made a good decision.
Monterosso was great.

Monterosso
We called the Hotel to see about our ride up the hill. "You're late," they say. "Well, yeah we're late,
not much we could do about that. What do we do?" "You'll have to find another cab." Thanks.

We walked a hair to an area that might have some taxi traffic and BOOM, there one was. 
"Where to?" he asked. Hotel Souvenir," I say. "You're late," he (Danilo) says. "Well, yeah 
we're late, not much we could do about that. What do we do?"  Get in. But first, our driver tells 
us, he has to drop another couple at the Hotel Porto Roco. What we didn't know was the the 
Hotel Porto Roco was up a steep hill on an almost one lane trail with a small rail separating us 
from the cliff and the water. Slightly hair-raising. "That's kind of scary," Linda said. "Nah, I do 
it 18-20 times a day." Yikes.

By the time we check in (and by the way, our room is on the 5th floor and there is no elevator, 
and did I mention our bags are/were heavy?) and unpack a bit, it's time for some dinner. But,
Dinner at La Cambusa
oh yeah, our bags. Our bags are taken to the room by James. James is about 5-7, maybe 
145 pounds and is from Kenya. In fact, all of the hard working staff is from Kenya. James and 
his counterparts Robert and Joseph, clean landscape and lift things. Two Kenyan women,
Jean and another woman I didn't meet handle many other tasks. THEY WERE ALL FANTASTIC.
Oh and James brought our bags up one at a time, lifted over his head.

Deciding where to eat was a matter of walking a bit around town and sneaking peeks at the
plates of other patrons. We decided on a cute little, mostly outdoor place called La Cambusa.
I ordered the Sea Bass, Linda got the pesto pasta. The bread: awesome, roasted potatoes: 
magnifico, and I hear the pasta and the wine were top notch. Maybe, just maybe, the food truck
is turning in the right direction.

A nice walk and some Gelato followed dinner and soon it was time to hit the sack. Lo and behold,
no one was up drinking and chatting. It was just us.

Good night. I mean, buona notte.

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