Saturday, November 21, 2015

Italy






The flights were thankfully uneventful. When we got to Rome we took the bus to the train station for 4 Euros apiece instead of the planned train for 15 Euros apiece. It was 8 minutes longer but worth it.
After a 3 block walk to our hotel we cleaned up, then headed out to Piazza Republica and the church of Santa Maria Iegil Angeli.



What had been Diocletian’s baths, the largest in the Roman world, was partially converted by Michelangelo into a beautiful church.


From there we walked to the Quirinale, first one fountain, then four fountains at the top of the hill, then to Trevi Fountain. I had gelato on the way for lunch.
 

 We then went to my favorite building, The Pantheon.

We also went in the church of San Luigi with a magnificent chapel painted by Caravaggio, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which included a Michelangelo “Christ Bearing the Cross”, and the church of San Ignacio.




We then went to Piazza Novona with its fountains and local artwork.


We continued walking to Campo Fiori; not that impressive. We then crossed the Tiber to the Tratavere region. We found a pizza place Rick Steves recommended, Dar Poeta Pizzeria, and he was right on.
We shared a salad with tuna and we each had a pizza. Teresa had spicy salami, cheese and tomatoes. Mine was anchovies, capers and olives. Teresa raved hers about hers and mine was the best restaurant pizza I have had outside Croatia.

We wandered by the forums on the way back to our room and I had another gelato. Because I was stuffed I did not have the waffle cone size.



The next morning we first headed to Ste Maria de Vittoria, a beautiful, smallish church with the famous Bernini “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa”. It was the first time I saw Teresa in a state of ecstasy.We then walked to the Via Veneto and through the City Gate into the Borghese Gardens.


We picked up our tickets which we had bought online with an assigned two hour visiting time frame to the Gallery. We walked through the park as we waited for our 11:00 entry to the Gallery.
 



The Gallery had been a palace of a Cardinal who liked to compare the art of Greece and Imperial Rome with the Renaissance. No pictures were allowed.
The Renaissance art included Bernini sculptures- Apollo and Daphne, David, and Hades rape of Persephone, as well as paintings by Caravaggio. A very good museum.



We followed the Via Veneto out to Triton’s Fountain at Piazza Barberini, then found a kebab place for lunch, very good.


On to the National Museum of Rome which had a lot of English. Cameras allowed, plenty to see, plenty to learn. The top floor had the inside of an ancient Roman villa brought in (reminiscent of Pompeii). The basement had a history of money and coinage.






When we were done we went to the Termini Train Station to find the Auto Europe place and confirmed things with them. Walking back to the hotel we found a market with a big cold water for Teresa and a big cold Lemon Soda for me.
After cleaning up we walked to the Spanish Steps.

 On our way to Trevi Fountain we stopped at a Trattoria to eat. I had lamb chops, Teresa had handmade pasta with sausage and mushrooms. On to Trevi Fountain then back to our hotel. Gelato from across the street from our hotel (Mario’s). It was good but small portions.
The next morning we picked up our car easily enough but we had trouble with Carmen our Garmin; it was set on North American maps. One of the Auto Europe guys got it switched to Italy maps but then it wasn’t finding satellites. We tried to leave Rome by looking for signs but they were non-existent (all roads may lead to Rome but it is hard to find the right one out.) Finally Teresa got Carmen working and we made our way to Civita.
Civita is a small quaint hill town with no vehicles and only a footbridge to get there. We got some bruschette at the same place Rick Steves did- very good; we walked down to the caves and crossed through the tunnel under the town. The church was small but nicely decorated. We had had to wait for a wedding and baptism to finish before we could enter.





On to Ovierto; a much larger hill town. Finding our hotel took awhile, even with Carmen’s help. After checking in we rested a bit then headed toward the Duomo. On the way we got very good gelato.
The Duomo was huge and noted for two things. 1.) The Chapel of the Corporal. In 1263 a priest who was doubting transubstantiation found that the host he was holding during Mass dripped blood onto a small linen altar cloth. The cloth is in this chapel. The event gave rise to the feast of Corpus Christi. 2.) The Chapel of San Brizio- Michelangelo’s mentor, Luca Signorelli painted a vivid series of frescoes of the Apocalypse. It was a lot to take in.


After cleaning up we decided our room was not getting any cooler. After speaking with two people at the desk we were shown another room which was cooler so we moved our things. We headed to dinner. I had Chicken Cacciatore, very good, Teresa had Chicken with truffles she claimed was better than mine. We shared an ensalata mista. After a promenade we each had gelato and headed back to the hotel.
In the morning our first stop was the Necropoli del Crocifisso del Tufo- the Etruscan Mausoleums. We had purchased a museum pass which had covered yesterday’s chapel and the sights we planned for today. We walked on a path outside the city walls and entered a different gate and visited Pozzo della Cava which was an Etruscan well.






 From there we went to the Tower del Moro and did our first climb of the day. After looking at ceramics for awhile we went down to the underground cave tour which gave us a lot of history.






Lunch was next, I had a roast pork sandwich and Teresa a salad. We spent some time using the restaurant’s wifi, afterwards we both had gelato.
Next we visited a series of museums, a lot of Etruscan pottery and church art. They included Palazzo Faina Musio, Pallazzo Dell ‘Opera Del Duomo, Palazzo dei Papi – Musei and St. Apostolic Church.






We then headed across town to Pozzo Di San Patrizio which was a very deep well with a double helix design that a Pope had ordered built when he was hiding out here. This was to insure water if they were besieged. It was a long climb down and up.


 For dinner we went Chinese. We both had Wanton Soup. Teresa really enjoyed her chicken with vegetables and fried rice but I think it took second place to my duck with pineapple. She had a white wine and I had a huge beer. We both felt it.

 It was a walk to my favorite gelato place. Teresa was looking for a Magnum but was unsuccessful and would not accept a Nestle substitute. Back at the room we reached Christine on Face Time.
Driving out of Orvieto was a snap and we got lucky finding a parking place in Todi. Being Monday, most of it was closed, but we went inside the Duomo and walked the medieval streets.



On to Speleto. First we saw the house owned by Vespacian’s mother. Next walked up to to the castle, (it is a museum and closed). We crossed the footbridge for a nature walk. The bridge over the gorge looked much more exciting from a distance than when you were on it due to a high wall on one side.






We then visited the Duomo before going back to our hotel.
 
 The Aurora which claimed to have air conditioning did, in fact, have it turned on very limited hours and then did not cool enough to carry over the time it was not cooling. To beat the heat we found a little bar with AC where we had a drink and read awhile as we drank our wine and beer. We explored as we looked for a recommended restaurant (Fodors) and happened upon Via Porta de Fuca which was a happening pedestrian street. We later found the restaurant where I had pasta with truffles, Teresa chicken cacciatore, which wasn’t as good as the one I had in Ovierta
In the morning we first went to Spello, a very pretty town. Its cathedral had some famous paintings of the Annunciation, Nativity and Trouble at the Temple by Pintoricchio. We met a woman who is a photographer and American. She bought a place and remodeled it and lives here part of the year. She took us to her home which Teresa loved and gave us some brochures and a cookie recipe recommendation.





Another half hour drive to Perugia, capitol of Umbria. We missed the hotel entrance because of a hidden sign coming up the hill but found it when we turned around. The Hotel Perusia was very nice, we had a huge room, an extra bed and very good AC.
We hiked up to the city, 30 minutes, and grabbed a pizza for lunch. We ate it at Piazza d’ Italia.

We then took the escalator down to the Rock Fortress built into the side of the cliff, a maze of tunnels, ordered built by another paranoid Pope. The city uses a good part of it to allow people on escalators to come up from the train station and parking area below the old town.


We then went to the Galleria Nazionalle della Umbria which was full of Umbrian art from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. It was quite extensive. We then visited the Duomo which housed the wedding ring of the Blessed Mother- betcha didn’t know she had one! We then visited the Priory and the Notarial Hall. Back to our room.

For dinner we took a circuitous route to Al Dal Mi Cocco, a popular place with students and a Fodor’s recommendation. There is a set menu that you cannot deviate from but there should be no desire to as everything was excellent.
First was the appetizer of 3 breads with different toppings. Next was pasta with a tomato sauce and creamy rice risotto with asparagus. Next was pork in a wine sauce and Umbrian pizza bread with spinach. Dessert was Biscotti you dipped in a sweet dessert wine. The meal was 15 Euros and a bottle of their own labeled wine was 5E (excellent white wine tonight chosen because it was chilled), water 1 E. Back to the room which walked a little of the dinner off. I barely had room for the luscious cherry and vanilla cream gelato cone I picked up on our way.
In the morning we first went to the Banker’s museum which was just 2 rooms but with wonderful art. The Mercantile Guild’s Museum was one room with paneled walls, not much to it. We had purchased a museum pass that gave us access to 5 museums, this was not a good choice.
 
We walked through the City looking for the Penna Palace but found instead the Archeological Museum which was much more extensive than I had expected.. We also toured St. Dominic’s Church. Never found the palace so we used the last of our pass on the Cathedral Museum. It wasn’t bad.
 







We headed back to the room and picked up a couple of kebabs to eat there with the grapefruit soda (thought it was lemon) I had picked up earlier. We then rested a bit before driving to Gubbio, about a 40 minute jaunt. We walked around a bit then went up the funicular (a small cage for two) to the Basilica of St Ubaldo. We visited the Duomo, the exterior of the Ducal Palace (a museum we didn’t care to go into), got some gelato and took in the sights of the city.



Back to our room, we cleaned up and went up to our hotel roof which has a swimming pool, sitting area, bar and nice views of the countryside.
 
 Back to Al Dal Mi Cocco for dinner which had gnosh, short ribs, sausages, salad and chocolate covered cake as replacements on the menu.

 We bought chocolates on the way home (Perugia is famous for them) for consumption later.
The next day was Assisi; a thirty minute drive. Teresa insisted on looking for a specific parking lot per Rick Steves but after Carmen was unable to aid us in finding it we returned to one we had earlier passed.
We first visited the 2 St. Francis Cathedrals’, upper and lower (older); art by Giotto. We then walked to St. Stephen’s Church then St. Rufino’s (St. Rufino is actually the patron saint of Assisi.) We then walked back to the Piazza del Commine and visited St. Maria above Minerva. This is a church built on top of a Roman Temple of Minerva, with a lot of the Roman temple incorporated in it, including the drain for the blood from the animal sacrifices.












 St. Claire’s Church was closed for lunch so we decided to eat. We split a pizza and I had gelato after. We wandered around and hit a few more churches before getting back to St. Claire’s, which features the cross that spoke to St. Francis.
St. Francis was a simple man and hung out mostly outside the city walls and had a modest church a few miles away. That modest church is now inside the 10th largest church in Europe, Santa Maria Tegli Angeli.

Back to the hotel and to the terrace roof and swimming pool. We ate at Il Fulchetto, Via Baratola 20 and it was excellent. First plate was ravioli with minced meat in a sausage, black truffle sauce. We shared a salad with our second plate. I had a roast piglet in fennel sauce; Teresa had steak with grilled vegetables. I was victorious only because I also choose the ravioli, otherwise the meals were 10 out of 10. We watched European cup soccer as we ate, Italy won. Back to the room, no gelato.
Carmen was not nice to me in the morning. We spent 45 minutes going through the labyrinth of Perugia, making left hand turns on streets that were 4 inches wider than the car. Teresa claimed she heard me curse more in that 45 minutes than in the rest of our marriage.
Finally on to Cortona. It is a charming hill town with exceptional architecture. Piazza Republica is Disneyesque.We visited the Duomo and the Diocesan Museum which featured Luca Signorelli and his most prestigious work. It had some very beautiful paintings.










Back to Piazza Republica where we bought sandwiches made to order at a Rick Steves recommend shop. An art student from the University of Georgia showed us the ropes. Curiously, she had never heard of Signorelli.
After our picnic at the park we headed to Siena. No one was at our B&B, we were early, so we went into town. We saw the church of St. Dominic where St. Catherine’s head is displayed. We bought gelato on the way to Il Campo where the Palio would be run. That is the horse race the town goes crazy for. Parades were common, reminiscent of Pamplona during San Fermin.







Back to the B&B where we still had to wait 45 minute before another couple arrived and called to find somebody to let us in the locked gate.
As this was Palio weekend we cleaned up and headed back to town. San Francesco Parking Lot was handy as it had escalators taking you up to town.
We made it down to Il Campo and got a coveted spot on the rail. The various contarde were represented, filling the stands which were reserved for them. They all sang their own unique song rather heartily and they all sounded the same to us. The horse race was almost anticlimactic. So far we saw about 1/10th of the intensity of San Fermin.





 
We went to a pizzeria for dinner which had an air conditioned upper room we took advantage of. We both had the Mediterranean Salad and split a sausage, mushroom and olive pizza. Good meal. We stuffed some gelato down on the way back to the car.
In the morning we ate breakfast at our B&B and met some of our fellow guests.
 
Right after we headed to Siena and first found out (after 3 tries) that a bus to Luca was not an option. Then we headed to the Duomo area. We bought a combo ticket and first saw the museum, pretty good. Next the Duomo. It was the most artistically rich Cathedral we have ever seen; sculpures by Bernini, Michelangelo, and Donatello; a pulpit by Pisano, an entire room of frescoes by Pinchaturo, and beautiful marble inlaid scenes in the floor… almost overwhelming. The Crypt and the Baptistery were also both quite interesting.















Into our car and we drove to the train station to buy tickets for Monday. We then drove to Auto Europe to make sure we could find it and then figure out how we would be able to get to the train station after. (taxi)
Next we drove to San Gimignano. This is a medieval walled hill town that is overrun with tourists, a lot of them American. It is known for its towers and architecture. It is not a large town so we covered almost all of it. We had a sandwich made for us in a shop- salami, cheese, pesto sauce on good bread and shared a huge Fanta (something cold because it was really hot) and walked to the top of town and the ruins of the castle with a park in it. After more walking we got gelato from what is recognized as the best gelato shop in the world (the owner was on a team that won that title.) It did not disappoint.


 


We then drove to Volterra- saw the Duomo, then the main square with some building in a square that was used in the second Twilight movie. We walked through the tourist and promenade streets, saw the huge fortress and the remnants of the Roman Theater. Finally to the Etruscan arch. This rounded arch was the first in Italy and maybe the world. The Etruscan Golden Age preceded the Greeks and this arch was the model the Romans used so much in their architecture, including aqueducts.







 We drove back to our B&B and forgot to get any dinner.
The next day was scenic drive day which Teresa enjoyed. We took a number of small back roads, programming Carmen for small towns along the way. We headed to Pienza; on the way we stopped in a small town for pastry.



 In Pienza we took an audio-guide tour of the Palazzo Piccolomini. It belonged to a family that produced two Popes, Pius II and III. The town was overpriced and being Sunday, not too busy. We visited the Duomo and a few other churches as we strolled through the smallish hill city.

When we were done we made it to a Fodors’ recommended restaurant to try the baked cheese served with toast, a specialty of the area. I had mine with an olive paste, Teresa’s was with truffles. We shared a salad.

 
Next we drove to Montepulciano, a famous wine town. It was a bigger and steeper city but we walked it all. We stopped in several churches and caught a choral group from Oregon rehearsing in one.

 
As we were driving out of town we stopped at St. Boglio’s Church which was inspiration for a lot other Renaissance churches, including St. Peters. Another really hot day, a guy was washing off at a running faucet outside the church and many of us filled up our water bottles.


We drove back on the autostrada so we had time to take a dip in the pool.
We drove into town for dinner. They were having a hard time getting another practice palio started. We were at Il Campo when it did. The various contarde (neighborhoods) set up long, long tables in the streets for meals.


 We had to go through one to get to Trattoria Papei in Piazza Mercato. Not much ambience but great food. I had pasta with tomato, onion and bacon. Teresa had pasta in duck sauce. We switched half way through. I then had wild boar with olives, she had fava beans with sausage. Therea also had limoncello. The table next to us went with a 2.2 pound T-bone.
On the way back I had gelato.
The next morning we returned the car and taxied to the train station. Someone is making the trains run on time as we had a six minute connection in Empoli and 14 minute one in Pisa, no problem.
Our hotel in Lucca, Rex Hotel, was right next to the train station with very friendly people. We ate the sandwiches we had bought in the Siena train station.
We walked into Luca through the gate through the town walls. Much like Dubrovnik, Lucca relied on its walls and diplomacy to discourage potential invaders. When the cannon made some walls obsolete, Lucca merely widened its walls to 100 feet and remained impregnable for centuries. Napoleon did overwhelm them.
We first walked to the Duomo, nice but nothing remarkable. San Giovanni was next door (Italians do that.) It had Roman ruins exposed underneath.

We then walked to the St. Michele and then strolled the main shopping/promenading streets to what is called the Roman Amphitheater, but it only has its shape left.
Next to St. Federico, which had a beautiful mosaic on its fa├žade.

 
We returned to the hotel which lent us bicycles (it’s a freebie with the hotel.) Lucca is pretty flat and bicycles are everywhere. We took ours to the top of the city walls and made two 2 ½ mile circuits. Back to the hotel to return our bikes and clean up.








For dinner we went to Vecchia Fratoria Burall in Piazza San Agostino. We both started with spaghetti bolognaise, excellent. Teresa then had a salad with tuna and capers. I had a pork chop with roasted potatoes. We called it a tie. Good gelato on the way back.
In the morning after breakfast we took a semi-early train to Pisa. We took it to the Central Station so we could walk through town toward the “Field of Miracles”.


After the walk we went to the ticket office and were able to schedule an 11:45 ascent up the tower. We therefore first visited the Duomo. The art was supposed to be good, but it wasn’t my type. Pisano had another nice pulpit though.
The Baptistery was simple on the inside- we did get to climb to the gallery.







Next, we queued up for the climb in the tower. The tower is hollow and you climb between the walls. At one point you are leaning toward the middle, then you are leaning to the outside!





After the Tower we toured the cemetery, which is actually a large rectangular colonnaded building with frescoes.


 
Next was the Duomo Museum which was extensive but nothing too exciting.



 The Sceipro Musuem gave you an idea how frescoes were created but otherwise a yawn.
We got some kebabs and decided the much better choice was the bus which we took back to Lucca.
Back at Lucca we went to Villa Guinigi to climb the tower with the trees on top. We didn’t really see roots on the floor below the roof which we had been led to believe were sticking out.





We walked back to our hotel and picked up bikes and our books and then rode a while before finding a spot to relax and read. Back to our room to clean up.



We looked for a pizzeria for dinner but did not choose wisely. We shared a pretty good salad but our pizzas were mediocre. Mine was anchovies and capers but nowhere near as good as the one I had in Rome. Teresa’s was capriciossa. We had gelato at two different places on the way back. Teresa did better.
 
In the morning we got our bikes and rode to St. Federico’s to try and get a better picture of the mosaic in the morning sun. After returning the bikes we took a walk on the ramparts before checking out.

Today the trains weren’t running on time so we missed our connection and we were about an hour late to Monterossa in Cinque de Terra.
We found our room, then found a place for a focaccia; Teresa had ham, cheese and tomato; I had anchovies, olive and oregano. I also had a fantastic lemon drink.




We then hit the beach where we spent the rest of the afternoon..
For dinner we went to the Belvedere which was on the water. I had a mixed salad, Teresa had tomato and mozzarella- we switched halfway through. We both had grilled swordfish which was very good. Because the wine was cheaper than the water that is what we both had. Unfortunately, I was very thirsty and became as drunk as I have been in 10 years. We were next to a family from San Francisco of Indian descent and we talked with them for about an hour. Very good gelato on the way back.

The next morning we had a hearty breakfast and started on the no. 2 trail. The first stage to Vernazza is the most difficult and took about 90 minutes of climbing and descending.









The next leg from Vernazza to Corniglia is about the same. I got a coke zero in Corniglia and I believe we saw most of the town.





 Corniglia is on a hilltop and as the trail was closed between Corniglia and Manarola we took the shuttle bus down to the train station to complete that step. The last leg from Manarola to Riomaggiore was very easy and reminiscent of about a kilometer of the rim walk in Santorini closest to Fera. The name for this leg is “Via dell Amore”.


From Riomaggiore we took the train back to Monterossa, showered and changed into beachwear, grabbed an olive focaccio for me and a vegetable sandwich for Teresa, bought an umbrella and headed to the beach. The water was a nice temperature and we swam out to the rocky breakwater, avoiding a jellyfish and some sea urchins.
For dinner we ate at Ciak. I had ligure pasta with pesto, Teresa had ravioli with meat sauce; again Teresa had swordfish, I had fish filet Monterossini (capers and anchovies) Gelato on the way back.
 In the morning we first walked up to the Capuchin Monastery; then the castle which is now an elaborate cemetery.

 




We then took a boat trip the length of the Cinque Terre to Riomaggiore. We explored that town and hopped on the train and got off at Vernazza. We strolled through there and got lunch. I had fried anchovies served in a paper cone. Teresa had pizza. Teresa had devised a strategy for gelato in a new place. She would insist I order first, and if she didn’t like the size of the scoops she would defer to the next one we found. It worked for her again this time.
















We again boarded the train back to Monterossa, went back to the room, changed into beachwear and made for our beach for an afternoon of relaxation, reading and swimming out to the breakwater where I scored the dives of those leaving to go back to shore.
We decided to have drinks on the patio area of the guesthouse (Manuel’s Guesthouse) and took the last of 5 tables. I had draft beer, Teresa had two red wines. Manuel brought us a series of snacks: potato chippy things, olives, pretzels and crackers with various toppings. We met a young couple from Sweden and spoke to them for about 45 minutes.
For dinner we went to Pizzeria la Smorfia. While we were waiting we met a couple from San Francisco on their honeymoon. She was a tour guide and they were eventually getting to Croatia. I gave them all my travel tips to one of my favorite countries.
Teresa and I shared a salad. I had a gorgonzola, smoked ham pizza, she had spicy salami and mushrooms. Very good pizza. I had gelato on the way back.
We had a leisurely morning as our train did not depart until 10:55.

 It was on time so we arrived at our room in Genoa before it was ready. We went out and got some very good kebabs for lunch and still had to wait for our room.
We went to San Lorenzo Cathedral, the Ducal Palace and Fountain, the Porto Soprano and the home of Christopher Columbus. Next was St, Donato’s , Santa Mieradel Castelo, Porto Antico and then the TI.











Genoa has the largest medieval portion of a city in Europe and Teresa became obsessed with covering all of it in a matter of hours. We did see Via Garibaldi which had no fewer than 13 palaces on it.
Finally we headed in. Finding a restaurant was a new adventure. After combing the city we ended up at a restaurant a block from our hotel, very good and inexpensive. Teresa had pasta pesto, turkey ham and insalada mista. I had spaghetti, fried anchovies and the same salad. I won. It was the best bread we had on the trip.
In the morning we headed first to the funicular to the hilltops where the fortresses were. There were fortified walls and there were fitness buffs who ran or rode bikes through this forested region.





 We came down the same way we went up and next went to the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) Genoa’s version of Versailles. No cameras allowed inside but it was quite sumptuous.


We walked to the place for the cog wheel train up the mountain but it wasn’t working. We then walked along the port area and decided to do a cruise around the port. The Porto Antico portion of the port is very small compared to the commercial part, which is rather boring.



 After the cruise we went to the churches of The Annunciation and San Srio; both much larger than expected and artfully decorated.

After cleaning up we hopped a bus to Corso Italia, the tile walk along the seaside which is the major promenade in Genoa and the affluent part of town. We walked all 3 kilometers of it which got us to Bocadassee, the working class fishermen area. You could see the contrast in 2 different games of water polo. Along Corso Italia there were general swimming pools along the beach, one was devoted to water polo. It wasn’t officiated and no one was watching the game. In Bocadassee there was a water polo game in the sea with boundaries of ropes with floats; it was officiated and there were scads of spectators out on the jetty. The game was still going strong when we left at 9:30 after dinner although the sea had gotten pretty rough.




We ate in a large pizzeria in Bocadassee that was full on a Sunday night with extended families. We shared a Bocadasse salad (mixed salad with tomatoes and Mozzarella) I had anchovies, capers, and olives on my pizza. Teresa had mushrooms and olives on hers.
The bus we were counting on to take us back had quit running but with the help of a nice Italian lady who spoke not one word of English, we got a bus that took us back very close to our hotel. No gelato.
In the morning we decided to walk to the train station – 15-20 minutes. We (by mistake) ended up on a first class fast train to Santa Margherita. Luckily no one was checking tickets.
We arrived early so our room was not ready, We did the Rick Steves walking tour which included the castle, 3 churches the fish market and the gardens.








We picnicked in our room after picking up food at the Coop, We then took a bus to Paraggi beach where we read and swam. Bus back to the room at 6:30.
That night we went to L’Ampora for dinner. I had fish ravioli in red mullet sauce and scaloppini marsala. Teresa had spinach ravioli with walnut sauce and veal with vegetables. I won in a rout.
We sat next to a couple from New Zealand, and yes, they take vacations as long as the Aussies do. Theirs was seven weeks. They were very friendly and we chatted for a long time. They confused their Italian with other languages worse than Teresa. We had gelato at different places on the way back (Teresa’s strategy at work again)

In the morning we obtained bicycles from our hotel (free) and rode to Portofino. Portofino is a surprisingly small but wealthy town. We saw the town, the yachts (we went by Splendido and Gratti’s) two of the haunts of the 50’s era celebrities; climbed up to the lighthouse and castle which gave us some nice views. The castle had photos in every room of the rich and famous who had come to town.


















We cycled back- past Paraggi Beach- got some tomato, cheese, and basil focaccio which we ate in our room.

 
 We decided to walk to our local beach for swimming, reading, and napping.
For dinner we went to Baicin. I had fruits of the sea spaghetti and steak; Teresa had a salad and pesto pasta. I won again. After a stroll we both had gelato.
In the morning we took a bus to Rapallo, walked through town and toured the cathedral. We then hopped a train to Camogli where we walked through the market then the seaside area. We had a few minutes before the train arrived so we purchased some freshly grilled spare ribs and a shish kebab from a booth that was cooking a ton of meat – mostly chicken on a wood-fired rotisserie.










 The train took us back to Santa Margherita where we changed for the beach and off we went.
For dinner we went to Rick Steves recommended Dal Boffo which was a walk away from the tourist area. We shared a salad and both had pizza. Teresa’s was a Quattro Stagione and included ham, artichokes, olives and onions; I had anchovies and capers (again) both very good.
We walked along the seaside and then to a puppet show on the way back.
The next morning train connections were easy and we made it to Milan by about 1:00. Our hotel was just a couple of blocks from the station. After checking in we headed for the Duomo. They had really cleaned up the outside. The inside needs some work. We climbed the stairs to the roof- nice views.















We then went to the Galleria where we pivoted on the bull, then to Leonardo’s statue, and at La Scala I haggled with a scalper over opera tickets I wasn’t really interested in.




We got some gelato for lunch, visited St. Siro’s and then went to Princi’s Pastaceria where we got some bacon brosches, quite tasty. We examined some more architecture before heading back to the room.
We went to the La Brera area for dinner. We found a restaurant that featured large salads so we both went for that, along with bruschette. Gelato was right next door.
In the morning a funeral altered our plans a little so we went to San Lorenzo Maggiore Church, a basilica from the 4th century.





Milan used to have canals as a mode of transportation but only two are left and Teresa was determined to find them. On our way we found Sant Eustagio Church and visited it.

After the canals we walked to St. Ambrogio.

 We then took a subway in the direction of Leonardo’s Horse but the closest stop still left quite a walk.



Once back we went to Princi’s for lunch again. We shared focaccios- one with ham and cheese, the other with Greek salad ingredients in it.
We then went to Pinocoteca Ambosiana which is an expensive art museum that also houses most of Da Vinci’s sketches, a few on display, as well as a work in progress- a reworking of his Last Supper. Otherwise there were Boticelli’s, Rafael’s, and other noteworthy paintings. From there we visited the castle and its museum (it was free Friday afternoons) where Michelangelo’s unfinished Pieta is located.







From there through the Castle gardens almost to the Arch of Peace, then back to the room.

For dinner we walked to Via Fara and found “China Restaurant” which was very good. I had Special Crispy Chicken; Teresa had a different chicken dish, we both had Thai rods. On the way back we both had gelato which we will have to last us another year.

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