This morning started with us organizing suitcases, so we could determine how much pasta we could buy at one of Milan’s markets. We found that almost all the markets are closed on Monday and most are only open on Saturday or Sunday. After completing that we headed for the Metro to buy a day ticket and travel the city.
We headed out to the Isola Merchant Market. It is a highly rated market and open on Monday. Unfortunately, when we got to the market, it is much more of a small food market, as in restaurants, not food stands. Disappointed, we walked around the neighborhood a little bit, we each got a cappuccino, and checked out a local grocery store to see if they had anything we might want. Sadly, they did not.
We got back on the train and headed to the Duomo. Linda was hungry so we found a panini shop and shared a salami sandwich that had pecorino cheese, yellow tomatoes and olive pate on it – Tasty. We then boarded a tram to take us out to Navigli. This is an area that is known for its bars and aperitivo. When we were last here with Jon and Elaine in 2007, Jon and Dave visited the area. It looked much the same to Dave. It is a “pretty” area with a canal going through the neighborhood, where the restaurants and bars are located on both sides. While we didn’t have a drink, we were able to locate a gelato shop. Dave was boring and went with Stracciatella and Stracciatella di Mente (Mint chocolate chip). Linda was more adventurous and had Noce Pecan and Pecato di Gola (Mixed Nut with Caramel).
After finishing our gelato, we headed for the tram back to the apartment. Well, Dave had some serious issues navigating with Google Maps. To be clear, this wasn’t a Google Maps issue, it was a Dave issue. After a delay of probably 20 minutes, we made it to the tram stop and we back to the apartment in about 15 minutes. We likely could have walked it quicker.
This evening started with us taking a tram to our cooking class located about 35 minutes away from the apartment on the east side of Milan. It should have been an easy trip, but such was not the case. About halfway through the trip, there was an announcement in Italian and everyone exited the tram. We were told that the tram was not able to continue and we were only a third of the way there. We thought we’d wait for the next tram, but we were told there would not be another and that a bus would be sent. We decided, instead, to walk to an alternate tram. Along the way, we made the decision to hail a cab. This turned out to be a good decision, as we got to the class on time and we had a nice driver.
Our cooking class had five members, a couple from Surrey, England (Laura and Des), a man from New Jersey (Sateesh), and us. Our instructor, Hillary (pronounced with a silent “h” and the “I” is a long “e” … elary), was great. She was very interactive and loved getting questions; we had plenty.
Our menu for the night was Caponata (a traditional vegetable starter), Ravioli filled with Potato and Basil with a Pecorino cream sauce and black pepper (Ravioli Cacio e Pepe), and Cantucci (we call it biscotti). The preparation and cooking processes took about two hours. It was fun to do the prep and the group worked well together. One thing we were surprised by was how “easy” it was to create the pasta. We have tried this before and failed pretty miserably at it. We will definitely try it again. Of course, the proper machinery helps.
The five of us took the tram back toward the Duomo and as we reached our stops we all departed the tram and went our separate ways. Overall, it was a great evening.
Tomorrow morning, we will do a quick visit to the Duomo and do the final pack of our bags.
If you would like to see pictures in more detail, you can click here: 2022-10-10 Milan.
This morning started with sitting around drinking Nespresso coffee and enjoying the vineyards. Our peace was interrupted only by barking dogs and farm implements. Dave thought about when we lived in California and the people who bought way out in valley for the solitude of the agricultural setting. Once there, they became upset because of the smells and sounds associated with farming … lol. Dave took a little walk before stopping because the insects were bothering him.
Early in the afternoon, we took off for our wine tasting at Azienda Agricola Dante Rivetti. Our guide was the daughter of the owner, Dante. It was a nice adventure. Grapes were being harvested and that meant processed. It was an interesting process to see the grape skins and juice being separated from stems and leaves. We then went past stainless-steel fermenting casks. From there we went into the aging room and saw many barrels and bottles being aged. It was overwhelming to think how much wine was in this room.
From there we headed to the tasting room. It was much bigger than we anticipated. We suspect that they do wine tours, including larger buses. As it turns out we had the place to ourselves. That was, until another couple from the US (New Jersey), showed up. They had just arrived in Milan and drove down. They knew far more about the area and grapes than we did. Last time they came to visit they shipped three cases home.
On to the tasting. We started with a white wine, Langhe Arneis Briccodoro. We both liked it, especially, Linda. We then had the Moscato D’Asti Riveto. Dave, not the one for sparkling wines, in general, thought this one too sweet. As he went to pour it out, Linda intervened and finished the glass. From there we went to the Dolcetto d’Alba Sitovarei. It is a red wine from young grapes that is fermented in steel. Neither of us found it interesting. Next, we tasted two vintages of Barbaresco Bric’Micca which comes from younger Nebbiolo grapes and ages for 24 months. The 2018 vintage was quite spicy (not normal for this varietal according to our NJ friend). The 2016 was much milder. We moved on to the Barbaresco Riserva Bricco di Neive. This is a 2015 vintage that is made with older vine grapes and aged for 36 months (24 months in French Oak casks, 12 months in large casks, and 18 months in the bottle). It was very good and liked by both of us. We then tasted three vintages (2013, 2017, 2020) of Barbera d’Alba Alabarda Superiore. All three of the vintages were liked by both of us, but the 2013 was our favorite. Unfortunately, when it came time to buy, we found that the 2013 was only available in magnum bottles.
In the end we purchased six bottles to be shipped to us and took one of the Briccodoro with us to enjoy in Milan tomorrow.
As we finished up, a group of men came into the tasting room. It seemed that they must be regulars. As it turns out, it is a group of men from Switzerland who come each year. They are a group of “hobby chefs” and when they visit, they cook a meal for the people at Dante Rivetti.
We decided to drive into Neive (we were here briefly yesterday) and walk around the town. It is a cute town. Though Dave does not understand why, Neive seems to have quite a draw for tourists. There doesn’t seem to be that much here; though, there are two churches.
Since we attempted to make reservations too late for the restaurant we wanted to visit in Barbaresco, we needed to make other plans. So, what do you do if you can’t get into the white tablecloth restaurant? You get take-out pizza, instead. We stopped in Santo Stefano Belbo to get the pizza. While waiting for the pizza, we checked out a grocery store. Dave told Linda that he thinks grocery store walk-throughs are like walking through a museum for Linda. Dave wandered down the street to the local church, but realized it was about 18:00 on Saturday and there were a lot of people starting to enter to attend mass.
We got our two pizzas for a total of 12.50 euros and, well, it showed. They tasted okay, but there was not much quantity of toppings. Such is life; we’re on vacation.
Linda navigated us home the back way, avoiding the early evening Mango traffic (that’s a joke). While Dave didn’t get to see much (the road was narrow and the edges dropped off), what he did see was beautiful.
At the house, we put the pizza in the oven to warm it back up and settled in for the night.
Dave started the day trying to get the extra suitcase issue resolved. But it will have to wait another day as we had a date with Monte Cervino (The Matterhorn).
We had our usual breakfast at our usual caffeteria.
We then headed out of Torino around 10:00 by rental car, carefully navigating the busy streets. Quite nerve-wracking! It seemed a bit hazy as we drove north, hoping it would clear so we could get some good pictures in Breuil-Cervinia, a small ski town just south of the Italian border with Switzerland. It took almost 2 hours to get there and the most difficult, of course, was getting out of Turin. GPS works wonders and it is funny to listen to the same dude you hear give directions at home, rattling off the long names of these Italian streets. Then there are his distance directions, all in meters and kilometers. Can’t he just say six blocks?!
Just like on the train the other day, the terrain turned quickly to mountains and as we exited the freeway ($12 for a 1+ hour ride) onto two-lane roads, we were on the lookout for snow-covered mountains. It took less then 15 minutes to find them and then we rounded a corner and There It Was: Monte Cervino (The Matterhorn). At 14,700 ft in elevation, it is part of the Italian and Swiss Alps. Because part of it is in Italy, they can claim that it is their tallest mountain. The air was crisp, about 60 degrees and the sky was clear and blue. Perfect for picture-taking.
We parked the car on the street and walked around, snapping selfies and long-range mountain views. The architecture here is totally Swiss Chalet. Being a very small town, there were more hotels than anything (winter ski season is coming next week), some nice boutiques and shops, one church and only one restaurant serving lunch at this time. We stopped at the Eden Pub, which was packed with men who looked to be mostly 30-something guys, who had come in from work for lunch. Dave figured that they were ski lift employees getting things ready for the coming season. We were bummed that the tram wasn’t in service yet – we could only imagine the view from up there – and getting there would be something special too.
We ordered off the menu (unlike the workmen who appeared to get all the same thing – lasagna followed by a meat/potato/vegetable plate). There must have been 50 guys stopping in for lunch and they were gone again 30 minutes later. Linda had a beer and homemade raviolini soup (small rectangular ravioli filled with meat and cheese in a chicken broth, served with parmesan cheese). Dave had red wine and pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and shrimp. The bread has improved coming north – the crust isn’t nearly as hard and the soft white inside is holey and chewy – and there were also breadsticks in the basket. Everything was delicious. We decided that we couldn’t not get dessert as they had Apple Strudel on the menu: YUM – perfect apples and raisins in a dark sugar and cinnamon sauce covered in flakey pastry with thick whipped cream on the side. It was a favorite of ours when we were in Austria years ago and we never pass it up. Too bad we needed to drive back; we could’ve used a nap.
We got back to Turin around 4 pm. Linda worked on the blog wording while Dave navigated the hundred-plus pictures. Then we talked about what to do on our last night in Turin. We have hit a lot of the nearby restaurants but the closest one and it is always busy. So busy that the noise can be heard through our windows four stories up. We took a little walk then got to Poormanger just after they opened. As it turns out, their claim to fame are baked potatoes with different fillings. The potato inside the skins are soft, like twice-baked. We each had wine, red for Dave and white for Linda, then ordered: Dave got one called Carbonara which had a creamy cheese, tons of bacon and pecorino; Linda’s was Thai Pollo which was large chicken chunks in a creamy Thai chili/yellow curry sauce with yellow pepper. Both were outstanding and very reasonably priced. We walked along the main shopping street to window shop then went to our favorite gelato shop here – the girl who helps us spent 3 years in Canada and could converse well. Dave had salted caramel and cookies & cream; Linda had mango and raspberry.
Back at the apartment around 20:45, we finished up the blog and talked about tomorrow. We’ll be heading south to some of the best wine country in Italy later in the morning.
The morning started quietly and with thanks. Thankful for a good night’s sleep and a quiet, clean apartment.
We left the apartment this morning to walk across the piazza to our morning coffee and pastry shop, Caffeteria Palazzo di Citta. Thankful, again, that they were open today. We each had a cappuccino, one crema cannoli, and one crema croissant. The croissant blew us away and we look forward to coming back tomorrow to get two of those.
From there, we started walking to one of the two markets we’ll visit today (opposite directions, of course). Along the way, we stopped at a cioccolateria (chocolate shop). We checked out the local chocolate candies that were available and said we would return later.
We continued our walk to the market and, lo, and behold, we came upon a church. This one, Chiesa di San Domenico, felt much more like a neighborhood church, not a tourist stop. We thought it was pretty on the outside, so we walked in. The interior, while not lavish, was very nice to see. After leaving the building, we worked on getting some exterior photos. One older woman, seemed quite upset with Dave for taking pictures. She just stood there looking at him. When he stopped taking pictures, she continued on her way. Not really sure what that was about.
We made our way to the Porta Palazzo market. This was a huge market with everything ranging from used (I mean consignment) clothing to housewares to luggage to food of all kinds. It was a fun market to stroll though. Dave is looking for a piece of luggage for us to bring some items back with us. Our only purchase was some green beans. The market was exciting for all its sounds and characters.
Staying true to our word, on the way back to the apartment we stopped and bought our chocolate candies. Fortunately, we didn’t need to buy much at this price.
We stopped at the apartment and rested a little bit. All the activity is taking a toll on us physically, especially Linda, for back and hip pain.
We then headed the other direction from the apartment and went to another market, Market Valdocco Palestro. This market is similar, but smaller than this morning’s market. It is set up on a boulevard with stalls on either side of the sidewalk. The big item of interest here is the Nescafe coffee pods. Vivien and Joseph have a machine for them, so we are checking to see if they have any interest. Dave liked the morning market more than the afternoon; Linda felt the afternoon market drew a better clientele.
On our way home we stopped at Pasticceria Tamborini (this name is similar to the salumeria we went to in Bologna … Tamburini, but clearly different. We decided to have a bicerin here, since the place we wanted to go to is closed today. A bicerin is a hot drink made with espresso, drinking chocolate, and milk/whipped cream. It is an expensive concoction, but very tasty. We became aware of it in Stanley Tucci’s show “Searching for Italy”. One thing we knew was you didn’t stir the drink, you just drank it. Well, one of us had to stir it to get it all together. The other just created a channel through the whipped cream to let the other liquids through it.
We continued to the apartment and relaxed before Dave headed out to get our rental car. We aren’t leaving until Friday, but it was cheaper to rent the car on Wednesday than on Friday or Thursday. We’ll use the car to go to Breuil-Cervinia tomorrow and then over the weekend in the Bra-Alba-Mango-Asti area. Dave came back slightly unnerved as there were detours along his route to the parking garage and what should have been a ten-minute trip turned into a 35-minute trip. His only hope is that with the re-routing, he didn’t end up in a limited traffic zone.
After Dave got back, we started to get ready for dinner. It’s been a while since we ate dinner, we’ve typically done a heavier lunch and skipped dinner. Tonight’s dinner was at Porta di Savona, a location recommended by Lonely Planet. The food and service were great. Linda had a mixed salad and trout with hazelnuts. Dave had veal tartare with caramelized onions, Caprino cheese, and hazelnuts and agnolotti with meat sauce. For dessert we had Bonet Langarole (chocolate and macaroons pudding).
After a nice walk home, where we saw a cool church, we settled in for the night.
This morning started with us cleaning off more dirt that settled over night and packing our bags. Dave thinks unlike at home where his clothes shrink, they seem to have expanded in the suitcase, because it keeps getting harder to close the suitcase.
With the blog in decent shape and everything packed up, we decided to get pastries and coffee at our new favorite place, Caffeteria Palazzo di Citta. Oh, can the day get worse? They are closed. We tried a place called Coffee Joint. They had mediocre doughnuts and coffee. We won’t be back. They did have Wi-Fi, though, so we got the blog uploaded there.
We then set out for the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. We know you thought you were through with churches. Dave says, sorry, no such luck. The Cathedral is beautiful and it holds the “Shroud of Turin”, the linen in which Christ was supposedly wrapped. While that notion has been proven to be false, it doesn’t stop people from believing.
After visiting the Cathedral, we headed off to the Royal Palace of Turin. Matt warned us that it was gaudy, but we thought, heck we’ve been to Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg and the Biltmore. Well, never underestimate Matt’s advice, some of the palace is absolutely gaudier that the other two. Actually, it was nice to walk through the palace and art museum connected to it. Additionally, the free garden area outside was very nice.
From there we started back to the apartment (we left our luggage in the old apartment and had to pick it up at 14:00). We decided to stop at “Candy Lisa” after seeing gummy bears half the size of your hand. Linda walked through the store selecting some unique items and Dave talked to the check-out girl. She was quite surprised that we were from the USA and we chose to visit Torino. She wondered why we weren’t in Venice, Milano, or some other tourist location. We said we preferred to visit somewhere that had more of a feel of how the locals lived, though there are plenty of tourists here. As we continued, we stopped at Gelmarket. This place pretty much sells just frozen foods. This means everything from fruit to pasta meals to “second plate” meals, “international foods”, etc.
We arrived at the old apartment at about 13:55, just in time. Since we couldn’t check-in to the new apartment until 15:00, we decided to have lunch in between the two apartments (please remember that the two apartments are 150 feet apart). We had a very good meal at Ristorante Conte Verde. Linda had Spaghetti Carbonara (no cream) and Dave had Spaghetti Bolognese.
The women checking us in arrived while we were eating. After Dave finished his meal, he walked over to check in. We really like this new place. It has a couple of sofa/loveseat places to sit and a desk on which we can do the blog. When Linda got to the apartment, Linda asked Dave, “How is the bed?” Dave thought, “How the hell should I know?”, but instead responded that the girl checking us in asked if I wanted to check out the bed, but he told her, thanks for the offer, but my wife is downstairs. Linda couldn’t stop laughing. Dave didn’t get why she thought this was so funny. Lol
After settling in here, we went out for a little more looking around. That involved checking out some men’s stores to get Dave a new shirt (Dave appreciates no comments about his repeat clothing). Not finding anything for that and a Telecom Italia Mobile store that was of no use, we went off to check out a new area. Guess what, they have a church. It is the Church of St. Francis of Assisi (Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi). It is a blasé church from the outside, but has some beauty to it inside.
From there we walked a little more, stopped at Pam grocery to pick up some things, and then dropped them off at the apartment. Dave got a message about where to park the car we are getting tomorrow, so we went to check the location; it’s really close. In fact, it’s very near where we had dinner on Sunday, so we went to Il Molo, which is across the street. We had beer and wine, a meat and cheese plate, and sausages. It was a fun experience.
We then came home (Dave thought … hey, we haven’t had gelato today). As it turns out, Dave didn’t have to twist Linda’s arm too hard to get her to say yes. Dave had Crème di Nonna Elide (kind of an orange flavor) and Cuore di Panna (core of cream … kind of plain). Linda had Gianduia (chocolate-hazelnut) and Mascarpone with Fig and Caramel. While it was good to try somewhere new, it just didn’t measure up to our standards and we won’t be back.
After gelato, we called it a night and settled in for a quiet night.
If you want to see more pictures or more detail in the pictures, you can click here: 2022-10-04 Torino
The morning started with Dave finishing the blog, which took longer than usual because the internet at the apartment is not very stable.
Dave’s version of the morning: Our next piece of excitement was the drilling into the stone/brick wall in the apartment upstairs that is being renovated. That was the last straw for Linda. We will leave this apartment tomorrow and check into a new apartment in the afternoon.
Linda’s version of the morning: I didn’t sleep well and in the middle of the night I got up to take some pain meds and do some hip/ low back exercises on the floor. This sounds fairly ordinary but the flooring in our apartment was made of some kind of hard pebbly plastic. Fun. Neither of us were very pleased with this place – not clean enough, not comfy enough (what?? No couch??), just Not Enough!! In the morning, the construction noise started from upstairs. We were warned just yesterday by the host right before moving in that there might be debris falling from the ceiling!! At 10 am, I informed a not-too-pleased Dave that I was looking at new places. He took a shower and came out more agreeable. We went out for caffe and pastry and found a new place fairly quickly, just a few meters up the same street!
After dealing with that, we headed out to get something to eat at about 11:15. Not the way the day was supposed to go. As we ate our cannoli, we decided we would take a quick trip to Aosta today.
We grabbed a train that was scheduled to leave at 13:25. It finally left the Torino Porto Nuovo station at 13:35. We recognized that we certainly raised the average age on the train.
What a day! Sometimes a surprising change in plans is fun. This was the day we were going to do tomorrow but with the apartment check out/ check in required for Tuesday, we decided to do Aosta today.
Four hours of train ride (that had beautiful views, but lousy windows to try to capture) for a two-hour exploration in Aosta, a gorgeous mountain town that is Italian with Swiss chalet architecture and food that is mostly French. It was magical. We want to go back! Their tourist season is, probably, biggest in winter.
We had planned to eat, look around town and maybe do a little shopping. Linda found a great yarn shop but couldn’t afford the luggage space. Dave even offered to get another suitcase! We walked awhile and saw that the 4- star Bistro we were hoping to have late lunch at was closed (website said open till 22:00) we opted for a sandwich shop on Piazza Emile Chanoux across from Town Hall, only to find that they weren’t serving food. The Italian way is coffee and pastry in am (till noon); lunch noon till 15:00; dinner 19:00 to whenever. We’ve been here almost 5 weeks and really should know better.
We shared some great local wines (Petit Arvine and Torrette) then on the walk back towards the train, quickly grabbed ‘take away’ prosciutto and fungi pizza that was folded over (a 12-inch by 5-inch rectangle). And a bottle of water for the train trip back. Dave was anxious to get back so we could finish with our laundry and pack to move tomorrow.
The train trip home was uneventful and arrived about five minutes late. That’s on-time, right? We walked back to the apartment and quickly realized that we made the right decision to leave tomorrow. We were greeted by dust and rock everywhere. We made the mistake of leaving our suitcases open, so it was in there, too. Linda got the worst of that. Oh, and on the bed, too. Yuck! Dave will be suggesting to our host that he put plastic below the exposed beams to catch the stuff.
In an effort to calm our nerves, we headed out to find GELATO! Fortunately, we were successful. Dave had Salted Caramel and Tiramisu; Linda had Fig with Ricotta, Almond Cream, and Hazelnut. Time to call it a night. Here’s looking forward to a better Tuesday.
Linda woke to the noise of breaking glass and ignored it three different times before she finally got out of bed at 7:40. It’s Sunday morning! Why do they need to put their glass recycling out so early?
We weren’t in any hurry to pack up but were ready to move on to Turin. Corniglia was a charming little sea town said to be the quietest in Cinque Terre in terms of tourist activity. They forgot to tell us that the locals live loudly here! LOL
We left the apartment and headed up the hill a bit for breakfast. A couple of the caffe-bars here serve their version of an American breakfast and that is exactly what Dave ordered. Linda, not up for jiggly bacon and eggs, asked for a cured meats/cheese plate with toast. Both breakfasts included a coffee beverage and juice. The orange juice looked more like Tang but tasted more like mandarin – Yum. Our meals were very good and Dave found out too late that he could’ve asked for jam (as the toast was plain).
Between breakfast and heading to the train station, we decided to take one more quick walk (quick, primarily because of how small Corniglia is). We stopped at another Oratorio in town. This one had an artistic show going on that was called “Unruled”. There were two woman playing violins. They sounded fantastic.
The little bus to the train station arrived a couple of minutes after we showed up with our gear but unfortunately when the driver checked our 3-day bus/train passes, he informed us that they expired yesterday and offered no alternative other than to walk to the train station. This was not the end of the world as 1) the weather was 65 degrees, 2) it was downhill on a paved (not cobblestone) road, and 3) Dave did all the work! See photo. It took about 20 minutes and we met a few folks who were walking uphill, some with their luggage. We were glad we weren’t them.
We decided to take an earlier train and spend over two hours in a new place, Sestri Levante, just for a change of scenery. It was a very average place and we quickly found a bar open on Sunday with locals sitting outside, smoking and chatting loudly (recurring theme). Dave had a latte macchiato (espresso with steamed milk) and Linda had a birre (beer). It was enjoyable just to listen to the gentlemen who would be about Dominic’s (Dave’s dad) age when he died bantering in their native language, sometimes with their hands but always loudly!
Back on the train and headed up the coastline, we went through the Italian Riviera then through Genoa. As we left the coast and headed north of Genoa, the terrain turned flatter with more trees. As we approached Turin, the countryside became farmland. We could see the snow-covered Alps in the distance.
Arriving in Torino at about 18:00, we quickly realized that we “we’re not in Kansas, anymore”. We had returned to a big city life. This was obvious from the size of the train station to the bustle of the street as we headed to our apartment. We chose to take a taxi for the one mile. Once we got near our apartment and encountered the crowds, we knew for sure life would be different for the next few days.
We had a little trouble getting into the apartment building, first, due to Dave not reading all the information telling you how to get in and, second, due to phone service that still doesn’t seem to work well. Once we got in the building, we headed up the elevator (YEA!! … yes, Dave wrote that). We passed through a locked gate that is shared by other apartments residents, a locked gate in front of our apartment, and the locked door to the apartment. We feel very safe, should someone try to get in … lol. For those keeping track, yes, we have five keys, including the one for the elevator.
After dropping off our things and looking around the apartment (that didn’t take long), we headed out to the streets of Torino. We are clearly in the heart of the central city shopping and dining area. The streets and restaurants were both alive and filled with people.
Unlike Rome, this city’s streets are laid out in more of a grid fashion. The architecture seems to have less of a “Roman” feel to it, instead a feeling of a French/continental Europe influence.
After looking at a quite a few menus, we settled on a restaurant called Trattoria Da Ale, located in Piazza Corpus Domini. We ordered a half-liter of house wine and Linda ordered the spaghetti with clams and Dave had the lamb chops. Both were outstanding.
In between ordering and receiving our food, two three-wheeled “deliver trucks” called APE, pronounced “ah-peh”, showed up honking their horns loudly and repeatedly. It turned out that in the back of the vehicles were guitars, a drum set, and amplifiers. We thought they might be setting up to play. It turns out that setting up meant playing from the back of the vehicles. They played for quite a while and drew a good-sized crowd. Hopefully, through the videos below, you will get a feel for things. When they were done playing, they packed up the vehicles, started honking their horns again, and drove off. It was really fun.
We then walked around a little more, coming to realize the restaurant was less than two blocks from our apartment. And, a café that Linda thought would be nice for breakfast one day is located right next door. The advantages of city-life, we guess.
It’s October 1, where did September go? Oh, that’s right Como, Bellagio, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Parma, Modena, Florence, Orvieto (a couple of times), Rome, Ripabottoni, Campobasso, Siena, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, and Manarola. Whew! We decided we need to get home and veg; this vacation stuff is exhausting.
The weather looked decidedly better today than yesterday. The sky was filled with clouds, but breaks of sky showed through. The forecast for the day called for clearing skies and a high in the upper 60s.
It was 60° when we left for our hike to Vernazza at about 9:30. In keeping with his recent skills, Dave started us off on the wrong trail to Vernazza, so we had to turn around. The good news was that it allowed us to be back to the apartment and change into cooler clothes. As the hike and day went on, we were very happy we were able to go back and change.
After about two hours, about 2.12 miles, and elevation change of 397 ft from minimum to maximum, but not total elevation changes, we arrived at La Torre Ristorante in Vernazza. Our reservations were for 14:00, but we asked if we could be seated then and they obliged. For full disclosure, we decided that we didn’t want to walk back up to the restaurant at 14:00, so it’s good they let us change.
This restaurant was recommended by Matt and Carlee for its views and food. The restaurant exceeded our expectations on both accounts. Dave ordered the mixed fried seafood, which consisted of anchovies, calamari, shrimp, and fish. Linda ordered the mixed seafood grill, which had calamari, shrimp, fish filet, and a prawn (though it had a claw, which seemed odd). We, too, would recommend it to anyone visiting Vernazza.
After lunch we walked into Vernazza. What a fun little town. It is the weekend, so there are way too many people in town for our likes, but it was still a great place. The boats throughout the town were a treat and the waterfront was nice.
We then walked back to the train station and boarded a train, with lots of other tourists, to Monterosso by the Sea. This area more sprawling and because of how tired we were, we probably didn’t give it the attention it deserved. It feels more like a resort town to us and there is a very nice beach area that was in use today, even with temperatures only in the upper 60s to low 70s. But, it was warm in the sun (and in the water too, based upon the number of people in the sea). Oh, we were able to find a gelato shop … we know you are surprised. Linda had a scoop of Salty Caramel and a scoop of Mascarpone Caramel and Hazelnut. Dave had a scoop of Stracciatella Mediteranea and a scoop of Crema 5 Terre. All four were excellent.
Boarding the train, we left Monterosso and headed back to Corniglia. It was about 16:00, so it seemed like a good time for a break
For dining tonight, we ate our left-over meats and cheeses and got a sausage pizza from the pizzeria across the street from our apartment. We enjoyed everything and it was important to get rid of the leftovers, since we will be heading out tomorrow. For a special treat tonight, we watched “L.A. Confidential”. It was a nice relaxing night.
Let’s start with a couple of pictures to update you on our apartment here in Corniglia.
Well, the weather finally caught up with us. When we woke up this morning, we were hopeful that the rain was going to pass us by. It was supposed to rain overnight, but the cars outside were dry. By the time we left about 1-1/2 hours later, it was markedly cooler, it had drizzled, and the clouds still looked menacing. Nonetheless, what can you do? We have four other towns to see in the next two days. Let’s head south and east to Riomaggiore and Manarola today.
We made the decision to walk down to the train station. While easier than the notion of going up the stairs, it is still 33 flights of stairs with a total of 382 stairs. The walk, however, was beautiful, even with the gray skies. We arrived at the train station and got on the train about 10 minutes later. We took the train to “the end” and got off at Riomaggiore.
We exited the train station and started up the hill that led into town. Much of the climb up the hills was through residential areas, causing us to wonder where the commercial area was. Of course, before we could get there, we encountered our first church of the day, Basilica of San Giovanni, (yes, there will be more later). This one is located high on the hills, so it is quite visible. It is very well maintained and drew quite a crowd.
We continued our walk and came upon our second church (dang, there are a lot of them). Linda chose to check out her map to see if she could find a place for gelato (before you start judging, it’s never too early for gelato). Dave went into the small church, Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta. While extremely small, it does have some very beautiful artistic elements.
After leaving the Oratoria, Dave met Linda on the street and we began our walk down hill, now, into town. As we walked, Dave pointed out a gelato store. Linda just looked at him and he said, “You already knew that, didn’t you?” Well, yes, she did. So, we stopped and got gelato. Today it was blueberry and peach for Dave and pistachio and chocolate-hazelnut for Linda. It was 11:30, after all, and we didn’t really have breakfast.
We proceeded down the hill and looked in a few more stores at clothing, ceramics, and other items. We also started to encounter heavy drizzle. When we reach the end of the street, we were below Piazza del Vignaiolo. This piazza is just above the marina and afforded a nice view. Unfortunately, with the weather conditions, not much was happening in the area.
We then realized that instead of heading back up the hill, we could walk through a short tunnel and be back at the train station. It made us think we should have come this way, but we still would have had to go up the hill at some point to see things. One special thing about the tunnel was the mosaic work done on one of the walls.
Once back at the train station, the rain had increased quite a bit. We took cover beneath an overhang until we boarded the next train to Manarola.
The train ride to Manarola is quite short, maybe three minutes, though the conductor did make it through our car to check tickets for people.
When we exited the train in Manarola, we took another pedestrian tunnel toward the city. We had decided we would have lunch a one of the restaurants here, Trattoria del Billy. Linda looked up the location on her phone using Google Maps, but we lost connectivity in the tunnel. As we exited the tunnel, the rain started to pour harder. Dave found an overhang and stood under it to get our umbrellas out of the backpack. We then started off following Linda’s directions. She had trouble with her phone, again, Dave checked his phone, and we continued in the rain. Part of the walk/hike to the restaurant was up stairs that had so much water running down them it looked like a waterfall. Linda’s shoes and feet got soaked (Dave was lucky that his hiking shoes are waterproof). Well, Dave missed a turn and we needed to double-back and head up some more stairs. The five-minute walk that Google mapped out took closer to 15 minutes in the pouring rain. When we got to the restaurant, we found that they were full. Another couple just in front of us took the last table. We decided we would wait for the next table because it had good ratings and we hated for this crazy walk to be a bust! During our 15-minute wait (Linda inside and Dave outside), the weather got so bad that the wind and rain chased many of the outside diners out of the restaurant. Fortunately, a couple left their inside seats and we were able to sit there. We were glad we waited. The service and food were amazing. We started with a half-bottle of red wine (we know, not perfect for fish, but we did white with meat last night … lol) and place our orders. For a starter we had anchovies marinated in lemon and oil. Having spent our lives making sure there were no anchovies on our pizzas, this was a pleasant surprise (thanks to Matt and Carlee for suggesting we have these). For our main meals, Linda had the traditional Trofie pasta with pesto sauce, potatoes, and green beans; Dave had Taglierini with fruits of the sea (clams, mussels, one-half of a small crab, razor clam, two types of shrimp) in an olive oil, garlic, and wine sauce. Both meals were well beyond our expectations. Dave ended the meal with a caffe latte. Linda ended hers by buying a bottle of cream balsamic vinegar that they had on the table (needless to say, it was very tasty).
We asked the best way to the train station and, amazingly, it was the opposite direction of how we came up. He also said it would put us right in the church square. He said we couldn’t possibly get lost and he was right. It is the San Lorenzo Church which was built in the fourteenth century and is in need of repair.
There were few stairs and mostly gradual roads. Once back to the train we headed back to Corniglia. It was time for a little down time out of the rain.
After a little rest, we headed back out at about 7:30. We were amazed at how desolate the town was. There were very few people on the street. On top of that we tried to cancel our reservation for dinner tomorrow night and found the restaurant closed. We really don’t get it; most of the restaurants were closed. It is Friday night, right? Lucky for us, one of the gelaterias was still open so we could, for the first time on this trip, get gelato a second time in the same day. Dave got salted caramel and vanilla with figs, local wine, and pine nuts while Linda got vanilla with Corniglia honey and a chocolate nut.
Around 21:30 some street noise picked up. There were some children playing and we could hear some men having an “Italian” conversation. You know, the kind that is friendly, but it’s loud.
It was time to start thinking about tomorrow. If all goes as planned, we will hike from Corniglia to Vernazza in the morning and then take the train to Monterosso al Mare.
After finishing yesterday’s Siena blog, Dave left to find some breakfast breads. Our host left peach jam and milk for coffee so we ate at the house.
We left for the 20-minute walk to the train station, including five long levels of moving walkways/escalators, and quickly found our train platform. As usual in the Tuscan region of Italy, Siena is a bit hilly. Dave was particularly annoyed when our train left nearly 20 minutes late and we only had a 14-minute connection for the next train. It turns out we made up a little time and between the last two stations our next train lost time, so it worked out okay. Lots of stops and a couple of trains later, we arrived in Corniglia (part of Cinque Terre).
It was not raining here which was a pleasant surprise. We left the Corniglia train station and took the bus up to town because it just felt like too much elevation to walk with two suitcases and two backpacks. Picture Dave when we do the train – he takes the suitcases whenever we go up or down stairs and onto the train, including lifting them up to the storage area over our seats. We should be in great shape when we return home!
Following a video that our host sent us on WhatsApp, we made our way from the bus stop to our apartment. It was all uphill, of course, except for the steps down to the steps up to the apartment building. We had a little confusion about which unit was ours. It was a first floor versus floor zero thing, though this time first floor meant first floor. The apartment is nice and we have some good views.
We found the town to be very busy and very small. We knew that by 20:00, the tourists would vacate the area. Many of them seemed to be here for the day because you could hear them saying, “Okay, well, we saw 4 out of 5 of the Cinque Terre towns”. Corniglia is in the center of this much-hiked place and because they have no harbor, it is the quietest. And, that is why we chose it.
We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so at 17:00 we looked for a place to have a glass of wine and discuss our plans for the three days we’ll be here. Tomorrow may be a wash-out due to forecasted rain, but it won’t stop us from seeing all five of these towns. They each seem to have their own particular focus, but the charm of each one is something we don’t want to miss. We have two to the northwest and two to the southeast.
After a half-liter of wine and salty snacks at Caffe Matteo, thinking we would have pasta, Linda nixed the plan and went Italian on us! Dave was a good sport about it as we made our way to Lisa’s Market (one of three small grocery markets in Corniglia) to buy milk, crackers, two deli meats, two deli cheeses, some small Roma tomatoes, and a few green olives. The meat was prosciutto and local salame; the cheese was pecorino and local cow’s cheese. We stopped at another market and bought a bottle of local white wine and had them open it for us in case we had no wine-opener. He did not seem to think that this was a strange request!
Back at the house, Linda prepared a platter of all the goodies, Dave found the wine glasses and we sat on the balcony in view of the sunset to enjoy the evening. Everything outside quieted down, just as we expected. It got a bit chilly, so we retreated inside to watch the BBC news (first English-speaking TV of the trip) and work on the blog.