I can’t remember the last time I was wide awake at 5am. It’s light out and the city is quiet. The bridge void of the usual commuters heading downtown. We arrived in Vancouver late Saturday night after an aborted landing; what a strange sensation to be seconds away from touching down and suddenly be propelled back up into the sky. I’m told this is a normal occurrence.
We just spent 2 weeks in Italy and are already daydreaming about the little flat we’ll buy in Siena where we’ll spend a couple of months each spring and summer. Lazy mornings sipping cappuccinos overlooking the green rolling hills of Tuscany dotted by vineyards and olive groves.
From Vancouver we flew to Munich, a 9 hour flight and from there we boarded a family filled and very noisy 2 hour flight to Bari. Bari is in the south of Italy at the top of the heel. It’s on the Adriatic sea. Here we spent a few days to attend a family wedding at the Villa Meo Evoli a mansion built in the 1700’s. We were surprised to find the weather quite cool in Bari and I had to make a quick stop at Sisley to get a jacket to wear with my dress.
From Bari we headed north west on the train arriving in Florence 7 hours later. Florence is a hauntingly beautiful (and crowded) medieval city. The stone buildings, cobble streets and small alleyways stir memories of a dark time. As a witch, I could feel the ghosts of a history long forgotten. Today Florence is a hub of art and some of the most amazing shopping I’ve seen in a while. On any given street you’ll see Gucci, Chanel, Bvulgari boutiques. All I needed was a few thousand euro to shop for a little something. We walked, and walked..a good 10+kms a day visiting the Da Vinci exhibit and shopping for gold chains at Ponte Vecchio. After our excursions all we could think of was a shower and a nap. In contrast to the windy cool climate in Bari, it was 35 to 40 degrees in Florence, my hair and clothing sticking to me and the heat radiating off the streets and buildings like a sauna. We avoided the tourist traps for meals and were fortunate to stumble upon the Trattoria Dei 13 Gobbi where we had the best Tuscan lunch of our trip. Gorgeous hand painted plates and shelves lined with bottles of Chianti and Brunello. Fresh tomato salads with basil topped with creamy burrata cheese.
3 nights in Florence and we were off again this time to Cinque Terre to the town of Monterosso Al Mare. Winding through sunflower fields the train suddenly ducks into dark tunnels as it crosses mountain passes to get down to the coast. Then suddenly light and the bluest ocean and we’d arrived. Monterosso is the only town of the Cinque Terre that has a large sandy beach and Italians come to spend the day sunbathing and enjoying the many restaurants along the boardwalk. The crowds die down somewhat in the evening and a nice breeze makes walking to the old town quite pleasant.
Our second day we hopped on the train and arrived 10 minutes later in Manarola, the most picturesque of the towns. A bit surreal to stand on the cliffs and see the town, the exact photo I’d posted on my dream board little over a year ago and I was standing right there. Thank you Universe! The trails take you high up on the cliffs, people swimming in turquoise natural pools below and the town of Corniglia in the distance, about a 40 minute hike along well kept trails that connect all of the 5 towns. Cinque Terre is a national park. I hope to return and hike it someday. Heading back toward our flat, we stopped for lunch in Vernazza enjoyed one of many cold proseccos while watching hundreds of people boarding and deboarding the ferry that goes to each town if you prefer water travel over the train.
With the world cup happening we made sure to be back in Monterosso to catch Colombia and England play. I was the only Colombian in the place so I kept to myself.
Next stop Siena. Deeper into Tuscany and a stop in Pisa for the token leaning tower picture. Luckily the train station has a depot where you can drop your luggage off so after our photo session and a slice of pizza (pizza in Pisa) we arrived an hour later in our new favourite place in Italy. Siena has the same feel as Florence except for 2 things: way less crowds and surrounded by lush green. On one of the very steep hills we found a great traditional restaurant (no english menu here) with seats and chairs made to stand upright on the incline. I had the best spaghetti ragu here and we polished off a bottle of prosecco while the sun set. Seth and Cheryl went on a 3 hour wine tour the next morning. I stayed behind: 1. because I don’t drink wine. 2. because I don’t do tours. 3. because I don’t find getting up a 7am and getting on a bus filled with strangers at all compelling. So I slept in, took in a nice breakfast of fresh pineapple juice and nutella cornetos and charcuteria in the hotel. Then I strolled into town and found some gorgeous makeup at Kiko Milano. I love makeup… and alone time.
The last leg of our trip took us to Rome. We only had 1 night so we made sure to pack in as much as we could. We watched the game at an outdoor bar snacking on french fries and sipping prosecco. Did I mention I had a lot of prosecco there? We toured the Coliseum and took photos at la Fontana di Trevi then dined on canteloup and prosciutto and pasta….with a glass of prosecco, sigh. By 11am the next morning we were in a very stuffy cab on our way to the airport. One thing to remember: in Italy, everything runs late so our 1:30 flight left at 3. Rome Toronto. Toronto Vancouver.
Thanks for joining me!
Until the next adventure.