Arranged for the day trip with Amalfi Coast Drivers. They will pick us up at the parking station at noon. Went down to breakfast. Less windy today. Lounged and showered in the room and then the rain started. Walked over to for the car at noon while it was still raining. Pasqual again. Decided to do Amalfi coast tomorrow and drive into Sorrento today. Headed over and grabbed a few rainy shots of Postitano on the way.
Got into Sorrento and it was still raining. Stopped on the coast and tried to get a few pictures in the rain. Pasqual parked at a structure and showed us the main square and which streets to walk down. We cruised around in the rain with our umbrellas. Stopped in to a leather shop. I wanted to get new gloves. Nan started looking at purses. Ended up with gloves, 2 belts, a binder cover, a wallet (for Dad) and 5 purses for gifts and Nan. The rain stopped. Walked back to the square and took some photos.
Went into a bar/restaurant on the square and had some soup. Nan had a salad and I had a Crostini. (Open face sandwhich with parma ham, mozzarella and tomato. Stopped back at the photo spots and took some photos without the rain. Then drove back to Positano stopping to shoot pictures on the way. Drove over to the ceramic factory and looked around.
Nan found a bowl for 190 Euro. Shipping is 50 euro unless the total is 500. Looked at tables but a 31” would be 2400 euro. Suggested getting the bowl and a sign that said “Villa Rose” with a small olive oil bottle that would add up to 500 and then we could get free shipping. We’re going to sleep on it. Made reservations for dinner at Le Sirenuse for tonight. Had a fantastic dinner at a beautiful restaurant.
The chandeliers are all candles and the rest of the restaurant is filled with them. Huge staff. 2 live musicians, Matre‘di, waiter, asst. waiter, bus boy. The food was wonderful. Started with welcome snack of a fresh ricotta as a cream brulee. Also brought a fresh veggie snack. Had starter of a fresh veggie soup that came without the liquid which was poured over the veggies at the table. Nan had a spring veggie plate that wa truly art. For entrée I had a torteli (large tortalenni) with a meat sauce and black truffle and Nan had a beautifully grilled John Dory filet. Desert was chocolate slices stacked with chocolate mouse & raspberries in a 3 layer stack with gold leaf on the top and a chocolate gelato on the side.
Slept in at our beautiful room here at Palazzo Murat. When we did get up, and opened the windows we were greated with a spectacular view. ½ Positano hillside, ½ Mediterranean. Wonderful. Went down to a fabulous breakfast in the courtyard. Smoked salmon, eggs, bacon, fruit tort, coffee. It’s Palm Sunday here so lots of church bells going off. Went for a walk to see the town. First down to the beach. Past the church where Palm Sunday mass was being held. Lots of people with palm fronds walking about. Lots of little shops tucked into the sides of the tiny path. Nice beachside walk with a bunch of restaurants down there.
Walked in and out of a few shops. Bought a t-shirt and Nan looked but didn’t buy anything. Walked back up past the hotel and started up the hill. Rounding about lunchtime so people were closing up. Walked back down to the hotel and the desk recommended Le Tre Sorelle (The Three Sisters) as the place for pizza. Not too impressed. Had a decent pizza with tomatos, mozzarella and porcini mushrooms but the crust wasn’t spectacular. Nan had a lovely shaved parmesan salad w/cherry tomatoes. Came back to the room for a nap as the winds kicked up in the afternoon. Make reservations for post sunset (7:45p) at Chez Black for tonight. Called Salvatore at Amalfi Car Service and set noon as the time to meet for tomorrows car/driver trip up the coast. Had dinner at Chez Black. Very nice on the inside. Est 1949. Owner sitting up front.
Wonderful veggie soup. Nan had a grilled white fish and I had lobster pasta. Wanted the local water lobster but N/A. Got boiled Med lobster. Little tough and not much in the shell. Fabulous chocolate covered cream puffs for desert.
Had breakfast at the hotel in Loro, Dimora Casa Eugenia. Small but nice breakfast. Custom fried eggs (3 Euro). Checked out (100 Euro) and John and Caroline met us w/Murphy. We loaded up the bags and set off for Arezzo. On the way Caroline gave a running commentary and back stories. We drop by the Feregamo proprety where they lived for a couple years before buying their house. Got into Arezzo and parked near the train station. Stopped for a pastry and coffee off on the way towards the town square.
Walked through the town and into the town center. Caroline pointed out the area that has the monthly antique show. (Next week, Whew! Dodged that bullet) Went to a friend of theirs cafe and had a bit of lunch. Nan had a soup and I had a wonderful lasagna. We had a cheese board with a pecorino w/wine in it, a pecorino with a chestnut honey drizzled on top. Walked back and they drove us up the street to the station. Hugs and good byes all around. We boarded the Regionale Veloce to Firenze. 50 minutes later we were in Firenze SM Novella. Walked over the the Fressciaross high speed train and boarded for the trip to Naples. Nicely appointed train. Comfy seats. Luggage wasn’t too much trouble. Busy. Business Class car was about ½ full. We both napped between Firenze and Roma, where the train stopped. Then on to Napoli. Driver from Amalfi Private Car Service met us at the station. Got the luggage to the car (Mercedes sedan) and started the drive. Took 25 minutes to go from the parking exit, around the square, back to the parking exit to connect to the highway. Lots of traffic (crazy) out of town. Then the freeway ride past Pompei, into Sorrento the traffic got bad and finally the crazy drive down the hill in to Positano. Stopped in the main square at the parking place. Hotel sent a porter to help with the bags. Down the hill to the hotel. Beautiful. Welcome almond milk drink. Taken to the lovely room and showed around by desk clerk. Went down and had dinner in the restaurant. Nan had grilled veggies and I started with scallops and asparagus. Finished with manicotti style pasta with a provolone cheese sause and sliced black truffles. Had a crème brule with berrys for desert. Remembered to set the clocks ahead 1 hour as Europe does it tonight. That means we’ve done it twice this spring. Once in the US and once here.
We slept in this morning. All the way to 7:30a. Had breakfast here at the hotel. Nice cold breakfast with pastry, meats, ceral, etc. Took a walk to Eataly and stopped at the cheese store next door. Bought cheese, cheese, cheese and some other stuff. Then on to Eataly for chocolate. Back to the hotel and then walked over to Mailboxes Etc. to ship a bunch of stuff home. Took a walk over past Gili, loved the Easter windows, and Piazza della Signoria, where the Ufizi is . Then in the afternoon, walked over past train station and I went to a meeting at St. James Church and Nan went to the famous Farmacia. Met at corner bistro and walked back to hotel. Leisurely lounging in the afternoon. (with some laundry) Hotel suggested Cucina Del La Garga for dinner. http://www.garga.it/ Walked over. Beautiful restaurant with lots of comtemporary art on the walls. Nice, but small, menu. Nan had a Rocket Salad and I did the Mozzarella with sautéed peppers. For dinner we split a tagliatelle w/Eggplant in a tomato sauce and a spell pasta with pesto and pistachio. Desert was a killer cheesecake (the chef’s mother’s 40 year old recipe) and a chocolate tort with salt and olive oil. Stuffed! Back to the hotel to pass out.
Got up this morning in the suite at the “residence” part of Hotel Ilaria and made instant coffee in the room. Then walked over to the hotel and on the 1st floor (which is what we call 2nd floor in the US) and had a lovely breakfast on a glassed in patio up at the front of the property. Very light and airy. Good food and attentive service. Went for a bit of a walk but it started raining so we bailed back to the room and packed for our 12:30 train to Florence. Had the desk call us a cab and got to the train station in about 4 minutes. Simple walk down the ramp and then up the elevator to the platform for the regional train to Firenze. 1:20 trip with a number of stops. Larger cities on the way. Lots of kids getting on and off. Train was pretty full by the stop before Firenze. Had to move our bags to allow someone to sit. As it was the termination of the train, we waited until everyone got off and then got our luggage down on the platform. No steps at Firenze Santa Maria Novella station. Got out front and cabbed it to Il Guelfo hotel which is on Vie Dei Martelli. That is the main street that runs in front of the the Duomo. Lots of traffic and people. The apartment is huge with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living room with dining table for 8. Washer in one bathroom, which is why we rented it. Did some laundry and then took a walk up the street. Went into Eataly and looked at the Duomo. Came back and got into some more laundry stuff. Front desk recommended a restaurant nearby for dinner. Ristorante Le Fonticine. About 7 minute walk, 500 meters. Has >400 reviews on Tripadvisor so we had him reserve a 7pm table for 2. Walked about ½ km to the restaurant. Beautiful location. Had a wonderful dinner. Soups for both, Rigatoni Bolegnese for me and Salad Medici for Nan. She also ordered a pasta pomodoro and we finished with a chocolate pie with shaved dark chocolate on top. Walked back and just got in when the rain started pretty hard.
Great breakfast again at Hotel Margherita. Nan went off for shopping but nothing was open. Checked out and got a cab around 10:30 to catch the 11:05 train to Viareggio to connect to Lucca. Got there just in time but had to hustle the 2 suitcases, 2 carry-ons and our purse/backpacks down the stairs and over to the other track. Got up the stairs just in time to step on the Lucca train just before it left. Nan was barely able to carry the carry ons. Hard for her to manage. Stood at the door with the luggage til we got to Lucca. Cab to the Hotel Iloria, inside the walled part of the city of Lucca. Very nice. Stylish courtyard leading into a well appointed lobby. Checked us in and informed us that there were free bicycles available and that there was a .6km ride along the city walls. Turns out the “suite” was in the residence building across the street and down the block. Porter took the bags and led us to a wonderful room with 2 baths, bedroom loft. Comfortable layout, free snacks and sodas in the min-bar. Jacuzzi tub in the downstairs bath. We dropped the bags and went out and got a couple bikes and did a circuit around the city walls. Started around again and decided to go in to the botanical gardens. Bailed when it started rainging. Went to a walk after it stopped about halfway into the city center. At the hotels suggestion, made a dinner reservation at Buca di Santa Maria for 7;30p. Dinner was fabulous. Quaint restaurant with candles on every table and around the place. Very attentive service. Our waiter spoke very good English with a UK accent. He is married to an English girl. Started with Asparagus soup (Nan) and artichoke pie for me. Then split a square spaghetti pasta with tomatoes, Olive Oil and Basil. Finished with Cod Stew (for her) and Wild Boar for me. Both with polenta. Desert was a pear torte with warm chocolate. Then a lovely walk back to the hotel.
Had a lovely breakfast downstairs. Saw Jeff and Caroline again. They are leaving today for Venice to continue their 7 week Europe travels, by car. We bought some stuff at a local shop and tried to take it to post office. Didn’t have any packing material so we decided to hold it til Florence and DHL it. Took the train to Riamaggiore. Very sedate. Walked up the hill but not much there. Then down to marina and took a bunch of photos. Were looking for a snack and everything was closed. Walked back up the hill and went into a little shop with olive oil, cream de artichoke, and sun dried tomatoes. Had them ship that all to the house via DHL for arrival after 4/4. Trained over to Manarola to try to get that classics shot of the city at magic hour. Too early in the day. Had dinner to kill time and found out the trains back were only every 1 hour. 6:30 or 7:30. Lights don’t come on til 7p’ish and we’d need 15 minutes to get back to the train. Blew it off and caught the 6:30p train. Had desert and espresso in Monterosso when we got back.
Arrived at the Milan train station and got on the 1st class car to Monterosso. 6 seats in a glassed in compartment, three forward, three backward. Nice ride, about 2 hours total to Monterosso. Got off and discovered the hotel was about 800m away, after the tunnel, and up the hill. Called a cab. Hotel is very nice. Spacious and new feeling. Elevator to 2nd floor (3rd for us Americans). Nice room with 2 french doors and balcony wrapping around outside with a couple chairs and a small table outside. Tiled bathroom with stall shower. Took the girl at the desks referral to Restaurant Pozzo. Nan had a pesto pasta and I had a scampi with Langistino. Good but not great. Sat next to Jeff and Caroline Reth. Turns out they are at our hotel, in the room below us. Jeff is shooting a Canon 70d (like me) with the Tamaron 16-300m lens (like me) and uses a Samsung phone (like me) Caroline has an iphone (like nan) They are from Carlsbad. Chatted up with them throughout dinner.
Day 4 Cinque Terra Day 1
Lovely breakfast in the Hotel Margharita. Marco, the GM, bakes cakes each day. Had eggs and bacon and then a slice of his apple cake. Saw Jeff & Caroline at breakfast.
Suggested dinner later together. Took the train over to Venazza around mid-day. Walked the town and took some pictures. Decided to train on to Cornglia. Got off and walked up to the steps. Turns out the town is on the cliff top and there are 365 steps up. Nan was up for it, but I was not. On the way back we spotted a shuttle bus but didn’t take it in to the town. Were going to hike to Manarolo on the coast trial but it was closed. Ended up back in Monterosso. Met Jeff and Caroline and went to Osteria for dinner together. Very nice meal, especially the minestrone soup with pesto, good pastas and great conversation. Took a leisurely walk back to the hotel after.
This was our second day in Milano. We did the TickItaly walking tour/viewing of the Last Supper. Met the guide at 11:15. Got the earpiece radio and started out with a trip to a church we walked by a few times and never noticed. Santa Maria Presso San Satiro Walked several other churches and got lots of history and back stories on Leonardo and Milan’s politics. Background to the painting of the Last Supper and it’s restoration. Secco painting and how it doesn’t last verses fresco. Was about 2 ½ hours overall. Finished at Last Supper. Took a walk back and stopped a few places including a café/bakery. Decided to go back to Nabucco for dinner again and made reservations. Had another lovely meal. Ravioli combination for me and tagliatelli funghi for Nan. Canoli for desert. Walked back to the hotel via the Dumo and took a few night pictures on our phones.
Checked in to The Hotel Spadari Duomo. Centrally located in Milan. About 2 blocks from the Duomo. 10 minute walk to Teatro Scalla, 15 min walk to Brera, a trendy restaurant/bar district. Very friendly and helpful staff. Nice room w/Balcony on the 5th floor (room 51). Terrarium outside bathroom glass block wall on balcony. Decent flat screen tv. Mini bar w/complimentary soda/water, but not alcohol. Nice bathroom w/bidet. Tub w/shower head and hand wand. Good water pressure. Nice towels. Terry cloth Robes and slippers. Very nice breakfast daily from 7a-11a. Buffet w/breads, fruit, yogurt, cold meats, cheese, pastries. Also included is kitchen cooked eggs, bacon, cheese and mushrooms. Hotel staff knowledgeable about what to do and where to go and where to eat. Free wifi in the hotel (Although my laptop couldn’t connect –Win8.1, my phone and my wife’s iphone had no problems.
Did a walk through at the Duomo. Got suggestion on dinner in Brera from Andre at the desk. Ended up at Nabucco on Via Chiani street. Wonderful meal. Zuchinni blossoms, truffle pasta, etc. Nice service. Café Mousse for desert.