Took a cab mid day to the Firenze train station and jumped the regional to Montevarchi. My pal John Jopson met us at the station and took us over to the hotel, Dimora Casa Eugenia. http://www.dimoracasaeugenia.com/resort.asp. Dropped that bags and took a little walk around town for orientation. Then out to and Caroline’s house for the tour and a nice lunch and chat. Took them a bottle of wine from Florence for lunch. John dropped us back in Loro and we did a bit of a walk and photo shoot around down and the Loro river. Back to the hotel to dress for dinner. John and Caroline came by around 7:15p and we went for an aparetif at the bar/café owned by the hotel owner. Chatted about life, love, Julio, etc. Went to dinner next door to the hotel. Fabulous crepe with mozzarella inside and mushroom sauce outside. Then a beef stew. Pana cotta for desert w/expresso. Back to the hotel about 10:45p. They will meet us tomorrow at 10a for the trip to Arezzo and to catch our train to Positano.
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.
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.
Well after having started out easy, with the photography site, I’m moving on to our personal site. An old Microsoft Frontpage web site. It’s going to take some time to get all that Frontpage stuff over into WordPress. Look for updates in the near future.