This week, started with us still enjoying being with our friends from California in the Cinque Terre of the Liguria region in Italy. We went to see more of old town Cornelia for an “American breakfast” which included fresh squeezed blood-red orange juice. So many times in Europe we have had the choice of an English breakfast, which includes tomatoes along with eggs bacon or ham, intentionally cold toast, coffee… Loren chose to eat lasagna for breakfast in Cornelia!
We then set off again by train to go travel north for the day to Portofino. I am grateful to our friends for suggesting this, because I had not realized how close to the famed village we were. The bus ride from Santa Margherita to Portofino wound us around several inlets where the Mediterranean Sea exudes in such rich teal, blue and aqua colors, that it took my breath away. We hiked up to the castle for great views of the colorful port on one side and the vast Mediterranean on the other.
The next day, while our friends went by train to see Lucca, Loren and I hiked a red line on our map – the steep inland route above Cornelia. Even just the 365 gradual steps up from and back down to our train, was a hike all in and of itself. I bailed out after the long uphill stretch that led to a junction trail. Loren completed our planned hike while I took the same way back down as we had ascended. We met up again at Caffe Matteo in Cornelia where we had had our breakfast the previous day. Our friends returned in time for us to savor a fond farewell dinner together in La Spezia, and, we made a hopeful plan to meet up again in Krakow, Poland in 2017. Loren and I ordered new – to us, pasta dishes of Pansotti with walnut sauce, and Testaroli with pesto. The words maravillosae delizioso nicely sum them up!
Loren and I then moved from our one AirBnB to another one for our last day in La Spezia, then we traveled by train to Lucca to meet up with our dear friends from near Verona.
Coincidentally, our AirBnB in Lucca was on Via Buonamici – Good Friends Street!
Together we took three different walks around parts of Lucca to start off our weekend together. The first was mainly on the fully intact Medieval Wall that surrounds the old town. We also stopped in at the Basilica of San Frediano, hiked up the many floors to the Guinigi Torre – Tower with its rooftop garden of trees, saw the facade of Chiesa di San Michele with Archangel Michael prominent at the top, and, toured Cathedral di San Martino.
We returned for dinner at Trattoria Da Leo, followed by a free evening concert at San Martino, where a choir from Munich performed a cappella. A couple of pieces in Latin were especially touching as I recall singing them with the Hewlett Packard Company Choir some years ago now…
We had more fun together visiting Parco San Rossore near Pisa, where we rented bicycles and, saw horses in training for racing. We visited a beach near Marina di Pisa for a couple of hours, then passed on our original plan to visit the touristy Pisa. Loren and I had been there 20 or so years ago – the attraction now is that they allow visitors to ascend the leaning tower since they have secured it from its extreme, formerly unsafe, tilt. Instead we all visited the ancient town of Barga in the Garfagnana mountain region near Lucca. It was in all a delightful time!
Tomorrow, our friends have offered to drive us to Acqui Terme, where we will visit Loren’s cousins on his Nonna’s side. Later in the week we will travel to Alfiano Natta to see cousins on his Nonno’s side.