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Northern Italy Road Trip Part IIAuthor: Jim and Donna C. (More Trip Reviews by Jim and Donna C.)
Date of Trip: October 2010
We woke up just before 0600. We saw on CNN that all the miners were rescued from the mine in Chile. We went down for some breakfast. Jim tried to call the Marriott in Rome to see if our cruise luggage made it there. After eating up 10 minutes of cell phone time, we gave up.
We checked the tracking on it and saw that it was delivered on Oct. 8th. It wasn't supposed to arrive until the 13th. Pretty amazing that it arrived in four days. Now if the Marriott just holds it till we get there next week. We loaded up the car and hit the road towards Genova.
Around 1000 we found a service area where we bought some stuff for a picnic lunch (not very good stuff as it turned out). We looked in a book we bought in Seattle that had agritourismos (farm house B&B's). We found one near La Spezia and the Cinque Terra called Casa Villa. We called and made a reservation.
We were going to take the back roads thinking that there would be some quaint little Italian homes and villages. So we switched off toll roads on Lola to see where she took us.
We went through a lot of farmland, mostly wheat, hay and corn. Next came the factory areas. The towns were small, but certainly nothing special. We turned the Toll Roads back on Lola. She got us back on the Autostrada. I saw a cute little town up in the hills. It looked like you could get off, drive through the town and get easily back on the main road. Looks can be deceiving.
We got off the main road, Jim saw a sign for a castle and wanted to follow it. We wound up a very, very narrow road high into the hills. We were watching both sides of the road trying to make sure we wouldn't go over the hillside. We finally reached the end. Had to rest. No castle in sight. Got turned around and headed back down. We tried several roads and never did find one that went through town. Gave up and went back on the main road. Jim says that road was a real heart stopper. Now he tells me!
Around 1330 we found a little parking area we could pull over and have our lunch. It overlooked a valley and some small villages. A couple of other people had stopped and were doing what we did, just sitting on the curb eating enjoying life.
Our lunch was not very good, but I did remember a couple of apples I had been carrying around since Venice. We finished up and hit the road again. The scenery just what you would think of when you think of the Riviera. There are small towns and villages nestled in the green valleys.
We started our search for our farmhouse. We're spending two nights there thinking that we could see Cinque Terra and La Spezia in one day. By 1530 we found the place. It's up one of these tiny one-lane roads, winding up the hillside.
Lola got us to address number 7, but we were looking for number 8. A lady pointed us further up the hill. Found it. The lady that owns the place does not speak English. She has a farm hand, Pepe that does...mostly.
She showed us our room, or at least the ladder/stair case to our room. It was an adventure getting our bags up to the room. It's small but quaint. Looks like our room was originally part of the attic. The ceiling was tall with exposed log beams and wooden trusses. The walls were lightly color washed with a pinkish/coral color. We did have a bathroom in our room with a queen bed. Very, very quiet.
This is an organic farm that overlooks the valley. Beautiful country. We sure are seeing many different sides of Italy. Because we are out in the middle of nowhere, we asked if we could eat dinner here. Dinner is at 2000 pm. It is now 1700 and Jim is finally getting a chance to relax and read while I catch up on the log.
Dinner was great! We ate with farm's owner, Giovanni. First, she gave us a plate of pasta, cut into one inch squares, with pesto. Next came vegetables -- tomatoes with balsamic vinegar (yum) and something like chard but not quite. She showed us what it looked like uncooked, but still didn't recognize it. It was good.
Next was thinly sliced roasted beef. For dessert we had gelato. Between Italian, Spanish, English, a little French and being very animated, we were able to communicate. Giovanni and I were even picking on Jim and he knew it. Good home cooking. We discovered that she makes her own olive oil, wine and honey. She had a whole table behind us filled with jars of marmalade that she had put up.
We were upstairs and in bed by 2115. It's so dark and quiet here, not much else to do.
Friday, October 15, 2010 -- cold, lightly foggy
Sometime last night our heat was turned off. This morning was cold and the bed was so warm. We set the alarm for 0600 so we could be down for breakfast by 0730 and out the door to see the Cinque Terre. Neither of us wanted to get up, but Jim sacrificed and got up to take his shower first. What a guy.
Breakfast consisted of wonderful bread, butter and her homemade jams, marmalade and honeys five different things in all. Of course we had to try each one. All were fantastic. We finished getting ourselves ready for the day. Had to stop and get loved on by one of the two St. Bernard's here. They are very loving and leaning monster of love. One of them uses the back of the owner's pickup as a doghouse.
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