Back on the bus again, sadly leaving Italia. Thank goodness after the Contiki tour I will be back for another two weeks in the south. Our Contiki family visited a few cities in Italy, including Venezia, Roma, Firenze, and Cinque Terre.
Returning to Italy after eight years was such a refreshing feeling. I felt at home being back, even though my home is Canada. Being able to revisit many of the places I have already been and experience it in a new way was awesome.
It was my goal to try and speak Italian as much as I could, and bring my university Italian knowledge out from the cobwebs of my brain. I have successfully been able to get through meals without speaking a lick of english. That is about as far as I get. Everyone has been so friendly when I am attempting to get across what I want to say with my mix of english and Italian. My quick Italian lessons with our driver Paolo have also been helpful on the go.
At this point of the trip I have now fulfilled my quota of carbs and gelato. Between the pasta, pizza and bread, it has been welcoming to have meals that taste like home. In Rome we went to a cute little wine bar by the Colosseum which had authentic tiramisu and amazing wine. It was an eye opening experience for the Australians we were with when we had tiramisu with mascarpone cheese and seeing their faces light up with pure bliss.
In Florence we revisited a pizza joint that we went to eight years ago when we visited, right by the Duomo. The pizzas were still huge and priced by weight and this time we were able to share the experience with some of our Contiki friends.
In Cinque Terre we went to an amazing restuarant in Monterosso al Mare that my Zio and Nonna went to when they visited four years ago. They definitely pointed us in the right direction. The waiter mixed all the pasta and pesto table side and the fish was so fresh it was more than likely caught that morning.
I have been having about 3 servings of gelato a day. It has been such a sweet staple in my diet. It will be sadly missed for the rest of the Contiki trip.
Last night we stayed in the small town of Le Grazie, about a 30 minute drive from La Spezia. We walked via Lungomare and dipped our feet in the sea. We stayed at this cute hotel that was run by a family. The husband still fixed the toilets with a cigarette in his mouth and his wife was a lovely presence at reception that you didn’t want to make upset. The cappuccino this morning was delightful and watching the world cup match in the lobby with the owner, William (the english version of his name) made me feel right at home. He corrected my Italian when it was wrong and was a great companion to watch the game with. This morning when we left it was bittersweet. After kisses on the cheek, I told them that one day I would be back.
Now I am trading gelato for swiss cheese and chocolate as we spend two days in Lucerne, Switzerland. Off to the Swiss Alps we go!