Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cinque Terre

An early morning train ride from Florence brought us to La Spezia, where we connected to a train taking us to Monterosso. On the train we sat near a couple who upon overhearing our American English asked us where we were from. Houston was our reply and they said they were from Dallas. He said that he had a sister in Katy. We replied that we actually were from Katy and asked the name of his sister. We immediately responded that we knew her and all her family as they had been patient's of ours for many years. Another feeling of living in a small world. He wanted a picture with Ron in the background so he could show his sister he had travelled in Florence with her dentist.

The Cinque is North of Florence along the coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. There are 5 (cinque) villages along the coast. each with a very Italian look with buildings constructed on the hillside and painted in several pastel colors which has a charmig effect. After three days of museums and churches it was time for a break. We had anticipated this and so had planned the next two days for the beach and hiking. We were all pretty tired from early morning travel and worn down from touring so a relaxing day at the beach was just what the doctor ordered. Colby stayed in the room and slept for 3 hours before he came to the beach. The rest of us got under the rented beach umbrellas and dozed for most of the day. The beach is mostly small pebbles rather than sand so it can be rough on your feet. The water is refreshing and Colby and I (Ron) swam out to a gigantic boulder we could jump off, it was the only activity we could do in the water as there are no waves to ride.

Lauren and Kristy found the best pesto they have ever eaten, so we had pesto on foccacio for lunch it was very good. We are now carrying 6 jars of pesto home. After our day on the beach we headed to the old part of town and had pretty good meal at Il Casello where we had pesto on pasta with shrimp and salmon. We mis-judged the portions so we were a little hungry after the meal. which necessitated two servings of gelato that night. We have gelato each day trying new flavors each time evaluating which flavor is the best. We did a little shopping that night. Kristy acquired a marcasite ring and Lauren a scarf. Both at the shop of an Indian woman whom we met on the train coming in the day. She was transporting her baby in a stroller and Colby had given her assistance in getting it of the train. We saw her in the shop and enjoyed visiting with her for a couple of minutes.

The next day we took the famous 7 mile hike from Monteresso to Riomaggiore visiting each of the five villages along the way. The hike is fairly strenuous with some pretty good uphills and downhills along the way. The temperature was pretty warm but most of the trail was covered by trees offering shade along the way, though each of us worked up a pretty good sweat. We would stop in each town to cool down. In Veranazzaa we tried a fresh squeezed lemonade (the area is famous for lemons) however that only means lemons and no sugar, we had to add our own sugar to make it drinkable. Sidebar: Their lemons are enormous .. about as big as a medium-large organge only in the shape of a lemon. One section of the trail was closed due to a landslide. Rather than walk 3 hours around the landslide we took the train to the next village. The train station was beyond the village and so we didn't enter it. Instead we picked up a paved pathway called the dell Amore. Along the way is a chain link fence where people have attached padlocks to the fence. It a symbol of love and locking your love together. Lauren had a luggage lock so she scratched in our 6 initials and we locked it on the fence 4th panel from the end closest to the sea. This symbolized the union (or future as in the case of Colby and Talyn) of our individual families and also our Crabtree family....which by August will have increased in size by 50%. We felt as if we had left a little of ourselves in the Cinque Terre. At the end of the hike we took the boat back to Montoresso after a quick lunch of foccacia and fruit though we were mostly too hot to eat very much. We had dinner at a very nice place called Miky. The food was very good, we had a Sea Bass with potates and couple of baked pasta dishes with a very thin bread crust used to cover the pan - more like a cross between flour tortilla and thin crust pizza. It was used as a covering for the dishes which were baked. The food was exquisite . . the sea bass so fresh your imagined it had been caught the moment before it went in the bakeware. The service was unusual with all the food arriving at the same time. Salads and pasta and Lauren's and Colby's main dishes and all but one dish for Kristy and I and then we got that dish at the conclusion of the meal just when we thought they had forgotten about it. Again we went out for Gelato rather than have dessert there.

We discovered trofie pasta at one of the seaside restaurants we dined at .. . this pasta is designed to be served with pesto. It is made with a little bit of potatoe and this enables the pesto to cling to it. Delicious! Both pesto and foccacia originated in this region of Italy. We are now also carrying home a few bags of trofie pasta.


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