It's Friday here and the day of my cousin's wedding, so rather exciting.
So, we left Milan on Tuesday, all 19 of us on a bus (regular greyhound style), setting off for Vernazza via Parma and Tuscany.
Arriving at the castle by bus
Lunch was at Antica Corte Pallavincina, a small castle built in 1320. Here is where they 'make' Culatello Ham. We had a tour through the magnificent building, very old with amazing frescoes on the ceilings and then down into the cellar where we saw thousands of Hams hanging in the natural air. Peple come from all over to hang a Ham and there is a waiting list. Prince Charles and Monaco royalty have Hams hanging. Apparantly MasterChef did something here and they have one hanging. The smell was overwhelming, not bad, but not that good either!
Piles of pumpkins in the courtyard
Mum sitting regally in the old chair in the castle with Neale behind her
Chandelier and frescoes in the castle
Hams hanging in the cellar
From there we continued to another room which is used as a wine cellar and watched a short film on how they get the Ham and other cold cuts ready and then moved to the cheese room where huge rounds of Parmesan are sitting. And in that room a feast of cold meats and parmesan with sweet red wine awaited...unlike anything I have ever tasted.
Fabulous spread for lunch
Amanda, Dad, Mum and me at the castle
Beach at Monetrosso
Then the 'fun' hit, up flights up stairs to the station (no idea how disabled people get around here!), getting onto the train with luggage was stressful, the train have high stairs up into them, then off the train, then down more stairs where I realised or thought I had brokedn the handle on my suitcase. I took a deep breathe and thought this is ok, deal with it when you get to your room.
However, our room was at the top of the steepest, deepest flight of stairs, I kinda freaked out, but with some help got up to my room, where I had a bit of a meltdown, between aching shoulder, broken suitcase and a freaking ugly heat rash on my legs (and hormones!) I could have gone home right there!!!
Once I settled - I did say I do not travel well - I made my way into the town and met everyone for drinks and started to feel myself again! The bar on the water does fabulous strawberry Margaritas, and then we had a great seafood dinner. Then we crashed and had a good nights sleep.
The next day we hit the Pirate Cafe at the top of the hill for breakfast - what an experience! Owned by twin Sicilian brothers, hilarious jokers and all home cooked pastries etc. I had hot chocolate - it was more like a hot chocolate sauce
- with a riccotta croissant, soft and again unlike any I have tasted. Never really been one to carry on about food, I am sorry I think I will be annoying the hell out of you all withmy food descriptions. At least all this walking and stairs is balancing everything out.
Both photos from Manarola
Drinks before dinner at Vernazza
We walked through Pisa to get to the leaning Tower area. About 30 minute walk, lovely town, lots to look at from old buildings, street performers, cafes, shops with great bargains etc. We almost forgot why we were there!
Town of Pisa
But then we turned down a street and got our first glimpse of the Tower, it was unbelievable to see something you have seen so long in books etc for real. It actually looked like someone had painted it at the end of the street. The closer you got the more remarkable the structure was. It really does lean and is REALLY hard to get a good photo of. If you look up, it looks like it will fall over onto you. There are other structures around, church etc, all beautiful as you can see. And heaps of vendors selling everything you can think of.
It really leans!
You have to do the touristy thing!
All the buildings together
By the time we caught the trains back we were exhausted, had pizza slices for afternoon tea...as you do...and a rest.
We headed into Manarola for dinner to celebrate Sue's 60th at Tarttoria Locardo Il Portocciolo. They overfed us with 3 types of pasta for firsts - small squiggly pasta with basil pesto sauce, then spaghetti with little mussels, then linguini with mushrooms and prawns. We ordered seafood - Calamari - for seconds or mains. Then took the train back to crash - huge day!!
Calamari and linguini with huge prawn