Category: Italy

From Festa to France

Antonio had a Festa at the bar on Saturday – it was very well attended.  He had two tv screens setup outside for folks to watch the Italy vs Austria calico/soccer/football game.

Dinner was served very late, and were we ever hungry by then.  The first course was pasta with ragu sauce – very tasty.  Second course, that came some time later, was a sausage/meatball dish and also tasty.  The main course arrived, again some time later and was roast pork, served with a bit of salad.  This dish will be mostly eaten by the doggies, I think.

The calcio game went into extra time, and fortunately the home team won 2-1 so all the local fans were very happy.

We went for a final ride on Sunday morning, stopping in Vilanova for a cappuccino.  We were seated at an outdoor table next to an elderly gentleman who started up a conversation with us.

While he spoke no english we did manage to talk for awhile and understood that he was born there, and that the local calcio team, from this village of only 300 or so people, managed to beat all of the big teams from large cities such as Rimini, etc.

We managed to leave by 2 in the afternoon on Monday, after many long hard journeys with the wheelbarrow (by Colin) with stuff to the campervan and back.  Because of the work going on at the apartment building below us we had to go all the way up and around the bell tower to get to the parking area where the campervan was.

The drive north/northwest was relatively good, and we reached Marina di Carrara at a decent time, stopping for the night very near the Sea.  We found out that unfortunately the gas wasn’t coming through so couldn’t make a hot dinner – luckily we had alternatives.

After a fairly early night and a very good sleep we were on the road early the next day – doggies like to arise early, go for a quick walk, and get fed, so since we were awake anyway we hit the road just after 6:00.

We started hitting major road works before Genova – in fact it took us hours to get past the city and to the highway north to Alessandria.  It’s great that they’re doing work on the many, many tunnels and viaducts, but boy does it slow things down.

After finally passing the major part of the roadworks we arrived in Cavour slightly before 1:00.  We stopped for a beverage (coffee for Colin, and guess what?  vino rosso for me) and were on the way again mid-afternoon.

We took the pass from Sestriere to Briancon and got by the French border guards with no problem.

After a long day we made it to a lovely spot just outside Embrun where we stopped for the night.

Cappuccino in Spina, Lunch in Trevi

We go for a bike ride every couple of days – the most recent was over 31 km and we leave nice and early before it starts getting too hot.  We’ve stopped a couple of times now for cappuccino at a nice little cafe/bar in Spina partway through the ride.

The back road between Mercatello and Compagnano is one of my current favourites – the surface isn’t great but there’s hardly any traffic, and it’s far less developed than some of the other areas.

The view from the terrace is beautiful as always, and I spend a lot of time sitting under the umbrella with a cup of tea watching village life go on.

The fellow that had been doing stonework for ages last year has finally finished – we see him occasionally on his front terrace on a swing-chair.  The small house on the right has been sold and new folks are now in – they got a furniture delivery a few days ago.  The ducks are back, although there’s only three of them this year, rather than the twelve there were last year.

We both got haircuts a few days ago – it’s the shortest I’ve had mine since a cut I got in Spain four years ago.  So easy to take care of now, especially as we’re going to be on the road again very soon.

On Thursday we went to Trevi for lunch and our favourite place, La Vecchia Posta, was open – outdoor tables only, which was great.

For antipasto we shared a selection of mixed bruschetta, and I had wild boar stew for my main dish.  It was just delicious, and with a little help from Mo I actually managed to finish it.

They’ve been working diligently on both the Bell Tower and the condo building just below us.  I can’t believe how much stuff they’ve hauled out of the condo building – I think when the earthquake happened the folks were given 15 minutes to grab what they could and maybe haven’t been allowed back since.

I’ve been really trying to soak in the atmosphere here prior to our departure – having spent so much time here last year I feel like two weeks isn’t nearly enough time.

On the Road Again!

Bye bye to my home – I’m On the Road Again!!

Finally allowed to travel – within 5 hours of restrictions being lifted to Italy I had my flights booked.  Before the first flight I had a covid test at the airport – waited in the car in the parking lot for the results.  I passed!  Or was it failed?  In any case I got both emailed and printed pages to show I was safe to travel.

The first check-in was actually the longest – the lady at the counter looked so long at my passport I started to worry – but no problem.  I had my covid test proof, my Personal Flight Locator forms, my declaration for getting into Italy – I had it all.

After a goodbye to my patient, kind and loving partner I boarded the first of three flights.  The plane to Vancouver was packed, followed by a 3 hour wait for the next flight to Frankfurt.  Once again I showed all of my papers, and again no problem.

The flight was quite long, and right after serving us dinner they made us close the windows and shut off the lights.  I don’t think it ever actually got dark outside the whole way, but it was a long ‘night’ and I didn’t get any sleep.

Arriving at Frankfurt airport I again showed all of my papers, and again no problem.  I found my scheduled flight to Rome on the boards and limped a long way to the listed gate.  I had a few hours to wait so read for a bit, then decided to take a little nap – there was plenty of space on the lounge chairs to stretch out, and I was at the right gate so knew I’d hear the folks arriving for the flight and all of the boarding calls.

Wrong….I woke with a start at 3:01 – the flight was supposed to start boarding at 2:50 so I knew immediately something wasn’t right.  Still fuzzy-headed from my nap I grabbed my backpack and camera and shuffled to the closest check-in gate.  A lady in front of me had just missed her flight to Mallorca and I felt bad for her, while just hoping I hadn’t missed my flight to Rome.

I quickly showed the check-in lady my boarding pass and she said to ‘go that way and turn left’ – well, I was at gate A16 and my flight was now leaving from A56 – a very, very long way – in fact very close to the gate I’d arrived at three hours earlier.  I ran as fast as I could, given my injured foot, and arrived huffing and puffing and almost crying to find that I wasn’t quite the last one – about 15 folks were still lined up to board.

The last flight wasn’t too long and I arrived safely at Fiumicino a little bit ahead of schedule.  I collected my bag and headed to passport control/security – but there wasn’t any.  There were several armed guards standing around, but no one that wanted to see my passport or anything.  I simply walked out!

Colin and the little ones arrived only a few minutes later to pick me up and we were on our way ‘home’.  It’s not that far to Papiano so we arrived at a decent time, although to me I’d been up and on the move for about 30 hours.

I had a very nice welcome from several of the locals, especially Antonio at the bar. I took it easy for a couple of days getting used to the time change and everything.

On Sunday we went for a nice bike ride of 22 km., and another one this morning of just under 20 km.  

There are two major renovation projects going on near us.  First of all the bell tower is finally being fixed – they’ve had the funds for it for some time but apparently there was prolonged discussion about exactly what to do.  It’s now covered in scaffolding and work is progressing.

The other major project is right below us – a mutli-unit building that was damaged in the earthquake five years ago.  They started this morning by blocking off the lane way and have started removing debris from the inside. 

Giro, Anzio, Lido di Ostia and HOME

The rain started right on time at 8:00, and many more campervans and cars had arrived during the night and over the morning.  We had tea and breakfast and stayed inside most of the morning but just after noon the clouds parted and the sun came out.

The team buses and cars went past in a convoy up to the finish at the top 1.5 km from us.  We went for a walk down to the bar that’s at the bend below us, following a walking track part of the way.

We had a cappuccino and shared a prosciutto and cheese panini while keeping an eye on the very black clouds that were moving in.

We quickly left but still had a ways to go when the rain hit.  I tucked my camera inside my coat – I had the merino wool long-sleeve on as well as the winter coat and was glad of it – and carried Mo part of the way up back to the campervan.  We got back ok, just very wet and a bit chilled.

The first two racers arrived at 4:13 in pouring rain – an Ineos rider and an EF rider who was wearing their special jersey designed just for the Giro – I find them a bit hard to look at without going cross-eyed.  The EF fellow ended up winning the stage so good for him.

I had a large umbrella with the handle tucked into the pocket of my coat to keep my camera dry while the riders straggled past in small and large groups.  The last few – including Alex Dowsett and Tony Martin – came by at 4:52 looking quite bedraggled and a bit miserable.  PS – huge kudos to Dowsett for winning a stage a couple of days earlier – congrats!

We’d already decided to stay another night rather than fight traffic down the mountain in the dark so settled in and watched as most of the other folks made their way down.

It was a much quieter night than the previous one with hardly any traffic going by.  The next morning we left nice and early – it was a longer drive than we expected to reach the coast near Anzio.  We found a lovely campground that turned out to not be open but they were kind enough to ‘make a deal’ with Colin – we had our pick of spots and got nice hot showers to boot.

Feeling very refreshed we had an early night then headed out again after breakfast the next morning.

Right near the campground we passed a couple of ‘ladies on chairs’ – we’d seen some before and Colin had noticed a group of them on the way here.

One of them was dressed up with a short skirt and high red boots, but the other looked bored and didn’t seem to have put much effort into attracting ‘clients’.

Since we were so near Anzio I wanted to see something from the war – we weren’t that interested in going to the museum so I chose the Beach Head War Cemetery.

It’s a beautiful and immaculately kept place, and is for Commonwealth soldiers, sailors and airmen that fell during and after the Allied landing in Anzio to free Italy from the nazis.

Most of the headstones show dates of early 1944 and I only noticed one Canadian marked with the maple leaf, although there were many showing only ‘a fallen soldier’.

Colin waited just outside the entrance with the little ones – it looked to me as if he was sitting in Henry – haha!

We left the cemetery and drove north along the coast to Lido di Ostia where we planned to spend the night as it’s so close to Fiumicino.  Along the way we passed many beach access places but most of them were closed.  Across the road from one were a couple of young ladies and Colin said ‘oh look – they’re in their bathing costumes – they must have been swimming’ but as we got closer to them I noticed their fishnet stockings and heavy makeup and replied ‘they weren’t swimming – they’re fishing’!  We laughed so hard!

Arriving at Ostia we parked across from a restaurant on the sea and went in for lunch.  We shared an antipasto of mussels, which were excellent, then for my main course I ordered the calamari, although that’s not what I got.

Instead I was given a large platter of assorted seafood, and was it ever good – there were four or five different things that were all very tasty and I needed help from not only Mo but Colin as well to finish it.

After lunch we walked around a bit, stopping at a farmacia so I could get some wet-wipes to wipe down everything on the airplanes the next day.

I think Mo must have sensed that I was about to leave as she cuddled close to me in my bed all night.  Up at 5:00 we had a nice cup of tea and a quick bite to eat then it was off to the airport.  We got there in plenty of time and said a quick but heartfelt goodbye until next year – fingers crossed.

I was not looking forward to wearing a mask for over twenty hours but it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d feared.  Air Canada had changed my flights several times and I was now flying Lufthansa to Frankfurt, then again with them to Vancouver.  The security check in Frankfurt was easy – he just looked at my passport for a minute, stamped it on the last page and waved me thru.

The flight to Vancouver was long – over 10 hours, but I had a window seat and no one had anyone sitting next to them.  We went north over England and Scotland, then across Greenland and northern Canada.  I watched three movies and a series of documentaries about villages in the Alps but didn’t really get any sleep.

Most of the time it was cloudy, but a couple of times it cleared and the views below were awesome.

I had to go thru security again in Vancouver- the fellow was very nice and we chatted about how long I’d been in Italy and why.  He reminded me that I need to quarantine for two weeks once I get home and I was passed thru.

I had to collect my checked luggage as my final flight was Air Canada and Lufthansa doesn’t pass along the bags so after ‘checking in’ again I was finally on my way home.  A very long day of travel by the end, but so good to see my dear sweetheart D waiting for me.

It was a truly awesome trip, and being ‘forced’ to spend so much time in Italy turned out to be a bit of a gift.  Arrivaderci – until next year!