OMG – how did three weeks fly by?
It’s been hoppin’ here in AGMA central since I landed back in Wonderland.
I’ve been working wayyy too much, visited the grands in Chicago and on top of that, I was in charge of Hubs retirement celebration 2 weeks ago.
More about the retirement later. Probably a lot more… AGMA just wanted to give a excuse (albeit lame) as to why she’s been so quiet. Again.
But now, it’s time to go back to Italy! Picking up where I left off in my post of 4/19 (which seems eons ago)…
We left Rome the day after the marathon. AGMA was walking kind of slow. Especially when I had to pick up and schlep my suitcase. AGMA packs light for overseas adventures – my bag was slightly larger than a carry-on. But it felt like it weighed about 300 lbs.
It made my legs wobble.
We headed east to a small hilltop walled village circa 1000 AD where K’s old high school friend lives. Mr. D has lived in Italy for 40+ years so he knows a thing or two about lamb entrails…
He arranged for a private tour of the local sites – an excavation of a Roman villa and a church built into the side of a mountain that St. Francis hung out in for a couple of nights. I’m a history geek so I loved it. K, not so much – I saw her eye’s roll, ever so slightly, back in her head.
We spent the night in Mr. D’s 700+ year old home up in the walled village.
And were treated to a cold shower the next morning. But it’s 700+ years old right? AGMA had a 30 year old house once that had plumbing issues too…
The next day Mr. D took us to the charming town of Orvieto that has a fabulous cathedral. Shelley at Destination NOW visited Orvieto in 2012 and has some great posts about her visit. We were there for 3 hours. Read Shelley’s first post here if you want to know more about this fabulous little town.
After our visit, Mr. D loaded us on the train; we were off to Siena. Beautiful Siena. Hilly Siena. Very hilly Siena.
My legs were still wobbling.
I absolutely LOVED our hotel, the Albergo Bernini, primarily because of the view from the hotel terrace.
We were right next to St. Catherine’s house (sort of) and just a stones throw (maybe a couple of stones.) from the Basilica of San Domenico where Catherine’s head and thumb are in residence.
You weren’t allowed to take a picture of her head, but it was open season on her thumb.
We enjoyed aperetivo on Siena’s huge “square” (it’s not really a square), Piazza del Campo, but it was kind of chilly. The drinks warmed us up. It’s hard to imagine, but the Sienese having a horse race on this square twice a year called Il Palio that sounds akin to a jalopy demolition derby.
This might have to be an addition to my bucket list!
After 2 nights in Siena, we hopped on another train. Destination – Pisa. In AGMA’s 5 past visits to Italy, I had never been to Pisa to see “it”. I’d heard some uncomplimentary things about Pisa and her famous tower. “The town’s dirty, full of cheap restaurants and tacky souvenir stands selling cheap, cheesy little Leaning Towers to sucker tourists, yada, yada, yada…”
Maybe that’s why it took me 6 visits to get there.
But our 4 hours in Pisa were delightful! We walked the mile from the train station to the Field of Miracles through the town, which is full of college students. We strolled around the tower and cathedral. Took the obligatory “Look I’m holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa up!” photos. Ate lunch. Walked back to the train station and hit the road…eh, tracks again. It was a great afternoon.
Destination – the big tamale – the Cinque Terre
And it was just as breathtaking as I’d heard. But hilly. Very hilly. Mountainous actually.
At this point in the trip, my legs had stopped wobbling. Sadly, this was a temporary condition.
We stayed at an Agriturismo farm waaaaayyyy up on a hill in Monterosso de Mare, the most northern of the 5 towns. We didn’t have a car so the only way into town and back again was to walk.
And that’s when the wobbling started again.
But it was worth it for the view, our congenial hosts, the delicious meals, and the wine made from the grapes grown in their vineyard.
OMG – the wine.
One night, after consuming two bottles, K and AGMA videoed ourselves – in our jammies – dancing to “Dancing Queen” by ABBA and Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”. Then sent the video to our families.
There was much remorse and gnashing of teeth in the morning. And a slight headache.
We hiked, ‘cuz that’s what your supposed to do when you’re in the Cinque Terre. We hiked between Monterosso and Vernazza one day, then between Corniglia and Vernazza the next day.
There were steps. Lot of steps. Lots and lots of steps.
The wobbling continued.
We used the local train to visit Manarola and Riomaggiore. But I think we did more hiking up and down and around these towns than on the hikes between the other towns.
AGMA felt like a mountain goat. Or a bighorn sheep. Without the horns.
We were blessed with incredible weather which helped take some of the sting out of all the walking and climbing. The scenery was freakin’ spectacular!
After four wonderful days exploring these beautiful 5 CT towns, we sadly said goodbye to our hosts, left our goat leggings behind, and headed back to Rome for one more night before flying home.
Overall, the trip was amazing.
But please tell me how, after running a marathon, walking all around Siena, Orvieto, Pisa, and climbing up and down the cliffs & towns of the Cinque Terre, AGMA managed to gain 6 pounds? Sure, we ate well and drank wine, but we didn’t go absolutely nuts. As a matter of fact, I felt like we exercised great restraint at times.
And K didn’t gain an ounce.
How is that fair?
Back to rabbit food if I want to fit into my new Easter outfit next year.
Now all I need is a bonnet…