(By the way, I’m not sure what day this happened, but in case you’re worried, I did finally figure out what to order to get some delicious Italian espresso. So never fear, I am not being deprived of that experience, or my morning coffee. Only recently, as our Venice hotel serves American coffee – yuck.)
So anyways, this entry gets to be relatively short, as we honestly spent about 6 hours on a train today. We did start our day with a Rick guided walk of Monterosso, just to see a bit more of the town off the main drag. We walked up to the monastery to see some awesome views of the town, see the monastery itself, walk through the ruins of the old fortress, and just read some history about the town from our book
. (Interesting fact about Monterosso: it was, along with the other Cinque Terre towns, a useful spot for the Nazis during WWII, as they could keep watch over any moves coming from France, Spain or anywhere else that could use the Mediterranean Sea, so we saw several pillbox lookouts built into the cliffs. There were also some memorials here and there to families that lost someone during the war, but it turns out that the Cinque Terre area was communist until 1999, kind of liked Mussolini, and consider the resistance fighters against the Nazis and the partisans (those that fought against Mussolini) less than heroic. So, there was quite an interesting silence when Americans asked the locals about the pillboxes or the memorials. A bit awkward, really…Their history is a bit weird.
In any case, the locals were all pretty friendly, albeit misguided about the rest of the world, and clearly thought that what went on in their little town of 200 some people was really all that mattered (down the old man who wandered around with one sock on singing…). It was cute in its uniqueness, and since it was so relaxing, romantic and beautiful, hard to leave. But leave we did, on our train to Milan.
In Milan, we realized that in the course of 3 hours, the temperature dropped about 20 some degrees
. I officially feel like it’s in October (I have been in denial for a bit). Freezing our way to a pizzeria in the Milan train station (coming from Monterosso, we were in T-shirts and flip flops), we had some amazing hit-the-spot pizza before getting on our train to Venice. Another 2 ½ hours and 3 or 4 TV shows later, we arrived in Venice!
After some decompressing from travel in our hotel, we made reservations at a restaurant close by for dinner. Good thing we did! They turned away at least 10 other couples that came in after we did, and even posted a sign that said they were full for the night. This restaurant was awesome! Awesome things they did: you pick your wine, they put the bottle on your table, and then charge on how much you consume during your dinner; they purposefully put no fish on their menu, like every other Venice restaurant, and they are quite proud of that; they try to have a "bistro" feel – so it was quite elegant in its ambience and food, but all decorated in old wood, looked kind of like a bar, only 10 tables, only 2 waiters, very low key. Now top all that off with some amazing food. Although my duck and eggplant were delicious, I think our favorite was the smoked beef carpaccio appetizer we split. If it wasn’t so expensive, we would’ve gotten another!
Next up was wandering through Venice to St
. Mark’s Square. I have been to Venice once as a kid with my parents, but it’s weird how your brain remembers some images and not all, or how it twists your memory with time. So when we got there, it was almost like seeing it for the first time for me – most of it was different than how I remembered. We sucked it up to pay the high cover charges to sit at one of the more elegant cafes on the square with an orchestra (this was after I went back and forth between several, looking at the table options, deciding how elegant I wanted to go, determining which orchestra was better, etc etc – Steve was so patient!) But what an amazing hour and a half! We nursed a drink each and a sundae to split while listening to all 3 orchestras trade off for time (yes, I picked the table where we could hear all three…you’re getting 2 orchestras for free, the way I figure!). We enjoyed the people watching, including the crowd that migrated with which orchestra was currently playing, and watching our orchestra play (I picked the one with a cello, 2 violins and a viola, because it just seemed blasphemous for me to turn my back on the violins!). Our waiter was in a white tie tuxedo, we could see St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile (bell tower) and the stars, so we were just in heaven. (Steve also was in heaven because of the caramel sundae with whipped cream, but he’s easily bought. Steve: “It’s true. I’ll apparently do anything for ice cream now.”). After we nursed the cover charge as long as we felt we could, and the orchestra started playing Titanic instead of La Traviata, we determined it was time to go.
Time to get a good night sleep before our big day in Venice tomorrow!
Ok, I'm starting to feel bad that I get all of these and Steve has to remember the long days, but not too bad. Keeps him paying attention ;)