09.05.2015 - 09.05.2015 22 °C
Ciao from Northern Italy! We headed north this morning with our first stop being Pisa. We travelled past what we thought were snow covered mountains. It turns out it was actually the white marble of Cararra. Oh my gosh. We passed along the storage and shipping facilities for the marble. Millions and millions of dollars of marble.
Most people may not realize that Pisa is and was an important shipping port. The wealth of the area came from Pisa's geographic location. Pisa, however, is known more for its failed engineering project, the Tower! Funny how something that went so wrong has created a tourist attraction that brings so much money to the city. Quite a contrast to the days when Pisa made their money from shipping.
The church, baptismal and the tower are stunningly beautiful, all covered in Carrara marble. Of course, the most fun is to take some kind of goofy picture holding up the tower!
Driving to our next stop was not for the faint of heart. Narrow winding roads provided surprises of oncoming traffic at every turn. Our fearless driver had to hope not to meet an oncoming car, bus or motorcycle. Co-operation is the name of the game as many times our coach or someone else had to back up to let someone pass. This was complicated by the triathlon that was being held.
We headed to the boat that would take us to the Cinque Terra, the five famous towns of the area. I am not sure what possessed them to build these 5 towns in such a remote part of the country. Perhaps it was the spectacular views! Our boat made short stops in each of the towns before dropping us off at the furthest town, Monterosse. Some of the group departed for the hike between Monterosso and Varannsa. Others took the 4 minute train. Next stop was Veranazza,the largest of the towns. Unfortunately, a devastating flood of 2011 had devasted the area and if has taken considerable time to repair what nature destroyed. The colourful houses definitely need a good coat of paint.
Each town in the Cinque Terre is known for a different food item, anchovies, honey (which makes tasty gelato), and pesto. Seafood is the main menu feature.
Back on the train for a quick 20 minute trip we were reunited with Firo and our coach.we checked in at a ours little hotel in Portverene and had the first truly full night's sleep in a long time.
As this is our last day in Italy I should tell you about the game we have been playing. With Italy being known for the Mafia we have been playing a little game of Assassins. The premise is that each person is given a name of a victim. Their job is to slay their victim without anyone else seeing. This means lots of people sticking together so they are 'offed'. The assassins have come up with many imaginative ways to lure people away. The game has continued through Italy and wound up today with Emily as the winner with 14 cards. Her prize, the coveted Godfather bobble head.
We are leaving Italy and heading to France today. The sun is shining and it is a beautiful day to be in Europe.