I think every time we come to a new place I fall in love with Italy a little more. Perhaps I am sinking in, more and more, to the relaxation only a month off can afford. Or maybe it is that, in my absence, things at home are going so well. All I can say is molto benne... very good.
When we arrive in Levanto, it is nearly 4:30 PM. We arrive in the center of town with only the name of the street and no address for A Durmi, the B & B we will be staying at the next few nights. When we first get to the general area we believe it to be, I'm alarmed. Mom has picked this place, and it looks a bit sketchy in the middle of a highly populated area.
I am so wrong... and happy to admit it.
The place she's picked has the loveliest courtyard, which our room opens onto. There is a small pergola covered with trumpet flowers. Also, a lovely brick oven, and despite our run of luck -- today is baking day. The mother of the girls who run the place, Chiara and Elisa, is making bread. It smells like heaven and I'm trying to figure out how to ask her for a taste that won't make me come off like a crazy person.
Please, ma'am, my I have some more?
Anyway, we check in and Elisa gives us the most thorough overview of the area that we are left literally stunned. She sells us, completely, despite our desire to see Lucca and Pisa, on sticking around to enjoy the charms of this medieval town. On one hand, we have the Cinque Terre, which promises amazing hiking between five small villages overlooking the ocean. Then there are bike baths through abandoned tunnels that reach beach towns less travelled.
What. To. Do.
Well, is guess we should start by opening a bottle of white. I sent home about 18 bottles today and needed to select one to enjoy during the next week or so. Melanie from Munich wins again. It's that special bottle that we carry out onto the patio, under the pergola, to join Joy and Burt from Portland, Oregon.
They are absolutely the love loveliest people we have met on this sojourn. They've just completed a week-long bicycling tour of Tuscany, and have nothing but good things to say about it. I have been watching the cyclists with every bit of envy, and it is nice to hear from some real folks about how the adventure truly is. They are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, and sadly, leaving for another part of Italy tomorrow. We talk for over and hour, and I can say quite confidently, that they are just darling. And not only because they know what NPR is, although that goes a long way!
And by the way, the mother of this place comes by with a sample of what she has just pulled out of the oven, and then proceeds to give Joy and I a brief tour of her garden. Oh, thank heaven for the lovely hospitality of the Italian people.
We have made reservations for a place known for seafood, and they do not disappoint... except for a small issue with price. What I order is seven euros, but there is also this small word near the price... "hectogram." Franky, I have no idea what a hectogram is, and when we get the bill, we learn that it is about four times the seven euro listed, as my dish is now 28 euro. Ugh. I ask the woman at the front, and she says this is already easily discounted. Here's the thing... it was amazing. One of the best meals I have ordered in Italy. But -- it was more than I wanted, and more than I planned to spend. I hate this sort of thing. It puts a bad taste I my mouth, which must promptly be alleviated with gelato.
I choose chocolate fondant and tiramisu. And yes, I am such a tease I won't tell you more...
I drop mom off at the room and grab my iPad and a few euros to head to the local watering hole, Gambrinus Pub, where I order a pint of G. Manabrea e Figli from Biella. It's an amber, brewed there since 1846. So delicious. And now... bottle of wine at hotel, half bottle at dinner, I feel maybe it is time for me to call it a night.