Postcards From an Italian Adventure – Cinque Terre & Volterra

Author: , June 5th, 2010

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

May 22nd, 2010

Buon Giorno everyone,

Cinque TerraWe had 3 lovely days at Cinque Terre, returned to Florence on Thursday night, then got up early yesterday (Friday) and went to Volterra.

We arrived in Vernazza, on the Cinque Terre, about 10:30 a.m. on Monday. The weather was slightly overcast, but warm. After we got checked into our hotel, we had lunch on the waterfront, at an outdoor restaurant, devouring very good pizze and beer. Our rooms at Martina’s hotel, are very nice, but we have the top 3 rooms in the hotel, my room being up 72 stairs. I think I counted them every time I went up…

My room is a small double room, but had the outdoor terrace off of it, so that was our Happy Hour gathering place every day. It was so relaxing.

Cinque TerraAfter lunch the first day, the other ladies took off to do some walking, just in Vernazza. Because of all the wet weather before we got there, the trails between the towns was closed. Some were wet, but the biggest problem was that landslides had closed the trails with rocks and debris. I did not go for walks with them, as I just wanted to savor being in Cinque Terre again. I did go out and buy some postcards, then spent a lovely hour on the terrace writing them. When the girls got back, they brought some salami and cheese, bread and some of the great Cinque Terre white wine.

Later, we went to dinner at Il Pirata, a small restaurant at the top of the town, owned by the Sicilian twins, Giancarlo and Massimo. They both remembered us from previous years, and we were treated very well. Massimo poured wine for all of us, as we had to wait for our tables. Then they served us the most delicious seafood salads, pesto lasagne, eggplant parmigiano, among other dishes. We just had to have dessert as Giancarlo is pastry chef extraordinaire.

Cinque TerraEach day we went up to Il Pirata for breakfast, having fresh squeezed orange juice, cappucchini and pastries. I know, I know… I am not eating sugar, but my will power went right down the drain in Vernazza. (Of course, when we got back home and I had gained a kilo, I got my resolve back again in a hurry!!)

Tuesday, we woke to gorgeous sunshine. The ladies wanted to go to Riomaggiore and walk the easy part of the trail, which was open, then they hoped they could get up to Corniglia. I did not feel like climbing the hundreds of stairs to Corniglia, so I elected to go by train to Monterosso, by myself. That was very nice. I explored the old town, walked all over that area, finally having lunch at a small cafe on the beach. It was glorious.

When we had our Happy Hour Sharing Time, I found that the girls had been able to do an alternated hike, through the vineyards, up at Corniglia. We all had such a good time. That night we went to dinner at Gambero Rosso, a very nice seafood restaurant, right in the same piazza as our hotel. The seafood, being locally caught and very fresh, was delicious.

Wednesday was not so nice. Overcast, slightly breezy, threatening to rain, but we all went to Monterosso together. I had not done the Switchback of the Friars walk, so we did that, which was again, stairs, straight up (almost) to a church at the top. We also went on walks through town, visited the Anchovy packing plant and visitor center. We got to taste the anchovies, and saw a video on how they pack them. They are very good, and not anything like anchovies that we get in the United States.

After lunch, we got the train back to Vernazza, and had our last dinner at Trattoria di Sandro, which also had fresh seafood, and another wonderful meal. We bought wine from Martina, whose Dad has a vineyard there in Vernazza. Very good white wine, for 7 Euro per bottle.

Thursday we came back to Florence, made a dinner of pasta with tomato sauce and sausage, roasted some veggies, had a salad and bread, and retired early.

Yesterday we took the bus to Volterra, which is a two-hour trip from Florence, but it is such an interesting little town. We spent the day there, returned home about 7:00 p.m., a bunch of tired people. I had frozen soup before we went to Cinque Terre, so we had that, heated up, of course, cheese, salami and bread, and a bottle of our 4.40 Euro wine… which, by the way, is on sale this weekend, for 2.90 so I sent the girls back to the store to buy as much as they could carry!!

Today we went to the San Ambrogio market, we are doing laundry, and later are having a cooking session, with a lesson on making panna cotta… and another good meal for dinner here tonight… we are making the asparagus risotto with porcini mushrooms again, as it is the most wonderful thing I have eaten in a long time, plus chicken marsala, roasted veggies and salad, and if our panna cotta turns out well, that will be our dessert with strawberries.

Tomorrow, our cooking session will be learning how to make ricotta potato gnocchi….
I will let all of you know how that turns out.

Ciao for now… off to the laundromat.

Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

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