So from where i left off, i see i was about to get a full body massage in the olive grove. Well what can I say- Simone was as good looking as Isabella said he'd be. Of course, the oil of choice for the massage was oilve and like the pamphlet said the breeze was oh so caressing! la la la.... Lets snap outta la la land for a minute. I went to buy 2 bottles of wine from the grandfatherly man who owned the agriturismo. Well what a surprise when he KISSED me (not just a peck on the cheek let me tell you) then gave me an extra bottle of wine and a block of cheese and all of it for free!!! Hmmm...not sure how much i like this system of transactions. :) (now if this was the way Simone worked i might not be so objectionable )
On to Pisa where i met some wonderful gals who took pics of me holding up the tower. And one of them was unfortunate enuf to meet me at the train station where i roped her into helping me to lug my suitcases on to the train, off the train and to the hostel (ok i am mean). As for a town i found Pisa to be very industrial but apparently i wasnt in the right places as Italians have told me its lovely.
Cinque Terre are the lovely cliffside villages along the Ligurian Sea. Imagine kilometers of grapes terraced into the hillside withe colourful villages plunked here and there along the coast. A few lemon trees are plunked here and there and the vegetation is gorgeous. Another poor soul (Pamela from Oz) is trapped into helping me pull my luggage to the hostel- ok there are STEEEP hills here ok? Then there are the steps... Pamela and i share a room and meet Trisha from Vancouver. We hang out on some of the lovely hikes and go for supper in the evenings to our fave restaurant slong the water where the waiters hang out with us until close every night and let us taste diffferent wines and limoncino.
There are all sorts of hikes between the villages along the coast and through the hills- Trisha and i do a 6 hour hike day 1 I am there so my legs are sore the rest of the days in 5 terre. Day 2 i do the shorter hike to Corniglia where the nude beach is. I am told its one of the nicer beaches around cos our beach in Manarola is rock not rocks just a rock.
Of course the beach is full of naked men but if i close my eyes and sun tan i dont see them (its like this: 20 men to 3 ladies ). I go to cool off in the beautiful clear blue sea (swimsuit on)and have this naked Italian man nonchalantly swim over to me. Typical cheeso...black hair in a low ponytail. Italian small talk happens, 'nice day, warm water, where are you from'. Then of course the courteous thing happens: he puts out his hand to shake. So i meet Stefano who speaks english very well. He's nice and i am thankful that he didnt do the typical Italian greeting of grabbing me by the shoulders and kissing both of my cheeks!
On to Florence - home of all the great artists and many nuns. I meet up with Trisha and Pamela for one night here which was great to see them again! We were in a great hostel - kitchen free internet and laundry facility. I was thinking to stay the rest of my florence time here eventhough i was supposed to be at Instituto Sacro Cuore with the nuns. I went to stay one night with the nuns and was hooked. I have a gorgeous view from my room of Florence skyline. My bathroom window faces the olive grove and the country and every morning the birds voices are amazing and its quiet - out of the city. Mothers Christine and Terry are from USA so are easy to speak with and are SOOOOO kind. I just had to stay here.
I met Marco who has been the biggest help in planning this trip and he shows me the evening sights. BUT we are to be back at 10 pm SHARP!! I have a 9 pm curfew but Mother Christine allows us to stay until 10.
So far in Florence i have been to the Uffizi gallery which houses many of the worlds masterpieces. Unfortunaltly i dont appreciate or understand art enough tp really have appreciated what i saw in there. I especially wonder if technology in the movies has made me not appreciate what the fine hand of a human is capable of. I missed Leonardo da Vinci's room in Uffizi and the crowds drove me out of there quicker than i would have liked.
There is still a lot more to see in this fine city. The shopping is great- of course all of the high end shops are here: Prada, D&G etc. I bought my Bordeaux coloured 'riding boots' that i have been searching for since Siena.
I finally feel settled in to Italy and am loving this freedon of wandering the streets, popping in for a latte here and there, meeting wonderful people and having this sense of irresposibility. I am sure the bank loves my irresponsibility too.
Until it rains again - ciao!