okay. arrival in 2nd hostel successful, but not quite as successful as the first one. driving today has been…. um well let’s just say that buying that italy road atlas book was the best 14€ i ever spent. EVER.
i left off last night with talking about genova. it’s really too bad that we only had part of a day there today. i felt like i was doing myself an injustice not wandering around and taking lots of photos, but sometimes you have to choose your battles, or whatever. the most unfortunate part of the time in genova was seeing the quentin blake (illustrator for roald dahl, anyone???) exposition, wanting to go, and realizing it was closed for lunch and wouldn’t be open until after we’d planned to leave genova for pisa. too bad!
so last night after we checked in at the hostel, we made the (mistake)
decision to drive down to this less touristy part of town along the water, as recommended by the hostel guy, and have dinner at one of the “many pubs and restaurants” in this supposed “local” area.
two hours later… we asked some lady in some park walking some dog where to get dinner. any kind of dinner. please oh please… fortunately she spoke english. after humming and hawing a bit, she said, “oh yes!” and gave us some suggestions. we found the two places (one block down from where we’d given up and turned about half an hour earlier), and a third place just a little further. just by looking at its sign, we both knew that we would check the menus of the first two, but only to say we did. so we chose #3, il pampino. we even wanted to wait the half hour for a table because we just knew it was going to be amazing. and it was. it was a small, cozy, stone road grille-esqu restaurant, filled with people, and walls lined with either shelves of wine, or cases of wine. the hostess offered us a glass of wine while we waited, and honestly it was incredible. to save time, i won’t really go in to detail, but we both had a ravioli dish, ate half and switched. mine was with meat, hers was ricotta and butter. i don’t know if it was the relief at having found the place after so much frustrating searching, being hungry, or what, but it was probably the best pasta i’ve ever had. at one point i said to claire: “this pasta is making me smile involuntarily” …and the tiramisu i had for dessert will probably be the last one i ever eat because i’m not sure anything will ever compare.
anyways, enough of making you jealous. we drove back to the hostel in the rain and, very full and satisfied, fell asleep in our big empty 8-person dorm room (empty meaning we could steal all the blankets from the other beds!).
side note: i recommend trying to say things in ridiculous italian accents. you’d be surprised how much fun it is!
after grabbing a late breakfast and coffee near the aquarium, we headed to pisa around 2pm. the drive was, again, breathtaking. we got off the highway alright, towards pisa, but this is pretty much the conversation that followed, about ten minutes of driving in.
robyn: claire, i don’t know where i’m going. this round about isn’t giving me anything useful. i don’t want firenze and i don’t want [insert italian sounding village name], i want pisa. where are we?
claire: i don’t know, this map isn’t detailed enough, i don’t have street names. just keep heading to the city centre, surely we’ll find something there.
robyn: that sign above the police station says pisamo…. hang on, i think we’re IN pisa…? considering that we have stopped seeing signs that tell us how to get to pisa…
[we’ve stopped driving, pulled over to get bearings]
robyn: [looking up from the road] oh, well, this is the pisa city bus station. that explains it!
so we got lost and ended up in pisa, just where we were meant to go. and it was pretty great. we parked illegally (unintentional, i swear!) and walked to the tower. it was what i expected, but also really cool. we stopped to get some pizza to tide us over until our romantic valentine’s dinner in florence, and headed back towards the autostrade (highway).
this proved much more difficult than planned, and it was getting dark. my intuition told me to go one way, and an hour or so later we found the highway. i wasn’t wrong, it was just insanely marked and really difficult. we could SEE the highway, but we could not GET to the highway. regardless, we did (thank you navigator claire and our trusty road atlas!) and another hour later we were exiting for firenze (florence). and then, for whatever reason (like, how about, TERRIBLE SIGNAGE), we got lost in florence back roads, happened upon our street, then got lost again. well not lost, just, the streets are all one way but never in the way you need! and not in any logical way that makes nice squares or circles. alas, at long, tired, frustrated last, we parked, walked ten minutes, found our hostel, checked in, got the tour, and here i am.
we’re in a three-person mixed dorm, with a nice aussie guy named tim, who leaves tomorrow. claire is on her bed researching restaurants for tonight, and i am getting hungry. so i will leave this here, and hopefully put up some of the first photos when we get back tonight. provided i haven’t had too much limoncello. 🙂