Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Catching up - Riomaggiore

Okay, here's the next installment on the catching up series.

June 10, 2012

Back to June 9 and our drive to Riomaggiore.  We made pretty good time on the AutoStrada and got into Riomaggiore at about 3:30 pm.  We had lunch at an Autogrill in a service centre on the highway.  The food was really good for a service centre – we had tagliati-sliced steak with a salad, risotto with pesto, spaghetti with mussels and clams in a tomato sauce and a mixed grill with chunky fries.  Petros got diesel for the car and I took over the driving until we were about 40 minutes from Riomaggiore.

View of La Spezia, naval town on our way to Riomaggiore
The roads got pretty windy and the views were quite spectacular.  It was just as well that Petros took over the driving as the roads also get narrower in the village.  As instructed, we pulled over outside the National Park office and called Lorenza, the owner of Casa Lorenza, where our apartment (it has a name – Nettuno) was located to tell her we had arrived.  She came to meet us in her cute little car, a Fiat Panda, and had us follow her into the village.  She led us to a little parking pad in front of a house and Petros backed the car into the space beside another car.  Petros is a pretty good driver – I would not have wanted to try and back the Scenic into that tight spot.  

Our first view of Riomaggiore from our parking spot
We unloaded our luggage and piled into Lorenza’s little car and off she drove to the apartment.  We soon found out why she had such a narrow car – the road that led up to the apartment was barely wide enough for her car – she did a right turn onto the road with maybe on inch to spare on the left side.  It was pretty impressive.  It was a little walk to the apartment from where she parked her car.  The view from the little garden that came with the apartment was quite pretty.  Lorenza did not live on the premises but had a house within sight of the apartment – she pointed it out, but I really could not tell which one it was.  She welcomed us with a couple of beers and cold drinks before leaving for her home.

View of Riomaggiore from our apartment

Another view from our apartment
More or less the same view, again (it is a small village)
We got settled in the apartment, studied the guidebooks for restaurant recommendations before going for a stroll in the village.  We had to go down a whole bunch of stairs – Lorenza said it takes 1 minute to go down but 10 to come back up but that we could use the road for a gentler climb back to the apartment. 
In the village of Riomaggiore, on the main street

that's Petros in the bottom right of the photo

Fruit and vegetable store.  The cherries were really sweet.

Down at the harbour in Riomaggiore
We walked around for a little while and ended up deciding to have dinner at La Lanterna near the harbour.  We made a reservation for dinner at 7:30 pm and went back to exploring the area around the harbour for a short while. 
view from the harbour

It was kind of fun watching the waves smash into the rocks at the harbour

Section of wall along the sea

View of the harbour
We then decided it was too long to wait until 7:30 and went to the restaurant at about 6:45 for our dinner.  Dinner was fabulous – we had grilled sea bream, squid, penne arrabiata, fried anchovies, mussels and 5 different desserts, house white wine and sciachetra, the local sweet dessert wine made from dried grapes grown on the terraces in Cinque Terra.  The chef, Massimo, teaches in Switzerland during the off-season.

Fried anchovies



Sea bream

Panna cotta with berries

Tiramisu and a glass of sciachetra

Boiled cherries with cream

Semifreddos with nocciola

Bavarian with local honey
For most of our meal, we heard rumbling and thought it was thunder until a local woman also dining at the restaurant told us that it was the train.  We were totally convinced that there was a major storm brewing as we could see the dark clouds moving in from the sea.  Fortunately, the clouds more or less blew by and the skies stayed dry though it got windier.  During our dinner, we were entertained by a man who claimed to be travelling the world to promote peace.  He played his ancient Japanese pipe for us and then went around the tables seeking donations.  Most people donated to his cause - could be the good food and wine promoted generosity on the part of the diners.

The pipe player
After dinner, we made arrangements to come back for dinner the next night.  Then, Irene and I took the long way back to the apartment while Florine and Petros went for a little stroll. 

Walking back to the apartment

Village at night

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