Saturday, 4 May 2013


... and so it has come to pass. Our last day and the last blog.

We had out in some very strenuous days walking and decided to take it easy on the last and final (yes, both of these) days. Drive down to Lerici, walk along the promenade, visit whatever castles were open and generally Kick Back.

I shall let the photos tell some of the story, and here are some descriptions:

Grazyna engages in some vigorous discussion (in fluent Italian) about parking times and prices with some locals;
A lady chats with some chums;
A chap with an Australian wife runs a little fish and chip caboose;
A fishing smack lands and unloads its catch;
A couple plants geraniums in the wall cavity/planter;
A huge seagull nesting in the walls of the Lerici castle gets angry at perceived human interference with its nesting duties two chicks and a few eggs under her/him.
A last photo of Andy and Grazyna on one of our walks.

... And that really is all there is to tell in the blog. Other great things happened and lots of ordinary events took place, but there is no time and we are both running out of energy sitting here at Heath Row. Still two hours to take-off and nothing more to do now that the blog is finished.

By Jiminy Cricket, are we ever looking forward to getting home and catching up with chums! Look out for some pretty Huge Hugs! Hell, why not have us over for dinner? Put on a lovely meal and we can fill in a few of the blogger gaps. Now THAT sounds like a PLAN!

See you then!


Pitelli - home!

Now is the time to write about our abode in the 5-T - the Cinque Terra - so here goes.

One of the Bunch Boys from Wangaratta, Dave Montgomery, had suggested the Hotel Doria in Lerici. He and Jacinta stayed there last year and they said it was a good jumping-off point for the 5-T. They were far from wrong.

Grazyna had been tasked with the job of finding accommodation for us and she really put the creative juices to work. Long story short, Graz found THE PERFECT PLACE. High on the hill overlooking the Ligura Sea, perched high on the hill in a national park, this Villa Rosa (as it is called - I kid you not) had The View to Die For! Down to the left lies Lerici. Right in front is Muggiano, in the distance is Portovenere and out to sea are the ships, boats and ferries.

Pre Dinner Drinks (PDDs), lunch and breakfast can all be taken on the patio overlooking the splendor below. It was a little on the remote side, did not possess a kettle or have wi-fi, but everything else about it was wonderful. YOU LITTLE BEWDY GRAZ! Just check the photos! Look on Google Earth. The closest town is Pitelli.

Also perched on the ridge high above the 'action' below on the coast is a restaurant called Pin Bon. A seafood restaurant that was delightful in all respects. Eight 'first plates', comprising lots of delicious little thingies. THEN. Second plate of as many scampi and prawns and fish as you needed. On our first visit I had a second helping, cooked separately, vigorously encouraged by the gorgeous waiter Lorenzo, for whom nothing was too much trouble. Desserts were then produced and later a complementary limoncello! The view was the same as ours at Villa Rosa. Splendiferous!

We definitely needed a car for this accommodation. This little extra cost was well worth it though, especially with two couples involved.

Just check he photos. You will soon see what I mean.


San Fruttuoso

San Fruttuoso can only be reached on foot or by ferry. Having driven west, we caught a ferry, sailed in to the cove and walked out. On May Day. Lots of Italians had made the decision to spend their holiday in this way and had made a bee-line for the beautiful port of Camogli. Looking at the craggy cliffs as we sailed around to the cove, our hearts knew that another enormous walk lay ahead.

... but only after a bite to eat and a coffee and an ice cream at the little cove. From the observation point afforded by the cafe/restaurant, we observed the frolicsome activities of Italians at play on the beach. Not too much swimming - the water much too cold - but lots of lying on sun lounges (no sand here, only rocks) and stone-throwing into the water by little boys. One older chap went in the water, slowly slowly - just like DJ does - and finally plunged in. Very soon after there occurred more chap-plunging, probably because they had been out-maneuvered by an older man (around 62-year-old) and were feeling as though un-manned. Go the older chap!

The walk out comprised, as predicted, lots of up. Right to the tippy top of the mountain and down the other side. Through lovely green forest and one surprisingly remote cafe. Many holiday makers had taken refreshment at this cafe as we would well have done had we known of its existence. They passed us moving down as we made our way up.

The walk back down to Camogli, where we had parked the car, took us down narrow lanes and past gardens that one can only dream of in happy dreams about Italian gardens and narrow windey lanes. We found a tiny delicatessen (I don't know the word in Italian) and bought the makings for an omelette. [This turned out to be a disaster because we didn't get enough eggs and the pan was coming apart at the base.] Back to the car, drive for yonks on the autostrade and back home to Pitelli (look this up on Google Maps).

These have been endless days of head-pillow-hit-immediate sleep!

The last photo here shows an example of trompe l'oeuil (in French), of which there are many in and around these here parts.


Pisa and Lucca

Pisa! Yes! Who guessed it?

Two of the Four Find-outers had been, but DJ and I had totally NOT! Imagine going to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa (LTP)! Well, we did. And we had fun.

Apparently Galileo never went there (Andy told me this), but we DID. We didn't climb LTP, but we did walk up to it and touch it. TOUCHed it! I suppose you are saying to yourselves, "What would happen if EVERYONE who visited LTP went up and touched it?", but I am if the view that nothing would happen. This is totally the opposite of stealing daffodils from fields.

Andy is full of contrary-wise ideas like this information about Galileo. For example, he said that the real meaning of 'enormous' is not 'big', but 'bad', as in, "the occupation of France by the Nazis had an enormous effect on the country." Andy told me lots of interesting stuff like this.

You can all pretty-well imagine what Pisa was like and what you conjure up in your mind will probably be right. Lots of tourists (imagine what the joint will be like in summer), lots of stalls selling trinkety nick-nacks, heaps of touros taking funny photos of their friends holding up the tower and/or pinching it from above to stop it falling.

Our tickets, while not letting us up the LTP, did give us access to a mausoleum (wonderful) and a huge round structure that DJ assures me was a place for baptismal rites and such. Both were stunning, and definitely worth the visit.

Pisa was not our only destination for the day. No. We had got a bit lost getting there and had come within a stone's throw of Lucca. It is to this city that we returned when we had finished with Pisa. AND WE WERE NOT DISAPPOINTED!

First-off we lucked in to a cafe for lunch with the most friendly and helpful waiter that has ever pulled on a waiter's uniform, even though his uniform was jeans and similar attire. Lovely chap, good food. The cafe, as with most of the town is located inside some pretty lovely ramparts. Not only ramparts, but a moat as well! It is a much bigger city than Beaune, but every bit as lovely. Risty-twisty streets, towers, churches and cathedrals. This is a place to come back to (for us) and for you to make into a destination. It would not be outside the realms of probability to get yourself a little apartment, either. Think about it!

Photos attached.



There is really only one word to say to our blog-followers, and that word is "SOR-RY". Lots has been happening and there has been little time for writing, but the thing is, you see, there has been no Internet in our gorgeous rental house here in Pitelli. In addition, there has been no phone shop from which to buy data phone credit. So there! Apology accepted?

La Cinque Terra (5-T) has been astonishing. There have been countless adventures had by the Fabulous Four (DJ, GCR, Graz and Andy) that there is only so much time and space available, and I cannot relate it all here. Again - so-RY!

Lots of our chums had experienced 5-T before and had told us how much we would enjoy it. This is always good to hear, but it leaves one with the residual fear that perhaps we bloody-well WON'T enjoy it. Hands up those who have had THAT feeling? Also, there was still stuff to do in Beaune, and maybe we shouldn't have come to Italy and instead stayed at home (in Beaune) and finished off a few tasks. Looking back into the past retrospectively, as we steam into Milan for our flight to London and home I can tell you now that WE MADE THE RIGHT DECISION!

5-T is all that it is cracked up to be. The five towns themselves are a splendiferous collection of architecture, culture, magnificence, history and beauty. Nothing more to say. We observed them by train, on foot, by car and on the ferry. Amazing.

It was not possible to walk between all the towns as the floods of 2011 had washed most of the track away and officially only one of the walks was open for us - that from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza. This was the longest and 'toughest' walk according to the guide books, but no probs for any of the Four Findouters (apologies to Enid Blyton again). Vernazza was beyond description, so I won't try. You need to go there yourself.

This traverse completed, we decided to walk to the bit on the track that marked the blocking off of the path, but no barrier materialised, so we continued on to Corniglia ( I hope I am getting these towns correctly spelled and in the right order). Another gob-smack here, but again, indescribable. The reason I am telling you all this is so that you will make sense of the attached photos.

To begin this, as it turned out long, walk, we had set off on the ferry from our 'home town' of Lerici. This (ie the ferry) was a great way to get the lie of the land and to gain our bearings on the geography of the area. Sail to the further-most town, calling in on the 5-Ts on the way, and walk back. DO IT!

On other days we took the train to the towns we missed on the walk and just 'hung out' (as today's young would call it). Lost of lovely ice-creams, coffees, lunches and toilet breaks to be had along the way.

The 5-T was great, but we did more! On one gloomy-looking day we hopped into the hire car that Andy and Graz had and tootled off somewhere else. WHO can guess where we went?

I shall report in the next blog.


Saturday, 27 April 2013

Getting away

You will have noticed that I made no reference to the leaving of Beaune in any way emotionally. It was not possible at the time of writing. It was too painful.

What made it somewhat bearable, however , was the change in the weather. Gerard, our fellow 'syndic' member who, with his wife Simone had had us for drinks one evening to 'get to know' us, told us some incredibly low number of hours of sunshine to date this year. [The syndic is our body corporate.]. Ben, the husband of our property manager Libbi told us that the weather prediction for the next few weeks is very bleak indeed, with heavy frosts and lots of cold rain. Our two weeks of sun have turned out to be fortuitous in the extreme!

On the subject of Gerard and Simone, it apparent that the Big G is the captain. He is the captain at home. He was the captain at work (now retired from his job at Pernod Ricard) and appears to be very much the captain of the syndic. Roger and Anna had accompanied us to drinks and Roger's assessment was that we had made a hit. This view was probably rammed home manifestly at the moment I looked deeply into Big G's eyes and solemnly vowed that the Roses were hell-bent on doing nothing but the RIGHT THING by the commune of residents at 28 Rue de Lorraine.

Six of us ripped through two bottles of cremant (Burgundian champagne) that night , accompanied by some lovely hors d'oeuvre prepared by Simone's own hand (or so we assumed). The evening was politely pleasant an we 'etrangers' beetled up to Appartrment Rose to a slightly overcooked bouff bourgignon accompanied by lashings of potato, salad and Bordeaux red wine. How perfect!

But back to departure time ...

The rain could be heard on our roof all night. We had done much of the packing and sorting the night before (the practice known in our family of "Boadle-Frawley-ing"), leaving only a little bit of cleaning to do on the morrow. I must say that the sound of rain on our roof was most comforting and reassuring in a funny kind of way. It was raining and we were snug as bugs in our own beds, inside our own apartment, inside the walls of our own town.

When you come to stay it will be YOUR bed in YOUR apartment (and so on). Go on, make a plan RIGHT NOW to come.


Leaving Beaune

Well we're all packed and ready to catch the 9:00 am train to Lyon, then on to Milan. My only other experience with Italy was not a good one because I had spent a 9-month cycling in Britain (in 1980) and a goodly part of Spain, Portugal and Switzerland and was yearning for the parched plains of Australia. I was not in a good mood.

So Italy now beckons with a whole new perspective in prospect. We will catch up with Andy and Grazyna again and it will be a hoot to hear of their adventures since we saw them last in Beaune. Graz is learning Italian, so she will be pretty headlong into the culture. As you all know, I am pretty fluent in that language, so I hope I don't upstage Grazyna with my rapid-fire conversations with the locals.

Anyway, DJ is giving me the 'look', so I had better hop up out of bed and get on with some serious train-catching.