Okay, now for my weekends!
We loaded three buses and drove to Lucca, a cute town with giant walls that our enthusiastic, Lucca-loving tour guide was excited to show us. I would love to go back to Lucca to do the bike tour he was telling us about!
After the tour of Lucca, we went to Viareggio where we had some time to explore a gorgeous beach with a view of some mountains nearby (I should know the name of them…) It was nice to relax for a while, most of us swam and napped. It’s funny how quickly we all jump at the chance to nap, even for twenty minutes.
They took us to a small hotel nearby to spend the night, treating us to an incredible dinner. The funny part, though, was that the hotel was serving dinner to a group of older folks, my guess is another tour group, at the same time. I’m not sure which group was looking each other more. We run into tours of older people frequently, which can be entertaining- it’s fun to watch the guides occasionally nod to each other in exasperation. I’m sure both groups can be trying.
Sunday we drove to Cinque Terre, a short trip from Viareggio. We had heard a lot about Cinque Terre, so it was exciting to finally be there in person. However, I would have to say I preferred the Amalfi Coast to Cinque Terre. Exploring the cliffs and witnessing the Sunday night tourist rush hour between the five villages was unforgettable. We had an amazing lunch where my friend got the best pesto I have ever tasted in my life.
Okay, fast forward to this weekend!
My report for Bologna, Italy is short. We all agreed the trip there would have been a bust, had it not been for this meal. It was incredible. Simple tortellini with ricotta and a tomato, butter sauce, but it was amazing. The walking tour with a guide that was actually 7.5 feet tall that I had to run to keep up with was not amazing. However, our trip to Modena later that afternoon more than made up for it!
Question. If an Italian couple smiled and handed you a dixie cup of “cook-ed must” to sample, would you drink it? I did! And it wasn’t that bad. It tasted like warm raisin juice, but there’s really no way to say no. The couple explained to us how they transform three types of grapes from vine to soft-press to musk to barrels. The process was fascinating and getting to sample vinegars ranging from 7-30 years was great. It’s amazing how expensive they can get!
The couple was so kind to us all, allowing us to sample a huge buffet of desserts and finger sandwiches. I actually have no idea what most of them were, but we all agreed to try one of each and were not disappointed. The balsamic vinegar farm absolutely rivaled Capri, but it was very different. We all were treated to an experience like “Grandma’s house”, with good food and three generations of vinegar farmers (creators? I’m honestly just so unsure what to call them). We also were treated to a grassy backyard, something we all hadn’t realized how much we missed. Florence doesn’t have grass or trees unless you look really hard.
What a crazy two weeks it has been!