Road Trip Part III: Farewell Riomaggiore, hello Pisa & Florence

August 22, 2012

Leaving Riomaggiore meant saying farewell on the warmest, most beautiful day we'd had yet (isn't that always the way?). We took that opportunity to wander around town, picking up some things - soaps, wine, snacks for the road - and to take photos along the waterfront. People were out in full force, apparently with the same idea we had, taking advantage of the sunshine by sunbathing and taking lots of photos with this perfect backdrop. 

As someone who has grown up next to the ocean, I am always surprised to see people misjudging the power of it. One such woman wanted a photo out on the rocks with the perfect splash of the waves behind her. Well, you can guess what happened next - and so could I, as I stood with my camera waiting to be proven right. The wave was so powerful, I was honestly shocked that she was still on the rocks after it had come down, and not swept out to sea. Bow down to the ocean gods, people. They are merciless. 

Our next stay was out in the Tuscan countryside, so we figured we would hit the big cities on our drive there. First, we drove a bit south to Pisa to see that famous leaning tower. My weather app said rain was forecasted for our arrival, but we lucked out with warm sunshine instead. Although, technology also said we had parked just down the street, yet we ended walking nearly an hour to get there. So much for the astuteness of the German navi. As expected, it was super-crowded with tourists and not entirely as exciting as one might hope, but we were glad to see such a famous landmark once in our lives - and of course, taking the requisite 'leaning' photos. Boy, is that thing leaning. Like, scary leaning.

Our drive into Florence marked my mom's first foray into big European city driving, Italian style. My husband and I have driven the streets of New York City and Paris, and of course we come from San Francisco, but Italians take city driving to a whole other level. Not only are they just as animated and passionate behind the wheel as they are in the rest of life, but it seems they feel that traffic rules do not apply to them. And lanes? They don't need no stinkin' lanes! Don't even get me started on the clear deathwish of those on scooters. Needless to say, my mom's fear from the backseat was palpable. 

I had been to Florence before, so I led my mother and husband to the big sights - Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and those amazing golden doors on the Baptistery - before meandering through town towards a promising place for dinner. Since we'd eaten mostly light, take-out-type fare thus far, we figured it was about time for a somewhat nicer meal. One of my biggest pet peeves is settling for a place to eat, while traveling or otherwise. There are just too many tourist traps out there serving mediocre food, why waste the money? So the hubs found this well-reviewed place online and we weren't disappointed. The restaurant itself and the food were equally lovely, with many delicious-sounding options on the menu to choose from. The fried dough ball starter and entrée of fried chicken and zucchini were the standouts for me. 

Though thoroughly stuffed, not to mention many hours past our estimated check-in at our hotel outside of town, we headed to what I can now call one of the best gelato shops I've had the pleasure of eating at: Gelateria dei Neri. The taste and the flavor selection were equally impressive: green apple, caramel, fig and ricotta. *sigh...* What a perfect note to end our evening in Florence on.      

Next up: Under the Tuscan sun (...and rain).

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische
Some photos courtesy of Mom