Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bella Vernazza, crappy weather, and psychotic Sicilian twins

(Apologies for the delay – but internet access is spotty here in Vernazza, so updates are going to be sporadic for the time-being).

Bella Vernazza!

We really lucked out with the weather in Florence – not a drop of rain nor a cloud in the sky the entire week (a first for me – every time I’ve been there in the past, it’s always rained at least once). Today, that changed quite dramatically after leaving Florence for the Cinque Terre.

We left for Vernazza today via a hot and stuffy train filled with chatty high-school girls apparently commuting home from school. The clouds in the sky were looking increasingly dark and foreboding, and by the time we got to La Spezia, and waited for the connecting train to Vernazza, it started pouring. Once we got to Vernazza, the rain stopped, and we were able to get to the place we’re staying- Camere di Rosa - dry.

Rosa met us at the door and seemed really sweet. She had actually mistaken another couple - who’d gotten there a few minutes earlier - for us, and had to kick them out of the 4th floor room with balcony that we booked, and usher them into the 3rd floor/no balcony room. The room was immaculately clean, and the bed is one mattress!!! I repeat – the bed is one mattress!!! Do you know how difficult it is to find that in Italy – where most places have two single mattresses pushed together?!?! One queen-sized mattress!!!

There’s also an area with a loveseat/sofa bed, and a semi-useless kitchen, which has a fridge, a sink, and plates/utensils, but no stove, oven, or even a hot plate. A very spacious, and surprisingly non-funky place, considering it’s Vernazza. And did I mention the balcony? The balcony is awesome. No harbor or ocean views (those places are way out of our price range), but the views of the street and surrounding buildings all clustered together on the hillsides are still awesome.

Terka on the balcony

We strolled down to the harbor, hiked up to the little castle tower, wandered the warren of narrow passages and winding, steep steps, and drank some local wine on the balcony.

For dinner, we went to Il Pirata, which might be my favorite place to eat in Vernazza. Run by certifiably insane Sicilian twins, Massimo and Gianluca, it’s a café/restaurant/pastry shop with excellent food, enhanced by the twisted and caustic humor of the twins. One twin works the front , while the other does the cooking. I had to order the pesto lasagna, which I had the last time I was here, in 2007, and which I’d dreamed about (and tried to recreate at home) frequently. We also had a tasty gnocchi with pesto. For dessert, we ordered an excellent ricotta cannoli. One of the twins actually swore that he recognized me, but who knows?

When we left Il Pirata, it was totally pouring. From our room, you could hear the wind howling up the street and blasting the buildings, while rain pummeled the roof and skylights of our room. It was definitely cool, but then obviously, rain is not the kind of weather you want to have when you’re in le Cinque Terre. The forecast says it should clear up by Friday, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed. If it’s nasty Thursday, we’ll think about a day trip up to Genova. We knew it’d be a gamble coming here in late October, but Terezia wanted to go anyway. 

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