We arrived in the seaside town of Santa Margherita in the afternoon of Wednesday 24 May and what a gorgeous place this is. My hotel room overlooked the ocean and I had a small balcony to stand on and soak it all up. Boats bobbing in the water, people swimming, the beach - pebbles not sand - and still the glorious weather. Romeo insisted on shouting us a gelato - unlike the rest of the crew I've only had the one so far but they are good, so many flavours to choose from.
On Thursday we took a boating tour to Cinque Terre, an UNESCO world heritage site. I had been there before but saw it from an ocean perspective this time - last time I had arrived by train - seeing the five coastal villages which have an extraordinary old world charm about them. They are so colourful and unique. We wandered one of the villages and had a gorgeous lunch. My bus buddy, Irene, was determined to have mussels, and she did, with a side order of fried anchovies - she's of Greek heritage so she did! We did catch the train back to our hotel though which
was quicker than the boat - we were all tuckered out by the end of the day but managed to enjoy wine and nibbles on the hotel terrace. On Friday we drove across the scenic Appenine mountains towards Parma, Italy's meat and parmigiana capital! Our tour of the working prosciutto factory was fascinating to say the least - I can't remember the exact number of 'ham thighs' hanging up and curing but they were in the many hundreds of thousands. We enjoyed an informal luncheon consisting of prosciutto and salami with cheeses and wines. But it didn't stop there! Our visit to view the process of making parmigiana reggiano cheese was fascinating-cheese as far as the eye could see. Each block weighs 45kg. We enjoyed samples of 12 month and 24 month cheeses, washed down with Lambrusco in this family run 'caseifico'. The lakes and countryside of northern Italy are beautiful and I've enjoyed the past week very much; met some beaut people and have had a great time - although toooooo much food was on offer but it can be refused!
Today, Sunday, I finally caught up with John in Milano - he still sore and sorry and those
scabs....but we wandered off to have a look at the Giro d'Italia cyclists flash past and caught the final stages on the TV back at our hotel enjoying a few drinks with some other members of his tour group.
Tomorrow we are off to Whitley Bay, the Jewel of Europe, to spend a few days with our favourite people for some much needed R&R!
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