"Asiatic Woman: Want to try some Italian food?"

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May 17th 2015
Published: May 17th 2015
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We actually heard that question today. A Middle Eastern man asked that of an Asian woman walking by his establishment, and I couldn't help but laugh.

The morning was probably my favorite time, since we got to sleep in a little and have a really good breakfast at the hotel. Our first stop was the ticket office for the Tower. It cost 18€ to go up, and this included admission to the Duomo, too. We had also heard good things about the Camposanto (an area with many tombstones inside of a long colonnaded building), and that cost an extra 5€. You have to either order your ticket online or show up at the ticket office and take whatever time slot they give you - they only let so many people in at a time. We got there at 10:30, and the first available tour was at 11:45. So we walked around and looked for a pharmacy. We found the cheapest postcards so far in this town (0.30€), so I got a couple. We also found a nice gelateria, because it was warming up fast, and we wanted some cold food. We found the Piazza dei Miracoli (the name for the whole square where the tower and the other buildings are located) to be far fuller with tourists than yesterday. Maybe because we went through around dusk last night instead of late morning today. But our turn came and we went up the tower.

It's 300 steps to the top, which isn't as bad as it sounds. Sometimes, on the side of the tower leaning closer to the ground, the steps "up" feel more like steps "forward," so the climb isn't so bad. We got up there right at noon, so we got to hear the bells chime. This was meant to be a bell tower (and that's it) for the church next door until it started leaning. Now it's more famous for that than anything else. There's only a fence to keep people from falling off the top of the tower - no guardrails or anything. As a guy said when I showed my obvious fear of heights, "That's Italian engineering for ya." Indeed, sir. We were probably up there about 20 or so minutes. There are some great views of the Piazza and the town, and you can see some gigantic mountains in the distance, too.

After we descended, we decided to look for the Camposanto. There weren't any signs, but somehow we stumbled into exactly where we needed to be. It was a great place - lots of shaded porticoes, which we needed since the sun was heating up. Lots of grave markers on the floor and frescoes on the walls. It looked like most of it was from the Renaissance period, though some were as recent as 1960. There was not a lot of color, since most of it was stone work. When we went next door into the Duomo (the big church), there was so much color, we were blown away. Again, it was out of the sun, so we took our time gazing at the artworks on the wall and the architecture all around us.

By that time, we were hungry. We found this Indian place that had a great deal for lunch: pizza + drink + fries for 6.50€, so we tried that. It was called Bollywood, and the pizza sauce definitely had an Indian aftertaste to it. Neither of us thought the pizza was stellar, but it did the trick. Then we walked around the old town and found a flea market, but there wasn't anything that grabbed our attention, so we passed along through. On the other side of the river, we found the main shopping street and walked up and down, doing some window shopping. We also found this awesome artisanal gelateria with "medium" size cones that had 3 massive scoops each, for only 2.50€. That was so good - I had blueberry, lemon, and something called il fior ("the flower," but it tasted like vanilla to me). We found a nice shady place and watched a medieval parade, full with drums and trumpets, pass by the intersection.

We also went in search of a cinema, but that was a waste of time. They only had films dubbed into Italian or kids movies, so we just came back to the hotel. I was more tired than I realized, since I took an unintentional 30-minute nap (or maybe longer, I don't know). While at the hotel, I finally got my beard trimmer to work again, in intermittent spurts before it would die for a few minutes between tries, and now my beard is much shorter, which is great for this hot weather. I also finally cut the long sleeves off my 2 long-sleeve black t-shirts. And my khaki pants are now khaki shorts. I hope these will be great additions to my wardrobe on the beaches and trails of Cinque Terre, starting tomorrow!

When we got some energy back, we went out to a dinner at this outside restaurant a couple blocks from the hotel. The temperature had dropped a little, and sun was gone, so that made things so much better. After eating, we went back to the Tower and got some cool pictures at night. There were still people hanging around, but less than 100 total, I would say. And most of them were sitting on the grass or the stairs around the Duomo. No one crying out for you to buy their cheap selfie sticks or to look at their large selection of fake Rolex watches. Those guys are everywhere! Can't wait to see them in Rome, where I'm told there are so many more of them. But now it's getting late, so I'll bid you all a fond good night!

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