Farewell Ospedale, farewell Siena and Hotel Executive, and Hello More of Italy
Well I took myself off to be a tourist on Tuesday and saw a museum and the University . Very nice but not of the “WOW” factor department.
Photo of old Univdersity Building Siena.
I met at breakfast a woman called June, who is Irish and whose husband had a heart attack while they were on holiday – so her husband was also in the same ward as Peter. Turns out we spent a lot of time with this Irish crew.
Upon returning from being a tourist and visiting Peter at 7pm I bumped in to the Irish – June, sister and son who had just arrived – and ate dinner with them. And then drank too much wine with them……… But it was so lovely to laugh and enjoy their travel stories.
The next day was great as Michele arrived again. We did the news paper run etc in to town and I took Michele to the darling restaurant I had eaten at when I saw the flag wavers. We had a lovely long lunch and then went back to visit Peter. Wonderful food – Michelle had salmon and I had a wonderful asparagus risotto. After dinner we caught up with the Irish contingent in the hotel lobby and once again had too much wine, lemonchello, grappa. Not sure how THAT happenned…………
Anyway on Thursday Michele and I went to visit Peter at 1pm and he was to be “let out” of his ospedale! So we waited and eventually the letters from the doctor arrived to release him. At the same time Mauiro, Peter’s room mate who spoke some English and had helped Peter out a lot with translation, was also being released. So much hand shaking, cheek kissing, all round. He had been so good to Peter with his language help – heavens only what might have happened without it. Email addresses etc were exchanged. Not to mention the kissing of the nurses, the food staff………… J
Peter got back to the hotel and took his stockings has to wear full leg compression stockings for awhile) off and laid up. Michele and I went to get bread, and picnic things from the supermarket and a bottle of champagne – to celebrate Peter alive! So we had a picnic in our bedroom. At dinner that night I was able to introduce Peter to the staff of the hotel – I am SURE by now they thought I was lying when I said he was here in ospedale……… nearly three weeks in to it!
Friday and we went on a big outing, well big for Peter at this stage – Peter got on a bus and we took Michele to the train station, to go back to Rome. THANKS again Michele for being such a wonderful local support. So very much appreciated. Once again, how odd WE were farewelling a local………. Then Peter and I took the bus in to town and I took him to the same restaurant I had taken Michele to…… what treatment we got. Free this and that, a welcome from the (manager??) I think………. And great food too! (Again!)
Saturday we did a little sightseeing and a lunch at a lovely restaurant we had been to earlier. It was thunder and lightning; POURING down, but thanks to good overhead sails…….. we were dry and warm and the rain stopped for me to get the car to pick Peter up.
Sunday and Monday we got out and about a bit more. We went to San Gimmianao – which funnily enough everyone local we’ve met since asks if we went to…….. We liked it but no more than all those amazing lovely Tuscany towns we had been to.
I did some work and Peter went in to town and had a look around. And of course, the Sunday game of NZ and Italy in the soccer. We had been building up to this with the staff at the hotel……… they had set up the total lower floor with flags, nibbles and special drinks……. So we went with the Irish couple there and we were the ONLY ONES there!!! And it was COLD. So we went back up to the reception area. There had been many a joke and notes about scores so a 1-1 draw was very good from our point of view and very bad from theirs………. This lent for much hilarity over the next two days.
Peter then worked out the Italian ambulatory health system for getting blood tests……….. which was all good. Go to the hospital, take a number from the machine and wait! Two hours later ring them and get results!
We ate a farewell dinner with June and Tony, the Irish couple who were also leaving on the Tuesday.
After dinner I gave all the great staff, who had looked after me so well, a silver fern pin / brooch…….. to thank them for their great care of me. Tuesday was leaving day. Well, at breakfast all the staff had their pins on………. And then the restaurant manager came in with a huge silver fern decoration they had in reception tucked in to his suit jacket lapel – stating he had the largest silver fern. That was so funny! The people you meet…….. By then we had also met a couple of Auzzies who highly recommended going to Rapallo and staying in a particular hotel there………… so we did!
So we got packed up and off we went to Rapallo. I drove and all was well. Peter in the back seat with his legs up, taken the passenger seat headrest off so he could see……… I am pleased to announce not too many back seat driver commands!!! Those autostrades – speed limit 110 on these ones (130 on others) and I was doing 130 and most people were still passing me!
We LOVED Rapallo and what we did there. First, we arrived about 2.30 and sat on our hotel balcony watching the sea, boats, private beach, locals…….. heaven!! Beautiful weather. We went to a restaurant the Australians had recommended for dinner and it too was very nice and great views. Literally right on the water edge with the lapping of waves.
Next day we caught a ferry to Portofino, for lunch (“Oh Yesssssss, Darrrhhhlings…..”). Or so we thought! We were so loving the ferry and looking at all the amazingly expensive boats, super yachts, etc we didn’t see the sign saying “Portofino” and stayed on the ferry. When we got to the next stop the crew said they were having lunch and so they would not be leaving for 30 minutes. So we got off, had a look and then tried to get back on the boat. Uh oh! Lady said “this ticket is NO GOOD”. And between us all we were totally missing the point – we kept saying “but we want to go to Portofino – isn’t it the next stop?” And she kept saying “Si, Si, Portofino next stop but ticket no, no good”. Took awhile to work out the ticket was not good as we had PASSED Portofino…… hee hee. A young English traveler who also spoke a bit of Italian helped out and was ever so pleasant telling us he had no idea how we could MISS Portofino…………. Duh!
This photo shows the WHOLE size of teh town! THat is an old abbey in teh background.
Anyway, what a day. The MOST beautiful scenery – it is just like the movies and picture books. A truly beautiful and special part of the world. So we got off at Portofino and had a lovely lunch. Peter’s first real fish meal here (sole) and we were surprised they bought it out on a huge platter and trolley and then proceeded to fillet it (cooked) at the table. It was lovely – even I tried it and liked it! I had hand made fettuccini with a special sauce of tomato and basil pesto, mixed. I was skeptical – but it was VERY good….. mmmmmmm……
Then back on the ferry and another spectacular trip back to Rapallo. Coastlines, building, boats……
We chose to eat in another restaurant the Auzzies had recommended- and it was great. Down on the waterfront in the yacht club area, away from tourists – oh my! And once again great food.
The next day up early and on to booking and train to go to the Cinque Terra for the day – went to the other end of the 5 villages, then walked back to the middle one. HOT HOT HOT and BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL!! Such scenery! All up about two hours walking in 30+ degrees, up and down dale…… but of course, we stopped for lunch in the middle. And what a lunch- Peter had the best king prawns he says he has ever eaten and I had the only non fish option on the menu and it was great – beef scallopini. Top it off with a great Italian wine……. We got back to Rapallo about 5.30pm Shower, rest, drink, watch boats, watch soccer (Italy lost), sea, etc from our balcony…… how tough does life get?
Today was up early to pack and get on the road. We are now at Lake Como – staying abut 30kms up the lake from Como itself. It is once again an amazing part of our beautiful world. The Switz Alps are the back drop to mountains of trees coming down to the lake and villages periodically spattered around. Our hotel is right on the water edge (separated by a narrow, but busy road) and is beautiful. A very majestic hotel that you can imagine over the years many people having sat there and enjoyed life! It even has a swimming pool which is rare here. We do still think Italians might like to take “kiwi Host” courses though. Example today: I say “tomorrow we are taking this train trip from Tirano to St Moritz. How far is the drive from here to Tirano and do we need to validate our train tickets?”. Answer: “That is about 100kms away and another world from us. We don’t want to know anything about that world so we can’t tell you”. Helpful – not!
So tomorrow we try to get to the Tirano rail station on time………………..
Will let you know. We do hope you are all well and that life is being good to you in the NZ and Auzzie winter.
Later……………. Well, we have now been to Tirano and back and on the train from Tirano to St Moritz. Oh la la – the Swiss Alps are beautiful!! But the train broke down on top of the Alps so we had less time when we finally got to St Moritz. More than once we said how like Queenstown x 50 it all was. The Alps were so beautiful with the high mountains, trees down to the water, rivers, waterfalls etc. The train itself was the Bernina Express and is built for sightseeing with a half glass dome in the roof. Great! And the weather was brilliant…….
And then………… the train broke down in exactly the same place on the way back!!! We met a couple of ladies from Wellington NZ in our carriage – how small is the world!! There was also a dog on the carriage………. Who decided he was the guard dog of all doors in and out……. Very funny.
Once we got back to Torino a 2 hour drive back to our place on the shores of Lake Como. And……… well between Susi and us we missed a significant turn off and got “re-routing” “re-routing” from Susie…….. eventually we ended up via a tunnel in Police road block, with live flame flares on the road to guide us, and couldn’t even remember the name of our hotel to tell them but thought we needed to go back (ie u turn). So they allowed us to drive up beside their police car and do a u turn…….. then Susie really got grumpy and ended taking us to be in the middle of a queue to get on a ferry to the other side of the lake! Finally, after 20 minutes of lake side circles, we ended up back at the police stop! By then I had thought to get the card key from the hotel out, showed it to the police man and hey presto – we were only about 1 km from our hotel in a straight line! (PS this was not as bad as the time a new road was in place and Susie kept telling us to do a u turn every 500 meters…….. up and down, up and down….. We could have made our own Formula 1 track doing that!).
We went to a local bar that night for dinner but they weren’t serving food as it was too late (at 9pm – everywhere else in Italy 10pm is the earliest you eat) – so the English barmaid recommended we walk to the next village which was only 7 – 10 mins walk and to go to a specific restaurant. It once again was good and to top it off we saw 100+ boats going in towards Como. Then later bang, boom boom and there were spectacular foreworks. Turns out it was some sort of festival and we were lucky enough to be there for it.
Love Jo and Peter. xxx
PS: We are now 2 weeks later so will do another post soon. Love to you all and thanks so much for all your good wishes and support with Peter’s health. xx