Exploring new places is great, and getting there sometimes is a marathon. And so it was for us!
The ride from 1270 to SmartPark at JFK was effortless. . .only 2.5 hours with virtually no traffic. We easily turned over our car and were whisked away to Terminal 4 for our Emirates flight. check-in was a breeze, and in short order we were through security and into the gate area, with over 4 hours on our hands. One pricey dinner later we found ourselves sitting, walking, waiting, and wasting time. We boarded, lusted over those first-class seats/beds, and found our way to our sardine can which we’d call home for the next 7 hours.
The flight was the usual. . Dinner, which I slept through, a night of fitful naps, breakfast, and then we were in . . . ITALY!! Where were all the people in the airport? I swear ours was the only arriving flight, we walked through passport control with NO other people, not even one, got our bags, and then saw our first bit of Italian pizzazz. . .
We picked up our rental car, choosing a Fiat over a Citroen, and were pleased to find this shiny red sleigh awaiting our Christmas adventure.
So ahead of us lay a journey of about 3.5 hours, and we decided we’d take the scenic route even if it took longer, avoiding the pricey motorway. Well, take a look at our scenic ride. . .
This is was NOT the Italy we know and love, but this was the industrial North, the plains of Piemonte devoid of the lushness we’re used to seeing at other times of the year. We encountered truck after truck enroute to Genova, roundabout after roundabout, and quickly realized we were going nowhere fast. Consulting our map, discussing options, we made some course corrections, taking us toward the sea, on the pricey motorway, but with the hope of traveling along the coast.
After our sleepless plane ride, this journey soon became a real challenge. We decided we’d had enough and stopped off in Chiavara, just east of Portofino, and breathed a sigh of relief as we began to feel we were in OUR Italy!
Yes. . . We were in Italy. .. Our first aperitivi . . .
How can you not love a place where for the price of two drinks you get all these great snacks! A walk along the beach set us right, and we journeyed onward to Montecatini Terme.
By now it was dark, and we knew from prior experience we never find our digs on the first try, True to form, we were close to the Grand Hotel Plaza, but no cigar. My Italian helped immensely and we found our place, managed to park legally, and joyfully unloaded ourselves and our bags in this hotel with character, patina, and charm.
Our exhaustion was complete, but when we opened our floor-to-ceiling windows in our room we discovered we were right on the piazza.
Yes, we were totally exhausted, but hey, we were in Italy, the town was ablaze with lights and a festive vibe, a light rain was falling, and we grabbed our umbrellas and went out for a pizza! I barely could chew I was so tired, but the “pizza wine” and the crunchy crust of the wood-burned pizza kept me going long enough to eat, walk home, and literally fall into bed, sleeping soundly on a very soft bed. Buona notte to day one. . Or maybe it was day 2?