Arriving at the very first stop on our Italian road trip ended up being much later than we’d anticipated. Between the stops everywhere for photos and general tomfoolery, we ended up arriving around 9.30 pm.
At this point, all I could think was “I hope Italian restaurants are open till quite late” (I kinda thought they would be but I was so delirious from hunger that I wasn’t sure anymore if I was thinking of Spain or even Portugal instead of Italy).
We arrived in the middle of the night – with all the lights off but soon enough the hosts at the Agriturismo we would be staying in – Agriturismo L’Orto Bio soon showed up and showed us around our home for the night.
For the uninitiated, Agriturismo is kinda like English B ‘n’ Bs (bed and breakfast) – they’re (as implied from the name) farmhouses where you can stay with local families and are a truly authentic way to experience Italian life.
Our hosts were organic farmers and I think a little psychic.
They seemed to sense my unbelievable hunger (they didn’t speak any English) and invited us over for a barbecue. We did the whole polite “Oh no, I wouldn’t want to put you out thing” as translated by Gabriele but as you can imagine, I didn’t protest too much and before long, we were headed over to their place and feasting till late into the night!
The barbecue was constantly on the go…
… and the wine flowing! Lorenzo and Giorgia ( at the back and left of the photo below – who we’d met in Milan the day before) also ended up staying at the same place as us so they joined us for dinner too!
It was perhaps the most Italian dinner I’ve ever been a part of. The family was making their own dinner and were generous enough to invite 5 extras to join in (and there was more than enough food to go around) and everyone on the table spoke Italian (except of course Lloyd and myself).
Lorenzo and Gabriele did their best to translate (as did Giorgia) but honestly, it was one of those moments where even the language posed no barrier to generousity, kindness and good humour…. I may also have whipped out my phone from time to time to translate a few Italian phrases. I was caught out when my phone decided to pronounce it loudly for me! There goes my pretending to be fluent in Italian…
The next morning, we all decided to have a bit of a lie in before heading out. It was a glorious day and no one was in a ridiculous hurry to move. I decided to go and see more of L’Orto Bio in the glorious sunshine…
Before long though, it was time to head out – but not before a prerequisite espresso (and biscuits) to see us on our way!
Gabriele doesn’t like coffees. What a strange Italian man. 🙂 😉
Facebook check-ins of course were an important start to the day…
…but expect a lot of photos like this one below when you ask someone like Gabriele to take photos of you!
Eventually we said our farewells, cheered on by visitors to the farm and made our way to our next stop – Cinque Terre!
Random (yet not so random) aside – if you’re interested on your own rickshaw adventure across Italy, the organisers The GIRA have recently released the routes for 2016. Check all out on their official website here – http://thegira.it/en/2016-adventures
We started off our trip to Cinque Terre in similar fashion to the previous time we were here – by visiting Riomaggiore first.
Check out our “Complete Guide to Visiting Cinque Terre” if you’re interested in seeing this amazing Italian gem.
This time, the sun was shining and the skies were clear blue!
Gabriele, despite having forgotten his swimming trunks back at home, decided he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity of jumping into the sea for a cooling dip! Understandably so too – it was soooooooo hot!
Eventually, we hotfooted it to our next stop – Manarola. The trains in Cinque Terre, by the way, are notoriously unreliable and ours on this occasion was about 20 minutes late. Thankfully, each stop is about 3 minutes apart so when it does arrive, it doesn’t take too long to get to where you need to. (After our first time visiting, we quickly realised that the best way to travel around Cinque Terre is definitely by train rather than by car – the roads are long and windy and it would have taken us the best part of 1.5 hours to get there using a car or our rickshaw).
Manarola, was as beautiful as it always is. 🙂
Holiday makes were out and about making the most of the beautiful weather and the warm waters…
I may have taken far too many photos…
Eventually, we resigned ourselves to the fact that there was no way we would see all of Cinque Terre and still get to our other stops on time so we hopped back into our rickshaw and headed for Florence.
We had no plans to stop over in Pisa as we didn’t have much time and still had a fair bit of driving to do in the rickshaw (it’s a lot slower than a car as you’d imagine… and you’re not allowed on motorways with it).
Little did we know that we would be driving right past the main sights in Pisa on our route – yes, our route planning was very much off the cuff so we didn’t know we were here till like 5 minutes before we arrived.
I had to hop out of the rickshaw immediately I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa! The tower is great and always fascinating to see but my main love here is the cathedral! It’s easily one of my favourites in Italy and perhaps even in the world! It’s so intricately designed and ridiculously impressive inside!
Yes, I had to take a photo of those two below. 🙂 I usually take the same kind of photos when I visit but I managed to lose the other two at this point so had to make do without. 🙂
For an unexpected pit stop on our journey, Pisa was quite the delight! I’ve been three times now and I still feel like I can’t get enough of it! 🙂 And I always have my Pisa with a side of Florence (one of my favourite cities) so it’s safe to say I’m pleased!
Soon enough, we were back in the rickshaw again and making it through many-a-Tuscan village to our next stop on our road trip!