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Pasta, pesce and passeggiata-my trip report

Pasta, pesce and passeggiata-my trip report

Jul 4th, 2007, 11:37 AM
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Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 203
Pasta, pesce and passeggiata-my trip report

The laundry is done and jet lag gone, so let me begin by thanking everyone for their input and patience with my questions. I began planning in Oct. and think I may have over researched. By the time we left 6/21, I was having doubts about my itinerary and hotel choices. The trip somewhat evolved from flying in and out of Pisa and staying in the Cinque Terre town, to staying in 3 different cities. Daughter and her husband were going to be in Lucca, so we added that city at beginning of trip and the airline offered more miles if we would fly out of a different city-so we chose Milan. Anyway, it turned out to be fantastic and all that we were looking for in our 5th trip to Italy. We had previously been to the big cities, Tirol area, amalfi, Sicily and Ischia. I'm not much of a writer-but here goes:
6/22-Arrived Pisa in the afternoon and quickly found the Lazzi bus to Lucca. Trip took 50 minutes. After exiting the bus stop we walked to our hotel while soaking in the sights of a Friday afternoon and places we wanted to visit later. The La Luna Hotel was conveniently located on the Via Fillungo and we were pleasantly surprised at the size of the room and since it was a corner room, two nicely shuttered windows. We did have AC which we appreciated in the late afternoons. Daughter and husband were to meet us there (they had arrived 4 days prior and were in Rome)- they did not show until early evening.(They were in rome during the train strike, but luckily my son in law can speak enough Italian that they managed to get on a train.) We were famished and went off to lunch in cafe across the street. The thinnest crusted mushroom pizza and a delightful appetizer of Tuna, cipolline onion and tomato with the fruity local olive oil. Beer for him a glass of local wine and of course acqua minerale-total 20Euro. Shops re-opened at 4 PM and we stolled,acclimated ourselves to the city and planned for the next day. Dinner was at Da Leo. We are not into big portions or big meat eaters and like simply prepared foods. We loved this restaurant. Tagliatelle with basil and tomatoes, salad, grilled veggies and Vitello Arrosto with Potate. We also had the red wine della casa.We slept very well.
6/23-We opted out of the breakfast at the hotel for an extra 11E and wandered along to a cafe for capucinno and what looked like little pizza-split and filled with cheese and tomato-great.Also picked up some fresh figs and apricots. One of the neat things in Lucca is the many fountains where people refill water bottles. Took some pictures and off to walk the wall. Green, leafy vistas and a pleasant temperature. Lunch in the pleasant Piazza Napoleon and off to one of the many churches-Cathedral in Piazza San Martino-I am fascinated with the history behind European churches. Daughter and husband arranged dinner with local friends in a little restaurant off Via degli Angeli(?) Great fungi pepardelle and a great evening.
6/24-By now Lucca is feeling like my neighborhood. while having breakfast in Piazza S. Michelle-daughter and her husband stroll by and join us. We decide to go into the interesting church there and we participate in mass. Now we are ready to shop-we purchase some of the olive wood bowls, leather belts, small purses. Dinner at Da Francesca, which was one of the few restaurants we could find fish. A delicious, grilled branzino-which I think is a type of bass along with Tortellini Luchese (I had to try this!) and salad. HMmm!!
6/25-We are ready for a field trip. The train from Lucca to Viareggio is 20 minutes. I can't imagine this place in August-now it is quite deserted, but row upon row of blue lounges-a relatively older group (hey, I'm one of them) and very upscal shopping. At least I go home with a great tan after only a few hous and I've walked off the pasta! Back in Lucca a great salad with Tuna, fresh buffalo mozzarella,tomatoes and
misscarol is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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00ps the most excellent farro soup. this I have got to have the recipe for. Decide to buy train tickets for the next part of the trip. Last day in Lucca-a wonderful excursion to a vineyard and then on to Rapallo!
misscarol is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 12:48 PM
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So the last day in Lucca is an excursion through Tuscan sunshine tours with Franco. We happen to meet a lovely young couple to share the tour with. We arrive in the wonderful hills of Montecarlo outside of Lucca at the Aziendo Agricola Carmignani. The proprietess, Elena, is lovely and Franco translates info about the grapes, harvest, and production We sample the 3 reds, 1 white the popular, local vin santo and olive oil produced there. Samples of complimentary bruschetta and breads are served. We buy 3 bottles of wine and a huge bottle of excellent olive oil. How we will get this home or even on the train between cities is a story for later. Finish Lucca with a visit to the lovely San Frediano church and dinner at Gli Orta-another good choice. I find out that one family runs a lot of these restaurants in Lucca.
Part II: Train to Rapallo.
As we leave Lucca and transfer in Viareggio, I am very nervous. I have not found much info on this area and what I have found seems very negative; resort, older population. My thinking was it would be half way to Milan, a way to get to Cinque Terre and the towns on the Italian Riviera-we do so love the sea. The ticket in lst class for two people is 28 Euro and takes about 1 and 1/2 hours. We arrive in Rappallo at 10:30 and it is a 10 minute walk to the Hotel Astoria. I see the resort aspect, many hotels and a "restaurant row"-but we are delighted with the harbor and the view. We catch the boat to Portofino and hope to get to Fruttuoso; however the seas are rough and we must be content to jouney only as far as Portofino and then to Santa Margherite Ligure-a much more pleasant seaside town. The evening in Rapallo is spent strolling along the promenade. Many german tourists and families. The negative is all of the motorbikes and high speed they motor. The moon of the water is lovely and the cool air most welcome and we have a great dinner at a seaside promenade restaurant-Ristorante da Monique. A lovely fish prepared Ligurian style with light white wine and parsley sauce and grilled whole shrimps-sweet and moist.
6/28-Breakfast included at hotel is quite sufficient with fruits, breads, meats, cheese. Market day-but no time to browse-we are off to the Cinque Terre!! I've done my homework-and read Rick Steves. The train to Riomaggiore with a change in sestri Levante is 6 E/per person 1 way. It is all I anticipated...What a view. We walk the Via dell'Amore and wonder about. I am amazed at all the Americans and Germans. It is packed and as the day goes on more and more people seem to appear. Lunch in Manarola at the Trattoria Porticciolo is the best linguine and clams (hubby's favorite) along with my pasta (tentro?) with basil sause. Is that potato in there? Around every corner is another lovely view. We walk the staps to Corneglia and are rewarded with a lessening of the crowd and a nice cold beer at a cafe. The next morning we shop in the town of Rapallo. A great FuBganger zone. We marvel at the veggies and fruits (blossoms still attache to the zucchini) and buy some chocolates which are ribboned and wrapped so prettily. We find out some history about the 450 anniversary of the vision in the hills and about the celebration to be held 7/1,2.3. The locals attend mass in the hills at 3 am and a procession takes place in town. the palm trees are wrapped in white lights and all is very festive. We prepare for our 1:00 train trip to destination 3-Milano.
misscarol is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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What a great report. You describe the perfect trip, walking, eating, drinking, maybe more walking and shopping and then eating. I can't wait to read more.
Danna is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 02:45 PM
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6/29-Train ride to Milano Centrale was very comfortable. lst class with plenty of room-2 seats across from each other. The trip should have taken 2 hrs, but because (at least what I could make out in Italian) of a communication problem, the train was hung up for an hour. We arrived to the hustle, bustle of Milan. I was frightened from what I had read about the dangers and sheer size of the city. We took a taxi to our hotel-the Cristoforo Colombo on Corso Buenos Aires. I booked this through Hotels.com for 122USD/ night. What a nice surprise! Beautiful lobby and nice staff. The room was small but very clean, beautifully appointed; AC, large comfortable shower and bed. I had read on tripadvisor about the train noise, so I requested a room higher up. We were on 4th floor and after 10 pm could not hear the trains at all. Breakfast was excellent and included. Dinner was at the excellen La Risacca 6 (around the corner on regina Giovanna). What a find-almost all Italian spoken. A turbot fish for two, with an excellent tomato, olive and potato sauce and red (sicilian) wine. I am trying to duplicate this recipe.
6/30-Metro outside the hotel took us to Cadorna Nord, where we caught the train to Como di Lago. (llE each round trip) The train is 1 hour and the boat dock around the corner. The guide book was right on with this-the boat schedule is nearly impossible to interpret. We took the 45 minute "fast" (45 min)boat to Bellagio. While The scenery is truly gorgeous, the whole experience had a "Disney" feeling to me. I did buy some lovely linens and Christmas ornaments in the shops on the hill and viewed the church. A nice place to poke around and a relaxing day to end the trip. However, the highlight was on return when we decided to exit at the Duomo. Oh my gosh!! What beauty-the vastness-how could this have been built? Second only to St Peters! the Galleria and surroundings were buzzing. What a place to people watch-the fashion, the shoes!! We decided to buy an extra bag to haul home the goodies. A pleasant 20 minute walk back to the hotel and dinner at Mediterranea. Another excellent fish dish along with grilled radicchio and an excellent wine list. The waiters here are proficient in English and their recommendations were very good.
7/1/Taxi to Centrale and the bus to Malpensa. We each had a 20 inch roll on, in which we managed to put in 3 bottles of wine each. We wrapped our older clothes around the bottles and bought an extra carry on for our better clothes. I had an additional large, large purse-type bag and my husband had a backpack. I was so glad to pick up those bags in the US without any dripping wine!
In summary, this was a great trip. We had wanted slow paced. Rapallo was delightful and an easy place to access other areas from. I was happy with all the hotels. I noticed a lot of girls wearing skirts, a lot of white, a ton of silver sandals, flat thong sandals, (even in the cinque terre)a lot of gals in tank tops. Yes it is possible to pack everything you need with a 20 inch suitcase and 1 carry on. What would I change??? Nothing-except I think hubby may rent a car next time and do the hill towns!
misscarol is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 03:21 PM
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What a great report, thank you. I am bookmarking for a later trip.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 05:31 PM
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So far so good but have to go to work. Looking forward to reading the rest of your report.

cafegoddess is offline  

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