Saturday, July 4, 2009

2009-06-15 Italy Trip - Livorno

Cruised to Livorno overnight.

View Portofino to Livorno, Italy in a larger map
(Google maps only work on land...)

We started with a breakfast in the Romeo and Juliet dining room. Stephanie was wearing a shirt with peace signs, Audrey had the word Love on hers. Meredith was wearing her “Hard work never killed anyone, but I’m not taking any chances” shirt and Ryan one with the angel of death on it. I made the comment that we had Peace, Love, Sloth, and Death sitting at the table with us. Walt and Xuong were waiters –we missed Robert and Anca. Justin had banana pancakes.

Went ashore on shuttle bus to City Center and shopped the huge farmers market. Bought cookies and Audrey shopped for shoes. Inside the building as we were rounding a corner I heard an elderly woman drop a coin. She was having trouble locating it and I picked it up for her. She said “grazie mille” which I took to mean “a thousand thanks”.

Scott started talking to a couple from CA on the steps of the locked church in the Piazza Grande. They were cruising and then going to drive to Germany to visit his sister who lives there. They told us where an Informacion de Tourista was and we told them were a Farmacia (pharmacy) was located.

Got directions at the tourist information kiosk to a pizza place (real Neapolitan pizza) on the other side of the Piazza de la Republica. Couldn’t find it. Found a piazza with two large statues and no pizza parlor. Walked back to the small piazza we found upon leaving the bus and ate pizza at a small cafĂ© called Titty de la Puce. (Had Tweety Bird on the window. Apparently it's the the way they say "tweet".) Good pizza – square cheese for Karen and kids. I got covered (crust on top and bottom) pizza slice with “ricotta e spinaci” which was really “SPINACI e ricotta”. Very good, though.

Scott, Justin, Ryan and I went to “Farmacia de 24 Hours” (pharmacy) to look for batteries for Scott’s camera. Apparently pharmacies ONLY sell pharmaceuticals in Italy. They sent us to “Ovesimo” down the block. When entering Ovesimo (a clothing store), we realized that the escalators inside the store led downstairs to “Standa”, a supermarket. We found the batteries (and Oreos!) and Scott tried to pay for them with a 50 Euro note. The cashier said “No” and for a moment we thought the batteries cost more than 50 Euros. Turns out she couldn’t deal with a bill that large and wanted us to use a smaller one. Scott gave her a 10 Euro and she said “una Euro” so she could give us a 5 back. Apparently there are no 1 Euro notes, only coins and they are harder to deal with.

Went to the Piazza Grande to catch the number 2 bus to go to the Funnicolare Montenero (funicular) at the shrine on the mountain. A very kind gentleman that spoke no English showed us where and when the bus would arrive. After asking him, he informed us that we were in Piazza Grande, and that the piazza I had gone searching for the pizza parlor was, in fact, Piazza della Repubblica. Oh well.

As for the Piazza della Repubblica, from the wikipedia Livorno entry: "In Livorno there is an important square called "Piazza della Repubblica" that contains two important monuments of Italian politicians. Thus, this square is also a bridge: in fact, under the bridge there is an old, big canal. Piazza della Repubblica is the largest bridge of Europe." You can see that here. Another picture here. Finally, one of mine.

View Livorno to Funicolare Montenero in a larger map

The bus ride to the Funicolare di Montenero was uneventful and we enjoyed the funicular ride with the help of a woman from just east of London who has lived in Livorno for ~2 years. She told us how it operated (it's fully automated) and where the best lookouts were for photos at the top. The views were spectacular and we could even see our ship in the harbor. There was a candy stand at the top which had many great treats for 2 Euros each and we bought several. Ryan exclaimed that this was heaven. I told him that we weren’t quite that high.

Came back down, caught the ‘other’ number 2 bus after the first driver told us (in Italian) that he was on break for 10 more minutes and the other bus was leaving in ~1 minute. We sprinted to the other bus and rode it back to Piazza Grande.

Karen, Eva and I stopped in a bakery (next to McDonald’s) and bought SEVERAL cookies and pastries. The person behind the counter spoke some English, but the owner didn't. The owner asked if we were on the boat (with wave-like hand gestures) and asked if we were going to Roma. I told him we went to Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, and here and that we ended at Rome. He asked if we were going to the "Il Vaticano" and going to see "Il Papa". I said "si". Lots of "grazie's" all around and we dashed off with our treats.

On the shuttle bus back to the ship. Short nap and off to dinner. Hector said I must be "that missing guy". Ordered the Mediterranean seafood salad with shrimp, octopus, bitter greens and a slice of eggplant –great choice. Mistakenly ordered shells in marinara sauce, Scott ordered pork medallions and they brought him lamb chops. It worked out well since I took the lamb chops, Scott got another pork plate and several people used my shells as a side dish. Pop-pop had been asking for strawberries on his ice cream all week and tonight Hector delivered. He also stated that he had “risked his life for those”. He is quite a character. The head waiter, Tolga (from Turkey) told us about eating octopus since they eat a lot of octopus in his part of Turkey. He said that you have to use a spear gun to kill it and then beat it on the rocks to get the “juice” out of it and tenderize it. (The "juice" apparently makes the suckers work... whatever.)

Zucchini at the farmers market.

Uncle Scott, the director of "Camp Snoopy".
Ryan, Stephanie, Scott, Justin, Meredith.

In the Funicolare di Montenero for the descent.
Stephanie, Audrey, Justin, Scott, Meredith, Ryan.

The rest of the photos are here.

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