Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Italy day 1

Some pictures from our first day in Italy:

(Hi, Wendy here... I'm going to add some commentary to David's post in purple so you can tell who's typing what...

Overall, Daisy did AMAZING again with the travel. But we did change elevations during our drive to Italy, and I did not know this was going to happen. Therefore, I didn't wait to feed her until we were climbing and instead she ate and then we changed elevations and I didn't have any milk to give her and she wasn't hungry. So she cried some on the way to Italy and eventually just lost it completely. We pulled off in a small town to settle her down. While I walked around on the street with her, David and Hilary explored a cathedral.
Daddy here, adding my few thoughts to the post. The town in Italy that we stopped in to calm Daisy down was Ventimiglia. The cathedral was St. Augustine I believe. Neither Hilary nor I could find how old it was, but it was a beautiful cathedral with amazing ceilings and attention to detail as typical for the century old cathedrals. If anyone wants to google the cathedral and try to find when it was built, you'll receive a free pan au chocolait...we can vacuum seal one and bring it back when we leave!

Daddy and Daisy once Daisy was settled can tell she'd been crying.
Finally, we made it to Dolceaqua for lunch. For an appetizer, we had bruschetta. Yum. (
We ordered the two shown above, but after the four of us devoured them, we ordered another. It was really really good.)
Hilary holding Daisy while waiting for the pizza to come out.
Our two pizzas -- our first real Italian pizzas! (I didn't notice this when I took the picture or even when I originally posted this, but if you ever wanted to know if Daisy is in fact my daughter, check out the little paw trying to sneak a piece of the pizza before the blessing. Occassionally I have been known to do so!)
For dessert, David ordered Tiramasu...One of my dad's favorite deserts. This was the best I have ever had. was really good, and I don't even like coffee (espresso) flavored things. Seriously, the best I have ever had. Check out that cream soft yummy goodness. It was light and airy, but rich and tasty. Super yummy. By the way, notice that there are two spoons shown. I was the only one that ordered desert, and for some reason it came out with four spoons... and suddenly, you plop down perhaps the best tiramsu in the world, and suddenly everyone wants some!
Daisy liked pulling on the curtains.
Street-level view of some old buildings. Doesn't this look like something out of a movie set?
A castle which we were told was built in 1100. In the foreground, you'll notice a really cool bridge. We design and build things at Virginia Tech to last somewhere between 50 and 100 years....this bridge has lasted 900+ years.
After lunch, we jumped back in the car to continue our journey to Pisa. Here are a few views from the car while driving. This road wasn't exactly the pacific coast highway, but it was close. I guess you could call it the Mediterranean coast highway. We hugged the shoreline most of the way to Pisa which allowed for some awesome views of some old cities and some port cities with huge cranes and shipyards. The water was beautiful, even if we were passing by it at speeds over 130.

Getting to Pisa was a challenge -- we got lost several times and when we did finally find Pisa, we could not find the hotel we were looking for which was right next to the tower. I'm not joking when I say we drove around Pisa for well over an hour looking for the leaning tower.
I love Chevy Chase. I'm somewhat into 'Community', that is I've seen two epsiodes, but Fletch, Caddyshack, the sequels... I love. But most of all, the Vacation movies. Christmas is my favorite, but I couldn't help but relate our trip to Pisa with European. I hope this link works: Wendy is 100% correct in that we drove around Pisa for over an hour. You would think, since this engineering error is the only tourist attraction and source of income to the town that they would better identify how to get there. We asked a french woman who gave hilary her map, and italian police officer who didn't speak french or english, and of course, none of us italian, and hilary asked a woman walking her bike across the street where the leaning tower was using the universal hand motions of a tower by sticking her forearm up vertically and then moving it down to 'lean'... the woman had no idea what we were asking!

We stopped for directions twice and there were a few roundabouts that we went through at least four or five times as we kept trying to find the right way to go. Eventually, we ended up at the little hotel which was clean, cheap, safe, and really close (two blocks) from the tower.

We really did go through one roundabout for our five times. Granted, it had four or five roads converging but we came from each direction and left through a different one! We were all laughing hysterically. I was crying I was laughing so hard and thankfully daisy was being an angel throughout or 'tour' of Pisa. We did see about the whole city... With regard to the hotel, it is the offseason, but the cute little room that we had for I think 50 or 60 Euros, was no further than 50-75 meters from the base of the tower. I might have been able to throw a football from our room and hit it...back in the day.

By this point, it was after 9:00pm and we needed to get dinner. Eventually, after getting lost on foot looking for a specific restaurant, we stumbled into a really neat restaurant. It was 10:15 and we sat down for a very late (and very Italian) dinner. Here was our appetizer dish, which had artichoke and onions in it. It was like a quiche. The picture doesn't look like much, but it was divine. The tomato based sauce served with it had a little spice/kick to it, and combined it was very good (albeit somewhat expensive, too). The service at this place was extroadoridnary. For one, unlike the french waitstaff, the italians actually talk with you, are glad you are there and enjoy serving you. The waiter and waitress both interacted with us, translated the menu as best they could, played with daisy, and always served the ladies first, whether the menu, water, appetizers, etc. They also put their appetizer dishes down at about a thirty degree angle. Maybe it was intentional, maybe not?
Hilary and I got the same dish, canneloni filled with spinach and cheese. Very tasty!
Dom got a meat ravioli
David got a pasta with duck. He loved it and said it was so much tastier than the description sounds! The duck wasn't quite as good honestly as I had hoped/anticipated, but the pasta itself exceeded my expectation. I think I expected the duck to be more like pieces of duck from a rotisserie in stead it was almost more like ground 'beef' consistency.
We then ordered several desserts. Hilary and Dom split a white chocolate mousse type dessert which was very rich and creamy. It had some small berries in it. It was very moist and sweet.
I ordered a chocolate cake, which was dense, rich, and very moist. Also very delicious. This was quite good. If maybe you could add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or gelato, watch out. That would make it almost as good as...
David ordered the best dessert of the night, though. He got the ice cream which topped with pistachios. The ice cream tasted like egg nog to me -- which I love. It was so creamy, and the crunchy crust of pistachios added just the right flavor. All four of us decided it was the best dessert, although all of them were very tasty. Have you ever eaten just one pistachio? or just one pistachio desert? I was ready for a second after this one.

That's it for my commentary -- back to David's original post.)

I know most of the pictures of Italy are food...but that's why I wanted to go to Italy. If you think some engineering blunder from a thousand years ago was the reason... Well you're wrong. But we did see that on day two... Which you can see picts from tomorrow but for now daisy and mommy are sleeping so I'm going to bed, too. Sad to think this time next week I'll be back at work.


Jordan said...

the food looks AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!

blaireruch said...

you ate at the "CAVALIERi"! SUPER choice! ;)