We drove to the very pretty town of Portovenere, Beth's favorite so far, and took lots of pictures as we hiked up and down the hill to get the best vantage points. Pictures will be posted when we find another WiFi point, which has not been easy so far.
We thought about leaving the car in a lot at the top of the hill on the road to town and taking a bus. We thought the signs said free, but then saw another sign that said 1.5 euro per hour, so since confused again with our total lack of Italian language skills, even with the Rick Steves' Italian phrase book, we decided to drive into town. We drove by an entrance to an underground parking ramp. The entrance looked wide enough for a shopping cart and it appeared almost vertical. After some discussion, we decided to go for it. It was tight, to say the least, but were able, with the help of the attendant, to get the car into a parking spot between two pillars with out removing the mirrors, and we could actually use both doors to exit the car.
We walked up into the sunlight and saw a woman painting in a little sketch pad. She was sitting right where I wanted to take a picture to frame the shot with the flowers by the railing. We said something to her and she responded in English. She was from Kansas City on a tour with a group of other artists from around the US. All day we ran into others on the tour, taking their picture and having them take pictures of us. I took a picture of one of their paintings, very pretty, as you will see if posted sometime soon. She was from Oregon with a studio where she gets $200 for the size painting we were looking at.
We had a panini sandwich at a small shop where the owner knew enough English so we were able to order something we would like. Then of course, gellato was in order, but with the wind we had to get into the sun to warm up. It was then time for another walk around the town just because it was so nice to be there in the calm surroundings, knowing that soon we would be in the car surrounded by buzzing motor scooters and little cars that wanted to seize our spot on the street, if possible.
We were able to exit the ramp with only one or two backups, and try again to get the car around the corner into the exit ramp. We then drove to the town of Rapallo to see if we could be lucky again to see the end of the day's Giro stage. That was not to be the case, but we had a full tour of Rapallo, which has more scooters than people and the narrowest city streets, but at least many were one way. We saw where the people were gathering but never found a place to park. We found out later that they canceled the award ceremony as a 26 year old rider on the Leopard-Trek team died after crashing on the descent from the top of a mountain.
We drove home stopping off in Sarzana looking to see if we could find a WiFi spot. No luck. We drove home off the Autostrada, saving a few euro and enjoying the combat to not get hit or hit anything as people hurried home. They are always in a hurry on the roads, but once they get wherever, they seem to have all the time in the world to relax and enjoy life. Maybe because they save so much time driving or riding, they maximize their leisure time. Beth thinks they are so happy to have survived another day on the road so that's why they really celebrate life.
We arrived home without incident to enjoy a dinner and prepare for tomorrow, even though we are not sure where we are going. Time to start planning!