Monday, April 8, 1996 Santa Margherita Ligure, Italian RiveraWoke up about 6 am. Jim said he had to have some regular water, couldn’t stand one more drink of the sweet water that we’d been using since yesterday afternoon. We got dressed and went to the lobby to try to buy a bottle from the hotel…the clerk reminded us that there was water in the room bar. Went upstairs and got one out. It was 2,500 lire for a small bottle, but we didn’t care about the costs at that time. Barbara brushed her teeth using the sweet water and said it was really terribly. We knocked on Barbara’s door about 7 am and woke her up. She’d been up until nearly 3 am she said. But we were all down to breakfast by 8 am and checked out of the hotel about 9 am.
We tipped them well and left the loaded car in the hotel driveway while we took a taxi to Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Two of the many things that we felt that we just had to see while in Rome. I missed the fountain with my first coin and had to do a second one. Saw Gucci’s first store and some other famous designer shops. Everything is closed as today is a holiday for the Italians. Back to the hotel and off to see the leaning tower of Pisa.
We made a very fast trip on the Autostrassa considering several stop and go areas when the traffic was so thick we couldn’t move. Went around Florence and headed towards Lucca. A bicycling friend of Jim's Gian (John) Simmonetti was born there and Jim wanted to see it; and, if possible, find the bicycle shop of John’s friend. We found the town, it is very unusual as it has a well preserved wall all around with a moat between the wall and the outside roads. We found a pharmacy open and were able to find some cold medication (Nyquil) for Jim and Barbara. Then we asked about the bike shop. Finally got an address from them, but then still couldn’t find it. After checking about four different areas we finally got back on the road to Pisa.
You can see the tower from the main highway about ten miles away. We were surprised at the huge church next to it as no one ever mentions it There is a wonderful large church and a separate baptistery. The tower was to hold the bells for the church. They were all built about the same time. All three are sinking to varying degrees. One of the causes they think is the fact that too much water is being taken from the ground by “shower mad American visitors”. We found a parking place very close by, Barbara couldn’t believe how close we were able to park to it.
We took turns taking pictures of each other holding it up. The tower is surrounded by a large fence and is closed to tourist. “Look but don’t touch!” There is a large grassy area surrounding the three buildings. There are signs all over about not walking on the grass. The grass was literally covered with people walking and sitting all over the place; so much for Italian signs! (On a more recent trip to Pisa we were able to go to the top of the tower as it was opened again after repairs.) We found an open air Restaurant and had a delightful pizza and beer lunch. Then back on the road again. This time we started going through tunnel after tunnel after tunnel. Some were nearly a mile long, one was over a mile. In one that was about three-quarters of a mile, we came to a dead stop. Traffic jam and we were about half way through. Kept the windows closed and the air off. Didn’t think we’d ever get out of there.
Really a bad day to travel so many miles due to the holiday. Especially since Jim is sick and his tolerance level is rather low. But, he’s doing pretty good considering everything. We finally arrived in Santa Margherita Ligure, which is on the Italian Rivera; just below Portofino. A lovely seaside resort town. We found a great hotel named Nuovo Hotel Garden and got their last rooms. The price is great also! Barbara has a very strange toilet. Her bidet is like a lid on her toilet due to the size of her bathroom. Very, very strange! But it is a toilet in her room and there weren’t many available by the time we arrived in town.
We went for a walk and met a nice young couple from Virginia who are here on a two week whirlwind trip. We compared notes, they were at the Mass at St. Peter’s also but hadn’t had our great viewing spot. He’s a fan of Rick Steves but she seemed to be more inclined to go a notch higher. He’s from Chicago…name was Cocoa….Barbara thought that his Dad could have been in John’s class. Finally found a restaurant where we could get seated. The town is packed for off season due to the Easter Holiday. But, this shouldn’t be a problem from this point on as this is the last day of the holiday for the Europeans.
We’re headed to France tomorrow. We’re trying to spend the lire as it will cost us to turn it into Franc. Jim hardly ate his dinner and went straight to bed after taking two doses of the Nyquol medicine we got this afternoon. Barbara is feeling better but her ribs hurt when she laughs. She thinks she hurt herself with the coughing. But she’s definitely better than Jim. Well it’s nearly midnight, so better close and get some shut eye. We have an electric train nearby, will be interesting to see if we sleep through the noise during the night.
Jim is checking mileage: Monday: odometer: 1346 - Tuesday: odometer: 2076 = 730 meters
Gas on Tuesday is 42,000 lire @ 1810/liter = 23 liters = 32 meters/liter