Sunset at Cabri Regional Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. Photo taken July 19, 2017.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Cabri Regional Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Where are they going next? We're here at the park until late September!

Friday, March 17, 2017

After yesterday, we are not in the mood to drive anywhere!

Yesterday was a pretty busy day, mostly because of the long drive we did. And driving in Italy is not what you'd call relaxing. By the time we arrived at our destination, I felt like I had just finished a NASCAR race!

We were driving from Rimini to the mountains near La Spezia. Clear across the country! We drove right by Florence, and didn't even stop. Who does that?? But the problem is, there is so much to see in Italy that we have to pick and choose what it is that we want to see. Especially when we only have just under three weeks.

Here is yesterday's drive...

Yesterday's drive, 334 kms (208 miles).

Even taking the major toll highways, it was going to be a six hour drive with breaks. And Ruth wanted to do a hike near a monastery along the way, so that meant we had to take some back roads. So we knew we had a long day ahead of us. Tried to get out of Rimini at 8:00am, but it was almost 8:45am by the time we got the car all packed up and finally on the road.

Here's some scenery along the way...







Our car. It's fun to drive, plus it gets 55 mpg!

One village seems to blend right into the next one. The fastest we drove was about 70 km/h. (42 mph). Never got the car into fifth gear! So it was pretty slow going, but on the bright side, there certainly was a lot of scenery to enjoy.

Overlooking the town of San Stefano.

We arrived at the La Verna monastery at 11:40am. It had taken us three hours to do 105 kms (65 miles)!!

The monastery is built on the grounds of Casentinesi National Park. But that's only because the monastery has been there long before the area was ever a National Park. The monastery was started around the year 1200. In fact, the sanctuary is famous for being the place where St. Francis of Assisi is said to have received the stigmata (yes, I had to google that too!) on September 14, 1224. 

La Verna Monastery.

La Verna Monastery.

But we weren't there for the monastery. We were there to do a hike in the National Park. Ruth had seen an amazing picture online, but there are so many trails that we couldn't find the actual spot where the photo was taken. Plus, we didn't have a lot of time to look for it because we still had a lot of driving to do.

We decided to do a short 4 km (2.6 mile) trail to the top of Mount Penna.

An ancient cold storage room. 

Setting off on our hike.

Some nice views. 

Ruth, looking at the ground near the top.
What is she looking at?

Spring crocuses blooming. There were a lot of them on the forest floor.

We made it to the top, and I recorded it for you...turn your volume up...


We headed back down another route, but didn't take any photos along the way. We needed to get back on the road!

Two way road through village. 
But only room for one car at a time!

Tuscany vineyards.

Tuscany really is beautiful.

We arrived at the outskirts of Florence, and decided that we had better get on the toll roads if we were going to make it to Pieve di Zignato before dark. Hard to take decent pictures from the toll roads at 120 km/h (74 mph) with high railings normally blocking your view, but here are a few along the way...



Quite a few quarries in the mountains, with a lot of businesses selling what we're guessing is marble.

We got off the toll highway just after La Spezia. The cost for 176 kms (109 miles) was €15.70 ($23 CAD, $17 USD). Not cheap, but it does get you to where you need to go.

Then, we had a half hour drive on a narrow twisty windy mountain road up to the town of Pieve di Zignato (pop 565). There, we called our contact Felice and he met us and led us up to our home for the next week. We arrived at about 5:45pm!

We had rented a house through Airbnb. An old cottage in town. In fact, one paper we found says that this cottage is 800 years old! We paid €172 ($251 CAD, $189 USD) for the week. Anything close to Cinque Terre National Park is expensive, so we did pretty good.

Our room.

The facilities.

The kitchen.

The living/dining room. 

The place will do us just fine. Would be nice if there was a couch in this room instead of another bed, but we'll make do. It's pretty well set up though, even with some basic food items. There's a bottle of local olive oil too...

Ruth made a nice dressing with the stuff out of that bottle!

Today is a relax day. We'll just explore the town, and maybe go for a local walk. After yesterday, we're not in the mood to drive anywhere!

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46 comments:

  1. Hiking the Cinque Terre was one of my favorite experiences ever. Can't wait to see it through your eyes. ☺

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    1. We are really looking forward to it as well but it will have to wait until the weekend is over. We don't want to do the hike when it is full of people.

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  2. I definitely wouldn't have bypassed Florence but each to their own.

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    1. Elaine, if I remember correctly, Alex probably described the beauty of his hikes in the area they are staying, and there is nothing like a good recommendation, just can't find that kind of true beauty on a postcard. In the 1970s, a girlfriend and I entered the Alps from Innsbruck, Austria and drove (in a little Opel with stick shift) through Switzerland and truly got lost; no GPS back then (just maps) and just asked for directions from a fellow leading his cow down from an upper pasture. The most beautiful scenery we saw was when we were lost! However, if Kevin and Ruth get bored hiking (not!!) during the week, Pisa is only 60 miles away (day trip, 1 hr. 15 min.) from where they are staying.

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    2. When you travel as much as we do, you realize that you can't see it all.

      In this particular situation, we hadn't originally planned to go as far south as Florence. And when we decided to go to San Marino, we had already booked the place we're in right now. So there simply wasn't time to visit Florence.

      Besides, we've had enough of big busy tourist cities for now.

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  3. Imagine how I have to pick and choose next year as we only have 10 days..but no one has ever said you can't go back!

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    1. I can just imagine, 10 days is not a lot of time. It is hard enough with almost 3 weeks!

      Italy is definitely a country that we need to return to, there is so much to see. It seems like we say that with just about any country that we visit. ;-)

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  4. 200+ miles is a lot for us too and I hate it but 65 miles in 3 hours is really slow. So tiring. Cute car. Nice rental for the week.

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    1. Yep, it was a very tiring day. We would have split it up but it was a last minute decision to visit San Marino and we had already booked our accommodation near Cinque Terre so unfortunately we had to do the drive in one day.

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  5. Glad you are getting some nice weather!

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  6. Cinque Terre is on our list to do in September! Looking forward to it ����

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    1. All those question marks were an emoticon, I was trying to give a thumbs up!

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    2. So are we! I have no doubt that we will love it and so will you and Steve. :-)

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  7. Did a similar drive a few years ago from Avignon, France to Lucca, Italy. All along the Côte d'Azure. It was crazy and next time I'll plan better... Cinque Terre is amazing. We could not hike the entire length because the path was closed in one area due to a mud slide, so that part we did on the train... Enjoy! Have a gelato!

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    1. You really have no idea what driving is like over here in Italy until you have been here so as you say, lesson learned and better planning next time.

      I think that section is still closed but there is an inland trail that we can take around it. We are really looking forward to it. Hopefully we will have great weather that day.

      We are hoping to have a gelato somewhere along the way. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. :-)

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  8. That was the night we had peanuts, olives and two bottles of wine for a very late dinner as the restaurants near us were all closed and we could not face getting back in the car. As Peter said get a gelato limone is my choice.

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    1. Shelagh, thank goodness you had the two bottles of wine! (LOL)--after that crazy drive. You've got to believe you and Peter will remember that drive for the rest of your lives. All we had in the Opel was some water, two half-eaten cheese sandwiches, and half a bottle of wine. I think the other half of that bottle is how we got lost.

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    2. We also didn't have time to stop and pick up any supplies in one of the bigger towns along the way but we did have some leftovers so we didn't starve. And we had wine! Good thing you had a few essentials with you. :-)

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  9. After long travel days you need a rest. Enjoy your down time and the area.

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    1. You should know us by now George, even on our down time we are still doing something! It was nice however to not have to drive anywhere the day after.

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  10. K yR LUCCA LUCCA,...LUCCA...You would ENJOY,ENJOY,ENJOY.

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    1. I actually have Lucca on our list of places to visit and if we go we may tack on Pisa just to have a quick look at the tower. It will all depend on how we feel and how our time is going. Right now we are just enjoying the peaceful life here in the mountains along with the nature and beautiful scenery.

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    2. We really, really enjoyed Lucca! So much to see tucked into such a small town.

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    3. We are hoping to get there as it isn't too far away and it was on my list of places to see so we will see how our time goes and if we have a spare day and feel like driving there from here we will.

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  11. We are in Savona tonight heading towards Portofino. We only took the toll road to get past Monaco since no MHs are allowed thru there and cost 7€ for a short distance so then got on the coast highway and it is slow going. I think at one point our GPS said we had 65km to go and was going to take 2 hrs. We bailed at Savona when I found a free RV parking. We may see you next week in Cinque terre :)

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    1. Let us know when you will be here and hopefully we can meet up again. There is some nice parking here in the little town that we are staying at but the road to get here is narrow and twisty windy and up a mountain. It's beautiful though. :-)

      Anyway we have a car so it wouldn't be hard to find somewhere good for the both of us.

      We will be staying in Savona as we make our way to Nice, France the week after next.

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    2. We plan on being in Lavanto tomorrow night then take the train to Cinque Terre on Monday. I cant even find where you guys are on maps.me! :)

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    3. We are in the mountains about 10 kms north of Brugnato.

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    4. Haha found it using google earth! At least found Brugnato on our map. We'll be in Levanto tomorrow which shows 21km from Brugnato. Should only take about an hr to drive LOL!!

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    5. Yep, it sure is slow moving here if you aren't traveling on the toll roads!

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    6. Looks like we will all be in Cinque Terre tomorrow. But I know you'll be doing more hiking then us. Think it may hard to meet up

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    7. Yes, we are planning on hiking the entire length and depending on the time possibly back again on the inner trail. How long will you be there? We will be carrying our phone around so we could always email us. We are hoping to go tomorrow but it is weather dependent. If the sun is shining we will go but if not we will leave until Tuesday.

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  12. You said it felt like driving in a NASCAR race. Did you come in first? ;c)

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    1. No, I was in the lead coming into the final corner when Kurt Busch cut me off. Typical. Second place...

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    2. That is so great--for an amateur. LOL!

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  13. Looks like a nice drive but very slow why does it take so long? Your rental looks quaint but adequate! Enjoy your rest day! Tuscany does look wonderful!

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    1. The first part of the drive was slow because we are on the local roads and they go through town after town and then when we got into the mountains the roads are very twisty, windy and it is impossible to drive any faster that 50 - 70 km/h at the best of times. That's why many people take the toll roads but they are expensive, at least we think they are.

      Yes, the rental isn't perfect but for the price it will suit our needs just fine and we love the location here in the mountains. The people here all seem to be very friendly too! :-)

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  14. Not sure I could live in a kitchen without a window even for a week, or a bed with no (or very flat!) pillows. I am too picky, I know. :-) Sure looks like lovely countryside you have been seeing, though!

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    1. I do most of the prep work in the livingroom/dining room because there isn't any counter space in the kitchen also that's where the little fridge is, so it is only the actual cooking time that is spent in the kitchen and washing the dishes of course. We can live with that, it is an old house after all! The pillows on the bed are deciving, the first night I fell asleep quickly and had no problem with the pillow, it is actually not as flat as it looks. They have extra pillows and last night I slept with the extra one and found it too high, so I think I will go back to just the one.

      For the price and the location we are very happy with the rental, it's not perfect but it will do nicely for the week.

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  15. Enjoy Kevin and Ruth! Jeff and I so loved Tuscany and the ancient towns.

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    1. Thanks Shelley and trust us, we are enjoying ourselves! :-)

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  16. I like the "mini sink" in the bathroom, humans must have been much shorter 800 years ago.

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    1. Lol, that "mini sink" works nicely to hand wash your clothes! Hurts the back a little though. ;-)

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  17. Oh good, another spot on this great green earth to explore!

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    1. There are so many wonderful places to explore! :-)

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