Colorful LiguriaFriday, 13 July 2007
Monte San Savino – Florence – La Spezia, Portovenere, Italy
We make an early airport run to Florence and wish Gerri and Betty safety on their way back to San Francisco. Then we point our car westward toward the Mediterranean and the coastal town of La Spezia in the Liguria region.
We dropped off our luggage at the sleek and modern “My Hotel” on the edge of a cliff overlooking the old town of La Spezia. From the lobby, 5 floors down the elevator, we emerge into a bustling city scene - first sight is laundry fluttering high above the typically colorful houses of the region – we’re not in Tuscany anymore!
Walking parallel to the harbor, we find the local dive, Antica Osteria de Gianni, that’s been serving the needs of fishermen for over 100 years. We expected better, but got fair food at a fair price. Anne decides on Lunigiana testarollo, pesto on a different kind of pasta – one inch squares of whole wheat crepe. I also got a different kind of pasta – bucatini – long like spaghetti but with a long hole inside- covered with a tomato sauce.
We checked our maps and decided to venture out to the end of another peninsula while we still had the car, to the little seaside village of Portovenere. We found a new place we’d like to go back to. Lots of colorful tall houses stacked side by side.
There was even a comedic street theatre in the little piazza by the three towers. Portovenere is only about 11 kilometers from La Spezia but in a different world. The kind of world that makes you start planning a longer return trip.
Back in La Spezia we’re on a hunt for trofie - little twists of chewy pasta served locally with cubes of potato and skinny green beans in a fragrant pesto. We find it on a menu at La Tavernetta. We followed the delicious pasta with a whole grilled orata and a fritto misto – all surprisingly good.
On our walk back to “My Hotel” we have to slow down to conform to the passegiatta which is in full swing – at 10:30 pm! Many stores and even two museums that were closed when we walked by this way to dinner are now open and very busy. It seems the latest style for the 20 something girls is a cool strap summer top with short skirt and cowboy boots. Maybe it’s been around a while and we just missed it; but I don’t think it’s a trend we’ll be jumping on.