Italy, Day 5
(Spoiler Alert! You might want to start with Day 1 to follow this trip from the beginning...)
Still rainy and cool, we took the bus to the metro and casually arrived at Milano Centrale with hours to spare. Si, hours to spare... Yes, I married my father — a man that must be the first to arrive wherever he is going (minus, unfortunately, the regular primping. Love you Zan, mean it...)
We had our Eurail passes validated by an English-speaking attendant and found a seat to eat our pastries. Zan set out to photograph the immense Art Nouveau station with its shiny, fast trains while I caught up on some blogging.
The wait went by quickly and we boarded our (not so shiny) Eurail regional train without incident. We were seated at capacity with a French woman, an Italian woman and a couple from Russia. There wasn't much in the way of conversation until most of them departed and a younger Italian guy joined us. After noticing his shoes, Zan broke the ice by asking if he played soccer. Flood gates, open!
Like many Italians we met, he could speak English, though he was reluctant to admit it. Italians seem generally apologetic that they have not mastered the English language like most other Europeaners. We, however, are always impressed as we came with only a few hours of training via our iPhone translation app. After four days in Italy, Zan is still telling people "Prego!" (You're Welcome) every time he means to say "Thank You!" While it's not terribly effective, we both fall into uncontrollable laughter every time he does it. Priceless.
Our companion challenged us to a bit of trivia, asking us to guess his name as he shared some hints. I felt like we represented our ailing American education system as we failed to connect the historical dots. Eventually, Zan guessed Aristotle and got us close. His name was Aristide and we apparently met him on the day he finally received his college degree, some 17 long years in the making. (I think that may be even longer than it takes to get an Art degree from Winthrop... zing!)
Ari did his super animated impersonation of Americans for us and, before long, we were belting out the lyrics of our favorite Gotye / Kimbra song together. Every now and again we had to gesture or write down words to better communicate with one another and, after an hour or so, our brains were sore and our stop was near.
As we jumped up to grab our bags, we promised to reconnect via facebook and headed for our B&B in Cinque Terre. The weather was gorgeous as the small National Park bus rounded the plaza into the town of Corniglia.
Our B&B was only steps from the bus stop. We met our host Beppe for the first time and dropped off our bags to head out for a quick tour of the town and find cena. We settled upon a small café named Er Posu. With the sun setting over the sea, we enjoyed a fresh caprese salad, lasagna with pesto and ravioli al ragu al fresco.
We had purposefully booked our trip so that each big city adventure would be followed by rest in a small, peaceful village. Leaving Milan for Corniglia brought a change in both scenery and pace as drastic as the transition from the States to Milan. Though we were only able to get a fleeting glimpse of Corniglia, we felt as though we'd just discovered a seaside version of The Shire. This would be our home for the next five days. Si.