Monday, May 21, 2012

Italy: Spring 2012: Monday, May 14: Day 20: Olbia-Pisa

Italy: Spring 2012: Monday, May 14: Day 20: Olbia-Pisa

A lazy morning at the Doubletree in Olbia....our ferry doesn't leave until noon so we have a leisurely morning in our comfortable room.  

Even the short drive from Olbia to Golfo Aranci (about 10 miles), where the ferry terminal is located, is scenic.  No lines for this ferry (we are returning to the mainland on a different ferry line--Corsica-Sardinia Lines, a French company) and we are quickly sitting in the lounge area, getting set for the almost seven hour ride.  Diana quilts and reads, I work on the computer, read and walk around--the trip is quite uneventful and pretty boring, but comfortable enough.

The drive to Pisa takes about 30 minutes and we easily find our hotel (close to the Leaning Tower but a bit removed from the tourist path), park the car and get settled.  The hotel--the Relais Hotel Orologio--is a stylish, old-style hotel with period furnishings, frescoed ceilings and tiny least the one we are given.   We ask about a larger room, are told nothing is available but we should ask again in the morning.

By now, it is almost 9 pm so we go for dinner to the trattoria located next door to the hotel, I Miei Sapori.  Not only convenient, but good as well...DIana has a good steak and I have a very rich zuppa di farro and a plate of lardo and greens.  With a local Pisan wine, we are happy.and glad that the hotel is right next door.

Tomorrow we explore Pisa...we have been here for day trips before but we will have time to see much more than the Piazza dei Miracoli.

A few thoughts about Sardinia....even though it was the only Italian region that we hadn't yet visited, I was not enthusiastic about going there.  And I was less enthusiastic about scheduling the visit to coincide with the big festival in Cagliari....

But was I wrong....we both loved Sardinia--the scenery is just spectacular from the long sandy beaches and rocky coastline to the rugged interior, driving around the island is a constant pleasure.  And it turned out that I really got into the Festa di Sant'Efisio and had a great time following the activities around town as well when we met up with the procession in Pula.  The Roman sites at Tharros and Nora were fascinating and the wildflowers in bloom everywhere only made the scenery more beautiful.

Another positve was how wonderfully friendly and welcoming the Sardinian people are...we had more pleasant interactions in hotels, restaurants and shops than we have had in other parts of Italy.  And I enjoyed staying in Cagliari very much...I found it extremely lively with lots of things to see.  And the food was very good...I had wonderful clams and mussels all around the island and we generally ate very well.

Two things were quite different than other parts of Italy...we found that the villages and towns for the most part were not particularly attractive...and the art and culture was less accessible to us than it is on the mainland.  

And even though we don't take advantage of all the outdoor activities available there--swimming, boating, snorkeling, hiking, riding, etc---I think we would certainly like to return....

Jim and Diana

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