Italy Pre Trip Jitters . . . I gotta get our of town!!!

When it rains it pours . . .

With only a week to go before our Italy biking adventure, ‘things’ started happening.

First, my Geoffrey Bean glasses broke. Since I started wearing glasses two years ago I always travel with two pair, in case I break or lose a pair, so now I was down to one!!

. . . a last minute trip to the optometrist found they had an exact frame is stock so it was easy to pop out the lenses, install them in the new frames and I was on my way. Problem #1 SOLVED . . .

While on a little vacation to Door county and Green Bay . . . (see the new Packers stadium tour here) I was riding through a Door County rest area and rode over a 6 inch high speed bump. At that point my 15 year old Fizik Aliante carbon saddle collapsed. All four connection points of the rails to the mount sheared. I was riding the TREK 5000, which I am taking on the trip, so of course I had to scramble to find a new saddle. The 2018 version of this saddle did not ‘feel right’ after two 40 mile shakedown rides. So back it went to the store and I will be taking one of my ‘broken in’ Brookes saddles.  ALWAYS a good standby. Problem #2 SOLVED.

Although my passport did not expire until next year I had not payed attention to the actual date. This trip would put me within the 6 month validity period which means I could be refused entrance to Italy!!!

So . . . an online inquiry resulted in making an appointment at the nearest Passport Authority, located in Chicago, for the Wednesday before we were to leave!!! A drive to Chicago and all that means, including accidents on 94 and MAJOR construction projects in the city, landed me at the Passport Office, in a ball of nerves,  15 minutes before my appointment (I have budgeted in an 1 and 15 minutes leeway!!!) Thank God for GPS!!

Using the ‘expedited service ($60.00) and overnight shipping ($18.95) my new (52 page version) passport arrive at my doorstep, delivered by UPS, two days later.  A small price to pay for what could  have been a major travel disaster!!!

What a lifesaver the State Department was in providing this service!!! Problem #3 SOLVED.


Whew . . . don’t need to worry out his for 10 years!!!

So . . . all set, almost.

While out for a final ride on the TREK 5000, before I boxed it up, I broke a spoke and the chain went into the derailleur. Ugly scene!!!


. . into the LBS for ‘expedited service’ (no extra charge) and hopefully things will be back to normal . . .soon!!!

So . . . the plan is to drive to O’Hare and fly Aer Lingus to Dublin, Ireland, overnight there and fly to Milan the following day. We’ll spend a couple of days in Milan then train to Alessandria where we will bike our 400 mile one-week loop. After the bike trip, it’s on the train to Turin, spend a couple of days ‘recuperating’ from the bike trip (did I mention there will be some elevation on this trip) then back to Dublin and home (for emJay)!

This is the Piedmont area where we will be bicycling . . .

. . . and this is pretty much what the route will look like. Each day is either red or green. Ciao!!!

Day 1 MSN to Dublin


We were on the road at the crack of 1:30PM to the Dutch Mill Park and Ride waiting for our bus to Chicago. A chance for emJay to finish a a few last emails before she is ‘officially’ on holiday . . .


. . . luckily we were not using this bus line . . .


Soon our Coach USA had us at O’Hare Airport. Almost door to door delivery for $30/person . . . easy peasy!!! We rode to Chicago with Marci and Billy and you can see them in the ‘hold of the ship’ trying to get to their luggage located behind a door that had been  accidently locked . . .


. . . problem resolved and we were treated to this spectacular cloud display as we head into the terminal and some dinner. Then, Marci and Bill were off to Milan via London, emJay and I were off to Dublin then to Milan tomorrow . . .


. . .  and Barb and TommyH were already in Iceland viewing the ‘moonscape’!!!


From  his dispatches though, there appears to be a little water in Iceland! We will all tie up in Milan in several days.


I had not slept well the night before so between being sleep deprived, and the Benadryl I took, actually slept most of the 6.5 hour trip to Ireland. Slept through a Shepards Pie dinner emJay said was very good!!! Soon we were landing in Dublin, 10:30am local time . . .


. . . and with a quick shuttle from the airport we were in our room by noon. Time for a nap!!!


Soon it was time for a little happy hour . . .


. . . gotto stay hydrated!


And before long it was time to head off to dinner. emJay had the sea bass . . .


. . .and I had the bangers and mash with red onion  gravy. YUMM. All washed down with a Blue Moon. There will be plenty of time for Guinness.


. . . and we did leave room for a ‘little dessert’, which we plan on working off on the bikes!!!


then it was time to stroll back down O’Connell Street towards  our hotel. You can see the famous 393 foot spire which ‘was commissioned as part of a street layout redesign in 1999. O’Connell Street had declined for a number of reasons such as the proliferation of fast food restaurants and the opening of bargain shops using cheap plastic shop fronts which were unattractive and obtrusive; the existence of derelict sites; and the destruction in 1966 of Nelson’s Pillar following a bombing by former IRA members’.

Day 2, Dublin to Milan

We had a nice walk back from the pub last night, fantasizing about the nice leisurely morning to come and being able to awake . . .  whenever. Our flight o Milan wasn’t until 1:00pm. WRONG . . . in a final check of our tickets it read 7:00am!!!! This meant a 4:30am awakening and a mad dash to the airport.

Standing at the shuttle bus stop at 4:45am, a taxi approached and the driver asked if we wanted a ride to the airport because the bus we were waiting for was broke down a mile away. He had just observed it, stalled!! We said no and he wished us well on getting to the airport in time for  our flight. Ten minutes later the bus arrived right on time. So much for Irish business morals  (later in the day we would take an Uber in protest of taxis)!!!.

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and as we went to the Are Lingus check-in, I reached for my bicycle bag, that had my computer and important travel documents in it, and realized I had left it on the bus, that left us at Terminal 2 five minutes ago!!! A nice young Are Lingus employee told me where the bus may be parked and that it might still be there. I ran out the building and down the street, in the drizzle, to find six busses parked, but not ours. I had ran down the wrong street and the young lass had tried to chase me down to tell me, but could not catch me, as I  was in my fastest ‘OJ Simpson’ mode of vaulting down the road. On returning to Terminal 2 she told me of my error and I was off again down the right street, at full speed. The rain was soaking my face and my glasses slipped down onto the bridge of my nose . . . so of course I ran right off  the curb without seeing it.

Down I went on my ankle, elbow and chest resulting in a bruised, bloody elbow, tire tracks on my shirt from skidding across the street and what I would find out later to be a sprained ankle. In typical guy fashion, I jumped up and continued running, finding the bus another block away. The driver was enjoying a cigarette and reading the morning paper and . . . there was my bag!!! Yippee!!!

I hobbled back to Terminal 2 and proceeded through the check-in, which was seamless . . . .


Soon we were in the air winging our way to Italy, flying over France and the Alps. Two hours and ten minutes later we landed in Milan. The beauty of the Google Pixel phone is it operates, at no extra charge, in over 140 countries. As we flew over France and into Italy, the phone sent my watch a text welcoming us to our current location, even though we were at 30,000 feet . . .


Soon we were on the ground in Milan and with no real direct way to the hotel, decided to Uber there with a ride provided by Simon. Easy peasy. His bio said he had made over 11,900 trips around Milan!!!! Barb and TommyH had arrived the night before, we tied up with them  and  . . .


. . .after checking in with our new best friend, concierge Gwen, . . .


. .. were soon lunching, al fresco, at a nice little restaurant right down the block. My ankle was ‘throbbing’ and several glasses of vino seemed to help!!!


. . .. oh and we shared a piece of dessert which gave me the strength to get back to the hotel . . . 


. . .on the way we passed a mail carrier using  a bicycle to make his deliveries’. Nice!!!!


. . . our room was now ready and I was able to put my foot up on the two pillows.


My left ankle was definitely swelling and emJay graciously played ‘Nancy the Nurse’ by running down the hall several times to fill an ice bag for my ankle. I was able to hobble down the street with the gang for a lovely Mediterranean dinner, made easier by the girls walking to a local pharmacy to get me an ankle brace . . . as TommyH and I drank wine on the roof top piazza located right off their room. Oh . . . we did save some for Barb and emJay!


We didn’t get back to the hotel from dinner until 10:30pm. Didn’t take long to  . . . zzzzz.

Day 3, Milan

After a nice 10 hours of sleep, it was time to eat again . . .

. . . so off we trotted, me still hobbling, to another nice little restaurant down the street for Cafe ‘Americano’ and a nice little breakfast . . .

. . . lots of rental bike opportunities around the Piazza Lima, our hotels location , , ,

. . . and there seem to be a number of this system too, where you ‘use and lose’ it. One parks the bike, after you lock it,  wherever you are when you are done with it. The next user finds the closest bike to them using an app and away they go!!

I’d spend the day with my ankle elevated while our three advenruers headoff to disover Milan . . .

. . .which I observed from our roof top viewing area , , ,

. . . including  the ‘new’ downtown area

Tom, Barb and MJ headed out for a day of tourism. Rick stayed in the hotel to nurse his swollen ankle! First stop was at the Duomo di Milano. This is the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world. It is Gothic in style, built between 1386 and 1965, so it has many architectural influences!

MJ stopped to rub the ankle of Jesus to help Rick’s bad ankle…as many had done before.

Next stop was the nearby Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, considered to be the world’s first shopping mall. It is airy and light, with a 4 story arcade.

On we went to view the Last Supper fresco painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Once there, we learned tickets were sold out until September! They carefully manage the number of visitors for preservation reasons.  So we can only imagine the work!

Castello Sfozesco was built in the 15th C by the Duke of Milan.

Statue of the raider of the last tomb of Milan.

It is fashionable to have an ankle wrap! Here are two different versions on a mannequin at the pharmacy. Rick sports the version on the right, in the manly black shade. He wears it well!

Another GREAT Mediterranean fish dinner tonight , , , tomorrow we train to Alessandria!!


Day 4, Milan to Alessandria

Today we would train from Milan to Alessandria, a one and half hour ride, which would serve as the base of our biking trip. We will bike about a 350 mile loop from Alessandria over six days.

Our train to Alessandria left at 8:20am, so it was another early morning as we needed to take the Milan metro to the Central Rail hub to catch our train.


. . .we passed the bike rental station outside our hotel again and I noticed the bikes were all in REALLY good shape and al had a ‘direct drive shaft’ and no chain. Lots less change for breakdowns and also no chain grease soiling the pant legs of the stylish Milanese riders!!!!


. . . and there was a unique way of locking the bikes to the racks using a special clamp on the front of the handlebar basket that fit right into the locking mechanism. Nice!!!


Local art whose significance may have been ‘lost in translation’ for these art aficionado’s!!!


All major cities in Europe seem to have there street PACKED with overnight parking every night. Your car  doesn’t fit into a spot, no problem park sideways!!!


After making a metro change, we were soon at the Central Railway station. A building of beautiful architectural design. Art noveau, art deco, and a dose of fascism.


Interestingly, there is a salon, not open to the public, that Mussolini had installed inlaid floors with swastikas commemorating a visit from Hitler during WWII.


Train travel in Europe is really easy. Like so many things now of days you can buy your tickets ahead of time over the internet. I bought ours before we left Wisconsin. At the station you look for the schedules of trains on the ‘big board’ within about 20 minutes of your train leaving. Up until then the train may have not been assigned a platform number yet. Sort of like planes being assigned a gate number  . . .



. . once you know your platform number you proceed through the main entrance, show your ticket and walk over to your platform, where you can meet the nicest travelers! There were  Marci and BillyB  who had trained up from Lake Como this morning to meet us and we would all . . .


. . .proceed to Platform 24 where our train left right on time. We rolled along the Italian countryside on a direct ride to our town for the night, Alessandria. A note on the railcar passage door said ‘AC Not working’. No mention of how long it had be broken but the windows opened wide and it was a glorious ride into Alessandria.


Being a Sunday, and the fact it was August when most Europeans are themselves on holiday, the town seemed deserted. A short ten minute walk from the train station and we were at our hotel . . . which has AC!!! (many European hotels do not).


Nice large room and that bed was calling to my ankle . . .


. . . the others  ventured off for a nice little lunchy . . .


. . . .while I used the afternoon to continue in a mode of minimal movement . . . got to be ready to ride tomorrow!!!!


. . . however I was able to muster the strength to indulge in these little goodies my personal nurse delivered. YUM!!!

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The group had a full afternoon of walking….17,000 steps were logged around Alessandria. To the left is the historic synagogue on the main street.


It was dang hot and not too many people were out, other than our intrepid group.




The cannabis shop was not open on Sunday, but it seemed to have many options.



Marci and Billy were shocked to find that the fresh water fountain was as warm as the ambient air temperature of 92!


We stopped before crossing the Richard Maier bridge over the Tanaro River.



The bridge and walkway led us to the Citadel, built in the 1700s and heavily used over the years. It is considered to be among the best preserved military compounds, and covers over 180 acres along the river. Even so, it is considered to be an endangered historical site in the EU due to the crumbling buildings with trees and plants growing up through them!



We enjoyed dinner down the road from our hotel at Osteria La Luna in Brodo. Sausage risotto….


Auburgine parmesan…


Rare beef with green salad….


…and an exquisite desert that shall go unnamed! Like beignets with chocolate and cream sauce! We waddled back to our hotel, fully satisfied. The streets were alive with people now, 9:30 p.m. after the heat of the day had passed.

Day 5, Alessandria to Acqui Terme


Our breakfast at the Hotel Alli Due Buoi Rossi had all we needed for a good start to our day.


Ricardo met us promptly at 8:30 and we went off to the cellar to fetch our steeds for the week. Only one electric bike in the bunch…would we come to regret this decision?! Ricardo and his father run this regional bike business.


After fussing with our new rides, we were ready to at 10:00!


Even in Europe we celebrate beer festivals and the Summer of Love!


Two story cremation niches at the local cemetery! Space is at a premium.


You can check out a watering can to keep the flowers nice.




In Italy, especially closer to Milan, even farming is done in a fashionable manner!


John Deere, Leaping Deer, Rick Dear….


At about 11:30 we rolled into our first recommended stop, at an agriturismo farm. It was pretty quiet, a few people camping, and a big empty dining area.


Eventually “Mama and Papa” came out, informed us that they were closed on Mondays, but we could order sodas. So we did.


Then after about 15 minutes, they came out again, and since we were tourists, they could make us a little something. Papa showed us a beautiful big eggplant and two red peppers from their garden. He cooked them in a pan with just a little olive oil, S and P…and we all agreed, they were to die for!


This stop slowed our trip considerably but was soooo good! Some enjoyed spaghetti Bolognese, and others the big appetizer plates.


We are in wine country now!


There are five distinct winegrowing areas in the center of the Piedmont region where we are.


And if you can’t grow grapes, you can grow volts!


Ach it was hot!


The hot, humid, sweaty temperatures drove us to cafes and markets in small towns where we could buy sodas and eat potato chips.


And the views are incredible!


We learned that this was a bad sign, foretelling steep climbs.


At Ricaldone we had a grueling climb of 11 to 14% slope for about 3k. Brutal! I guess these people were there to make us laugh?


emJay makes friends with the guards. We also found a public fountain nearby which was a godsend, and helped us cool down.


Our destination for the night, Acqui Terme was not far.


The Romans conquered this town in 173 BC. and built a city around the thermal water source. Here are ruins from a Roman aqueduct dating to 1 AD.



Up one last hill and we were home for the night at the Hotel Roma Imperiale!


And we had a room fit for a king.


We dined at the hotel, and Tom wept when he heard the price of his share of the bill!

Day 6, Acqui Terme to Alba


Our room at the Imperiale was the width of the third floor, all three windows you see in this photo!


Every morning involves putting your gear back on your bike, and making sure you have water, snacks and sunscreen for the day ahead.


Tom fixes his cleat in the breakfast room while Bill and Marci look on in doubt . . . it_dy6_02

We pedaled by the public hot springs pool as we left our hotel.


We cruised through town, which was lovely, including this flowing fountain.


We stopped to enjoy this artwork, which consisted of tiny tormented-looking human figures trudging around the wheel. What does it signify?!!


There is not much new construction in the Italian countryside, but this looks like . . .  a raised ranch?


On this steep hillside, you see where the vineyard died or was destroyed due to pest problems. We saw this several times today.


Today we enjoyed another grueling climb. But the scenery is incredible!


At the end of a hellish climb, we tuck into a market to refresh.


We kept Martina busy filling waters, serving cokes, selling us snacks.


emJay was excited to buy regional snacks . . . except it turned out they were U.S. imports! She also picked up roasted hazel nuts which are local. We biked through many cultivated hazelnut tree groves.


Yes, we are following the wine route!


Here you can see young hazelnut trees in the foreground.


What goes up must come down! Here our riders appear as tiny dots whizzing down the road.


After yesterday’s long lunch with Mama and Papa, emJay demands a quick lunch ‘rapido’  and we enjoy salads and gnocchi in this little town.


Occasionally the water is not potable. Beware! It is still good to dunk your helmet or neckerchief in to cool down!


At the top of another rise, we stop to remember this community’s World War II dead.


Piedmont Panorama.


Piedmont Piggies made from clay.


There are mountain bike routes; this one says “bike to drink” in the small print!


And the track goes straight up this hill! Soon we settled into Alba where we stayed at the Hotel Langhe. We enjoyed a dip in their pool! As we were exhausted, we just walked a few blocks to a local pizzeria.

Day 7, Alba to Asti


Barb, emJay and Marci scope out the day’s ride. We use three tools to guide us: a booklet containing written detailed ride instructions; a booklet of topographic maps with rides indicated, and Rick’s GPS which has the routes loaded. We don’t ever get too far off track.


Just up the road from Hotel Langhe we find a familiar form! We stop to chew a little cud with her.


Today we begin with a long stretch of flat gravel trails.


We stop at a pretty plaza with a public fountain. It is early in the day but already it is hot!


Hmmm . . . the locals bring their water bottles and pay for this water, next to our little park with the fountain. Wonder what’s up?!


Happy rider on the flat terrain.


Hazelnut leaves . . . with thistle! Over 30% of all the hazelnuts in the word go into making Nutella. Their factory is in Alba . . . and the town smelled like chocolate as we biked through this morning!


Here you see more examples of the killed and cleared grapevines.


We rode right up these hills!


We wonder if homeowners are leaving water bottles, like the two on the sides of this garage door, out for the parched bicyclists riding by?


Beautiful church and snack stop in Antignano.


As we roll toward Asti, Rick is drawn to the John Deere sales lot! All the salespeople were on break, however.


We settle into the lovely and mod Hotel Lis in Asti. The girls enjoy some nice Prosecco before dinner.


. . . and we dine at Osteria Diavolo where we enjoy seafood-stuffed zucchini flowers, lightly battered and fried….


. . .  a vegetable tower topped with a fresh crustacean…


. . . lamb chops lightly fried and served on a pile of vegetables . . .


. . . and Billy’s baby back pork ribs, before . . .


and after! With tummies full we walked back to the Lis for a good night’s sleep. And tomorrow is a rest day, hooray!!

Day 8, Asti – Rest day


Ahhh . . . time for a nice outdoor breakfast at the Lis Hotel. It’s a family run place and has all you need!


. . .  even hotel slippers that you can wear to breakfast, like Marci did!


Here Mr. Ribero uses the juicer to make a concoction of apple, celery, carrot and ginger. It was wonderful!


Here are the raw ingredients ready to go.


The message is clear!


On our morning shopping walk, we oohed and aaahed at this pizza shop. Later Rick had two slices!


Our destination was this bike shop and café.


Everything was beautifully displayed. The influence of Italian design even affects bike shops!




The “fatties” — this one an ebike  – have hit Italy too!


Something for everybody . . . a holdover from WWII?!



Anybody familiar with these leak-proof tubes? Pepi’s Tire Noodles! Anti-puncture system we hear.


. . . so we went a-shopping!


This is Corso Vittorio Alfieri, the main road in old Asti. Asti is known for its many medieval towers still in good shape. It was once the most powerful city in the Piedmont. The Ligures lived here until the Romans ousted them in 174 BC; the Ligurian word for hill is Ast.

After about a 45 minutes half the group lost interest in shopping (no more bike shops). And went to the park to people watch.


Barb, emJay and Tom enjoyed lunch at Osteria Palio not far from our hotel. For 10 Euro they got: penne pasta with a light seafood sauce; vegetable fritter with cheese sauce; mixed salad; water “with gas”; cappuccino, and tiramisu for dessert. Yum!


. . .  Barb in front of the lovely cathedral, built in Piedmontese Gothic style. Note the bell tower and the single lancet windows.


The cathedral is airy and graceful inside. Note the Trompe l`Oeil effect on the columns  –not carved, but painted to appear so!  (and pronounced “trum ploy”  which I have always wondered about!!)

The #2 of 351 restaurants in town, on the Trip Advisor site, Campanaro, was only 3 block from out hotel. We had the front line staff make us a reservation and what a night it was!!!


emJay had the eggplant Parmesan starter . . .


. . .  while Ricxk had the layered spinach crepe, goat cheese stack with honey and walnuts . . .


. . . followed by sausage ravioli . . .


. . . topped with black truffles and Parmesan cheese.


. . . the pasta was delicious . . .


. . . and the special house tiramisu was superb!!!


We were personally waited on by the owner, Duilo, who spoke great English. His enthusiasm and passion for food were over the top and his insights and suggestions made the night’s meal the best of the trip!!!

Day 9, Asti to Casale Monferatto


After a relaxing day off, it was time to saddle up and ride. Here we get organized at the hotel garage where we had stored our bikes while on our ‘mini holiday’ rest day..


A short way out of town this field of blooming sunflowers welcomed us into the first village of the day we climbed.


Rick was joined by a new friend who did not want to leave his salty hand!


emJay glides by looking happy and fresh!


Barb is happy to be going downhill AND in the shade!


We passed this big field of what appeared to be hemp. Or was it medical marijuana? No samples!!!


Papa Frank and Rick shared a warm greeting!


Here is the historic view of one of today’s hill towns….


. . . and here is the same view today, with Billy working his way up the hill.


It was a challenging day, 55K and significant hills. But oh the views! One hill town, after another, graced with a church or a castle.


Up, up we would go,  getting ever closer to the town center.


You know it’s high when you ride  by the regional cell tower!


Marci and Bill enjoying another gorgeous morning of riding.


The downhills are fun! Three from our group ride down through the countryside on the road near the bottom of the photo.


Our approach to Casorzo and time for a little lunchy.


We met up with a group of young bikers from the Netherlands, also traveling with a service that moved their luggage from town to town.


Just down the street, we found a grocery store that had everything we needed for lunch. And of course parked and ate in the shade. If you can get out of the direct sun it is actually quite lovely.


Fresh fruit and veggies . . . and nothing is ever packaged or wrapped in plastic..


A deli counter with bread, meats, cheeses and desserts. Something for everyone!


Maressa sliced our ham, prosciutto and soppressata, thin. FRESH!!


Her colleague, Sofia, was quartering a yummy watermelon….


. . .  which was too much for Billy to pass up!


we finished up with cream puffs and chocolate éclairs.


. . . on the way out of town, we noticed this clever (and creepy) light fixture as we stopped in some shade. The glass abdomen is the night light.


A study in weathered Piedmont doors. All the town we rode through were like ghost town, regardless of the time of day. Most Italian’s leave the area for holiday during the month of August. Where do they go . . . to the beach!!!


One vineyard had its wares out to entice you in for a sample. We checked . . . the bottles were empty!


In addition to grapevines laden with ripening fruit, the roadsides were also rich in fruit trees, like these apples.


. . . and these . . . apricots? Name the fruit!


Yet another scenic town. You have plenty of time to take it all while when SLOWLY . . .  riding up steep hills!


emJay checks out this historic church. The tower in back is actually from a much older structure, and sits ‘catawampus’ on the newer building.


. . .there wer three of rour stretches of gravel we rode over during the course of the week. Several were very steep descents, an some   walked them.. Two who rode  . . . fell! They had the scrapes to prove it.


And yes it was HOT again. Still over a 100 degrees on the bike at 4:00pm. We all agreed the hills would seem A LOT easier to cycle up if it wasn’t so blasted hot . . . and there was a little breeze. It was calm all week. Where is a cooling headwind when you need one!!


After the gravel road, we came upon this beautiful vista of the valley below, and the community of Casale Monferrato.  The big climbs of the trip were behind us. YIPPEE!!


Here we settled in to our inn, Hotel Canadieri!


We passed this rustic building on our way to dinner. Great colors! The restaurants are never far away usually only a 5 – 10 minute walk.


Our restaurant, Cicinbarlichin, actually means “finger licking good”! Here is a clever use of an old workshop table.


Happy diners! This restaurant was recommended to us by the wonderful restaurant owner from Asti the previous night. Our reservations were as early as we could get them, 7:30. We were the only ones there.


A family of about 20 soon arrived to celebrate this young lady’s eighteenth. Here is proud Grandpapa and his birthday girl!


Dinner was excellent. Here is Barb’s choice of spedini . . .


. . . Tom and Rick tried the sous vide chicken breast with mango chutney sauce.


The servings were generous! After enjoying her primi piatti, Marci begged others to share her next dish, aubergine parmesan.


BillyB finally got the hamburger he had been craving the whole trip. They even were able to supply some ketchup! He said it was the best he had ever eaten.


By 8:30pm, the place was full to capacity. All these people, two pet dogs and only two waitstaff. They were busy!!!


. . . with full tummies, at 10:00pm we ambled to our hotel. Italian dinners are ALWAYS a 2-3 hour affair but are ALWAYS a very casual and relaxing experience!