We have arrived in Italy!! After 11 hours in flight and a very tight connection at London Heathrow we have arrived at Pisa airport. Our elation of arriving waned slightly when we realized 5 of the 10 bags didn’t make the connection in London.
Surprisingly though the baggage tracing process was relatively painless and within a half an hour we were told the bags would be there the next morning. We were given ‘goodie’ bags consisting of toothbrush & paste, toiletries and our ‘prized’ white nightshirt (gown).
Our transfer service then whisked us off the the 5* Abitalia Hotel and we enjoyed our first Italian meal in fine style. Caution – read the menu very carefully – fish and meat are at times sold by the 100gm and can get quite costly when the smallest portion they have is 500gm!
Full and now extremely tired, we retire to our respective rooms. A nice touch from the hotel – the TV screen says “Welcome Natural Trekking”.
Morning arrives very early for many of us. 3:00am was the general consensus for wake up time; Dana was the clever one and went downstairs for a hot chocolate. next time we decided we would get up and head downstairs rather than tossing and turning.
Breakfast was included and was a lovely array of pastries, meats, cheeses, yogurt, fruit, eggs, bacon and the best rolls and chocolate croissants I have ever eaten. And the coffee……..mmmmmmm, Italian coffee. All of it tastes so good as it is ‘real’ food; made from scratch, with minimal processing and preservatives. Free range eggs are the norm and not a novelty – as a matter of fact that is the only eggs they have!
Breakfast finished we now make the short 20 minute walk to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is still early, only 10:00 am, however the temperatures are already in the mid 20’s. The Duomo, Cathedral and Tower are beautiful and the clear blue sky and manicured green grass add to this beauty. The requisite photos were taken, you know the ones – the optical illusion of holding up the tower with your hand, and a few of the ladies did the dizzying trip up and down the tower.
With only a half an hour left for check out we rushed back, freshened up and right on time Tomasso, our transfer driver, arrives and we are on our way back to the airport. Good news, all 5 missing bags have arrived and we are very happily reunited with them. Kudos to the baggage tracing office at Pisa Airport, it was a pleasant experience to deal with them!
Now we have a little more than an hour to wait for our HF Holidays leaders and transfers. It is a glorious day so we opt to set up camp on the lawn under a huge shady tree. Caroline rekindled her love of Italian beer and pizza, she is a happy gal.
Tony, our leader, arrives and we meet up with our walking companions for the week. Our coach driver, Piero, expertly manoeuvres the bus through very narrow and winding roads down to the quaint village of Bonassola situated on the Italian Riviera. Wow, is this heaven?
Once settled in our rooms, we set out for a short town orientation tour and then up to the fourth floor of the Hotel Delle Rosa – our home for the next 7 nights. The 4th floor Is the patio and bar and overlooks the beach and Mediterranean Sea – a perfect spot for watching the sun set. Enrico, the hotel owner, treats us to snacks of fresh anchovies (very tasty) and bubbling Proseco and welcomes the group to Bonassola and the hotel.
Happy and hungry we head to the dining room downstairs and enjoy a wonderful home cooked Italian meal. Jet lag has taken over and we all head to bed for what we hope will be a restful sleep. Buono note.