We made it to our train in Manarola with lots of time to spare. We were planning on catching the 8:30 train and we were in the station by 8:10. We had planned for extra time to take the stairs/ramp with our luggage, but it was much faster and easier than we thought.
The train to La Spezia was uneventful, but when we arrived we needed to get tickets for the train to Pisa. We found out which platform the train was leaving form and took our bags there. Vance then left to go get our tickets for the train. The line up was very long and Vance arrived back just as the train was coming to a stop in the station. We were in a bit of a flap to get on and get seated.
Now one of the things that we have been told about, in Rick Steves book and from other people is to make sure you validate your train ticket, something we have been doing each and every time we catch the train. But with the rush to get on the train in La Spezia we forgot. They don’t like people who forget. Our train tickets were 5.40 euro each. The fine for forgetting to validate you ticket was 40 euros – EACH. So what should have been a 21.60 euro trip for the 4 of us ended up costing us 181.40 euro. Ouch. Although it was our own fault, it still hurt, if we had been a bit more on the ball we could have had the conductor on board validate them for us, but you must ask him to do so before he asks to see your ticket. I promise, we will never forget to validate our train tickets again!
Vance likes his morning coffee, and by the time we got to Pisa he had not had his yet. So as soon as we got off the train and figured out where we would come back and pick up Vangie and Cathy, Vance scoped out somewhere for a quick coffee. Sure enough, right behind where we were sitting was a McDonald’s. Cathy and Vance took off to get the java and come back. When they came back they had 4 chicken burgers, 4 coke, 2 sides of fries and no coffee. IIt seems McDonald’s in Italy does not sell coffee, so they bought food instead.
Vance and I walked down to where we had to pick up our car. According to the map it was about 700 meters. We got out the GPS and headed on our way. Love the GPS. Took us right there. Unfortunately they did not have the car we had reserved. (A Volvo S50 wagon) So they provided a free upgrade to a Audi A4 Wagon. Nice, very nice.
We stuck the GPS on the window, programmed in the train station and were on our way. We picked up Cathy and Vangie and headed to the leaning tower.
Now, the leaning tower of Piza is something you should see, and with it is a huge church and the largest Baptistry in all if Italy. Now with that being said, Pisa does not have much to offer. The tower leans. It is not the pretty or ornate. It leans. The Baptistry is big. The church is old. You get it, about 45 minutes is all you need here. Go, take photos, go pee, leave. Done.
Set the GPS to Orvieto and hit the A11 for the 2:45 drive. The toll highway is very nice to drive and with a 130km/hr speed limit, pretty fast too. About a hour into the drive we noticed some AutoGrill places off the highway. They are like truck stops for cars. They have a gas station and a small food court with a small grocery store. We decided that this would be a perfect place to stop to get some lunch on the way. Vance looked up the AutoGrill on the GPS and we knew the next one was about 25km down the road. Perfect.
We pulled off the road and headed in for some food. I went the the restaurant side and was checking out the menu. Hamburger was on the menu. Perfect, I ordered one and was told it would be 5 min or so. I grabbed a diet coke and went and paid for it all and got a table. My mouth was watering. I had not had a burger in a couple of weeks now and it was going to hit the spot. I looked around for ketchup or mustard, but could not see any, it did not matter, it was going to be awesome with or without it. I saw the person bringing it to me, my saliva glads were in overdrive. She handed it to me and my mouth instantly went dry like the Sahara. I had two hamburger patties. No bun. No tomato, no pickle, no mustard, no burger stuff. A tiny sprig of lettuce and 1/3 of an Lemon. Lemon, what the hell is with that! At this point I did not care. I ate the patties and went to the other side of the place and ordered a croissant with cream. (Filled with a cream of some description) It was better than my non-burger burger.
After my massive disappointment we packed into the car and hit the highway again. It was not too long before we got to Orvieto and were making our way to Inncasa, the place we were staying at. (http://www.inncasa.eu/) Now I am not sure how Vangie found this place, but it belongs in Conde Nast travel magazine or Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. It is beautiful, with a view of Orvieto, a spa, infinity pool and another pool. The rooms are large and very nicely decorated. I have to pinch myself that I am here. Currently I am writing this on the patio by the infinity pool over looking a vineyard and seeing Orevito in the distance.
Our first night here we headed into Orvieto and tried a restaurant that the Inn had recommended. I had the best minestrone soup I have every had. I am looking forward to exploring Orvieto in the daylight, it looks like another charming renaissance town. But that is going to have to wait for another day.