|Someone trying to sell a Radiohead ticket.|
We were terrified of driving in the cities: even without having to operate a clutch, it was too much trying to dodge pedestrians, remember to stay on the right side of the road, and worry about possibly damaging the Audi A5 with 300km on the odometer (that's right, 300km, not 300,000km!). Once we made it to the autostrada though, it was smooth sailing—our journey from Bologna westwards, along the coast towards Nice, was mostly on toll roads, where bridge after tunnel after bridge meant no mountain was an obstacle.
Our first day of driving also coincided with us having absolutely nowhere to stay. Up till now, we had generally booked accommodation at least the night before. This time, not having found the time, crossed with not being sure how far we could get in the car, meant we were in the wild without a plan. Perhaps we thought we could sleep in the car in the worst instance.
After failing to find a parking space in Florence, and giving up on visiting the touristy Pisa, we had a horrendous lunch at an Autogrill (restaurant at a service stop on the side of the autostrada), before reaching the beautiful walled city of Lucca. We did some research over drinks, and decided to push on ahead. Our target was now a hostel in the mountains of Moconesi.
It was a good thing we aimed to get there early, because we had underestimated how difficult the narrow roads would be. By the time we made it to the hostel, it past 6pm, and we were hungry. Unfortunately, there was no one at reception. Although we met a guest while waiting, there was still no staff there over an hour later. Trying the ring the hostel's number failed miserably. It was now dark, and we decided to give up and go elsewhere. There was no obvious other place to stay in Moconesi, so we selected a hotel at Rapallo, a half hour's drive away on the Ligurian coast. As you can see, this meant making our way down crazy, windy roads, where we were tail-gated by impatient locals (who had much more practical cars) and nearly had a head-on collision with a bus heading up the mountain!
|This gives you an idea how windy the mountain roads were.|
What's more, it was just a few doors down from a couple of bakers (where we bought our breakfast the next morning, including a chickpea-based thin pancake which is a local specialty) and just a short stroll to the water. There, we had a very late dinner while looking at the impressively lit Castello sul Mare, a castle in the sea built in 1551 to fend the residents against frequent pirate attacks.
|Beautiful seaside castle setting for our dinner.|
The tuna tartare was fantastic, but the most memorable dish on the table was the taglierini al granchio, translated on their blackboard as "fresh spaghetti with crab". We had come to expect great pasta everywhere in Italy, but this surpassed our expectations. Even before we tasted this exquisite dish, our breaths were taken away by its presentation: served in the crab's shell, with a pair of pliers so we could crack the legs open and suck out every last morsel.
|Special of the day: crab spaghetti in the shell, and a tuna tartare.|
|Crème brûlée for dessert.|
Sole Bar & Restaurant
Via Montebello,14, Rapallo Province of Genoa, Italy
+39 0185 50241
Tuesdays to Fridays 10am - 1am
Saturdays 10am - 2am
Sundays 10am - 1am