The next country Day 11
Sunday 29th April.
We started off from Poppi Hotel in a cloudz day 21 degrees for our next country San Marino. Before getting there, we visited Ravenna, a world heritage town where all monuments and buildings are from early christian times. Our local guide, Lucianna was our tourguide, Mattia's teacher when he joined Cosmos 7 years earlier. She was a real character. she was about 65 and rode a bicycle for the tour.The town was from the 5th centurz and the Byzantine mosaics were present in the churches and mausoleum of St Vitale which was built in the earlz 6th century where Gallapatten was a roman Emperoress in the 500's. Her Mausoleum was for her, her husband, Lacidiu and Son, Valentino. Dante, the poet who discovered divine comedz, also has a crpyt here.
Lucianna was a real school marm and she had everyone running around on her behalf wherever we went. She took us to a mosiac room and told the ladies we had to come inside with her and the men were to wait outside and look in through the window. There she squirted them with window cleaner causing a huge uproar with all us ladies and shock from the men.
The next funny thing that happened was at a restaurant we stopped at for lunch after leaving Ravenna. Mike from Masterton sat down on a filigree wrought iron chair outside for his lunch and somehow, got his belt tab stuck firmly over a little hooked design in the back of the chair. We were sitting nearby them and when he got up to go back to the bus, he took the heavy chair with him. I collapsed laughing as it looked so funny. Funnier still was Des standing very close behind Mike's backside with me suggesting Mike undo his trousers so we could manhandle him from the chair. Mattia, our guide heard us cracking up and me shrieking with laughter and taking photos of Des and Mike basically looking like they were stuck together with Mike's pants half down. Mattia had to join in with the laughter and also took photos. In the end, being unable to free Mike and the chair not being able to fit on the bus or Mike not wanting to take it the rest of the way around Italy attached to his person, Mattia cut him loose on his belt tab with a large knife from the kitchen. Very memorable occassion.
Finally, we were on our way to San Marino. High, high up in the hills is this ancient Republic. this was the highlight of our tour so far. Spectacular views to villages below and the hills way way out. We had been assigned to a different hotel to everyone else as they were 1 room short. We actually had the best room of everybody at the Grand Hotel. Kingsize bed and much quieter than the others had apparently. We had breakfast in this hotel the next morning and it must have been at least 4 or 5 star. Very posh and we felt very special that we got this. San Marino is totally different to anywhere else we had been so far. It is breathtaking and a cable car runs from it to the lower part of the village. Our walk back to our hotel after dinner was 21 degrees still and seeing all the lights below and way out into the horizon was so beautiful.
Day 12 Assisi Holiday Inn-
Wishing we could have stayed another day in San Marino, we then headed for the next amaying place which Des and I were really looking forward to. Assisi. We were now travelling through the Umbria area which we felt, was prettier than the Tuscan region. We visited another hillside medival town called Urbino to visit the Palace Ducale which is the National Art Gallery as well. This had orginal art from the 14th and 15th century but also explained what each room had been when it was a Palace, e.g. the Duke's and Duchesses Apartments. We ran out of time to seen anything else in the town but that was stunning and we could have spent heaps more time there anyway. Next, gubbio, another medival town highup in the Umbria region. Here, we caught an elevator and walked high up to view the town and the roof tops from near it's palace. We enjoyed a "romantic table for 2" (as the waiter put it) for lunch then walked back down through the narrow cobblestoned streets with gorgeous shops avoiding the mad Italian drivers who don't slow up for you even in these narrow streets. Venice was more relaxing as there was no traffic coming at you or behind you while you negotiated the crowds and the rugged street paving or cobblestones. You have to keep your wits about you at all times and then there is the pickpockets you have to be wary of as well and I forgot the poo from all the little dogs every Italian seems to have on leads as well. Hey its all good fun really.