We arrived in The Port of Livorno, Italy, Saturday, May 18, 2013. First morning photo, 7:00AM.
I must say that the port was very industrial and not what I had expected. The sun was shining and still a bit cool, with the promise of a warmer day ahead. Excited none the less, as we had a tour of the Tuscan Countryside, for a wine tasting, scheduled for the day. We will be in Pisa and Florence in a couple of weeks so we wanted something more rural to experience and not duplicate our land tour. We would later take a shuttle bus into the city of Livorno and get a feel for the area.
We drove through the Provence of Lucca, in the region of Tuscany, to the Village of Montecarlo, not to be confused with Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Our guide was named Valerio, in his early twenties, he had a great sense of humor and kept us laughing. He has a degree in political science and spoke English very well.
Valerio said, that the unemployment rate for young people, under thirty years of age, is at 40%. He may have to leave his country, to find work. Franco was our bus driver, a jolly fellow, who spoke no English. We communicated through the universal language, of sign.
The brochure stated that there were 25 steps to the village! Easy right? The reality was 25 steep, very old, rustic, uneven steps to the village! Once again a lung exercising climb! Some in our group could not make it to the top. Very disappointing, I thought.
Not a very impressive village compared to what we had seen in, France and Monaco. It had it’s own unique flavor however, and we were able to view a working class village, enjoying the locals. We strolled through out the village, which has panoramic views of the countryside. Olive trees and vineyards, could be seen from every angle.
We left Montecarlo and headed back to Livorno, to visit a family owned vineyard. After a brief explanation of the process we were escorted to a large warm and inviting room. The table was set and we were able to taste five different wines, ranging from a sparkling white to a dry white, to a red, to a sweet dessert and finally a grape liquor. Tapas were also served, along with almond biscotti made by grand-mother. The biscotti was delicious dipped in the grape liquor.
Let’s just say that we all left very happy! Valerio, told some jokes on the way back to the ship and gave us more history on the area. He then brought out a bottle of cold limoncello for a toast, and toast we did. He was just so darn cute, I know he was tipped very well, by all.
Back at the ship we took a shuttle bus into the city of Livorno, 5 euro pp roundtrip. We met two ladies, from our ship and one had just been pick pocketed, at a local store. She lost 150 euro and her credit cards. We felt so bad for her. She said, it was two young women with a baby carriage in the shop with her, when it happened. Thank goodness, I have my bra pouch for security. You just can’t be to careful here. The high unemployment rate has forced people into this type of bad behavior.
Livorno is called Little Venice, because of it’s many canals. They were a pleasure to view. We found free wi-fi in a cafe, but their password would not work and of course you have to buy something for 3 euro to use it. The something was already consumed, so no refund! In the second cafe we were successful but had to buy something as well, a 3 euro minimum purchase. So it cost us 6 euro in gelato to call the kids between the two cafes. Think it might have been cheaper to buy the Verizon Plan. Such a sweet deal!
Well folks enjoy the photos. Off to Rome tomorrow for a archeological dig. Should be interesting! Saving all the big attractions for our second leg of the trip! Archeological dig...What was I thinking when I booked that one???