We landed in Pisa at sunset and the thunderhead clouds looked amazing as we flew in over the Lingurian Sea and Arno River. Customs was a breeze and all of a sudden, we were in Pisa. We considered walking the 30-40 minutes to our hotel but instead we got a taxi.
After showering for the first time in nearly 24 hours, we had a nice dinner at Omobono, directly behind the hotel. They had a wonderful bianco vino dalla casa and the pasta and veal was just alright. We wandered around the river and a few streets before calling it an early night.
Our hotel was on a busy street so it was pretty noisy on a Saturday night. However, the river view in the morning was quite stunning. The Royal Victorian Hotel had a lovely breakfast buffet consisting of lots of pastries and endless coffee. We felt like zombies until the 3rd or 4th cup of black coffee. I started with a lovely cappuccino but needed to mainline it, in order to wake up.
Since it was still raining consistently, we decided to go directly to the train station to Manarola, in hopes the rain would clear up on the coast. The train from Pisa to La Spezia took us through pretty countryside, near mountains and by several marble quarries. We then took a regional train to Cinque Terre and met an extremely talkative young Texas kid, who was also hiking the trails. Foruntately, he confirmed we were on the right train and reminded us when to get off, when it wasn’t immediately obvious. Manarola does not disappoint. As soon as we arrived the weather continued to get better just in time for a glorious view on our private deck and a gorgeous sunset over dinner. Our hotel, Aria di Mare is perfectly situated above the tourist zone and high on the terraced hillside for extensive views. We like the clean accommodations so much more than the dated, rustic, first hotel. Before dinner, we enjoyed our panaromic deck with local white wine. At sunset, we walked a few doors down to Trattoria dal Billy for phenomenal antipasto frutti de mare. My favorite was the black crab! Trattoria del Billy is so amazing that we made reservations to go again!
[Disclaimer: I wrote most of this post due to jet lag, so please excuse any enthusiastic typos!]