Scorpa Superba!!!

We have started a fearsome battle of scorpa, an Italian card game. Ready to rival The scrabble scramble battle of 2011/12, it is being played out on trains from Pisa to Bologna, Verona and Parma.
After several trial matches making sure we are up with the rules, we have entered the first to a hundred round. Current score Rachel 10:Colette 11.
We are on a train Parma to La Spezia, travelling through the Apenines. After a lunch of spinach pastry, ham (ok i have felt the call of the pig again- practicing Rachel’s partial vegetarianism) and orange, C is asleep and I am gazing out the window at the snow capped mountains and rivers that really are ice blue.
The hillsides alternate between terracing of ancient stone walls like in Lesvos and huge descents into valleys spanned by bridges probably 40 stories tall. It’s hard to judge the scale, I try to remember to keep my mouth shut!
After Lesvos we flew to Pisa and had a less than amazing first Airbnb experience.
Claudio very kindly offered to pick us up from the airport, this offer quickly turned sour when he was an hour late (we had left the house in lesvos 12 hours earlier) and then gave us his personalised tour on the way back to his filthy flat. When we tried to curtail the tour and said we just wanted to eat and go to bed he came for dinner with us.
All very awkward. The icing on the cake was his plan to show us his short film (he showed us poster on way in) and be our tour guide for the rest of the stay. I have to admit -after we had then seen the state of the bathroom-we did use his wifi book a hotel and scarper in the rain at 10pm, prompting a text at 6am “have you gone out already? I was looking forward to breakfast and showing you Pisa”….phew a lucky escape methinks!
Anyway after a lovely clean, if more expensive, sleep we did enjoy Pisa.
We had a good giggle at everyone having their picture taken kicking it, hugging it and of course pushing it.
We saw Keith Harings’ last mural and had a wander around, admiring the medieval wall encircling the city, then thought bugger this lets get on the train.
We picked Bologna as our destination and on the train got a last minute deal. I love the surprise hotels on lastminute.com, it’s how I indulge my inner gambler, and this one was a treat!
We loved everything about Bologna. The first night, a bit knackered from the trip and absconding we just wanted a glass of wine and a quick bite. We happened on this little bar/ shop (a bit like hill st). The waitress was studying viticulture and knew Australian (and Tas) wine. She sorted us a couple of lovely reds each and a cheese and meat plate that this old man prepared with true love.
It was cold outside, dark and raining and inside the windows were steamed up and everyone was happy, they had a glass of wine and it was easter friday. It felt like we were in a secret club.
In the rain the next day we spent a couple of happy hours exploring the ruins under the library (as you do) roman, Etruscan and Bronze Age no less. There was also a cool swedish photography exhibition.
Then, it turns out Bologna is a bit of a foodie destination, that night we found an amazing restaurant where I nearly kissed the waitress when she put down my pasta e fagoli (bean) soup.
Then we saw someone else’s pizzas and our eyes nearly fell out of our heads-so we went back, a total of 3 times. The pasta…sigh…the pizza…sigh.
Luckily, there was a tower (torre asinelli) about 60m to climb, and at 3 euros (versus 18 in Pisa) it was a bargain. So we climbed and climbed and climbed. It was a tiny spiral staircase and at the beginning we thought they must let 10 people up, 10 down or there’s another staircase for those going down, but no. You all just alternatively push past and wait, hoping as you get higher you don’t go plunging over the waist high hand rail.

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