The plan was a different one.
From 14 to 21 September we were supposed to be in Crete, working remotely from a flat by the sea in some remote village in the middle of nowhere. Obviously, because the situation was so delicate, we didn't feel like taking a plane and leaving.
The change of plan, I have to be honest, made me very sad. After two missed trips, I had been looking forward to the departure.
So, I did not give up and immediately looked for an alternative solution, closer to Milan and reachable by car, so that we could move quickly whatever might have happened.
And so I set out on a search. First on Booking and then on Airbnb. The only two filters: 'by the sea' and '<€50/night'. After a few days of searching, I came across a very nice little house in Piombino (LI), directly by the sea and convenient enough for Valerio and I to be able to work quietly in smart-working.
As soon as we arrived, we were surprised by the accommodation. We had seen the photos, but it looked even better in person. No pretensions, just a wonderful view from the kitchen/living room window over the little harbour and the island of Elba (wow!) and everything you need for cooking.
In short, we loved la casa di Graziella - which used to be a fisherman's house - right from the start!
We stayed in Piombino from 15 to 20 September and, if we could have, we would certainly have stayed a few more days.
I had got into a good rhythm: wake up early in the morning, a quick swim in the sea (there was a nice little pebble beach below the house), a bit of reading, coffee and breakfast. All this before turning on the PC. Not a bad start to the day!
As well as being a stone's throw from the old town centre full of shops, bars and restaurants, the house was also very close to Piazza Bovio (the one you see from a distance in the penultimate photo above), which - for those who don't know - is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. A giant cliff overlooking the sea and offering a breathtaking view.
During our stay, we did not miss a few dinners out, to try the typical food of the area.
One place we really liked was L'OSTEria. An intimate place, tucked away in a small street behind the old town. The board was excellent, especially the cheeses. Val then chose a first course, a fantastic truffle risotto (which he continued to praise for all the days that followed). I, on the other hand, went for a seafood first course, crab ravioli with burrata, prawn tartare, cherry tomatoes and lemon zest. F - E - N - O - M - E - N - A - L - I !
The only flaw, the dark chocolate cupcake, although excellent, did not have a soft heart. And I really do care about the soft heart in the cupcake!
At Tonino's, on the other hand, we tasted an excellent chickpea pie; while, alas, on pizza - in spite of the good reviews on TripAdvisor - we were very disappointed. On the other hand, the place is really super cheap. A chickpea pie, two pizzas, water and beer 25€ (for both!!). Used to the prices in Milan, it seemed like a super bill.
In Friday evening, after dinner, under the suggestion of a guy we met at the gym the day before, we headed for Bolgheri. A small village with a very characteristic centre, full of stone houses, shops and shops selling local products. The cantucci are excellent! We took the opportunity to sit down and sip a typical local wine. We are not wine experts but, in such a characteristic situation, we couldn't back out.
If you plan to visit Bolgheri, get there via the famous Viale dei Cipressi (better if it is daylight. The view will certainly be better). An avenue no less than 5 kilometres long, lined with centuries-old cypress trees. A very picturesque road that even Giosuè Carducci wrote about in 'Davanti a San Guido':
I cipressi che a Bólgheri alti e schietti
Van da San Guido in duplice filar,
Quasi in corsa giganti giovinetti
Mi balzarono incontro e mi guardar.
The tall, outspoken cypressesI in Bólgheri
go from San Guido in double rows,
Almost running in giant youths
They leapt towards me and looked at me.
Saturday, wake up at 6 a.m. Breakfast and departure for the Isola d'Elba.
We asked ourselves more than once whether it was worth going for a day trip, but then we told ourselves that we probably wouldn't have had so many other opportunities to visit the island, so we bought a ticket online the day before, booked a scooter (the last one left) and left the next day on the first ferry of the BluNavy company (the cheapest!).
We arrived in Portoferraio just before 9am and took the opportunity to have breakfast (for me, the second of the day!) in a really nice place, near the port, which also does vegetarian and vegan cuisine. It's called Momento Nature Bar, and it reminded me a bit of the places in Byron Bay (in Australia), but I will definitely tell you about that in another post.
We then headed off to collect our vehicle of the day, a nice little white fifty which, however, held its nerve for the whole day without giving us any problems. As we didn't have much time to spare, we immediately chose to visit one of Elba's most beautiful beaches, the Spiaggia di Sansone (which you can see in the penultimate photo above). Wonderful. It's not exactly straightforward to get there, I'll leave a link here if you want more information on how to get there. We stayed there in the morning and then for lunch we stopped for something to eat in the little café just above the beach. We had lunch with a breathtaking view in the Sansone Reef Bar. I had some really good Thai noodles, but the best thing was definitely the cheesecake (baked, with berries - my favourite!).
There I also got a wasp sting, but we were surrounded and it was almost inevitable to come out unscathed, having a dessert full of fresh fruit and jam in the middle of the table. What I can say, though, is that it was absolutely worth it.
Second stop for a quick coffee at Enfola and another swim. The water here was nothing much, but we took the opportunity to relax a bit more before setting off again. Once back in Portoferraio we visited the town and had an aperitif on the harbour, before boarding the ferry and heading back to Piombino and then, the next day, to Milan.
I must, however, absolutely mention - before returning to Milan - the brief stop we made in Livorno. Here we had the time, thanks to Valerio's aunt and uncle who were kind enough to act as our cicerone, to take a panoramic drive around the city. Together with them, we also took the opportunity to have a quick aperitif in a very nice and characteristic place overlooking the sea, the Baracchina Rossa. After that, we headed for Ristorante Aragosta, right at the entrance to Livorno's Porto Mediceo. Very cosy place, and fantastic staff! We tasted some excellent starters, a pasta with sea urchins (dish of the day) described by Valerio as 'incredible' and some very good fish ravioli.
We will definitely be back to taste the most typical dish, Cacciucco (by the way, did you know that Cacciucco is the only Italian word to have 5 'c's?).