We wake up in our castle chamber and agree — we will have breakfast here at the castle today. Sure it’s bit pricey at €10 per person (well, when you factor in the conversion rate of 1:1.5. Well… okay, not really), but we don’t feel like grabbing anything on the road and hey! We’re worth it! Actually, as we step into the dining room, it becomes apparent that the breakfast is totally worth it. Fresh-baked breads, cakes, rolls and croissants are displayed for the taking. There are cured meats and cheeses, fruit, juices, coffee, milk, yogurt, cereals, and cheeses. Among the cheeses is a pressed ricotta drizzled with chestnut honey. Yes…. totally worth it. Amazed that we can fit anything in us after last night’s feast, we gather our food and sit down with a couple that we met the previous night at the hotel: Vincent and Karen from Sarasota, FL.
After breakfast, we pack up everything for the road and haul it downstairs. As Nancy checks us out of the castle, I take the opportunity to do some last minute blogging. While checking out, Nancy gets some recommendations for places to eat in Lucca from Denise (the other owner of the castle), since she is familiar with that area. We figure that anyone who puts that much effort into a breakfast like that must know something about where the good places to eat are.
We planned to hit a little of Barbaresco before we headed south today, but by the time we got out of there, we just wanted to get to Nervi as fast as possible without incurring any penalties for speeding (‘cuz that’s just what I need. Another speeding ticket). On the way there, I realize that I am now able to read 4 more traffic signs, thanks to Liliana’s explanation about the name nebbiolo possibly being derived from nebbia or “fog”. Hurray! I’m learning!
We pull over at a gas station to fill up our tank, since we’re running a bit low and run into a bit of trouble. One, the gas station is closed, and the automated system only takes cash, not cards. I don’t want to give up my hard-earned cash for something as mundane as gas, but I relent. As I open the gas door on the car to fill up, I realize that there’s no gas cap! I’m not sure if it’s supposed to have one, as there is a metal flap that seems to close the hole automatically. Yeah, I know that ours are like that here in the US too, but this one looks different to me. More…. European. Nancy suggests that the guy in Bellagio that filled up our tank secretly collects them, “Ah now here is a prize… Ford Focus, 2008”. I grab the nozzle for regular gas (there’s no way I’m spending my hard-earned cash on super for a rental car!) and jam it into the hole. Er… jam it… WTF! It’s too big for the fucking hole! What kind of moron makes a car that won’t take gas?!
Betting that the little flap will open under the pressure of the gasoline flow, I press the end of the nozzle to the hole and gently squeeze the handle. Gush! The gas spills down the side of the car. Defeated, I put the nozzle back in the machine. At this point I notice something odd about the two gas nozzles: they have different sizes. Curious, I grab the “super” nozzle and bring it to the hole. It fits perfectly. There goes my hard-earned cash. I end up prepaying on the automated system two more times to get the car close to full.
We press on. After a couple of hours and about 20 tunnels later, we arrive in Genova, a dirty and crowded sea town with scooters flying everywhere. Glad that we’re not staying in Genova, we keep going down the road to Nervi. Nervi is less dirty and significantly less crowded, but still feels cramped. The streets that we travel on are one lane (that’s half of one lane in the US) but are thankfully one-way. It threatens to rain as we pull up to the Romantik Hotel Villa Pagoda, but holds for the time being.