Monday, December 05, 2011

The Gory Details - Italy, and a few nights back in France

Scott in the center of the terrace at Matama Braceria in
Imperia just over the border from France.
Our last night at Camp Darby near Pisa we ate again at
La Squalo in Terrenia.
Marina Piccolo restaurant in Manarolo, Cinque Terre is right
on the cliff edge overlooking the harbor. At night they have
heat lamps overhead so you can eat outside if you wish.
On our drive from Arles to Pisa we stopped in Imperia, parked in the underground parking garage and walked down to the water. There we ate at Matama Braceria next to the big yachts tied up at the dock. The food was good although pricey but it was a lovely spot in the sun.
As I discussed earlier we rented cabins on U.S. bases in Pisa and Naples. This is only possible if you are active or retired military personnel. It was $60 per night - a great deal, and we were able to eat some of our meals there.
We ate 2 memorable dinners out in Terrenia outside of Pisa at La Squalo, Via delle Rose 56128 (+3905037305). Very good food and service for reasonable prices.
In between Pisa and Naples we spent 2 nights in Manarolo, in the Cinque Terra at the Da Baranin, Via Rollandi 29, 19010. They have bed and breakfast rooms as well as apartments for rent. We had 2 studios, one above the other with well equipped kitchens and nice baths. There were views of the sea from the windows. We paid $115 per night each. It was easy to get to the hotel if you were driving but a long walk up from the railroad station. We had a lunch and a dinner at Marina Piccolo on the waterfront and it was excellent. Get the vegetable "tortas" for an appetizer, 3 different kinds, all excellent. The seafood pastas and risotto were terrific. We loved the Cinque Terre wine too.
On the way from Manarolo to Naples we stopped in Orvieto and bought their excellent white wine. We wished we bought more. We had a very nice lunch at Cucina Tipica Ristorante, inexpensive and very tasty.
Cucina Tipica retaurant in Orvieto where we had a delicious
lunch. Mine was braised pork over polenta.
In Naples we had very good pizza at Lombardi a Santa Chiara retaurant, Via Benedetto Croce 59 (5520780). It's been there for a long time and was packed at lunch. We ate upstairs in the attractive small rooms. The star here is the pizza - try the eight taste, each piece a different flavor. It's just off the Piazza Gesu Nuovo and the Cloister of the Clarisse next to the Santa Chiara Church.
After a couple of tickets we usually opted for
a garage. But you have to remember to pay
at the machine before you try to exit.
We almost stopped at this lovely spot in Positano but it was
early so we continued down to the beach.
Chez Black on the beach at Positano
If you have gelato at this place on the square in
Amalfi it comes with a little cap of waffle cone.
In Capri we ate at Le Grottelle very near the Natural Arch. The view was spectacular and the food generally good but expensive. Chez Black Restaurant right on the beach in Positano was better although equally expensive. Try the "salad bar" - all the lovely appetizer vegetables (you can have the fish too for an additional price) you can pile on a plate for one price (the plate is small but I managed to get a lot on it). Fantastic!
In Rome we had a truly memorable meal at Da Nino Ristorante, Via Merulana, 74 (74,0670453458). The food was delicious and simple, using great ingredients. This was our third visit, once over 20 years ago and it's always great. This is a small place with no tourists but they're happy to work with whatever Italian you can muster.
We stayed at Albergo Morandi in Reggio Emilia, Via Emilia S. Pietro, 64 and were very happy with our comfortable room and the friendly helpful proprietors, mother and son. She recommended Ristorante Canossa, Via Roma 37 (0522/454196) for dinner and we loved it. It is the last of the local food restaurants left in the city. We had wonderful homemade pasta and then their specialty, a trolley of boiled/roasted meats and mashed potatoes. You choose your meal from that The trio of sauces served with it were excellent. It was a fun, friendly delicious dinner. Try the local wine Lambrusco. It's not like the U.S. one. Still sparkling red and served cold but not sweet.
Hotel Les Launchers in Praz Chamonix and their restaurant

Scott's appetizer, a "beggar's purse" and salad before our
main course of cheese fondue which was fabulous.

Our table, just vacated at La Caleche in Chamonix
In Chamonix we stayed 2 km down the road in Praz Chamonix at Les Launchers. There is a beautiful looking trail along the stream linking the two which is well lit at night. We were tired from the long day or we would have walked into Chamonix instead of driving. It was 89 euros with breakfast (cheese and meat as well as breads etc.) We had a lovely small room with a balcony with drop dead views. The downstairs restaurant looked welcoming but we went into the center of Chamonix to have cheese fondue at La Caleche, a very beautiful restaurant filled with antiques. It's been around since 1946. We paid 29 euros each for a delicious 3 course dinner. Before dinner we stopped in the Munster bar and had some Guinness and watched the young locals.
Hostellerie De Bretonniere was our hotel in Beaune. We had probably one of the cheapest rooms at 79 euros with breakfast, small but comfortable. It was only a block out of the walled city and we ate dinner very close by at El Manana, 45 Rue Maufoux 21200. We had a great talk with the mother and daughter who ran it. The food was excellent and the decor very attractive. The mother is Morrocan so we had coucous with minced beef and vegetables. For an appetizer we had "brick", a egg and potato filled pastry - delicious. With wine, mint tea and dessert our meal was 51 euros total.
The addition to the main house of Hostellerie De Bretonniere
where we stayed in Beaune

Nadia Duqesnay and her mother in their restaurant
El Manama in Beaune, France
As I mentioned in my earlier posting "The Gory Details - France" we stayed our last night in Paris before leaving for London at Hotel Vielle France, 151 Rue La Fayette and we don't recommend it unless you're desperate for a cheap place near Gare Nord. It was clean enough although dingy. As the the reviewer said on Trip Advisor, there are no pillows, only a bolster (with no pillow case) - weird.

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