This may be a two post day because I have two separate experiences in my head from our time here in Florence.
Yesterday we made our way to the train station in La Spezia, the next largest town near Portovenere. We decided to take the city bus at 2.50 a piece instead of a $30 cab ride. Everything was going swimmingly until we noticed that we had been on the bus a long time, and a group of teenagers boarded looking as if they were headed for the beach. We asked someone who spoke a little English if we were near the station. Apparently, we missed the stop somehow. The bus must have approached from a different direction and we didn't recognize the building. The kind person told us we must get off and head the other direction. Fortunately, we had left early and still had plenty of time. We crossed a busy road and a bus waited for us. There was a guy kind of riding shot gun on the bus, gabbing up the driver. I still don't know if they were friends, co-workers or what. But he understood our problem, and told us when to get off. Then, in a surprise move, he decided to lead us all the way to the station entrance. He hopped off with us, and led us to the elevator so we didn't have to lug our suitcases up a steep staircase. We both admitted that when he reached in his jacket, which he did only to move his wallet as he warned us about pickpockets, that we had a brief flash of being robbed blind. It was not the case. He was just a Good Samaritan helping some lost travelers. He didn't have much English, and we had even less Italian, but he was a Godsend to us. There are a lot of nasty people in the world, but there are some very nice ones too.
We found our track and had time for a McDonalds cheeseburger. Haha. Sometimes familiar food is comforting! We had a very comfortable 90 minute ride into Florence and arrived about 4:30. Our hotel was in walking distance and we arrived to a place that must have huge history, which I intend to find out. Our room, "Studio Barbera" has a fortress of a wooden door on the street level. It is huge,
the bedroom having a ceiling like a small Italian chapel-a duomo- and a kitchen and bathroom. The
lighting is poor and it has a smell from a plug-in room freshener that is not especially pleasant. But it has charm galore. Part of the hotel is a residence for artists it seems with a lovely terrace overlooking a courtyard.
We wandered around last night, got caught in a sudden downpour again but this time were were prepared. We found the marketplace and eyed up the leather goods we might want to buy. After a great dinner of homemade pasta, which left me way too full, we went to bed early, and slept rather fitfully. Too much food and another new bed.