We left Rome via taxi to our safe parking near the airport and took the coastal road to Pisa for a reprise of our earlier stay.  The weather was clear, the day warm, and the sun brilliant.

Originally, we were going to drive from Rome to Nice, a distance of 433 miles, but we decided the frightening highway at Genoa would be too great a challenge at the end of a long-distance trek.  This change, splitting the long distance into two days allowed us to pass through Genoa on the ancient Roman coastal highway much closer to sea level.  This proved to be a scenic match to Amalfi without the drama.  Another beautiful and awesome sight along this route were the snow-capped alps that loomed over the coast.  We missed much of this wonder on the way south in early February due to the rain and overcast.

Pisa, Italy Pisa, Italy Pisa, Italy Pisa, Italy

We stopped for lunch in one of the comprehensive rest stops on the Italian motorway.  The buffet and sandwich offerings were appetizing and of course wine was abundant, both for immediate consumption and in the large retail displays.  This seems a dangerous offering, but custom appears to prohibit over-consumption.  Indeed, we have not seen one drunk in all our time in Europe despite universal availability and consumption starting at lunch, and an 18-year-old legal drinking age.  Another note: drivers are as a rule polite and highly skillful.  Navigating the roads is challenging and use of blinkers to show intention even for every lane change is universal.  There was speed and quick direction change in Rome, but we did not drive in that city.

There was little of scenic note along the coastal highway from Rome to Pisa and it was an easy drive with a 2pm arrival in Pisa.  It was comforting to drive into a familiar city to the much-anticipated comfort and high style of B&B Di Camila.  Driving through the gates into the old city was easy because of lack of traffic and we found free parking steps from our lodging.

Heidi was tired and elected to take a nap in the luxurious room and I struck out for a walk around the city.  Pisa pleased me even more this time.  I found a charming small flower shop and left with a surprise for Heidi and happened on a pipe shop with unique hand carved beauties and I succumbed and purchased one.  This is one of my infrequently practiced hobbies.  The aroma of the smoke reminds me of my childhood cello instructor who puffed away while I demonstrated my shortcomings.  The aroma of pipes and cigars is a keen memory of my years of playing football.  Men I admired and felt comfortable with had a calm coaching style reflected by the languorous approach to the art of the pipe.

I returned at sunset to welcome hugs from Heidi engendered by my surprise bouquet and we went off to a cozy dinner at the “Grotto” and a wonderful restful sleep in our favorite lodging during our European stay.