Friday, July 4th
Friday was my day to visit Nizza Monferrato. I chose Nizza mainly because it was close by and was easily reached by train. Jan decided to join me since she was done with school. I realized once I was on the train that I validated my return ticket and not my ticket from Acqui to Nizza. Jan also stamped the wrong ticket as she was copying what I did. It was a short 20 minute ride on a nice new regional train. Piemonte has many nice new regional trains.
When we arrived in Nizza, we went to the ticket window and explained what had happened. I showed the very nice man both of my tickets and told him it was much too early in the morning for me and I was not paying attention when I validated the wrong ticket. He asked what time we were returning and then said he would accompany us on the train to explain the situation, something I think would only happen in a small town.
Friday was market day in Nizza. We stopped at a pasticceria where I bought a wonderful brioche filled with crema (creme). We walked a little further and found a bar for coffee. The woman in the bar told us where we could find tourist information and also told us about some of the interesting things to see in Nizza. Thank goodness Jan has a good sense of directions. We easily found an informagiovani (which is similar to a tourist info spot). I asked the woman if the tower was open for climbing. She made a call and set up a private tour for us. I was thrilled!
She walked us over to the building where we waited for Matteo. He was so kind and spent time telling us much of the history, including information about some of the battles, of the town of Nizza. The tower was not a very difficult tower to climb. There were only a few sets of stairs and one winding staircase. The top had some sort of sun roof bubble that opened and closed. The views were lovely at the top. After taking some photos, we headed back down and thanked Matteo.
We took more photos of the building, which I believe was the palazzo comunale (town hall) and then continued to walk around the town. Jan's compact flash photo card was full. She asked a woman in a store we were browsing in if there was a photo place in town. It was right next to Benetton and easy to find. They did not sell compact flash cards but were able to copy all of her photos onto a CD. While we waited for it to be finished, Jan visited part of the market area and I went shopping. I bought a purple tank top which was on sale for 10€ (which would be $16.00). I like to think of it as $10.00.
For lunch, we stopped in a panificio (bread store). Jan bought a slice of cheese pizza and I bought a roll and then went to a supermarket nearby and bought some yellow plums and some cheese. We ate our lunch by the river near the bridge that took us back to the train station. I enjoyed the beautiful views of some of the rooftops while eating lunch there.
When we returned to the train station, we saw the man from the ticket window. I believe he was leaving soon to go home for lunch. He explained to another train person (someone that seemed just out of high school) what happened with our tickets. While we waited, I took some photos of the beautiful buildings near the train station and then decided to take photos of all the important train things ( the validating box, the partenza board, etc.) and plan to write up a little lesson on trains, or at least what I know about trains sometime in the future.
When the train arrived, the train guy went with us and explained to the train guy onboard what had happened. I again told him that it was to early for me and I was just not paying attention. He was very nice, smiled, and punched both of our tickets. This train was an even more modern train and was very comfortable. The views were wonderful. I tried to take a few photos but they probably will be blurry since the train was going fast.
When we returned, I went to Balalah to use the interent and then walked around Acqui taking more photos. I keep forgetting to mention about the smart cars. Santa Margherita seemed to be full of smart cars. I have also seen many in Piemonte and here in Bologna. Most of them that I have seen so far have been black, silver, or creme colored. I have also seen a few red and blue ones but no fancy colors yet. I have taken quite a few photos of them. I also took a photo of a cool little convertable Fiat in Alessandria. The man sitting inside the car was not too happy though.
At 5:30, I met Jan, Diana, and Birgit at the wine bar. It was not open yet. Birgit suggested gelato. It didn't take any twising arms for me or Jan. I had a wonderful pesca e anguria (peach and watermelon) gelato. We headed back to the wine bar after our gelato. Diana had to go do errands.
Jan, Birgit and I each had a glass of wine. I thought my white wine was ok. I then tried a small glass of local red wine which was wonderful. I also tasted the Sangria (since I have never had Sangria) but it was much too sweet for me. Birgit said it was better than the Sangria she has had while in Spain.
We said goodbye to Diana and Birgit and then wandered around looking for a place for dinner. Jan was not that hungry. I knew I had to eat or I would have a headache for sure. The one thing that has been sort of difficult for me in Piemonte is the food. Many of the restaurants have many meat dishes and only a few dishes without meat (I don't eat red meat and pork). We went to try a restaurant Jan thought I would like but it was closed. We ended up going back to Hotel Royal, the place where we had pizza the night before. I ordered the same pizza and it was just as good. Jan ordered pesto.
After dinner, we went back to the hotel. I stayed up til midnight packing. Somehow, although I have not really bought very much at all, my bags seemed heavier and fuller. I know a tank top cannot take up that much room!
I really enjoyed Acqui Terme and the area very much. I have to thank Diana for all of her suggestions. The place we stayed at (Relais dell' Osso) was a great place to stay (see my itinerary post for the link). I also have to thank Jan for her companionship and her help with directions. I don't think I ever figured out Acqui. There are many winding roads and I was always lost, but it was ok to be lost most of the time, as either I found someone friendly to give me directions or I discovered new places. Oh, and also Birgit for her shopping tips and help with Alessandria.
It is now Sunday night but I am again too tired to write more. I will try to catch up tomorrow. There is a 24 hour train strike so I will be spending the day here in Bologna.
ps...happy belated July 4th to my family and all of my US friends - oh and GO RED SOX!! I see they have won 2 out of 3 games against our friends, the Yankees.
UPDATE (Mon. morning) - I just checked the score and they lost the 4th game, so it is a split.
Free internet here - Yay! I am off to explore for the day (on foot as all public transportation is on strike today) - more later...