by Melinda Gallo

Partiamo per la Corsica

After staying up until 2AM working last night, I needed a strong caffè latte to wake me at 5AM to call for a taxi and get us on the 7:30AM train to Livorno. We arrived at the Livorno train station and took the last taxi (there were only three). Simone told me that we could take the bus, but between buying tickets, figuring out which bus to take and our ship departing in less than an hour, I didn't hesitate walking straight to the taxi.

Living in Florence :: Partiamo per la Corsica

I told the taxi driver that we needed to get to the porto (port) to take a ship to Bastia. He looked at me in the rear view mirror and said, "Parlate italiano ma non siete italiani." (You speak Italian, but you're not Italian.) Not knowing what else to say, I just said, "Siamo degli Stati Uniti." With that he responded, "Ah...americani."

He was kind enough to go and ask the man at the directing traffic to get on the ship if that was the right spot for us. We were "walk-ons," which I realized are quite rare for going to Corsica.

It was worse than playing musical chairs on the ship. The second we saw a free table, we sat down and claimed it.

Dave and I worked on our computers, with a few people glancing at our Macintoshes and a few others standing right behind us watching us as we worked. I pretended not to notice and kept focused on my screen.

I went to the gift shop when my battery on my computer ran out. I then realized that we should've gotten a different table so that we could plug into it. But in the room that held about 300 people, there were only 6 or 8 plugs.

I browsed the books they had and bought one in Italian since I'm almost done with it. A woman bumped into me and held onto the table in the middle of the gift shop and cried out, "Oh...ah..." I guess she didn't know the ship would move a little bit.

When I got to the counter, the same woman was there and kept saying, "Oh...ah..." each time the boat swayed. As she finished up, I stood less than 6 inches from her and the counter and her friend walked in between me and the counter, bumped into me while she was talking in front of my face to her friend. She was just about to give her books/magazines to the cashier and I without thinking (or maybe I was just too tired to even speak), I plopped my books down in front of the cashier and her with my hand still on them. "Oh...mi scusi," the woman said and looked up at me with a smile. I smiled back and paid for my books.

The staff on the ship were unpleasant, worse than the rudest Parisian I'd ever encountered. And each one worse than the next. I asked a man when we get off the ship since they do it by parking areas and he told me, "Sieti gli ultimi a partire." (You're the last ones to leave.)

After the third out of four parking areas were asked to leave, there were only about 20 of us left upstairs. "Possiamo scendere ora?" (Can we go downstairs now?) He waved me to just leave and I was happy to take the 4 flights of stairs down to get off. I saw a woman with luggage who was waiting to get off as well. She stood at the 3rd floor and I had to tell her that we have to get down to the 1st floor to walk off. The three of us walked across the plank they set out for the cars to use to drive off the ship.

Our friends, Todd and Marie, were waiting for us in the sun. They were a little worried since the boat was practically empty when we walked off. They also told us that they didn't see anyone else walk off.

We drove about an hour on a winding coastal road north to Marie's family's house. The coastline is similar to that in Cinque Terre where there are small villages between very steep and rocky mountains.

When we arrived at the house, they showed us up to our room. The picture I took is from our bedroom window just before dusk. There is a shadow in the background and that is Isola d'Elba. Earlier in the day, I could see all the way to Italy, which they told me was very rare.

The little village consists of about 6 large houses made of stone bricks, which mostly belong to Marie's extended family. We ate dinner outside and enjoyed the cool evening under a blackberry tree with the Corsican gusts of wind that come and go sporadically and infrequently. We even got visited by a small (but I'm told it was an adult) fox that jumped up on one chair and then on Dave to get some food.

We don't know how long we'll be staying here, but we are in no rush to leave such a beautiful and peaceful spot.

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