May 18: Merano rest day
Today was our first rest day. And what a great day to pick as a rest day, because this was the first day that it really rained! Merano is a beautiful city, through which runs the fiume Passirio. There is a castle above town (which we only admired from afar), and a very nice centro storico with pedestrian walkways running through banks of shops, ristorantes, and gelaterie, encased in old buildings.
Patty, Bryan, Faye, Mary, Kurt and I started out the day together, strolling down the walkways, admiring things in the shop windows. We found two nice bike stores, where we bought Kurt a rain jacket (how fortuitous), and another water bottle. We really could not buy much, because we have no room in our luggage to carry anything! Of course it was another opportunity to conduct these transactions in Italian.
As it was market day, we strolled down near the train station where the weekly outdoor market was being held. There were stands after stands of people selling leather goods, shoes, fruits, vegetables, etc. We mostly looked. We went back to a small newstand near the train station, where Faye and Mary had a drink, and I bought a nice Italian guide to the Giro, along with a copy of Oggi to read so I can sound well-informed about local politics when I next see Luca's parents.
After visiting the market, we strolled over to a pizzeria on the banks of the Passirio, where we sat in their outdoor seating area, which fortunately was a covered outdoor seating area. Midway through the meal, we could see the dark clouds rushing overhead towards us, and within five minutes, the thunderstorm started. Heavy rain fell, sounding like drums on the top of the plastic covering our heads. Then the strong winds came. And within half an hour, it was all over... just as we had finished our meals!
We strolled back through the pedestrian area, had dinner, and called it a night. Not a very eventful day, but a relaxing one. We couldn't have picked a better day for it to rain!
Last night and tonight we stayed at the Hotel Adria, which is a 4-star hotel very near the Passirio. The rooms are nice, but very small, and it had a creaky old elevator with an interesting set of interlocking doors. The atmosphere was a bit more formal than the hotels previous to this. We had to dress much nicer for dinners. It was a good hotel all in all.