We set up home base in Golfo Aranci, which is a sparkling town where it looks like every single building was built last year. A bit... bland and character-less for my tastes. So we set out for more gritty surroundings.
Armed with exceptionally vague directions, Alex piloted our rental down increasingly narrow dirt roads...
With spectacular scenery as we drove further and further from humanity and deeper into the mountains.
We parked the car and followed a dirt path. The Italian wanted to chug a beer for the hike -- perhaps as medicine for his fractured foot!
[I am not mean enough and Alex is not stupid enough to hike on a broken foot; we didn't know that it was fractured at the time. Still, eighty-thousand points to my man for hiking in the blazing sun on the ball of his foot and not complaining once!]
The natural pools carved into the mountains came into view below..
And I immediately ripped off all my clothes and dove into the ice-cool water.
As Alex waited on shore for me to finish up, a local struck up a conversation with Alex in Italian and mentioned that there were better pools further down the path.
When we got there, he gave instructions to Alex, who translated for me: "Just climb down that rope into the pool."
I'm not sure how well this photo captures the absolute depth: this stunning pool overlooks the mountain's valley a hundred feet below.
Absolutely hands down the most beautiful, incredible, outstanding place I've ever been. Completely unreal.
Life on the edge, HA HA HA HA. Sorry.
Picnic with a view...
The star of the picnic was this 3-euro bottle of wine (cantina santa maria la palma aragosta), which, due to the animal taking up the entirety of the label, I lovingly referred to as crab wine. [It tasted much better than crab juice AND mountain dew.]
Downed the whole thing (and most of the bruschetta, too!)
Picnic finished, we started the hike back up to the car.
Drank in some spectacular views on the drive back to civilization...
And cleaned up for dinner.
LA SPIGOLA - VIA CRISTOFO COLOMBO 19, GOLFO ARANCI
Happy to continue my streak of almost exclusively eating mussels and the fish of the day.
The next morning, we pulled ourselves out of bed on a beautiful day to go beach hopping.
We drove from beach to beach, looking for the beach at which we'd spent our "first date" three years ago.
Is this it?
We never did found it. But found a perfectly delightful spot of sand that would do.
Professional review of funtanaliras vermentino di gallera: not as good as crab wine.
Once we got sick of the crappy view, we hauled home to spruce up for dinner...
... at the restaurant where we had our first dinner together 24 hours after meeting.
RISTORANTE ONORIO E DONATELLA, Porto Rotondo
We flew back to Basel the next morning -- and Alex headed to the hospital to get a huge boot put on his foot which would chain him to the couch for the next 8 weeks. Nothin' in life comes free...