|Wednesday, July 13th Milan on the way to Cinque Terre We started out last day in Milan early as we have reserved tickets for Da Vinci's "Last Supper." The restrictions to see the mural on the refectory wall of Santa Maria del Grazie church are quite stringent. You have to book and purchase tickets several months in advance and going through Ticket Italy is not cheap. You must arrive at least 20 minutes before and go through 2 acclimatized ante rooms before entering the refectory. Once in your begin a strictly timed 15 minute presentation. The mural is truly awe inspiring but its deterioration is evident. The commentary was extensive and enlightening and provided interesting insights into Leonardo's work and how he proceeded working on the painting over a four year period. The masterpiece began to succumb to the elements almost immediately. During World War II, an Allied Bomb landed in the adjoining courtyard, destroying all of the walls of the room except, miraculously, the painting itself which had been sandbagged by the friars. The painting was exposed to the elements for a few years, and only reopened to the public in 1999 after 20 years of restoration. We then checked out and boarded the train for the Cinque Terre and the biggest town, Monterosso. We had first class seating so we were in a compartment with a gal from Winnipeg and an elderly couple and their middle-aged son from Seattle, who worked for Boeing. We got on well with them and discussed everything from health care to debt reduction. It helped the three hour journey pass quickly. We arrived in the beautiful ocean side resort of Monterroso around mid afternoon and its little train station nestled in the cliffs was teeming with large tour groups. There are two parts to this town, old and new separated by a tunnel for both pedestrians and cars. A scary combination! The site of the beach with its flower lined promenade is spectacular and the azure colored Ligurian Sea with its crashing waves makes it a perfect family resort. Of course there are gelaterias at every turn and picturesque bars and cafes you long to linger at and forget about the outside world. Our B & B that we had booked for this stage was a couple of kilometers out of town on the top of a hill overlooking the sea and with luggage can only be accessed by taxi. We went to the local TI (tourist info center) and they called a cab for us. The B & B pays for the service because of their hard to reach location. After careening through the narrowest of streets and several near misses with peds, we were relieved to reach our B & B in one piece. The place is called La Serra sul Mare and it is a jewel. Our room was called Lavande and the theme of Lavender was evident throughout. No internet access so we were cut off for two days. Not a bad idea on holidays to disconnect from time to time. Our Terrace looked out on the sea and the town below and it was even equipped with a little bar fridge. Perfect! After a brief rest we passed up on the cab service and walked down the hill to Monterosso to scout out a place to eat. The town was bustling with the supper crowds and we walked along the sea wall admiring the pounding surf and the many bathers frolicking in it. We found a quaint little outdoor place and enjoyed a jug of local wine with a delicious mushroom rissoto. Yum, yum. After walking through the narrow meandering streets and checking out some shops we headed up the hill with a full moon lighting our way and relfecting an soft glow on the sea below us. We sat out on the terrace watching the moon peek in out of the scudding clouds and savoured a tea and coffee. We are finally learning how to relax!