That's just a taste of my premium-grade Italian. I like to consider myself fluent in Italian, thanks to my foolproof method of chucking some random vowels on the ends of French words. If you learn French, you can do it too! Alternatively, I suppose you could learn Italian and then lop the ends off words: possibly even easier. To learn more, just send me $12 of your hard child-labour-earned dollars and a self-stamped envelope, eh Ranch?
Anyway, I was up very early by my standards and headed off to Italy, Sanremo to be specific, which, train-wise, is three towns over from the Italian border (and may or may not host church fairs where you can win an awesome dog of your own). I don't know what there is to see in Sanremo, which from what I understand is a faded jewel in the crown of the Italian Riviera, but it's pretty safe to say that whatever it is, I didn't see it. I saw the outside of a Russian Orthodox Cathedral (didn't go in), the outside of Alfred Nobel's house (closed Mondays), the beach from a distance (too cold), some shops, and some parks (there were actually lots of parks, nice but again, too cold). It was sort of sunny but hazy, humid while walking but a bit too windy for sitting. I tried to find somewhere to eat but failed, or a supermarket to stock up on Italian products, but no joy either.
So eventually I decided to cut my losses and go to Ventimiglia and see what was crackalacking there. When I bought my ticket, at around 1.30 I think, the train was scheduled to go at 1.47 but had a 10 minute delay - not too bad. I headed down to the platform (which is MILES away - four, count 'em, four, long moving walkways between the entrance and the platforms at Sanremo, it's like an airport. And nothing in between, I don't know what the architect was thinking) and by the time I arrived, it was showing a 30 minute delay. After a bit I headed back outside because it was too cold inside the station - coldish outside too, but at least there was sun. Sat around for a bit, saw the train was now delayed 40 mins, and eventually headed back to the platforms when the train was due in about 10 minutes. But they kept pushing back the time - 45, 50, 55, 60, until finally about 1h5 mins late (and thus after the next scheduled train was theoretically due), it arrived. I had been lucky not to have any problems on the way to Ventimiglia in the morning, despite train strikes in France having been ongoing for the last week or so. Not sure if they are striking in Italy too or what - the train was only coming from Genoa which has to be like 30 minutes away. Actually I just saw there was a train derailment somewhere in northern Italy near Austria, not sure how far away from where I was, but maybe that had something to do with it...
Anyway, I found out pretty quickly when I got to Ventimiglia that there were a lot of cancelled trains (not) heading in to France, so I got a ticket for the next one, in an hour and a half, and went to mill about in the vicinity. This time I at least found a tourist-centred minimart with suprisingly low prices, although presumably a supermarket would have been even better had I been able to find one. Pretty much the entire economy of these Italian border towns seems to be based on selling cheap liquor and Italian food to French people hopping over the border. Everywhere else seemed to be shut, so after walking round a little bit I just got a courgette tart from the train station cafe and a gelato, both adequate but not outstanding, and waited on the platform - thankfully the train was on time at 4.45, finally got back to Nice at around 6 pm, so a mere 4 1/2 hours after I first tried to set off from Sanremo, although of course I had always intended to stop off in Ventimiglia for a bit, so it wasn't actually that bad apart from waiting at Sanremo which was mostly annoying because the time kept changing so I couldn't just go and come back.
But yeah, fairly long, boring, and pointless day, but I did come back stocked up with various cheap fresh pastas and Italian chocolate, including a pack of 'limited edition' dark chocolate Kinder Duplo bars (Bueno likes to talk the talk with its name, but it's Duplo that has my heart, although I usually don't get them cos they're overpriced at least here in France). So that part was worth it at least!