If you thought Aaron's proposal was sweet, hold on to your hats — he had more romantic surprises in store for me later that day!
We were both starving after the proposal, so we grabbed lunch at La Lampara in Riomaggiore.
I had seafood ravioli.
Aaron enjoyed trofie al pesto.
And I leaned out the window of the restaurant to snap this photo of a grandmother holding her adorable granddaughter on a balcony across the street.
I mean, seriously. Cutest baby of all time??
Other than yours, of course.
We then wandered around the village and picked up postcards, a bottle of wine, and a package of dried trofie pasta and jarred pesto to commemorate where we got engaged.
We stopped to admire this...
...but got this instead. Typical.
And that concluded our two days in Cinque Terre. Then we were off on a short train ride to La Spezia!
I put Aaron in charge of our entire Italy itinerary, so it wasn't hard for him to book an extra-special place for us in La Spezia without me noticing. Instead of staying in a modest little room near the train station, we took a cab up above the city to the gorgeous Villa Amaranta.
I love all the horizontally striped buildings in Italy!
Our room came with a wonderful view of La Spezia and the sea...
...a fierce dog (whom we never met face-to-face, thank goodness) guarding the grounds below...
...and a few surprises that Aaron had arranged with the villa's owner to celebrate our engagement.
I was particularly excited to have some champagne. Fun fact: I wore the engagement ring on my right hand for two weeks because I sprained my left ring finger during a Labor Day bike accident and it took a loooong time to shrink back down to normal size!
We sipped as we enjoyed the view from our balcony and used the iPad to email our parents and close friends about the news. Then we updated our Facebook statuses to "engaged" and watched all the "likes" and comments roll in from everyone who was just waking up in the U.S. So much fun!
But we also had more important business to attend to: a great, synchronized leap into this frigid water, then a relaxing poolside nap in the sunshine.
Not. Terrible. At. All.
As the sun faded over the sea, it was time to clean up and get ready for dinner.
The location was a surprise, yet again! Our winding cab ride down to the twinkling lights of La Spezia brought us to the cozy Osteria Della Corte.
The hostess seemed to be familiar with Aaron and, as she led us to a private table in the back, I realized why: there was a long-stemmed red rose waiting for me there. Another surprise that he set up via email!
For our first course, Aaron ordered linguine with bacon and vegetables.
And I enjoyed the creamiest, most delicious pear risotto with edible silver foils. It's hard to tell in this photo, but the presentation was stunning — a trail of thick peppercorns, real violets and green leaves snaked down the inside of the wok-shaped dish to the risotto.
We shared one order of the duck with balsamic vinegar and scalloped potatoes as our main course. Again, just beautiful!
I was stuffed after the this and had no room left for dessert... or so I thought.
Another surprise! (The last one, I promise). We have no idea what this dessert was — some sort of whipped-cream concoction with cookies and chocolate on the inside and berries on the outside.
We were under the impression that the chocolate writing said, "Congratulations on your engagement!" but Google Translate reveals that it's something like, "Thank you for your commitment!" Heh. Same thing, right?
I now have the urge to look Aaron in the eye very seriously, shake his hand and say, "Thank you for your commitment." So romantic. : )
I also have the urge to eat more pear risotto.
Anyway... it was such a wonderful dinner with such a wonderful man.
As we left the restaurant, the owners — a husband-and-wife team — poked their heads out the front door and asked how everything was. Aaron had emailed with both of them throughout the course of organizing his surprises, and they were so pleased that everything went well. They even ooh'd and ahh'd over my ring! I wish I had taken a photo of them; they were so sweet.
This one will have to do.
That wraps up the exciting day of our engagement! We headed back to our room and absolutely crashed.
The next morning's sunrise was too beautiful not to share.
We packed up, then grabbed goodies from a homemade breakfast buffet.
Any breakfast that involves a huge hunk of brie is heaven on earth for me!
I could have stayed at Villa Amaranta for a week, but alas — we had to move on to Florence for a date with David and a Tuscan bike tour with a side of wine. Or was it a Tuscan wine tour with a side of biking?