Fabio called! No, not the flowing mane, Mills and Boon, goose whacked one. I’m talking Umberto’s son; tasked with the job of interpreting Umberto’s invitation to join them for dinner after a spot of sight seeing La Spezia’s best.
Quick brush up, onto train and 30 mins later I’m hurtling down narrow streets, being introduced to folk via the tiny Fiat’s windows and being given a running commentary on important buildings, churches and monuments…in splendid Italian for Umberto speaks not a word of English remember? (Fabio, where for art thou?)
I grasp enough to respond with ‘massiccia!’ (massive) as we drive up and around Italy’s main military and commercial harbor which hosts the arsenal of the Italian Navy, ‘mozzafiato! (breathtaking) while hugging the coastline affording spectacular views of warships, yachts and mussel beds and ‘e cosi bella!’ as we slip down into Porto Venere.
Pretty indeed! Porto Venere is a little town and commune which comprises the three villages of Fezzano, Le Grazie and Porto Venere, and the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. Also a World Heritage Site as are the villages of the Cinque Terra.
It’s dusk and the many little bars and restaurants are beginning to fill with sunkissed tourists as we run by up a rocky promontory at the end of a series of old fortifications to the San Pietro church.
The church blends into its environment, is small and somewhat forlorn but the aspect is ‘assolutamente spettacolare!’ (spectacular). It sits atop rugged cliffs that end in tiny beaches surrounded by an impossibly blue sea and above which towers the remains of the massive old Portovenere castle. Click, click…will photos do justice?
A wander back through the village then break neck speed back to La Spezia in time to join Fabio and Annagarsia, Umberto’s lovely wife and indulge in huge buckets of ‘Cozze‘ and spaghetti at the Festival of the Mussel. Seems there’s a festival for everything culinary, can’t wait for the Gelato one!
Fabio? Beautiful person, a relief to converse in English and to have him share my appreciation for their warm hospitality. Given we have another of these gigs planned late July, will be returning the hospitality when Fabio hits our Aussie shores; now that he feels a tad more assured that when they’re choosing Surfers, sharks are actually quite discerning.