Utilizing ancient crumbling cliff top fortifications to stow and revere the dead? Honoring them with the most spectacular view the village has to offer? Keeping their feet dry to be sure. The view from the window of my latest digs, tucked in midway up the Doria Castle, spreads across the whole lower village; its cliff side protection striated with grape vines and olive and fruit groves, tacked on and shackled thanks to dry rock walls held strong by an agricultural history that, day by day is sadly succumbing to abandonment for the more alluring tourist dollar. And right up there at the top, in the most prime real estate, sits again, a cemetery.
The vista personifies exactly what one would expect of an authentic fishing village. Population 1,000; founded around 1080AD, originally a maritime base, later a fortification against Pirates and with a solid little rock protected harbor full of colorful little boats (and swimmers too, the water’s divine). Just one major thoroughfare, the Via Roma is strung with massive daisy shaped fairy lights and lined with bistrot, bars and pizzerias and the usual touristy lures, paralleled by narrow lane-ways between the multi story, multi colored villas. And then there’s the tiniest beach tucked in right behind the peninsula, access via a cave.
Tourists swamp the place by day but most disperse to the bigger villages in the eve leaving room for the dedicated, the locals and the lights of the restaurants lining the harbor to sparkle across water the color of ink.
Vernazza suffered the same fate as Monterosso in the 2011 flash flooding, here a 4 meter deep mud slide all but destroying yet saved by the strength and character of the locals who simply and steadfastly got on with reparations. You would never know were it not for the engineers working on the water walls above the village given each of the Terre except for Corniglia sit over a watercourse, the sacrifice of nestling between protective cliffs. The locals’ tenacity reminds me of the willful ‘fuck you floods!’ attitude Brisbanites displayed earlier the same year.
As for the color of the octagonal bell tower above the quaint little church off to the side of the square with its slate scalloped dome? It variegates from a rich king island cream at sunrise to a soft dusky rose as twilight settles. Ah! proprio bella!
I love that tower.
It’s chimes shake me awake each morning!
Da bells! Da bells!