In just 7 days I’ve….
Been treated to a 5 course Ligurian feast followed by freshly plucked cherries while unraveling rapid fire Italian between my hosts Umberta and Mary and their restaurant owner friends Rosaria and Giovanni.
Descended the winding 179 step pathway to the village and wandered through the tunnel connecting the old town with the new, yet to truly distinguish the differences for both display softly decaying peach toned villas, bars and small shops tucked into tiny cave like spaces, all a hodge podge tangle alongside narrow, winding cobbled alleyways.
Admired pots of vivid red geraniums, purple and white petunias, nasturtiums and wild roses, hot pink bouganvillia and ivy climbing along window sills, over doors, archways and the rough drystone walls. Bicycles, the odd languid cat and elderly folk with newspapers under their arms chattering on steps and under eaves and all vying for path space with the more adventurous tourists, most of which are prone on the pebbled beaches or frequenting the waterfront restaurants and gelateria.
Taken a seat in a back pew of the St Johns the Baptist parish church (1282-1307), its green and white striped painted facade simulating that of the Duomo in Florence. The church, one of three, is filled with cool, musty air and eclectic homages including a wooden model of a ship suspended between two of the six sets of chandelier candelabra. A nice respite from the heat outside. I’ve put a euro in the box and lit a candle for Kent, a ritual that follows me everywhere and contributes to the maintenance of buildings such as these.
Noticed that when standing on the grills across the more major thoroughfare there’s a cool updraft from the rushing water that once created such devastation in the 2011 floods, now well contained beneath. Experienced emotional shock at the chaos the torrential muddy landslide caused in the church alone, photos depicting the pews thrown up and over the alter, a car on its side partway in the door, statues tumbled from their plinths.
Felt a 5.1 earthquake, one of 3 that day, apparently a ho-hum occurrence in these parts but enough to now have emergency items (iPad, iPhone, Kindle and Camera – sad! a small glass angel a dear friend gifted to watch over me – essential! water bottle – well the bottle looks like it should have water in it! and lipstick – naturally!) permanently at the ready by the door.
Stuffed my backpack with fleshy red truss tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella cheese, bunches of basil, olive oil, rock salt and juicy nectarines at the market while wincing at the robust smells of cured meats and huge wheels of cheese vying for attention alongside wooden utensils and kitchenware. Pronunciation tragic therefore listen with intent to the clatter of Italian bartering and greetings. Buongiorno! No! Meno! Prego! Si! Si! Grazie! Ciao! Arriverderci! Softer, less speed and blended enunciation than that of the Tuscans.
Sipped wine at a bar in the square in order to steal an hour of WiFi. Wandered up the ocean cliff side to better view the harbour, the water clear and still, a deep aquamarine and dotted with Ferries traveling between Portofino and the Cinque Terras, the five cliffside dwelling towns, once only accessed by mule trails or boat.
Made fresh pomodoro pasta and Caprese salad and savored this with a chilled rose from my little terrace looking down on the village while listening to the children in the school nearby sing, laugh and chant, their joy for life touching.
Identified that if I sit in a particular spot, the lemon tree shading me won’t drop its huge heavy fruit on my head. Grape vines intermingle with the tree but it’s tiny buds won’t produce until September. Almost within reach just below there’s an apricot tree, just one bough heavy with fruit barely noticeable to begin with, now blushing pink and ripe for plucking. Hmmm…I’ll find a way!
Noticed that the rich green foliage of the seemingly random fruit trees scattered across the slope between my villa and the start of village below provide a sharp and colourful contrast to the soft silver of the olive trees. So typical of this region, postcard scenes of which photos can never do justice yet I continue to have gold fish moments trying.
Smiled out loud when the church bell which chimes on the half hour, actually played a tune at 5.30 on Saturday eve and again this morning.
I’ve also become used to my firefly companion who moved in and intreagues with his incessant night time exploration of my little studio. Just wish I could turn his inbuilt light off. Next week the monuments, the other villages, a Lingurian cooking class and…stay tuned!