Castrums, Neptune and a votiveship

Conquered! Finally found the narrow stairway* up to the Capuchin Monastery and the medieval castrum that’s since been incorporated into the current cemetery, up there on the mountain side opposite my abode. Worth it? Yessir! And the view? Breathtaking!






And did you know this dear little Monterosso al Mare village (my current abode and one of the five Cinque Terre villages) actually dates back to Roman times? And the castrum began its defense role in the early 7th century?

Also checked in on the remnants of the Giant Neptune bearing on his shoulder an enormous shell which was originally, would you believe, a dance stage? Unfortunately WW2 bombings and later, heavy seas, extensively damaged both. He sits above the Fegina beach next to the little harbor in the new town.

New town? Well the village is spread over two inlets. In that of the Bruanco River, to the East, there is the historical core, while the settlement located in the inlet of Fegina, to the West, there’s the more recently developed ‘new town’. Both have beaches, unique to Monterosso, and thus are layered with deck-chairs, umbrellas and tourists.


Population 2,000, tucked into the tiny alleys and stairways…plus volumes of tourists, the majority being village day trippers and sun seekers. Few penetrate as far as my eerie; deservedly if they do for they are demonstrating admirable ‘buns of steel’.




The historic village is heavy on places of worship and despite atheist tendencies, can’t help but be impressed by their history, humbleness and majesty. There’s the Church of San Giovanni Battista of the Gothic-Genovese style, dating back to 1244 with a proud steeple made of green stone and which originally served as a sentinel. The oratory ‘Mortis et Orationis’ (Death and Prayer) which is of the Baroque style and then there’s my favorite, the miniature oratory of ‘Santa Crose’.

Why my fave? Well there’s a dear little wooden ship suspended from the ceiling (known as a ‘Votiveship’; a handmade offering of thanksgiving from grateful sailors or fishermen for safe voyages) which reminds me of Telly. There’s the ever so kitsch sparkling halo the Virgin Mary’s sporting which makes me grin out loud. And then there’s the towering organ above the entrance which reminds me of my late Grandpa (a magnificent church organist). When resting in one of the pews there today, I could almost swear I heard him whisper…now that’s an organ worth playing my pet! Darling Pa? I suspect you already have.





*Many of the Cinque Terre walks have been closed for maintenance or repair including the lover’s walk after several people were injured as a result of a land slide.image

Stay tuned for notes from Vernazza!

When the moon hits your…

Come on in the water’s lovely! We’ve just moored beneath a majestic waterfall, the Prosecco’s flowing, Dean’s crooning and the water is more than lovely, it’s delicious! Cool, crystal clear and the perfect salve to recent deck basking. Kids are playing on the green mossy rocks below the fall and we are floating over gentle waves on a batch of pool noodles singing ‘like a big pizza pie…that’s amore’. Yes and ‘questa è la vita‘ – this is the life!


And so began an idyllic viewing of the ‘five lands’ via a sparkling ocean dotted with Yachts, pleasure craft and our very own quaint little fishing boat.

Temperatures under control in time for a leisurely on shore feast in Vernazza. Pizza pie? Heck no! Delicate little freshly marinated sardines and squid, rich black tapenade and olive infused tomato bruschetta, paper thin prosciutto and rock melon, spaghetti laden with seafood, Genovese pesto Trofe pasta; and all washed down with a crisp white or two followed by a searing espresso guaranteed to keep you awake ’till Wednesday.

20130721-170414.jpgAnother dip and back on deck for a lazy float on down past Corniglia and Manarola to Riomaggiori and back to Monterosso al Mere, admiring tiny little beaches along the way that mountain goats would find challenging to get to yet the locals have…and some of them are nude.

Eight assorted Aussies, two Canadians and one very lusty Italian – Angelo our Skipper – had glasses of Prosecco flying, olives bouncing, little kids tipping over and the boat as well in the rush for the binoculars. Our fabulously fun host Linda whispered that the Adonis standing on a rock with his back to us was ‘excited’. Oh yes? An audience for a woodie?


Our second skipper hails from Adelaide, owns a business with 35 ‘yes sirs’ and can think of nothing better than his annual stint doing exactly this…ferrying excited tourists hungry for just one more glance at the colorful little gems nestled within impossibly narrow crevices, the lush green mountains protecting their backs, an impossibly deep blue ocean lapping their shores…ah the mighty Cinque Terre.

Now that’s Amore!

Angelo’s Boat Tours

Pink Dinosaurs and Grappa…

20130716-141042.jpgHave I told you about my little nest? My abode? The one I sacrificed my first born to rent? Eh! eh! And you thought Port Macquarie Holiday Inn was a tad on the dodgy?

First up, shan’t be inviting ‘y’all over for Spag Bol and Grappa as you simply wont fit. Heck even I don’t fit! You’d likely refuse my offer anyway in fear of premature heart attack from climbing the 179 steps to get here, ‘specially with the carton of wine you’d be obliged to bring. Heck even I’m exhausted by the time I get to the 9th.


If per chan20130716-141059.jpgce you persevered you’d be sleeping in the bathtub for there’s only one bed, a permanently folded out sofa protruding from under thewardrobe cupboards. And it’s mine. I’ve grown quite fond of my bed…and the bedspread. It closely resembles a green and orange checked picnic blanket and is complimented with matching lime sheets the texture of table cloths. Thread count? Let’s just say, exfoliation while you sleep.

Certainly can’t hang your cloths sport because you wouldn’t reach. Even Harlem Globe Trotters wouldn’t reach. That’s what the peach pincher’s for. To hook stuff down and back up.

I might let you admire my shower curtain though.The cartoon pink, green and blue dinosaurs frolicking on beaches, some scarfing watermelon, others supping tequila sunrises, the babies building wonky sand sand castles. Heck even I’ve grown fond of it. Specially when it sticks to my butt. Makes me temporarily forget the dank odor emanating from under the sink. And the conniving bidet.20130716-141143.jpg

And you’re definitely not borrowing my splendid lime green waffle weave hoodie bath robe. Yes Hoodie! The piece de resistance and on which I grade all hotels. No robe? Zero stars.

I give this place 4 though. You know why? ‘Cos its terrace has the most breathtaking view down over the village and across the ocean…infinity and beyond. Plus a free supply of lemons to keep the G&T topped up. Oh! That’s right you won’t fit. Shame. Pour another will you Jeeves? (He lives next door you understand)


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