A train from Milan's central station, awesome structure of stone and mosaics started the journey to Cinque Terre. Ive always wanted to visit here. Ive read the blogs, googled the photos, trip advised it. Finally I am on my way! No longer will Cinque Terre be a painting bought home by Joel or stories from Julia - it will be my own memories!
The train ride, once out of Milan's 'burbs is picturesque. It winds itself through long tunnels under mountains, slipping out into daylight to postcard scenes, first Italian villages nested in valleys before coming to the coast and then seaside towns perched on the edge of the Mediterranean - the people in boats or swimming, or doing what people do on a glorious sunny day. . All along is green lush vegetation which has over taken more than one abandoned building and covers fences and sheds everywhere.
Checked into the odd little hotel Ive chosen at La Spezia - a place that prides itself on recycling - so the chairs and tables and decor have all had a previous life. All very my genre! Then out and off to explore.
Naturally every one speaks Italian so with sign language and confusion a young lad led us away from the right bus stop to another one. It appears that the bus stop had changed and I would love to know why. Temporary fencing was being put up in the middle of the road, women were yelling and waving their arms and 3 police were walking around with guns.
Ive noticed with the Italian language that its hard to tell between an argument and regular conversation. And that pretty much adding an "O" or an "A" to the end of words will go a long way in speaking Italian! haha!
Anyway the lovely lad pointed at a bus, gushed out a heap of sentences and we leapt on and made the 10km journey south to Lerici.
Lerici is beautiful.
Flowers are everywhere, crimson bougenvilla climbs up over walls, masses of petunias, impatiens and geraniums tumble out of window boxes but most memorable is the jasmine. The entire air is scented with the perfume of jasmine with salty ocean tones. Simply incredible to have every breath so fragrant.
A huge castle perches on the tip (cira 1152) and its dark and fortress like, quite how you would expect a fortress to guard the bay. We ate gelato - the only hard part choosing the flavours, and wandered through a huge tunnel running under the castle - coming out to a little beach. The best place to swim in crystal clear water and then eventually to climb the rough steps to a cafe overlooking the bay. It was an unpretentious place -simply furnished and charm from another era.
We chose lunch with no language ability and complete reliance on the cafe owner to feed us something good. And she did. A bowel of fresh marina mix- warm and covered with olive oil, bread, salad, salami and hunks of hard, delicious cheeses.
Boats are suspended on glass like water Umbrellas on the beaches march up and down in perfect symmetry. Grandmas do breast stoke in the clear water and children yell and bomb dive, splash each other and laugh.
Salty, full and content have returned to La Spezia with plans to tackle Cinque Terre tomorrow!
The days are long here.
Sunrise in Cinque Terre is at 05:37:16 and sunset time in Cinque Terre is at 21:07:15. Yes thats right - sunset 9.07pm!!!!