For the last decade Ive heard about the Cinque Terre. And the day has come when I get to explore my dream. It's not just me celebrating - sunshine is glorious, the skies blue and the sea the clearest deep teal green. Walking is the thing between the villages but I chose to do the ferry. (Yes, Joel and Julia I dont know how you did it! lol) The boat shuttles up and down the coast line - slipping in and out of the harbours. Watching the villages over the water is breath taking. The villages look like fariy tales pictures from an old book. Tall narrow homes, erractic stair cases squeezing through, between, under and over the homes. Terraces every which way. Colours - oh the colours, ambers and pale yellows and deep reds, shades of oranges and greens and off- whites all juggling for position. Framed by the back ground of the mountains, every shade of farming and wild greens. In the foreground the clarity of the teal Mediterranean Sea and sometimes the dark grey harbour rocks. Each village had its own idosyncasies - fishing boats or a natual stone harbour. A swimming beach or rocks to dive from. Blue boats lining the street or pots of flowers running roit. Umbrellas - their bright shades casting glowing colous over the tables and chairs - ready for tourist to feast on fresh thin pizza and botttles of red wine. Gelato shops with exotic flavours to choose from. Tourists trying to capture images on digital record - but how do you capture such grand scenes, the warmth of the sunshine, the fragrance of the jasmine, the salty tang of the air, the swish of the little waves over the rocks, the flavours of pistachiso gelato?
The important thing is to look up and down and around at all times. Glance up - over a door way- a carefully carved saint is forever housed in a marble alvcove. Or glance up the narrow street. The thin strip of sunshine lighting up the cobblestones, each home personalized by the owner with colour, vines, flowers and terrace, windows and doors. Old churches are crammed in to the town gathering place, the central square. Usually the outside quite plain and unadorned but when you step into the cool peaceful sanctury they are lit by the glow of lead light window scenes and story filled candles. Ornate images, paintings and carvings cover every piece of wall and ceiling - all vieing for attention. Golds, blues browns and greens bring the stories of the bible to life in full medievial glory!
One village we climbed stairs - all sorts of winding stairs- up past homes, past the church, up to the view over the coast. And there was a cemetery there, marble crypts marching over the hill top. Most with names and dates and photographs, adorned with flowers. This is a place where memories and lives can be remembered and the future can be contemplated as the briefness of life - be it 60, 70, 80 ,90 years - is reflected upon gazing out to the far horizon meeting in a merge of two blues.
Swam in most villages, sliding into the refreshing salty water so clear that my toes were bright white against the round rocks below and you could see fish swimming.
Finally -late -returned back to the hotel to freshen up before choosing a local cafe restaurant. The language barrier was too hard for the complicated menu so I said to the owner "surprise us" and his face lit up, the word poured out like a torrent. (I think he may have been telling me his plans) and we feasted on the most amazing flavours. Fresh local fish, cherry tomatoes and olives, mussels and oh, it went on. I still have no idea what some of it was. He was pleased we were pleased.
And such a lovely way to end a dream come true.