A recent article in the NY Times about the 45 places to go in 2012 had me interested--I'm always curious about how they pick the places for those kind of articles. I arrived at a paragraph on one of the places in Italy that it recommended as an alternative to Cinque Terre while two of the five villages recover from massive mudslides that were devastating to the town centers. I had no clue! How did I miss that in the news?! After some googling (it's 2012, that can be a verb, right?), I found photos that confirmed it. I have no connection to Cinque Terre aside from two short visits, but was still saddened to think about such a gem under mud. Hopefully the recovery will be quick. I was thankful to have seen it before the destruction. A few years ago as a backpacking student I spent time hiking between the villages. This time I was with my family in a rented car which made for a different experience. The road into town is chock-full of elbow turns and going like 10 mph. Sorry, like, 20 kph...when in Rome...We stayed in Vernazza and only visited this one of the five villages. I had hoped for a boat ride to the other villages but the seas were really rough that day so no boats were running. We decided spending our time would be best spent by staying in Vernazza and enjoying Mediterranean rays. There's something about the ocean that gets me. I know I'm not alone as it is the topic of many historical writings from the first time people began to write. So I'm not saying I have a special lure to the sea. Just one that changes something in my attitude like in so many people. Something about being on the edge of land is fantastic. You look out and the horizon is so promising. It's a reminder that there is a whole world out there and you're at the edge looking out. It's so deep and mysterious, as all you can see is the surface of the water. It brings unique smells that complete the ambiance. It provides food and a medium for transportation. After dinner one night we walked up a hilltop and looked out. The sea more calmly surged below, the lights of the town twinkled; I could hear music, the clanking of restaurants cleaning dishes off of the patios, people chatting. I treasure the memory.
Left: 2007. Right: 2011.
It's hard to get the idea from the two pictures above, but this was a scene where we, and many others around, stood mesmerized watching these young boys play in the rough seas. The gist of it is that there was a sea wall that was maybe 5-6 feet above water level. But with the ebbing and flowing of the sea, the waves would crash over the wall. The boys had figured out that if they just bobbed out the in the water (usually well-below the wall), eventually a wave big enough would intermittently come and be so big that they could ride it over the wall and it was set them own perfectly on their feet on top of the wall. Though risky, it looked fun.
Our hotel room itself was nothing special, though it did have a balcony with a great view. However, the breakfast room was so lovely with flower petals everywhere and these were our lovely cappuccinos.