Tuesday, May 28, 2013

RAPALLO and CINQUE TERRE

View from our terrace
About 20 miles east of Genoa and just two villages away from well known Portofino is the lovely Italian Riviera town of Rapallo Italy.  Our room on the 5th floor of an older hotel opened onto the roof top terrace which provided a gorgeous view of  the city and harbor plus lounge chairs to relax in after busy days of touring.  

View over Rapallo & Margherita
Montallegro Cathedral
We seem to catch the weekly outdoor markets in every town and there was one here the day after we arrived.   We wandered past the booths set up along the seaside promenade, then took the funicular to the top of the mountain.  1,800 feet up, we had a magnificent view of Rapallo and the adjacent town of Santa Margherita.  We walked up to a beautiful cathedral that had been built here to honor an apparition of the Virgin Mary which appeared to a peasant in 1557.  
Portofino
Brightly painted facades
Upon returning to town, we boarded the boat to Portofino.   Afer strolling the small, colorful town, we chose a restaurant for lunch.  As fate would have it, we sat beside a couple from Monacco who had owned a jewelry store in Palm Beach for many years.  At their suggestion, we tried the pesto linguine, a local specialty.  It was delicious and unlike any pesto dish we’ve had in the States.  Also characteristic of the Ligurian region are brightly painted facades and fake windows on the buildings.  

Then there was the morning Ron couldn’t find his driver’s license.  After turning the room upside down, we finally concluded that it was, in fact, lost.   We were told to make a report at the police station which was just around the corner from our hotel.  Afterwards, as a last hope, we stopped at the supermarket across the street to see if he had dropped it there.  Success!  One of the young clerks had found it and given it to his colleague to take to the police station.  It was there the whole time Ron was making out the lost
License returned thanks to them
report!  This time when we returned to the police station, we had to wait about ½ hour while a ‘found’ report was made.  We were so happy to get the license back that we returned to the store to thank the lovely young men who had saved the day! 

Our little Agriturismo in Levanto

After several pleasant days in Rapallo, we drove to Levanto,  just north of the Cinque Terre.  On the edge of town is an Agriturismo (combination farm and B&B) run by a sweet young couple.  They produce wine, grappa, olive oil and 32 different flavors of jams.  

Portovenere

Saint Peter's Church Portovenere
The area known as Cinque Terre is composed of 5 small towns linked by hiking paths.  They are overrun with tourists.   We opted to take a train and bus past the Cinque Terre to the less popular but much prettier town of Portovenere.  Stretching into the sea with a church built atop ancient fortifications, Portovenere was once a favorite of D.H Lawrence and the Romantic poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.  


The highlight of this stop was hooking up with Monica and Lee in the Cinque Terre town of Vernazza.  We met last March at a retreat we all attended in Temecula, California.  We had discovered that they too were homeless and doing an extended overseas trip.  This was the closest we would come to crossing paths. What fun it was to see familiar faces and trade stories -- not to mention speaking English without charades!  

Dinner with Lee & Monica in Vernazza