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Levanto

Cinque Terre

Seven Days

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Little Mediterranean beach pebbles... Whenever we think about anywhere along the coast of Liguria, there is for us a surprising emotional yearning. The edges of the region touch the Mediterranean from near Pisa to the southeast, and stretch northwest past cliffs and pebble beaches towards the border of France. With smiles inside, we look forward to an entire week here in late April, home based in a very classic Italian apartment, which is located in exactly the village where the waitress photograph

here was taken. Levanto is several towns north of that colorful parade of five interesting villages which form the Cinque Terre national park. Near but out of traffic: accordingly way fewer tourists.

 

You adventurers would like it very much. Adventurers I mean not in the sense of extreme water sports or bungee jumping above knife-edged rocks, but of ordering food whose description your vocabulary is not able to translate. Rather to suggest that if your notion of leisure includes tuxedos and gowns at posh restaurants, then maybe Monaco or Cannes up the coast is more for you. These little assemblages of houses seem designed for people watching next to the seaside. Enjoying the expressive face of a patient server in Levanto, as here, explaining with animated fingers what it is that un bicchiere d'acqua may be. Afterwards perhaps enjoying the sea air while not minding very much that a sticky torrent of gelato is dripping over your fingers faster than you can lick it up.

A ways north of our Levanto rental is the town of Sestri Levante, whose seaside city limit touches two memorable inlets: the Bay of Fable, which Hans Christian Andersen fell in love with in 1833, and the Bay of Silence, shown here. There is a coastal trail to scuff along, here, that we must revisit this Spring. Last time we explored here, on a sweet, sunny Sunday afternoon, said trail was alive and chatty with remarkably fit senior citizens in clusters, hiking to brisk picnics among the boulders and pines and cork-oaks.

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The Gulf of Poets (e.g. Byron and Shelley) at Porto Venere offers an old fortress, shown here, and a quite-old church ruin to explore, along with the town's tony shops — it is a prosperous suburb of La Spezia. One may take the coastal ferry here because I think our visit will coincide with the more busy tourist-months when such gutsy and throaty floating buses ply these waters.

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We live here.

But roaming along the coast in Liguria, we will surely want to picnic often, to secure our own wine and goodies as we explore. Too, one realizes how past experiences combine to shape choices we may make in where we go, where we stay. About this region, for example, I have fresh and vivid memories of Michele brushing her morning tresses on the rooftop deck of Signor Vivaldi's apartment in Riomaggiore years ago. So I was attracted by the jetty of big boulders rising in the harbor near us here, that should do as well as yon rooftop — where she may smooth her coiffure.

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The five or so local coast-edge villages resemble one another, yet aren't remotely duplicates. They differ in size and personality, and arrangement along the steep shoreline (from the water those pastel-hued structures appear super-glued to the rocky hillsides). Each is interesting, each a delight to explore. This one, Vernazza, has arguably the most genteel, evening mood of the bunch.

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After a short local run to La Spezia, the Frecciabianca or White Arrow, is a quick means of getting to Stazione Roma Termini. It's a short walk from there to our B&B for the next few days. There are somewhat faster trains in Italy, of course; but we expect to be looking at everything along more standard tracks. And we don't do blurry.

Afterwards by (fast) train to four days in

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They're Going Again!