I've finished my book and now have a couple of hours to reflect, wander, buy foccaccia and head home to Ferrara the eve of my first day of classes. My time in Cinque Terre has been wonderful, filled with sunshine (except for yesterday and this mornings), hiking, English conversation and wandering.
Most of my time was spent out in the sun, wandering up and down beaches, and hiking between towns. The second I got to Riomaggiore, I headed down to the rocky beach and lay in the sun and swam in the water. The sun was hot and satisfying, the sea cold and refreshing. It seemed like the heat would go on forever and the sea would stretch out into the horizon. I sampled the seafood of CinqueTerre that evening along with the tradional Ligurian pesto, and was braced to sleep by the hourly bells of the church (and 5 minutes before the hour too), the loud meowing of a cat and the general rumore (noise) of the quiet town. The church never stopped ringing its bells throughout the evening but somehow I slept very peacefully, grateful that the church would wake me up when my mind was ready to hear its bells five minutes before and on the hour.
The Cinque Terre, five little fishing villages linked by hiking paths, are quite beautiful and natural, sprouting up in the coves with colourful stucco houses. Small, quaint, cosy, untouched by car traffic, trains hidden away in tunnels in the mountain. I hiked four towns before giving up, feeling as if I had done my part to see the paths, walk along the vineyards, see the vistas, drink down a liter of water. That afternoon I headed to a beach, one I had seen along my hike. I hadn't really seen it but saw signs leading to it. It costs 5 euros but seemed ultimately secluded. To get there, one has to walk through what seems like an abandoned railway tunnel. But it was worth it. You then walk through an olive grove and you end up at a secluded beach where people go topless, naked, in shorts,whatever. A delightful little getaway, peaceful, removed, no noise of tourism, no words of English.
Most people I met were Australian, since now is the time for their summertime. Three darling girls and I went out for dinner in Manarola last night, a great deal, a great time. Lucy turned 19 yesterday so we celebrated, laughed, joked, chatted. I got a little tipsy on the house wine. I still don't understand my incredibly low tolerance. It was nice to spend time in English but I know that I have to head back into the world of Italian this afternoon, devo pensare in Italiano, devo pensare in Italiano... Tomorrow classes begin.
My days in Cinque Terre were spent hiking around in the morning and laying around in the afternoon. I came here to finish my Calvino book, and I did. I had been frustrated with it at first but then it finished up on a good note. So I don't mind it now. I am ready to start my classes, having soaked up the sun, swam in the water, and discovered hidden secrets. The true summer vacation I had been seeking.