Where are we, Heaven? The earth reaches to a point, out stretched jagged rock, where houses cling to see the blue green Mediterranean Sea below. Such angelic beauty can only be created by a higher power. That is this southern spot on Cinque Terre called Portovenere.
The Palazzatta of fortress houses was built to defend the colony founded by the Genoese Republic. The houses high and lean, against one another, the foundations firmly secured to the rock clearly reveal the linear and closed plan of the town. The facades of these fortress-houses have small windows but no balconies. Down on the rocks they show solid stone and lime mortar walls. With the execution of the project for the barrier of the fortress houses on the sea front the Genoesis entrusted a guild of masters called ‘Magistri Antelami” because they came form the valley of Antelamo near lake Maggiore. The plan of the medieval town functional to its defence and commerce was a model for other Genoese settlements of the Mediterranean Sea.
La Spezia is a bigger seaside town close by, the only way in or out of Portovenere. We asked for help at a pastry shop, and they were nice enough to point us in the right direction.
Up until now, Italy has been an adventure of not planning, instead searching for accommodations once in the destination area. I don’t recommend this to people that may find this stressful. We are getting good at leaving early enough to allow 5 hours open to find a place to lay our heads and rest. With 3 hours travel to the next town, and a two-day stay, it really is slow travel. The kids cannot stand more in the van with out going a little stir-crazy.
Today, we did not find parking on the one-way street around Portovenere. Alfonz saw someone’s garage open and pulled in. It happened to be an apartment with a vacancy. 100 Euros per night based on two nights, with a kitchen and a view of the entire harbor below. Not the best deal for our budget but the view! I started to hand wash our laundry and planned to cook a meal or two straight off.
We walked to the town and back a few times to find food and supplies. The grocery store closed from 1:00 to 4:00, a jack knife in our plans, but lesson learned. In Italy they still siesta between 1:00 – 4:00 each day. And everything closes on Sundays except restaurants.
Daniel and Angelina spent hours throwing rocks into the water, jumping from one bolder to the next and talked with every fisherman along the way asking to show them their catch! Even though it was off-season, Sunday was packed full of tourists, taking in the great 17 degree fall weather. We saw bathers swim in the water and sprawl out in the sun to dry. 2 young bikers threw off their clothes and took a bath in the sea and then went on their way. On the way back I noticed one had left his socks!
The next day the weather turned. We decided to enjoy a family day. I finished up the laundry, pulling off the wire before they soaked in the downpour and dried them on the towel warmer, and then organized our bags. We stocked up on food supplies and we went to sleep early after a movie night! I loved these last few days, no Internet, no phone, just us. This is exactly why we are doing this.
The owner gave us 10 Euros off our price because of the rain? I don’t really know, we couldn’t understand her. She liked the kids and threw in 2 bottles of wine!
Tomorrow Monte Carlo, Monaco, Nice and Antibes, France!