J and his big cousin JT
Friday, 18 July 2008
We just concluded two spectacular weeks with my brother, sister-in-law, two nephews and niece who were visiting from Victoria, BC, including one absolutely memorable week in Levanto, Italy, one of our favorite spots on the planet. My sister-in-law is Italian-Canadian and had dreamed her entire life of visiting the motherland and thankfully our reality exceeded her expectations.
Levanto is a jewel of a town on the Italian Liguriuan coast. The coast is best known for its' seaport of Genoa, and the ritzy celebrity enclave of Portofino but keep heading a little further south and you arrive at our lesser-known but more charming fave. Levanto still keeps it real. The majority of tourists are Italian, the prices are reasonable, and the focaccia and pesto are unbelievable. Liguria is the pesto capital of Italy and J and myself are longtime addicts.
Levanto is also the gateway to the Cinque Terre which must be experienced in all of its' breathtaking beauty to be fully appreciated. The Cinque Terre is composed of 5 terraced, cliff-hugging villages spilling into the Mediterranean sea. Each village is separated by several kilometers of magnificent coastline. The villages are surrounded by olive groves, vineyards, and lemon, orange and fig trees.
We had thought of day-tripping to close points such as Pisa, Parma and Portofino but frankly once ensconced in our lovely Levanto any thoughts of travelling beyond the Cinque Terre dissipated quickly. We swam in the Mediterranean sea and surf for hours. We collected beach glass and terra cotta shards softened by the sea and salt. We scoured the shops and open markets for merano glass trinkets and handmade leather sandals. We bought loops of Italian sausage, fresh San Marzano tomatos, stacks of focaccia, dozens of dolces and pesto by the kilo for cooking dinners for 8 at a large table in our apartment freshened by the ever-present Mediterranean breezes. My enchanted sister-in-law chatted up the butcher, restauranteurs, and pasticceria owners in her remarkably well-remembered childhood Italian.
My brother and C2 hiked the Ligurian hills every day and completed the full 5-village Cinque Terre hike twice discovering in the process small jasmine-covered villas offering water and sweet lemons. With every gelato, bottle of Barolo, Moretti beer, and limoncello, we mourned our approaching departure date.
But alas, our delightful week did come to and end and we packed up and headed back to Geneva for a few precious days before their collective return to Canada.
Living in Europe and experiencing its' sultry soul has enriched our hearts and minds and made us thirst for more. It has been an extrordinary life experience and particularly sweet when shared with those we love.
St. Augustine may have observed the following a millennia ago but it continues to resonate with me today.
"The World is a book and those who don't travel read only a page"