Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Written 8th March
We rounded a headland and bing!, there we were in Italy, in the Liguria region, a sliver of land between the mountains and sea, otherwise known as the Italian Riviera.
We stopped for late lunch and a cuppa by the sea in Diano Marina - conveniently in an unexpectedly patch of unsecured wifi with the radio advertising Toyotas, the only other comprehensible word of which being 'gpl' , maybe we will be ok after all :)
We stopped here as one of the books I have on board is 'Extra Virgin' by Annie Hawes, her account of a temporary job with her sister in a rose farm in Diano San Pietro some 25 years ago, which led to the purchase of a tumbledown rustico amidst the olive groves of Liguria. It is a fantastic book, full of description of the locals and their way of life in this out of the way village, so reliant on the olive harvest. We didn't detour up to the actual village - I haven't read the two further books and it has probably changed beyond all recognition in the intervening years so wouldn't match my imaginations anyway - but Diano Marina is mentioned and we saw Bar Sito where the two sisters used to hang out with the youth of the village,
As dusk was falling, we disappeared into a tunnel and popped out the otherside to a view of snow capped mountains. The air was suddenly icy with that burning rasp you get in the back of your throat if you inhale over a glass of freshly popped out icecubes - I don't know why I have done this but I clearly have :)
We skipped through Genova - birthplace of Christopher Columbus - as we have had enough of cities. Will has fully adapted to the extremely aggressive italian driving style and is careening round the streets like a rally driver, changing lanes and vying for position at lights and roundabouts like a game of grand theft auto - if they ever remake the italian job with vw campervans, Will is more than qualfied for a part!
We have so far learnt that; stop lines mean merge in turn, give way signs mean merge in turn at speed, pedestrian crossings are merely markings in where it is suggested that pedestrians should gather to wait for a natural break in the traffic, red lights mean that three more cars can go through the junction at least, and orange lights may as well be green. All much fun and games!
We got through Genova unscathed and eventually found an unrestricted parking spot in the small village of Camogli.
The weather was once again glorious this morning.
Described in our 1001 places book as 'the most photograhed village in the world' and a playground for the yacht own-ing rich and famous, we hadn't planned a long stop, just to drop in and see it as we happened to be passing.
Unfortunately though, the one restriction they forgot to specify at the beginning of the road was the 2m height barrier of the village's only carpark, beyond which, no vehicles can go - bother. So we turned round and left again, photogenic village unphotographed. I have since fished out our italy rough guide which basically says, once you've looked at the pretty harbour and the lace shops, there isn't anything to do except watch other people do the same and two beers in a café won't leave you much change from €20. So all in all, nothing lost :)
For somewhere quite close on the map, it seemed to take along time to get to Levanto, the road by turn hugging the shore then sweeping up, up and away to the top of the olive covered hills, but we eventually got there, fives minutes after the tourist office closed for its two-hour lunch. So we had smne coffee, half the size and half the price of french coffee but twice as strong - delicious! And bought some ciabatta from the market to eat by the seashore - not a bad way to pass the time :)
Map and info obtained, we decided it was too late to make a start on the train to the nearest of the five villages so that is tomorrow's plan - just hope the weather is as nice! The tourist office lady was merely concerned with temperature - it is chilly! - not sunshine so prognosis unclear....
And we set about trying to find the all important wifi she had marked on the map. Curiously there was no wifi where she said there might be, but pockets of unsecured wifi with no discernible source on random street corners but not near any cafes. So email can just about be be picked up and pre-written messages sent using the thingamy but we will freeze to death doing so :( - how is it so cold here?? We are more south than france!! Ho hum, we have it, important emails sent - lots going on at home, hence the preoccupation with the subject - and we will walk tomorrow - a plan, excellent.
With love for now from Becky, Will and Jules on Tuesday, March 09, 2010