Thursday, October 15, 2009


Even the flower boxes at the train station are things of beauty in Bonassola

The main corso of Bonassola with Teri writing her postcards on our last morning

Teri sitting on a slab of green marble on the beach in Bonassola

Bonassola at sunset

Part of our balcony to our room at Esther's

Cafe on the corso of Bonassola

Looking back into the town of from the beach

Close-up of the walls around the beach showing the green marble

Bonassola from afar taken near the beginning of our hike from Bonassola to Levanto on our first day over the mountain. Quite a workout!

Bonassola from the other side

Teri on our balcony. I am taking this from the street.

Another view of the balcony.

Me lounging away on the balcony. My Can-fro isn't quite what I want it to be as I didn't pack the proper products

Fisherman on beach at Bonassola

I have so many pictures of the Cinque Terre. I will have a special entry for them-hopefully the Oct 22 entry.

We are sitting at a Vernazza (4th terre of the 5-terre counting up from the south) internet cafe waiting for our train, which comes hourly. We took the wrong one as they are not consistent in naming which track is binario 1 vs binario 2. Instead of waiting in Corniglia , the smallest of the terre by far, we returned to Vernazza. They rarely check our tickets on these short hops but of course they did when we were headed in the wrong direction. Our ticket allows us 15 km of travel so hopefully we are OK if they check again. All is closed now here except for the internet cafe. It is so incredibly beautiful here.

Sunset in Bonassola

Our home base is in Bonassola, which would be the 7th terre if they were counting. It is a very wealthy village full of million dollar villas with beautiful gardens. Our official status is that we are friends of Esther, a Swiss national who technically can't run a B&B so she relies on word of mouth. We have a balcony full of flowers that we lie around at night on drinking our wine (Good thing we packed wine as Hep C has made drinking verboten for Esther). For the first 2 nights, we dined with Esther. The first night she prepared us pasta with marscapone and thyme sauce and a salad; the second: pumpkin risotto, chicken and more salad. She is an interesting woman, having lived around the world and is quite the art collector and gardener. She is very tall, elegant, very blonde with beautiful large blue eyes. She likes to wear beautiful saris left over from being married to an Indian and living in India. Although she said we are friends sharing expenses and that everything in the house was ours, she drew the line at us using her computer. (But Sig. Dallina let us use hers) Our breakfasts are quite spartan as she doesn't like to eat before noon and her hour long swim in the bay. Italians do eat skimpy breakfasts but not the Swiss. I had fun getting up early one morning trying to figure out how to use the Italian coffee pot and the gas stove with all its safety devices. She says the water is getting almost too cold to swim in but at 21 deg C (70 F), it is warmer than the Pacific in the summer even around San Diego.We have beautiful and affordable accommodations so we made Bonassola our home base. We are near the water and the main promenade of the town. The town is made from green marble. The first day we hiked over the mountain to Levanto-hard on this person but very beautiful and only the Swiss seem to know about it. Levanto is not as touristy as the Cinque Terre towns but it stilled considered a part of the Italian Riviera. We had a nice lunch there too sipping on the very expensive sciacchetra (normal yield of wine from 10 k of grapes is 7 liters but using the near raisins for this wine only gives 1.5 liters) and eating trofie with pesto (a specialty)after stopping at their morning outdoor market that I bought disappointing macaroons at. We took a train (the trains are very cheap but not scenic as they go through the tunnels) then to Monterossa, the 5th town as we knew we wouldn't include it in our hike. Another tourist stopped this beautiful girl from snatching Teri's purse. She unzipped Teri's backpack as we were getting out of the train and even got the purse out but a good tourist said loudly that Teri forgot her purse and the thief dropped it pushing me aside as I was blocking her way..If she were successful, our trip would have been very complicated.
 We sipped drinks in the evening on a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea in Monterosso: Teri -Prosecco Me- limoncino) before returning by train to Bonassola to watch the sunset and to have our pumpkin risotto with Esther.

 Today we took a boat to the furthermost village south (quite the views but taking pictures was difficult in the morning sun. The evening sun would highlight these towns beautifully). The ride was bumpy due to rough surf but I can tell you, the Mediterrean is salty and had the salt spots all over my glasses to prove it.We began our hike from Riomaggiore to Manorola, the easy leg on La Via Dell'Amore. Such views and we are so, so lucky with the weather.The ground is covered with smashed prickly pears, which are now ripe. Apparently kids can't refrain from smashing them. Manorola to Corniglia was harder but still manageable except for the 367 steps at the end up to the village where we had lunch on a beautiful overlook. But Corniglia to Vernazza, very very scary for me with my fear of heights, death, slipping on rocks, teetering on the edge of a mountain, and it was so, so steep and now I have those balance issues for extra fun. I wish I could upload pix but that will wait. We've been here for about 4 hours watching the sunset on the beach, the anchovy fishers returning, eating in a restaurant way above the beach having seafood complete with heads. At our lunch stop, we each got antipasti plates: me the vegetable (a safe bet as the only vegetable I can't stand would be asparagus) and Teri the seafood with 2 types of anchovies (yes I tried them as they are much more tasty here than the ones shipped in tins to the US). Teri also had a dish looking like white flakes of fish flesh but closer examination revealed complete bodies and eyes: bianchi or something like that according to the menu. And we had wine further complicating my balance issues for the last and longest leg of our journey. If I had known how perilous it would be, I would have skipped that. I was especially glad to see Vernazza 2 hours later. We stopped at at a Silician cafe (Il pirata-the pirate although it turns out the pirate actually are twins-they are pirates all right) for a cannolo (singular for cannoli) for me and an elaborate panna cotta for Teri. It is incredibly beautiful here!!! On to Lucca tomorrow.

Esther and I

Teri in sunset light

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