places i have been

Vernazza, Italy - 7/24-7/25

updated 7/26/03

Sunset from El Torre

Shopping for green tomatoes and pottery in Montorossa

Eagle-Eyed Fred spots a waterfall. We drop anchor, open a bottle of white and keep an anxious eye on the sky

Someone should tell New Hampshire that their "old man of the mountain" picked up and moved to Italy...

A storm blows in to the Terrace - afterwards a boat needs excavating

(The Boats here) have great curves...

"Via Roma" - Vernazza's main drag and "The Drooling Man" Fountain in the center of town (aka Fred when he sees a ripe tomato)

Highlights of our Stay in Vernazza

1. Sunset dinner at El Torre - food was yummy, company most enjoyable

2. Boat ride to Montarossa

Thursdays the market comes to Montarossa. Sure, we could have done the 2-hour mostly vertical hike, but why walk when you can ride in style over the waves? We rented a "boston whaler-type" boat for the day and set off for the next town. The market was great - we helped support the local economy and dodged the traffic (Montorossa is the only one of the five towns that allows cars in the town proper.)

3. Anchoring at the waterfall

By the time we finished shopping, the wind was picking up to something just a bit more serious than a light chop. On the way back towards Vernazza, we took it slow and hugged the coast, allowing Fred's sharp eye to catch the notch that protected a natural waterfall. He expertly manuvered the boat into this notch and anchored close enough for us to hop off without even getting our feet wet. This looked like a lovely place to spend the day but the weather forced us to abandon that idea. I was still on my first glass sof wine and barely past the front page of the International Herald when Fred said "time to go." He had been keeping a close eye on the sky and at the first flash of lightening had already started packing things in. The chop was no longer light and we were nearly to the harbor when the first fat drops started to fall. The sea was whipping itself into a frenzy and there was lots of dramatic lightening and thunder as we made our way up to the room but the heavy rains held off until we were back inside.

It rained pretty good for 20 minutes or so. The electricity popped off and stayed off for several hours, though the sky was soon clear and the tourists immediately returned to the harbor in droves.

Sitting on the Quay for hours watching the activity in the harbor
It is basically too hot to move so we take a swim and then plop down in the shade on the quay with a book but I never open the book because there are so many interesting people to watch and so many dramas playing out right before my eyes. Fred admires the curves -- of the passing boats (better boats than bikinis, say I) and I admire the bum of a boy who looks vaguely familiar on a pretty boat.

It is maroon with red, yellow and green stripes and it is obviously loved. The boy paddles to the quay where he picks up a beautiful girl with hair that matches the maroon of the boat. They ride off into the sunset. When they return, over an hour later, I am still there and I still have not picked up my book. The boy drops the girl back off at the quay and returns it to its buoy. Fred has my camera and is shooting like a madman. He is in love with the boat. Later while returning to the room we stop in at the grocery store to buy some water and the boy and girl are there and we tell him he has a lovely barca. His response is a shy, slightly uneasy smile - perhaps he thinks we are stalking him and his boat. Later Fred remembers that this is the same boy who served us cappucino at the Pensione Sosterro.

Less-stellar moments

1. The 'Net Cafe(s) Fiasco
There are two in tiny Vernazza but neither one showed any interest at all in letting us hook up our laptops to their DSL connections. I have a hard time understanding why a business would be loathe to take my money when they have a plenty big hub with ports not even being used and keeping all of their machines free for other customers - but Fred explained it thusly: I can understand - if someone else touches the set up it might break and then all the magic will run out and then they have to pay big bucks for the wizard to come back and put the magic back in."

Fred is of course one of those wizards and they are very afraid of him.

2. The Tour Group
While our dinner at El Castello with Neil and Caroline was very pleasant and extremely reasonable, the 30+ RS tour group dining at the next table over proved to be something of an irritant. The tour must be drinks-inclusive because the longer they were there, the louder they got and the more sidelong looks they drew from the other diners. I hate to say it, but they looked like the "ugly Americans" RS encourages people not to be in his books.

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