Posts Tagged ‘Portofino’

Believe it or not, our four-week stay in Camogli ends this morning.  I can’t complain too much because tonight, the kids and I will be in Lake Como.  Still, Camogli – and the entire Portofino peninsula on down to Cinque Terre – has taken up special residence in my heart.  I can see this being a place we come back to again and again over the years.  Here are some of the things I will miss most:

  1. The view!  Endless expanse of sea edged by the Portofino Peninsula on one side and the coast to Genoa on the other.  It’s beautiful at all times of day and night and in every kind of weather.
  2. The glorious sound of the sea – exactly as if the waves are rolling right into the apartment.  I’ve gotten quite spoiled falling asleep to that sound, as if my bed were floating on the waves.  I’m sure the silence elsewhere will be deafening indeed.
  3. The perfectly smooth stones on the beach, edges rounded by the pounding sea.  After being tossed around in a rough sea today, I understand why they have no jagged edges (although I have some bruises).  I’m almost tempted to take some home for the purposes of DIY hot stone massages, but alas, can’t justify the additional weight in the luggage.
  4. Focaccia Formaggio.  NOTHING like the focaccia in the States (or anywhere else outside of this specific section of the Riviera).  I watched them make it in my favorite bakery.  They toss the dough in the air until it is so thin you can see through it.  They lay the dough on a large rectangular baking pan.  Then they put little balls of cheese in rolls on top of the dough (like drop cookies).  Then, they place another paper-thin piece of dough on top of the cheese, make a few finger-holes in the top dough and bake it.  I don’t know what kind of cheese they use, but it is molten hot and so salty.  The dough is crispy and soft at the same time.  I have no idea how I will live out the rest of my years without being able to eat this every day.
  5. Revello – my favorite bakery (see #4).
  6. Primula – the restaurant and gelateria below our apartment building.  The food and gelato were delicious and Sasha, one of the waiters, doted on the kids even though he barely speaks a word of English.
  7. Hanging my laundry on the line outside our window and bringing the clothes back in smelling of sea, salt, and the slight hint of garlic from the restaurant below.
  8. The square off the promenade where children gather in the evening to play.  Despite language barriers, they manage to negotiate the exchange of scooters, balls and games of tag.
  9. Music in the piazza and in some of the restaurants in the evening.  I’ve heard everything from American blues, classical, jazz, flamenco to rock.
  10. Yachts slinking past the window in the inky darkness.
  11. The dramatic morning light, afternoon sun, sunsets and moonshine – all from my windows.
  12. San Fruttuoso Abbey.  After reaching it from a ferry, two separate hiking trails (this one and this one) and a private boat, I can now say it’s one of my favorite places in this area.
  13. The accordion player who plays every night underneath our window in the early evening.  He is an older man with grey hair, a hunched back and cloudy eyes.  He wears the same orange shirt and khaki shorts every day (or has several of them and changes them out).  He also wears close-toed clear jellies.  Wonder what the story is behind those shoes… Nonetheless, he’s gotten many coins from us during our stay.
  14. The Pasta Fresca down the way.  How nice to be able to go in and buy fresh pasta and sauce, heat it up for dinner and come away a culinary hero.
  15. The church bells, especially the 5:30 bells that not only ring but play a melody that somehow manages to be mournful and uplifting at the same time.  It was bittersweet hearing them for the last time yesterday.
  16. Taking our passeggiata (evening stroll) on the sea promenade along with everyone else and their kids, dogs, grandparents and friends.
  17. Fishing boats bobbing in the Camogli port
  18. Morning music – the tinkling, then crash, of glass falling into trucks that come to empty the recycling bins, the smacking of lounge chairs onto the stones as the lifeguards set up the beaches for the day, seagulls crying, but otherwise nothing but the sound of the sea.
  19. Being able to hike into the Parco di Portofino right from the sea promenade of Camogli
  20. The ability to take a swim in the sea whenever the fancy strikes.  I will probably miss that most of all, and I know the kids will.

ONE thing I will not miss: the 84 steps up to the apartment…

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it covers the highlights.  It’s sad to leave, but we’re ready for the next part of the adventure.  We’ll spend one night at Lake Como, then four in Milan with our gracious friends hosting us at their house.  After that, it’s a whirlwind through Venice, Naples and then back to Rome.  Journey along with us if you dare, but watch out because things are sure to get crazy now. 🙂


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My beautiful girl who, despite her mother's wishes, continues to grow up too fast...

My dad always used to say that there is never a right time or a wrong time to buy real estate.  When you’re ready, you just go for it because you can never predict what is going to happen two weeks, two months, or two years from now.  He said the same thing about having children – if you wait until all the conditions are “perfect,” you’ll just never do it because perfect conditions are impossible to achieve.  (I’m leaving out the, “You’re no spring chicken anymore,” statement he made when I was all of 29…).  In other words, both are acts of faith – and no small amount of bravado.

I’ve found the same to be true of traveling abroad with children.  Phil and I debated about the “right time” to take the kids abroad, and before this Italy trip came into conception, we both assumed it would be when they were at least adolescents.  Younger kids, we thought, can’t appreciate the history, art, architecture and culture enough to make it worth the expense.

What happened in the interim was a perfect storm of events and considerations that landed us here in Italy this summer, but I must admit that the primary factor was that I was desperately missing Europe and didn’t want to stay away any longer.  Europe is a big part of both of our lives, so I figured we could find a way to fit the kids in to life rather than fit life around the kids, if that makes sense.

The kids have been having an amazing time, but Em asked me a question yesterday that cemented it for me:

“Mommy, how many more years until I’m thirteen?”

I almost choked on the answer – five years.  Then later I realized it’s really 4 and a half.

FOUR AND A HALF YEARS, PEOPLE!!!  How is that possible?!?  I have always joked that she was zero going on sixteen coming out of the womb, but now it’s just not funny anymore.

What is my point?  Well, it’s true that the kids don’t always appreciate the history, art and architecture as much as an adult or even a teenager would.  Perhaps they think it’s just as big of a deal to be given a whole can of Coke on a hot day than to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa or to see the big fish in Portofino harbor instead of the harbor itself.  The significant upside is that they are also still interested in their parents.  To them, the sun still rises and sets with us, and they actually want to spend almost all of their time in our company.  All too soon, that will change.

Monterosso beach

I took the kids to the Cinque Terre today.  The experience was vastly different from the day I went by myself and hiked from village-to-village.  This time, we spent most of the day on the beach in Monterosso.  We rented a paddle boat that had a slide built right onto it.  The slide curved around the boat and landed us right into the sea.  It was goofy and ridiculously fun.  It was also probably something Em wouldn’t be caught dead doing once she gets self-conscious about her looks and about boys.  Unfortunately, I know from whence she comes and that those days are not so far in the future.

But for today they were just kids on the beach swimming, building sand castles, searching for sea glass and eating gelato.  Also, we happened to be in Italy.

Best of both worlds if you ask me.

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