Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cinque Terre, Italy

Written by Karen.
Along the rugged western Italian coast lie tiny fishing villages that hang on the rock outcroppings like barnacles in the sea. The most well-known villages in this area are called Cinque Terre, or the Five Lands.  These historically old villages still plant and harvest vegetable gardens, herbs, olive trees and grapes on the old, rocky terraces carved into the cliffs to supplement their bounty from the sea. And although old, these villages are beautiful in both their natural surroundings and with their ancient traditions.

We drive slowly along the winding, narrow two-laned road to Manarola, the smallest village in the Cinque Terre series. We can see the old stone roofs of the village contrasting with the deep, rich greens and blues far below us.  

We park our car and start to walk down to the village. After awhile - figuring that all roads would eventually lead to the sea and to the center of town - we turned off the main road and walked up some random stone stairs behind the church. Our hunch was right.  

This was the residential part of the village: full of tiny alleys, warped window shutters, lone cats washing themselves, and residents slowly walking up the stone steps carrying bags from the markets below. We wandered slowly through the quiet maze of alleys, stone steps, and plazas.  I considered the dichotomy:  What would it be like to live in a place with so much history and tradition? To feel the heartbeat of the past that has slowly seeped into these warm, worn stones while punctuated by the rhythmic crashing of the sea waves upon the rocks of today?  

As we walked up and down the worn stone steps, I wondered, what would it be like to live in such tight quarters? The houses seem to be built on top of the other, and the alleys were maybe four feet wide. But the views!  

Every twisted and turning alley in this working fishing village seemed to boast incredible turquoise blue ocean views. In a twist of parity, the views granted to Manarola are a two-way street. Once you walk to the cliff's edge and look back onto the village, the weathered yet rich colors of the homes climbing up the rocky cliffs seem to radiate in the soft golden glow of the sun.  Whether you are looking outward or inward at Manarola, you will see color, light, shadow, antiquity, warmth, and constant movement. 

We spent the day exploring the area and found out - belatedly - that we could walk along a paved shoreline path and visit several of these old fishing villages over several days.  Maybe next time.  But for now, I feel like I have walked through the cobbled stones of time: the grapevines have been clipped; the apples and pumpkins are ready for harvest; the laundry is flapping in the breeze; the warped shutter is still hitting the side of the house; and the waves continue to crash along the cliffs.  Just like it was hundreds of years ago. 

An exquisite statue found on an old fountain as we wandered the residential area of Manarola, Italy.
The following pictures are taken as we wandered around the residential area of Manarola, Italy.

I'm not sure why I didn't notice the spoon before taking this photograph!  I'm also not sure of the importance of the tomato - but it did add color.  This is Adam's lunch dish of a baked fish - caught earlier in the day.  
This was my lunch dish of assorted fish from the sea - also caught earlier in the day.
The view - Manarola, Italy


Jennifer Chase said...

LOVE the photos! It must feel like you're in story. Thanks for sharing :)

Observers of Life said...

Hi Jennifer! Thanks! The visit to Manarola was like exploring an outside art gallery: the colors; the little plazas that are tucked behind a corner, the old stone houses, the twists and turns, the carved terraces into the rocky cliffs...Often, I would just stand and stare.