The Cinque Terre (Chink-wah Teh-rah) are so intriguing and mysterious. The five villages are all old and filled with narrow alleyways and stairs to climb. Built right into the mountainside and hugging the Mediterranean, they keep the residents well fit. We watched a helicopter remove garbage bags from rooftops and ferry them to trucks on the hills above, since cars/trucks could not reach the village. A small but scenic harbor allowed small trawlers to maneuver between rocks to reach shore, and hoists picked up boats out of the sea to their land resting place after the fisherman finished their work for the day. Old fortress turrets rose above cliffs and monasteries with beautiful chapels stood above each village. Ancient cemeteries with family mausoleums sat on hilltops accessible with steep stairways. Mountain walkways with sea views connect the villages. Laundry hung from clothes lines outside windows that somehow added to the ambiance. Flowers filled wooden wheel-barrows sitting outside small restaurants. The homes are worn pastels and stacked multistory, somehow out of kilter. All of this adds to the charm and gives unforgettable character.
For a meal the fourth generation owner ran to the sea to get the fresh urchin–he proudly showed me the fish–prior to using it to season the fresh pasta and sauce he was serving. Melisa charmed a 90 year old man by speaking Spanish with him–he gave us lemon and grapefruit off his trees.
Driving the twisty-windy roads back to Florence, we drove in snow in the mountain tops and many snowcapped mountains gave us majestic views. Back in the apartment, Italy appeared in the voice of opera wafting through the air. Across the street–one lane–a woman is in voice practice and the high soprano notes certify that she has a good voice. WEG