Finally, an internet connection to blog with!
May 16, 2010
Monterosso al Mare, Italy… arriving by train, we knew that the Agrotouristico Baranca was uphill about 10 minutes away, so we called to have our luggage carried uphill for us to our place that we were staying at for two nights. The train arrives in what they call the “new” town, divided from the “old town” by basically a small mountain. After a snack, we walked around the rocky cliff that fronts the sea. One of the more expensive restaurants Ristorante Tortuga (Turtle Restaurant) is built right into the cliff wall (under the walkway). Walking further we enter the old town, and out to the breakwater. From there we can see the two bomb hardened bunkers built by the Germans in the occupation of the town. The Allies tried to bomb the train tracks, but only succeeded in taking out the Town Hall (it has been rebuilt on the same site.)
After wandering a bit we came to the main church in town, Church of Saint John the Baptist. It is built of black and white Italian marble in a Romanesque style, and next to it the Oratory of the Dead (also black and white) this was built by a brotherhood of good works, like a Rotary Club called “confraternities”. The town had two, the black and the white. This building was the oratory of the Black group, and their good work consisted of arranging funerals, taking care of widows, orphans and the shipwrecked. Here is their symbol, a skull, crossbones and an hourglass…death awaits us all… (nice huh?)
We followed the suggested walk so we could explore the town and see the sights according to Rick Steves. We went back to the waterfront to start our walk to the Church of the Capuchin Friars (a lot of steps in the “Switchbacks of the Friars”, but great views at the top. This church was also black and white, but a closer look showed no marble, just cheap 18th century stucco!! But the inside was nice and there were some nice paintings attributed to Antony Van Dyck.
Then we walked further upward, to a cemetery, built around and within an old castle. Very nice views. But lots of dead people. Following the Rick Steves map, we continued uphill, for some distance!!! Hard walking (a real hill!!) finally a sign for Buranco Agrotourismo. Down, down, down a hill. Finally, a big party (the owner is a member of Parliament and) had a big party going on. But we had wine tasting and leftover snacks, from the dinner verrry good!! Our place was very cute, sleeps three, basically a small house, over the wine room itself. Only after getting here, a strenuous walk of about an hour, did we get told that there was a 2 minute shortcut to the town!! Oh well, we got to see the sights, I guess.
The next day we visited first, the town Corniglia, high on a hill, we took the bus up (I was so glad), then walked down through the town, nice views, nice food. David hurt himself again (with his sore leg from the Heidelberg bike accident) trying to walk down the 400 stairs.
Then we took the train to Vernazza, it had a nice harbor, we walked to the top of the town, then back again, watching the stream, which in this town, has not been covered by a road. Nice town, but we were on the way back to Monterosso al Mare. A nice dinner and a night at the farm. See the video of our experiences.
Next we move to the Hill Towns of Tuscany, see you tomorrow