Crowded lands – Lost lands

Less ‘sexy’ but no tourists and an important link to myself, our view from my cousin’s house in Riva Trigoso

This trip is many things. One is to show my partner a bit of Italy that she didn’t see last time. While churches and museums are a great attraction, she wanted a bit more of nature than the trip we did 15 years ago. Partly is to go to areas of meaning to me. Fortunately the ‘Levante’ (eastern) coast of Liguria can do this.

One of this was to do the ‘Cinque Terre’. This part of Italy was well knowns to Italians, but has become a bit of the tourist mecca to foreign tourists over the past ten years or so.  I’ve seen the ‘Traveller’ section of ‘The Age’ doing an edition about it, so expect that this woild have been replicated in many parts of the world.

Last time my partner and I were in the Cinque Terre was just in the town of Vernazza was last time, when perhaps it wasn’t so famous (I know that in Australia it wasn’t) and also on a cool sunny day in February.  This time it was a warm late September day and Vernazza was overrun by American, German and French tourists. I can’t really complain,as I was a tourist too. But the charm of my memories of an empty wintry Vernazza created a much better picture.

We did most of the track. About 1/3 of it was closed as two years ago the whole area suffered floods and mudslides. Evidence of the disaster were in evidence as parts of the track were obvioulsy rebuilt, and in one case half a house was left with the other part in the creek below that still had the walls that the torrent took during the floods.  Fortunately the breathtaking views were still there.

Both in the Sentiero degli Dei and the Cinque Terre I was surprised how lackadaisical the approach to walkers’ fitness levels was. These are fairly demanding walks, and I saw unfit middle aged men redfaced and wheezing while climbing the paths. The parth was rocky and not easy to walk in parts, and I saw women in ballet shoes and thongs. In Australia you’d have warnings and signs everywhere warning you about the dangers here and dangers there.

But this part of the trip was significant for another reason. Near the Cinque Terre there is a town called Riva Trigoso, and this place has a huge meaning for me and my family. This is a place where the the person that married my uncle, my mother’s brother, was born. Her mother had an hotel in the town, and there I’ve spent my first summers of my life. I still have super 8 movies of myself as a three months old baby in a pram in the café of the hotel.  Also it is probably the place where I was conceived. I was born in May, and my parents were on holiday there in August, not difficult to count the months. 

My cousin still has a house there that he very kindly let us stay.  A sense of belonging, instead of feeling an alien in an hotel.

As I was walking in this town, I thought that my mind was experiencing flashes of memory. Maybe they were just illusions. But the memories were in unexpected places. The pattern of the tiles in the footpaths. The severe building of the ship building offices near the hotel. The little park in the next block.

The thing about living in Australia is that these links are broken. Riva Trigoso remains in my memory, and now I have a current image. But even that will be outdated as I go back home not knowing when I will go back the link stay broken.

A bit like the hotel. It closed down long time ago. And later it was demolished and replaced by a block of flats.  I went to a tabaccheria in the backblocks of the town and I was quite surprised to find old postcards of the beach which showed the hotel from the beach. So I took this photo.

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