Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Friday, January 14, 2011

Italy's Best Kept Secret

The Cinque Terre
(CHINK-weh TAY-reh)

I am not overstating it when I say that Gana and I would go back to Europe just to stay on the Cinque Terre, skipping Rome and Paris.  Staying here was the perfect break from the tourist pace of Paris and to rest of up for the even more frenzied pace of Rome.

From Rick Steves: "The Cinque Terre, a remote chunk of the Italian Riviera, is the traffic-free, lowbrow, underappreciated alternative to the French Riviera.  There is not a museum in sight.  Just sun, sea, sand (well, pebbles), wine, and pure unadulterated Italy."

Did you catch that?  TRAFFIC FREE. 

In these lovely five villages, there are no cars.  You can take the train through them (or hop back and forth between them) or hike from one to another.  Each little village has its own flavor, but all are perfect in their own way.  We encountered only one or two other American tourists.  The other tourists were Italian, French or German.  The rest of the people, locals.  If you like the night life with swinging clubs, concerts, museums and amusement parks, the Cinque Terre is not for you.  But, if your idea of a vacation is swimming in clear blue water watching the fish, sitting outside a little cafe sipping wine for hours watching the parade of lovers hand-in-hand walk by, and eating seafood that was caught this morning, then Cinque Terre is for you!

We arrived by train in the early afternoon, having left Paris the night before.  I was very hot and tired and so ready for some relaxation!

We got off the train in the second of the five villages, a little gem called Vernazza and headed down the one street that goes through town.  It begins at the post office at the top of the hill, winds its way under the railway tracks, down through the village and ends in the sea.

First order of business was to find a place to stay, so we could unload our backpacks.  We saw a sign that said rooms for rent (in Italian) and rang the bell.  A little grandma poked her head out of the third story balcony.  "Prego! Prego!"

Up we climbed.  She showed us a room and between my broken Italian thanks to the phrasebook and charades, we negotiated the price.  "Euros, si.  No documento." She said as she swiped her hands together, gesturing to explain that she took cash and no credit cards and we'd have nothing to sign or fill out.  We gave her money, she gave us the key and a compliment on my Italian.  (ha!) She said I looked like I could be Italian.  I said my mother was Spanish.  She nodded and smiled with understanding.

Here's our room.  Had its own entrance and a private bath.
Second order of business: Swim!  We donned our suits and headed for the water!  It would soon be dinner time, but we needed to cool off!  In a word, the water was: REFRESHING!  It was warm--so unlike the beaches on the Central Coast of California where I grew up.  It was clear and the little bay on which Vernazza sits is so still!  I could see little fish weaving their way around my feet, which stood on an array of colorful rocks.  We floated and laughed and immediately felt like we could stay there forever.

After a shower and getting cleaned up, we headed out for dinner!

We climbed to the highest peak and ate at Castello, run by Monica, her husband Massimo and Mario, who speaks at least four languages fluently.  While we were there we heard him speak Italian, English, Spanish, and German and the customers had no trouble understanding him!

I sat here, which was a great photo op:
 But was severely scolded by Mario for having my back to the view!  "Why you looking at this guy?!" he said, pointing to Gana.  "You see him everyday!  Enjoy the view!!!"  He had a point.  So, I moved.

The views from our table: 

 While on the Italian Riviera, please enjoy what is locally grown and produced!  The Cinque Terre boasts it's own wine--red and white--from vines on all the cliffs and hills, the best pesto you've ever tasted--from basil growing up the same cliffs and hills, olive oil, and seafood.

If you want to sample more than one, don't go with a bottle.  You can get a quarter, which is decantered in little pitchers so you can try several.

Vernazza Salad


Calamari and shrimp,
so fresh and delicious,
even Gana liked it and he doesn't like any kind of seafood usually!


Homemade vanilla ice cream with espresso poured over


Hot cognac

With Mario,
the kind of waiter who makes you feel like you were at Cheers.

It's actually the jacket that is photogenic.
We've affectionately named this jacket, "the photogenic jacket"
because it's about impossible to take a bad picture while wearing it.
(btw, it's from Soma.)

The night life.
Locals, sipping their drinks and watching the world go by.

We sat here for at least an hour watching the moonlight on the water,
except for when we were laying on our backs watching the moon.


Sue said...

I am so jealous!!! My daughter and I are dreaming of going to Italy for her homeschool graduation - we shall see!

Alexandra Dominique Strauss said...

DAJA!!!!!!! This is sooo beautiful!! Oh I'm so happy that you've been posting your travels. So inspiring!

Oh, and Obama loves teleprompters. Lol. Ya know.. I thought about it, and I probably shouldn't poke fun at him because I might be using teleprompters one day! Ha!

Joy said...

Oh my goodness. What a paradise. I want to go there too. The room, the view, the food, the moonlit night...sigh. How perfect. Oh, and your jacket. Very nice.
♥ joy

Lady Dorothy said...

You are taking me on your next visit, right? *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Amazing.... I want to go. and by the way its not the jacket, its definetly the wearer!

Karen Joy said...


Of all the places in Italy, I have long wanted to go to the Cinque Terre region, for all the reasons you mention, and for all the pictures you have posted. Plus, it's home to farinata, which is my favorite flatbread. I make it literally every day, and have done so for about the last 18 months. I've read that there are shops in the towns of the Cinque Terre that will post signs in their window that says when the farinata is hot and fresh. YUM!

Gombojav Tribe said...

You should definitely go, Karen! It's all that the tour books say it is and MORE! It's worth a trip to Italy just to stay on on the Cinque Terre!!!

Ann said...

I loved reading your blog . . .1st because I'm going to Southern Italy in Nov. and 2nd because I love the way you personalize the day, or event. Thanks for sharing . . .Paris good stuff too. Ann

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