On Monday, our friends Emile, Imra, and two of their children came to Parma from Veneto for lunch and a visit. After several hours they returned to their home in the mountains near Trento while we packed for three days in Monterosso.
Though Jeanne was still finding it difficult to catch her breath, coughing throughout the night, and lacking in energy we had planned on this getaway for several months. I had been there on a number of occasions and promised Jeanne that she would love the view of the sea. I went out on a limb and did something I rarely stretch myself to do. To quote the title of one of her favorite movies, I got her a “Room with a View.” Though this seemed like a stellar idea, we later learned at one in the morning that a balconetta room overlooking the sea also meant a balconetta room just above the street that didn’t grow quiet until two in the morning. It might be worth remembering this fact. No wonder Rick Steeves, in his travel books, recommends getting a room on the back side of hotels. If you are under thirty, you may disregard this advice. The definition of becoming old is simply when one looks forward to a quiet night at home.
Pictures tell the story
All three days were stunning, with not a drop of rain and temperatures in the eighties.
Everywhere the food was terrific! At least I enjoyed it. Most of the food is straight from the sea so Jeanne, because of her allergy to shell-fish, had to pick around the menu packed with various crustaceans. Yet, there was plenty of sea bass and other items to choose from. One of our favorite restaurants is CIAK where the owner is the chef and he cooks up everything in about twenty enormous ceramic skillets -all at once. To watch him through the window is to watch an artist at work.
On one of the days, our friends and ACCI missionaries, Francesco, Alessia, and their daughter Francesca Abortivi came up to join us, so we took lounges under the umbrellas and spent the day chatting and eating gelato.
On the final day, Jeanne and I took trains to the other of the five villages and returned later to Monterosso by boat. At Vernazza, I sat on a bench in the shade while Jeanne looked for a few gifts. Down from the inter-village mountain walk came this cute couple. As an extrovert I spoke up and said, “You took the walk, I see.” They happily replied in English with, “Yes, and did you?” To this I replied, “No, you walk, I eat.” This seemed to get a smile and a chuckle so we continued to
converse. It turned out that this newly married couple were both doctors from Chicago. When in the conversation they made acquaintance with Jeanne and learned that she had asthma, they both immediately went into their caregiver mode. It turned out that Sashe, the husband, also had asthma and knew how to manage it. We also learned that we were in the same hotel, only two doors apart, so we were able to visit on several occasions. They were a bit of a “God-send” and though we didn’t manage to get to know them well, we really developed a great affection for them.
Important travel note:
We stayed at The Baia. The Baia is long on cleanliness, but short on breakfast items. They seem a little chinsy and only put out small amounts at a time. This is, I suppose, to discourage gluttony and waste, but one always feels that rationing is going on. The price for a room is not cheap to begin with, and then come the extras. They charge 20 euro extra for air-conditioning (insane). The beach (just across the street) doesn’t belong to them and though one does get a discount (10 euro) on renting an umbrella, you do feel it should be included in the room price. Finally, at least one of the front desk staff needs to be replaced. She is just plain rude and nasty. Americans rightly get the notion that the customer is king, but it appears this is not so in Italy. In Italy, businesses feel like they are doing you a favour by providing you with a drink, a Panini, or a bed.
I suggest you try the next hotel over, The Spiaggia (Beach). Spiaggia is just as nice and has the same amenities for fifteen euro less a night. If you prefer to walk a little and use a non-private beach, try Gli Amici in Monterosso for half the price.