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Published: November 22nd 2014
I woke early, 5am, and read until 6 before getting up for the day. We ate a quick breakfast, paid 16 euros 'city tax', and walked to Milan Central Station.the rain had stopped and blue sky was threatening to break out, so things were looking good. The train was late due to the huge storms in the south where we were heading.
Our cabin in the train had six seats and as the only male, I kept a low profile and loaded all the cases onto the high racks; very chivalrous. The ride was smooth and as you passed through towns and villages you could see the flood damage. Cars were in drains, roads were washed away, and debris hung high on buildings, in trees, and on fences.
We arrived about 40 minutes late at Levanto and from the station I'd have to say it didn't look like the seaside town I had seen in pictures; thankfully I was later proven wrong. Out accommodation was only a 5 minute walk, as is everything in Levanto, and it was a lovely apartment looking out onto a sunny tiled courtyard. Chiara, our hostess, was very welcoming and suggested, rather than waste
our time on paperwork, we should go to the Cinque Terre and check out some of the sights, as tomorrow, our planned Cinque Terre day, it is meant to be stormy.
We dropped our gear off, went and had a focaccia for lunch, and made our way back to the station. Half an hour later we were stepping off at Riomaggiore, the last of the villages. The harbour area is the main attraction and is accessed via a tunnel running parallel to the train line. All the buildings are built on rock and cling precariously to the side of the hill. The colourful houses and fishing boats resting in the streets make it a rather idyllic scene but the life here is hardly that simple. Further up this steep countryside, overgrown vines and olive trees compete with weeds and soil degradation, and most young people leave the Cinque Terre to pursue greater opportunities and a more modern, exciting lifestyle.
Seven years ago, when I was last here, a government funded program offered people a lease on vines or olive trees, assistance in learning how to tend the vines and replanting the vineyard, and some ongoing support; the catch
A lovely Ligurian seaside town.
was that you had to commit to 25 years on the land. in other words, you wanted this lifestyle. It was all about maintaining the integrity of the land against erosion which threatens to undermine the villages and paths.
Cinque Terre is currently not walkable so maybe this scheme did not have a strong take up. It is such a hard life that years ago, when pirates roamed these seas, they would kidnap men from the Cinque Terre as slave labour because the knew they had to be hardy people to work this land.
Most of the businesses seem to have closed for the season, some not reopening until mid-March 2015, so after having a walk around and a coffee, we returned to the station to go to Levanto. An added bonus at Levanto was the coin laundrette. We had not washed clothes for a while and it was getting down to choosing what were the cleanest dirty clothes to wear. With the weather still sunny, we took the opportunity to wash all our soiled clothes and while we were there the owner arrived and put up a notice indicating that the business would be closed tomorrow due
There are apes everywhere in Levanto. Small street.....small vehicles.
to more heavy storms. In fact, the school was closed and any business that may have been flood affected. We had noticed that all the street level buildings have a barrier installed to prevent flooding. If it's too bad tomorrow we will stay at Levanto and give Cinque Terre a miss. The walking tracks were the real attraction and they are closed already.
Batten down the hatches ! We will wait to see what tomorrow brings.
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