17-18th November 2014: Levanto

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November 18th 2014
Published: November 22nd 2014
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We could hear him from our rooms and it added a real Italian feel to the area.
Today we woke to heavy rainfall so we had a sleep in and knew this was going to be a lost day. We definitely were not going to Cinque Terre and there was no guarantee that we could get there anyway. Chiara had recommended a local cafe for breakfast, so we covered up, popped the umbrella, and ventured into this bleak weather towards the Salty Dog Cafe. It was a busy little place set one street back from the beach. There were newspapers to read and it had a library of books for its customers to read. After breakfast we went back to our room and Sue read and slept and I tried to read and bring the blog a bit more up to date. All in all, it probably wasn't a wasted day, but rather a necessary forced break from the trip. We went back to the cafe for dinner and had bean soup, an Italian favourite with a number of different versions. Hopefully things brighten up tomorrow.

Today was our last day in Levanto and it has been a terrific visit. Considering this was really meant to just be a transit stop, it has gladly become a bigger
Chiesa Di San AndreaChiesa Di San AndreaChiesa Di San Andrea

The local church built with black and white stone in the 10th Century and added to in later years.
part of our trip. We had a sleep in until about 8am and wandered through ancient back alleys to the Salty Dog, our new favourite cafe. We ate dinner there last night (no additional seating fee) and it's friendly atmosphere and tasty Italian food drew us back for more.

We had decided, even though the weather had improved, to devote our day to Levanto and see what this charming town has to offer. After breakfast and a couple of coffees, we headed to the beach, as you could hear the surf breaking on the shore. There were about 8 people out surfing and the waves had settled down to a nice glassy wave overnight. Some of the better riders were getting tubed and I was happy to sit and watch for a while.

There is an old church and castle half way up the nearby hill so we went to check them out. The Chiesa di San Andrea is a 10th century building and what it lacked in the gold and adornments of many churches we had visited, it certainly made up for in atmosphere. I could imagine the hardworking farming and fishing community of this region celebrating their religion and gratitude for the lives they had in this small town. There would have been no surfing back then !

Further up the hill was the Castelo di San Giorgio, a fortified castle that is now a private residence. We had a look from the outside but obviously the inside is now reserved for family and friends. A path next to the castle led us down past small but lovely stone cottages until we neared the promenade, where the houses and gardens were much grander.

Some of these multi storey old mansions sat amidst acres of manicured gardens with stone arches and porticos built in medieval times. An amazing location and an enviable lifestyle. In spite of this affluence, the locals still walk or cycle to and from the shops for their needs. In fact, in Levanto, it seems every second person uses a bicycle as a form of transport. The houses along the streets all seem to have bikes parked out the front. We bought some lunch at the local pasticceria And sat on a bench near a park where mums were chatting while their children played, and ate it. We called into the Salty
Inside this ancient church.Inside this ancient church.Inside this ancient church.

A very different image than the gold and glory of its Spanish cousins. More peaceful.
Dog for a coffee and headed back to our room for a break. I went to pay our bill and I mentioned to Chiara that I was going to walk the old railway tunnel track to the next village to the east. She suggested I borrow her bike, an offer I foolishly declined, and wished me well on the walk.

It wasn't too far from dusk so I set off at a good pace and as I approached the first tunnel, I wished we had done this earlier in the day. The tunnels are lit and have cycling and walking laneds designated. The sea was raging and waves were breaking over the path as I made my way.. I walked about 2.5 kms towards the next town but as I wasn't too sure how much further it was and I hadn't seen another walker for a while, I turned and headed back to Levanto.the sea crashed through openings in the tunnels and I was praying there was no set time the lights went out. I had visions of myself working my way along the walls in the dark until I left the tunnels; and Some of these tunnels were very long!

The walk was worth it for the invigorating exercise a brisk walk along the coast can bring, and also for the magnificent views of Levanto and her harbour on the return trip. As I was walking I thought how this town would be a great setting for a seaside murder mystery story to be set in. Not because it is a sinister place but because it is so interesting. It has amazing regal residences, the old train tunnel walk, the sea, a castle, and of course down the coast a short distance away is the famous Cinque Terre. If an author needs a researcher to sit in Levanto for a few months, I'm the man.

That night we had dinner at, you guessed it, the Salty dog, and the owner was asking about our trip. It turned out that his wife and he are hoping to do the Camino as he is an avid walker and likes the idea of the Camino as a introspective journey. He would like to start from home, as it was traditionally done, which would mean he walks from Levanto. It's incredible, when it comes up in conversation, how many people know someone who has done it or have done it themselves. It's also important to realize that it's not everyone's thing and not to bore them to death about it. Something to be conscious of when we get home!

With dinner over we went back to our room, packed up our gear, and made sure we were ready for an early walk to the station tomorrow. It's our last destination tomorrow, Rome, and in 8 nights we will be flying home.

Additional photos below
Photos: 29, Displayed: 26


Church BelltowerChurch Belltower
Church Belltower

It rings every quarter hour, every hour, seven days a week. It is as I write and it's times like these a bit of deafness comes in handy.
Castle of San GiorgioCastle of San Giorgio
Castle of San Giorgio

Built in the Middle Ages.
Castle TowerCastle Tower
Castle Tower

Now a private residence. This section that remains dates back to the 13th Century but records go back to the 11th Century.
Beach HouseBeach House
Beach House

Built on 4 levels this house is amazing.
Old seaside buildingOld seaside building
Old seaside building

We saw pictures showing the small tower on the left and a boat ramp, circa 1903.

23rd November 2014
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Street musicians
We love listening to the street musicians.

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