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A Trip to Italy (and maybe some runs) Part 11, Monterosso!

Morning in Monterosso Al Mare

The day began with a rooster crowing at about 6:30. I guess even the rosters sleep in in Italy. My job was simple: get up, get dressed, and hit the run down the hill. Monterosso is actually two places, Monterosso and Monterosso Al Mare. The first is South of Al Mare and a little smaller. That’s where our hotel was situated. While smaller than Al Mare, Monterosso had more restaurants, more shops, and was just plain quainter (is that a word). BUT, Al Mare had the train station.

I love running as a way to get to know an area. It’s especially effective in the morning. My journeys took me through the tunnel and into Al Mare, up some hills, even up the Porto Hotel trail and onto a bit of the Cinque Terre trail. The trail spans all five villages and is considered a state park, thus…. a fee. I didn’t get too

The Band is ready!

far up the steep, rugged little bugger until I hit the pay station. At the time, no one occupied the hut, but I decided to head back anyway. Good citizen? No tired trail running climber.

We hit breakfast (where I was treated to a special serving of scrambled eggs and Italian bacon, as per my request – cool) and then decided it was time to just bum around. We wanted to meet up with John and Patty and see Vernazza, but also planned to have lunch with Blane and Leslie in Monterosso. They were staying on the other side of town.

As we wandered two cool things happened. First, the streets all had signs about some kind of a parade or something. Sure as shootin’ after we’d walked around just a bit, the parade came through. Bands, citizens, guys dressed like veterans and yes, even in Monterosso politicians. We listened to the band, heard some speeches all in Italian (no matter what the language, you can always tell who the important dignitary might be by how long they get to speak), and wandered some more. It

The little boy and the candle

was local fun.

The second cool thing happened as we decided to peek into an old church just a few yards from our hotel. We entered, planning to take the complimentary picture of the old church, and noticed a little boy, maybe 5 years old, sitting in a pew with those cute footie PJs and a backpack. He rose, walked over to the side, lit a candle, paused for a few moments, and then ran down the aisle and out the door. And he was gone. Luckily for me, I was camera ready and was able to get one of the most memorable shots of the trip.

Lunch happened at a place called Ciak. We’d noticed it the night before as it had a large open-to-the-street window where you could watch the cooks. I guess they thought it was good advertising. Blane and Leslie had some seafood concoction that made me nervous while

Lunch with Blane and Leslie

Linda stuck with pasta. I, luckily, selected gnocchi with meat sauce. OMG, it was an absolutely fabulous lunch. Tasty, semi-light, and just plain delicious. We chatted some and

reminisced about the trip as we were pretty sure we wouldn’t see them before the flights home. All good fun.

Next we discovered that John had decided to hike the trail from Vernazza to Monterosso, and was approaching the halfway point. While the trail is only slightly over two miles, it takes forever because of the steepness and ruggedness. We decided to head him off at the pass, so to speak. This might have been one of my few mistakes when it came to my health. My knee DID NOT LIKE this trail at all. I think we barely made it up a half a mile before he came blazing by. We

Vernazza with John and Patty

turned and happily descended. He was tired and thirsty. Someday I want to go back and nail that whole thing: all five towns. Not this time though.

We had a quick chat with John, some gelato, and then accompanied him via train back to Vernazza. A simple ten minute ride and we were there. Vernazza seemed older, or maybe not as spruced up. We checked out their hotel room and walked to the beachfront. They were doing the boat tour thing that evening and they told us all about how that was going to go. We passed, mostly because of the especially high cost. Once suitably caught up, we synchronized our schedules for the train ride to Rome and we were off.

A quick shower and we were down at the hotel’s lounge area. They had a nice layout. A bar/lounge area as well as a cafe type place where they made breakfast (and some things

Chatting with Jean

customized just by asking). We (well, Linda) had a glass of wine and we chatted with Jean, She told us about Kenya and how often she is able to get back. Just a wonderful, hard working young woman with a sharp mind and a gentle spirit. She was awesome. “You need to come run in Kenya,” she said. Yeah, that would be cool.

We arranged for the morning taxi, and headed down to town for dinner. After some exploration, he decided on the return to La Cambusa. Why tempt the fates? Why rock the boat? Why go to all the work finding another place. I’m not sure what I ate (mostly because I didn’t take a picture of it). Linda had some pasta with a walnut sauce which according to her was, “divine.”

A short walk, maybe some gelato, and off to bed. Tomorrow we begin the journey home. Ciao, Monterosso.