Well, if you’ve been following, most of my holiday posts have been about the books I was reading (am still reading).
But that wasn’t really the whole story. I mean, we did things other than me sitting on the beach and reading.
I picked Best Mate (BM) up from the airport on the Thursday evening. We spent the night in Milan and then drove down to Carrara the next day. F had already gone down with the dogs.
We spent the weekend together and then F came back to Milan on Sunday afternoon as he was working.
Time with BM was great. She did spend a lot of time sleeping, especially on the beach, but that was OK and expected.
One night we went to Sarzzana (unfortunately the antique fair that fills the narrow streets wasn’t up and running until the following week) and had a lovely time (apart from the worst pizza in the world – see previous post).
Another night was Carrara itself. But, apart from going to the beach and eating, that was about it. It was relaxing and lovely. The following Friday, we drove back to Milan, leaving the dogs in Carrara. We made a stop to see F who was working in Fidenza Village (one of those outlet villages where they have a shop) as he was on his way down to Carrara to stay with the dogs. The next morning, early, I took BM to the airport and then drove straight from there back to Carrara.
Most of the time we spent on the beach (during the day) apart from a couple of days when the weather was bad and one particular day (last Saturday) when one of F’s friends, A2, drove us to Portovenere.
Apart from the time with BM, this was truly the highlight of the holiday. Portovenere is a small town on the Ligurian coast. It is typically Italian, the harbour lined by houses painted in the reds, yellows and oranges one would expect in Italy. We left early (around 8 a.m.) so that we would get there early enough to find parking.
We (well, A2) drove to La Spezia, a large harbour town that receives cruise ships (there were 2 docked) and from there we followed the twisting road around the coast to the town of Portovenere.
We parked the car and then walked onto the harbour to find somewhere to have breakfast.
After that we strolled up towards the church, sited seemingly precariously on top of the headland overlooking the straits between that and the island opposite the harbour. But, instead of going to the church, we cut off just before and went through an archway onto some rocks in a small cove. Now, here’s the thing about Portovenere. It does have a couple of very small beaches located within the harbour but, like much of Liguria, so I’m led to believe, most of the bathing takes place off rocks. The advantage this has is that the sea is not “polluted” by drawing up sand into the water.
We found a place to lay our towels on the flatter rocks and went swimming. The water was warm and so, so clear. It almost didn’t feel like the sea at all. But, although I can swim, I’m not what you would call a confident swimmer. Plus, I have a real problem with getting water in my eyes, even normal tap water. If water gets in my eyes, I just cannot open them again until I can dry my lids. As a result of this, I don’t like going out of my depth. And this was not gradually sloping sand but rocks so, one minute OK, the next not. I didn’t stay long, to be honest – it was just a little bit scary for me. And, yet, beautiful to swim in.
We lay on the rocks, the sun breaching the walls behind us. The cove became packed and, about 11 or so when we decided to move, people couldn’t wait to take over our place on the rocks.
We went up to next to the church where we could look out from the top of what looked like an old fort (or, maybe the roof of the church?) Then we walked back through the town. F wanted to buy some pesto since he loves it. He chose a shop with the idea that we would come back later. It was really quaint. Narrow streets, as you would expect with a small harbour town built on the hillside. We reached the square from where we had started in the morning and then walked along the harbour to pick somewhere for lunch. Lunch was simple but nice. By the time we had finished lunch the place was really packed. That afternoon they were closing off the channel (by the church) to water traffic and allowing people to swim across the channel. Every space on the rocks was taken, people (mainly young adults) waiting for the signal that the channel was open.
But F and A2 weren’t so keen on staying. To be honest, I’d have like to see it start but, at the end of the day, I had enjoyed the day so much, I wasn’t going to let a little thing make it bad.
So, we walked back into the town and got the pesto and then walked to the car and came home. All day the sun shone and I have to say it was one of the nicest days I’ve had for a long time.
F realised that I had enjoyed it. “Next year, we’ll go for days out like this,” he said. “Maybe a couple of times a week.”
I told him that I’d like that even if it was only a couple of times during the holiday.
I’ll try and put some pictures up tomorrow of Portovenere.