Sunday, August 12, 2012

The last day

Some of our staff
The one day a week that we are closed is something very close to sacred for us, and even more so when we are in the middle of August and stay open 7 days a week for the mid-month holiday.  We are open every day until the end of the month, which means our last Wednesday took on an even more significance.  We needed to do something different, with a beach involved, mojitos, a spritz or two, and our friends.

The Cantina (almost the whole staff) packed up our beach bags and headed to the nearby little village of Bonassola, which is outside the Cinque Terre, just after Levanto, and usually much quieter then our busy little villages during the summer.  Manuel's cousin went a week ago, and came back to work Thursday raving about the empty beaches, the great seaside lunch, the cocktails, volleyball courts and boogie boards, so it wasn't a difficult sell.  We got on the train, some with their children, some with little brothers, and a few waiters sporting near-fatal hangovers, and took the 8 minute ride to Bonassola.
What we didn't count on was that, in August, many people were thinking like we were, and our group of 10 was too big to find sunbeds and umbrellas for.  We grabbed our 8 euro sunchairs, and stretched out on the sand.

The walk to Levanto through the old train tunnel
Bonassola is a cute town with a great beach.  The water was perfect, with little waves that provided amusement for everyone, but the beach, full of dark sand and colorful pebbles, absorbed the heat from the beating sun too well, which made walking comically difficult.  Lunch was disappointing, as our too-big group had trouble finding space, and had to eat some sandwiches that cost too much and took too long in the town.  After we'd all had enough sun and enough mojitos (there was a Hawaiian theme party in Sestri Levante the night before, and a few staff members went at 2 am and came back to Monterosso around 7, and now required mojitos to "set themselves straight"), those of us who were well-rested insisted on walking back to Levanto for aperitivo.

The again hungover waiters complained like children, but I marched ahead quickly.  "Americans", muttered Stefano, our food runner/barback, as he tried to keep pace with my East coast walking speed, convinced I was trying to kill him in the 100 degree heat.  "Why do you have to walk so fast?"
"Italians", I responded, "Why do you have to drink so much at Hawaiian parties?".
"Ehhh," he conceded, sighing.

Arrival in Levanto


Fun in the waves
Bonassola is connected to Levanto by a walking path which, unlike many of the other challenging walks that run through the area, is flat, paved, easy, and lined with bike lanes and little swimming spots.  The path is actually the old train tunnel that was paved over, so it in fact alternates through damp, dark train tunnels and strips of asphalt baked in the sun with breathtaking sea views.  Levanto is a short 25-35 minute walk, and as you approach the town from an angle I'd never seen, you can really appreciate how much bigger it is then Monterosso.  We passed a spa I'd never seen before, windsailing rentals, beaches, and then wound our way into town for aperitivo, then catching the 4 minute train back to Monterosso where we all headed home for dinner and to rest up for the next few weeks.  Manuel lamented the fact that we can't come back for a few weeks because of work, but I'm planning on going one morning regardless.  Working long restaurant hours is something I'm accustomed to, but even if it means an hour or two of less sleep, it's just as important to get out of town and do different things every few days, or it all seems to blend into one long day - or one long August.

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