Friday, July 5, 2013

stacanza is staycation in italian

picturesque, iconic Portofino
I've lamented before how sometimes it is incredibly hard to get up the willpower on our beloved and treasured day off to leave the village.  For me, it's hard but for Manu, it's like pulling teeth.  Like ironing, if you will.  Another sore point, but that is, as usual, another story.
San Fruttuoso
The abbey and tower of San Fruttuoso
Since hearing about the firework spectacular in Rapallo that coincides with Montallegro, I've been nagging, pleading and planning for us to go.  Manu agreed, and as the day approached, we were both really excited to get out of this one streetlight town.

So blue

The abbey

Ships at sea

Close to the shore of Santa Margherita Ligure

The bay at San Fruttuoso

A replica of the famous Christ lowered down into the sea
We left Tuesday after work quite late, giving us a full day in one of my favorite Riviera towns, Rapallo.  It's very 50's, Riviera-Sophia Loren on a cherry red Vespa with big sunglasses-Elizabeth Taylor on a yacht feeling, with a tree lined promenade at the sea side and a gorgeous old castle looking out into the gulf.  Rapallo celebrates their patron in serious style, with a 3 day festival celebrating the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to a probably very scared farmer in the mountains outside of the village (my favorite cable car spot, the Sanctuary of Montallegro).
One neighborhood's offerings for the nightly dinner

Another neighborhood showing their pride
Lining up to eat in the third section of the town
As we were able to get ourselves up early enough, we took the easy ferry from Rapallo to Portofino, taking a stroll around the mega-yacht clustered harbor littered with more name brands then 5th Avenue and enjoying the spotty sun.  I'd been there before, but it always surprises me how little so many people have seen of the area they live in - it was Manu's first time in one of the most iconic and famous places on the Riviera.  We hopped back on our happily deserted boat and sailed off to a huge checkpoint on my list of things to see in Liguria, the abbey of San Fruttuoso.  The abbey was built in the late 900's, and the newer tower followed in the 1500's.  These two form a structure that lies in the foot of the mountains of the Portofino regional natural park, nestled into a little bay with a tiny beach and the clearest, most shockingly blue water I've ever seen.  Accessible only by ferry or by a hiking path littered with mountain goats who might be more suited to it then humans (especially clumsy American girls), the hamlet is pleasantly deserted and forms an incredibly scenic and special day at the beach.  The clear water of the Ligurian sea also holds another amazing treasure on this part of the coast- a bronze statue of Christ, arms widespread in a greeting of prayer and welcome, lies sunken in the depths of the ocean.  This Christ of the Abiss can be seen from fishing boats as the water is so clear, but scuba trips and boat rides can be arraigned during the on-season months.  For those of us more content to imagine, there is a replica of the famous statue in the chapel in the abbey, a monument to those who have lost their lives at sea.

The procession of the Madonna through the town before the show starts
After a beautiful day spent as tourists snapping pictures, we returned to Rapallo for the last night of their festival.  Like in other Italian towns, they pit the sections of the town against each other.  Each neighborhood dresses in designated colors, and blocks of sections of the seafront promenade where they prepare local dishes and competitively eye the lines and the other neighborhood booths.  Every year, one section is designated as responsible for honoring their patron, but on the last night the fireworks take the show.  Three different shows light up the sky, one for each of the neighborhoods in Rapallo, but what really drops your jaw is the amazing burning of the castle.  Rapallo's old sentinel is laced in flames and lights, shooting colors and white lights after the neighborhoods salute each other by firing fireworks, sounding off their presence.  It's an incredible show.

Fireworks lighting up the gulf, and a castle on fire
Last night, I realized that even in my little slice of Liguria, I was celebrating the fourth of July with fireworks just the same - with a castle burning to boot.  Sometimes, a vacation, even for just a day, can make you feel all the more at home.


  1. Beautiful photos! I never got a chance to visit Rapallo... maybe it's finally time? :D

  2. Thank you, Christine you sure do make it all come alive, I so am wanting to come and stay for a week, see as much of this aria as i can, next time I will spread my wings more.
    It is nice to know that you still enjoy your adventure's as if they were all new.
    Enjoy them and keep writing for us all to enjoy.
    Blessings Denise (Aussi Girl)

  3. your pictures are beautiful! what camera and film were u using for these shots??? wonderful!