Friday, February 28, 2014

Winter Camogli

Life has started to trickle back to the Cinque Terre on warmer days.  It's like the visitors are little seeds in the sand that sprout up in a flash as soon as a warm ray of sun touches them.  Rainy days, however, are a horse of a different color (funny side note: in Italian, you say "un'altro paio di maniche", which literally means "another pair of sleeves".  I love idioms).  Villages are quiet, streets empty, the yellow glow of street lamps illuminates a grey sky that hits a grey sea and touches a beach of grey stones and sand.  

Occasionally, the sun perks through, the clouds spread apart, and you have muted shades of pastel to break up all that grey.
We went to Camogli on one of these rainy days, and we arrived right as a few stubborn rays of sun hit my favorite town on the Riviera.  The last time I visited the town was the day before the flood that destroyed Monterosso in 2011.  I was happy to come back, and even happier to see that the empty fishing village was just as charming painted in muted shades of winter.
Camogli lies 45 minutes to an hour by train from Monterosso, and is quite close to Genoa.  Many say its name derives from "Casa delle moglie" or the "house of the wives", as they dutifully waited here for their Genoese fishermen and boat capitan husbands to return home from the sea.
 Once renowned for its fleet of tall ships, Camogli is also called the city of "a thousand white sails", and though it's painted seafront houses no longer help the fishermen find their way home, the town is still full of boats and in the winter, empty of tourists.
We walked to the ornate gold church, the  old castle, the harbor, and sat on the beach by ourselves while we snacked on the local rum-cream stuffed beignet aptly called camogliesi.  
Portofino hides to the right, but to the left, sprawling in the distance, lies Genoa, La Superba.  

When you look long enough, a rainy day becomes another opportunity to see things with a new palate of colors, especially on a deserted beach in the shadow of so much history.

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