Wednesday, September 24 – Rain again, and a drive to Camogli

Overcast, a few rain showers, muggy, some sun

Woke up to heavy rain. We had a delicious sleep-in – missed breakfast in the hotel, but made oatmeal at “home”. Lazed about, Steve did some work, I read some email and, after the rain stopped, we took the car out and drove to the Autostrada and then north to Camogli. It was an hours drive.

There was a sign saying the Autostrada south to Tuscany was backed up and tonight on the news we saw there was flooding and the Autostrada was closed.

It was just after 2pm when we arrived in Camogli. There are lots of parking lots right on the edge of the centro (central area). We parked and walked into town. The main shopping street was all closed up because it was the afternoon siesta. This street is higher up on the hill and has a few steep staircases down to the road along the sea. Camogli is a small town, Santa Margherita Ligure to the south is larger, and Rapello, further south, is larger still. Camogli is built on a steep hillside and the buildings are very tall – 5 – 7 stories – and narrow. From the seaside, looking towards town, the tall buildings are joined together and look like a wall along the sea. The buildings are brightly colored and many are painted with fake architectural details. Some have a column of fake windows. Beautiful to look at.

The town is charming with these painted buildings and narrow lanes. We found a place where we got minestrone and sandwiches. There are several focaccia places, as there are in Levanto. The weather was very overcast and the mugginess was almost unbearable (especially for people who are used to the dry desert). It made me feel sluggish and my hair frizzes beyond belief.

We ate our lunch sitting outside looking towards the sea. Lots of young kids were in swimming. After lunch we walked all around town. We had planed to do a drive from the Heritage Guide book, over the peninsula to Santa Margherita Ligure and then to Rapello, but we got too late of a start, so we decided to leave that for next time. We left Camogli around 4:30 and drove back to Levanto.

You can do lots of hikes in this Portofino area – we saw maps posted. There is a walk from Camogli to San Fruttoso out on the peninsula, or you can take a boat. The walk is 90 minutes and is rated as a difficult walk. Next time.

We really did not need a car for our 11 nights in Levanto. We knew that and originally were going to try to organize the trip without a car for this part, but in the end it was just easier to have the car. We needed it in Switzerland and we need it this weekend in Tuscany. But you really do not need a car here – most places are easily reached by train and the trains run often.

On the way back we took one of the small roads back into the hills above Levanto. The road was paved, but very narrow and wound up the hillside through huge olive groves. Most groves had the nets already under the trees but they were not opened yet. We saw a couple of small villages along the road, then turned around and drove back to Levanto.

We are really loving this town. We hope to come here on a regular basis – it will let me keep in touch with Federico for the web sites and is a perfect vacation destination for us. It always feels so peaceful here. There is the usual buzz of an Italian town, but not the craziness that we experienced in some other seaside places. We went out to get a paper, but the IHT had not come in today, so we were forced to get the USA Today. Boy George and Rosie are on Broadway!

We went to a pastry store and got two very small pastries for after dinner – I was in favor of getting more, but Steve somehow felt these were enough. I did buy some of these candies that look like different colored rocks, but were filled with almonds or chocolate. Like those crunchy Jordon candies we have in the US. I bought a small bag of these to take home. Then we went to the Enoteca and got a bottle of Limoncello and of a local sweet dessert wine to take home. Federico is trying to get us 5 liters of organic olive oil from a friend of his, but his friend is out of town, so we may not be able to get it. If not, we will either buy some from the Enoteca or get it in Tuscany. I am still using our oil from the last trip. I know this is not the best time of year to get it, but it is better than nothing. I will ask Federico if they expect to get oil this year. (On the message board, some people have posted that some parts of Italy have no olives this year because of a late frost.)

Then we went to Café del Mar, where we have been twice before on this trip, to sit out on their nice patio and have Campari and Soda. Then home for a simple dinner of rice and vegetables. I really don’t think I could survive eating every meal out on a trip like this.

Tomorrow is our last day here. I plan to go to the self service laundromat in the morning and have many coffees and read the paper while waiting for the laundry. Then do the ironing and get ourselves packed up. From here it is five nights in hotels – Tuscany and then Rome. Now we get to wear our nicer clothes (well, still jeans, but nicer tops).

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.