After three days in Cinque Terre staying in the seaside village of Monterosso, we are currently on a train bound for Nice. Monterosso and the other famous villages were scenic and interesting but also very crowded, even in October. My favourite time was spent hiking from Monterosso to the nearby town of Levanto. It was hot, uphill hiking, with a stop to view an ancient sanctuary at Punto Mesco. Luckily, Levanto (not one of the five villages) had a beach to make the kids happy after their hours of hiking.

I am sad to be leaving Italia, particularly as I have now mastered making espresso in a Mokapot. A.J. has become a self-taught expert in this and did considerable research about the best technique. He even bought himself a pack of espresso decaf.  We are eating most meals in our AirBnB apartments—so far lots of pasta, beans and salad served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar), and out for an occasional dinner in a a restaurant. In Monterossi, we had pizza on an outdoor patio by the beach. The area is home to pesto, so we also bought a jar to try. Briar is a pesto maniac.

Street scene in Monterosso. Green shutters and laundry hanging.

Some things that will remind me of Italia:

  • Mokapots. Every apartment we stayed in had one. Otherwise, there has been a real range of kitchen tools. One place had a panini press and a mezzaluna but no spatula or turner.
  • Seeing people enjoy Aperol spritzes on patios. The spritzes are served in bulb-like glasses with a lemon slice and a straw. Aperol seems similar to Campari in flavour.
  • Laundry hanging on balconies, everywhere, everyday. Sheets might be dangling right over people eating dinner in a ristorante. I respect that! All our apartments have had one small washing machine, usually a Candy model.
  • Ochre buildings with green shutters.
  • Apricots growing on vines over fences. Lemon trees.
Gelato on Monterosso beach.

A.J. with a cone. He had two gelatos on our last day.

A few things I will miss:

  • Bottles of Italian milk. Even partially skimmed (scremato) it is inexpensive (to me) and delicious. This trip has actually made me realize how expensive food is on Vancouver Island as we have been shopping in some busy tourist areas and I have not been shocked by prices.
  • Peaches from Sicily. All fruit has been delicious.
  • Focaccia. I am not even the biggest fan (Briar again!) but it was particularly good in Monterosso. We shared some on the train.
  • Gelato, a thousand times gelato. A.J. obsessed over it. His favourite was stracciatella, a traditional flavour with chocolate chip pieces. The names are beautiful. Last night I tried fior di latte (flower of milk).
  • I will also miss seeing so many ancient buildings and places. Even the “barn” we stayed in in Tuscany was a thousand years old. The kids know well by now that I love ruins and exploring them. On my last night in Italy, I took a walk by myself along a stream lined by old lime mortar walls that lead to la Valle dei Limoni, the valley of lemons.
On the train to Nice.

The last focaccia from Italy is unwrapped on the train.