April in France and Italy, Family, Friends and Foibles, Part 2

May 8, 2018

After half of my plans went completely awry while I traveled in France, I arrived home exhausted with sore feet and feeling embarrassed. There was no time to wallow in self-pity because I had friends arriving in Rapallo the next day. Nancy and Michael Mascio and Nancy’s daughter Kim were visiting Rapallo for 5 days. It was part of a travel plan I had created for them.


I was hoping that they were happy with their experience as I had become friends with the Mascios while planning their adventure with Nancy’s daughter.


The Mascios were understanding that I would need a day to reorient myself. They were enjoying their time exploring life in Rapallo where they hope to relocate in the autumn.

We met on the weekend at the train station. Kim was a bright and lovely girl. Nancy and Michael were fun as usual. We decided to visit the shrine on the hilltop above Rapallo. We fortified ourselves with a quick caffe’ and walked across town to the little funiculare.

We traveled up to 5250 meters above sea level and arrived at the Sanctuary and Basilica of Montallegro.

There was quite a walk upward after leaving our lift. And we found 2 hotels at the top of the local world where we would all like to visit in the heat of the summer. The views were spectacular.

The Basilica was built because the Mother Mary appeared to a pious farmer on 2 July 1557 and was told to build a shrine to her. The entire church is a shrine. However I particularly liked this little broken one.

We were all enthralled by the artwork and marble throughout the shrine.

I wandered off alone for a while, deep in contemplation and admiration for this construction on top of a steep mountain.

Almost everyone can get religious looking out over the sea so far below, sitting in the sun, feeling thankful for life, for beauty and for friends.

The above quote from Is.63,3 says “I turned the wheel of my people alone, none of them was with me.”

We spent hours together on top of that mountain and walking the streets of Rapallo together after arriving back at sea level.

It was a wonderful day with friends. I hoped to see them again while they were visiting but that did not happen. And they were happy with my travel plan for them. Things, other than the weather, went very well. I had been afraid they would not be happy.

The day the Mascios left Rapallo, another new friend, Kathy Van Til, arrived in Chiavari for a 10 day stay. We both understood that I could not spend every minute with her—I need to work too. Kathy is an experienced solo traveler and understood. Her goal was to meet me in person and explore Liguria. I was happy to help.

Our first meeting in person was at Lord Nelson’s Restaurant on the Promenade where we had aperitivi  with Spritzes and snacks followed by a main course.

With wine. It was delicious. The company was lively and the day was perfect. Kathy and I spent the day walking along the sea, talking and talking until we were thirsty once again. It was time for an aperitivo at another haunt of mine along the sea.

Besides Kathy’s arrival, another friend of mine from Florence, Patti DeRosa, was arriving for a few days. Patti and I met on Facebook as did Kathy and I. But we had met in person in Florence a few months back. We invited her to join us for our evening beverage and snack dinner. I was hoping we would all get along. And we did.

Three women together, having a beverage or two, sitting by the sea while the sun sets and talking and laughing. I believe we were practically the last people there. Patti and I can talk about music all evening. We all had other subjects to discuss too. We planned to continue it the next day on our trip to Camogli.

Last time I visited Camogli I had no idea that there was an elevator down to the level above the water—we found it this time. We three shopped and walked all over Camogli. We admired the beach and the colorful beauty of the street scenes. Kathy had wanted to find a particular baroque church she had read about.

I had wanted to show them the Dragon Castle.

After the church and the castle we chose to take a ferry boat ride to San Fruttuoso Monestary on a little inlet along the coastline.

It was the perfect day for a ride on the sea. Everywhere we looked we found spectacular scenery. And then San Fruttuoso came into view.

Anyone for beach time surrounded by medieval beauty? It was gorgeous. Inside was an amazing feast of Medieval architecture.

With corbelled arches,

And stairways to heaven,

Burial vaults,

And heavenly views.

After all the climbing, walking and experiencing the feel of San Fruttuoso, we were ready to return to Camogli. Unfortunately, the ferry was not arriving for over an hour. We had planned to eat in Camogli. Instead we were a captive audience in this tiny place and paid an extravagant price for 2 caprese salads and 3 beverages. But the view was incredible from our little perch by the sea.

It really was a lovely place.

And our ride back to Camogli felt like our own private boatride. The views were stunning and the company was exemplary.

After more walking, exploring and getting turned around, we found the elevator up to the level of the train station and headed back home to Chiavari. There we parted with a plan to meet at 730 at the Mirramare Restaurant for a farewell to Patti dinner.

Patti wanted fresh seafood before returning to landlocked Florence. She had a wonderful plate full of all she could want.

Kathy left the dinner early while Patti and I closed down another establishment in Chiavari. I hated to say arrivaderci to Patti. But we will see each other again soon.

The following day, I took Kathy to see Genoa and to meet my friend Tom Torriglia. We met at Piazza Ferrari where Tom became the Genoa tour leader. We wandered through the old town

To the Church of San Lorenzo and its lovely lion. This exquisite architecture with the dark and light marble is striking.

We walked onward though the narrow alleyways and made our way to the Port. First we stopped for a meal along the way.  Next we continued to the Port of Genova. I had to photograph the Trompe l’oeill on this building. It was so over the top.

Then it was onward to the open market and the water.

And saw new and old boat.

We had a wonderful day with Tom. He and Kathy got along well too. We walked back upwards through those narrow pathways and by several palazzi.

And exquisite sculpture.

And umbrellas.

Tom made our day.

Now for the foibles of this time with friends. I had been so concerned about how all these people would get along. It was a waste of energy to be afraid it would not work out. And we were all adults. We could each take care of ourselves. Still I had been concerned. All went well.

Then, on the train ride home, I became ill. Kathy still had several days in her rental apartment in Chiavari. But I was too ill to leave the home. Thank goodness Kathy could take care of herself. I felt guilty nonetheless. That didn’t aid in the healing process.

Finally, I went to the pronto soccorso, the emergency room, in Lavagna, where I consulted with 4 doctors and spent 9 hours. And I am proud to say I made it through all in Italian. They prescribed meds to take for 3 or 4 days. I purchased them and am now healing. And Kathy has continued on her adventure in Italy.

What a jam-packed month and, overall, a wonderful experience with family, friends and fine locales. Wish you could all have been a part of it.

When you follow your dreams and begin to plan your adventures in Italy, keep me in mind. Let me help you make it all happen your way.

Ciao for now!

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