June 13, 2023
After another fabulous breakfast, our group headed out to explore Cervo, another I Borgi piu belli L”Italia town above the sea in the Ponente. Gianni, one of our two favorite drivers, met us at our hotel and we were off to explore. The photo above is from a previous visit in the sunshine. It was a cloudy day when we traveled. Still the castle shows well, rain or shine.
As we wandered through the tiny caruggi, our senses were filled with the scent of flowers and the salt air of the sea below.
The sun peeks through in several spots.
As we pass through this tiny street we can see the steeple of the church above the buttress attached to both buildings. The colors, typical of Liguria, welcome us as we walk.
We arrived at the back door to the church, walked around to the piazza overlooking the sea.
The front elevation is pure Baroque in style.
View of the Mediterranean Sea from the church door (photo from my previous visit).
Inside the church, the altar is particularly Baroque style.
The Church and the entire town feels calm and peaceful. It is a wonderful spot for a visit or for an overnight.
We could not spend the night as we were off to see another wonderful hidden gem named Pieve di Teco.
In this small, interior town in Liguria we all discovered a beautiful location with many portici, or arched walkways. My town of Chiavari has many but Pieve di Teco residents tell us that there are more arched walkways in their town than in Bologna!
Each portico is artistically beautiful. The often intersect with each other for even more interesting angles as shown above.
Italians love beauty and appreciate that in the archways. However, that is not why you see them. During the Middle Ages and beyond, owners of homes or apartments were taxed on the square footage touching the ground. A portico supports an expansion of living space without a real increase in their tax bill. Smart and beautiful.
As much as we admired the streets, we had a special purpose for visiting Pieve di Teco. We had an appointment with Gabriella of Azienda Agricola Tenuta Organica. Gabriella grows and sells organic olive oil—her olive groves are in the Italian Alps. Yet, the history of her family is what interested me even more than her lovely oil. She has traced her roots back to the 1400s, including the home above nearly an entire street in Pieve Di Teco.
We met Gabriella outside her door, a door I fell in love with on my first visit to this town.
Isn’t this an amazing entrance?
We enter the ground floor and walk up to the first level. Originally, the local shops on the ground floor, or many of them, were once stables and storage areas. Now they are prosperous shops of all kinds.
On the first floor we see period furniture and lighting.
As Gabriella discusses the history of her family and their royal bloodline, we see accoutrements of their history such as the brass tools above.
One example of the family crest is above.
Even the ceilings were incredible.
After wandering on the first floor, discussing their eternal protection as a family from two different countries, and the family stories, Gabriella had lunch prepared for us in the antique kitchen.
Here she is as the food is about to be set on the table—look at those tiles! Also note the corner of the wood burning fireplace that is still in use as a cooking fire.
Here is just one of the courses, a precursor to much more to come.
After all the food and wine was consumed, we chatted a bit more. One of the travelers asked if our hostess had a title. She said that her grandmother actually was the Contessa. She had talked to Gabriella about her inheriting it. Her feeling was that she wanted to EARN that title, not just inherit it. She is doing all she can to keep the history of the family and the area for perpetuity. She really is an incredible woman.
As we were ready to leave, Gabriella tells us that she has a surprise for us. We walk around the block and meet the custodian of a very small Theatre that, at one time, belonged to her family. She gave it to the city and they restored it.
Here is the restored seating and stage now used for plays, musicals readings and more.
Above see the detail of the restored backdrop.
Those families like hers who donated to the restoration have reserved seats—here is one for her family. There are two tiers above the floor seating. Her seat is on the first balcony.
They are all so proud of what they have accomplished. Italy saves things of beauty and value whenever possible. It is something those of us who come from North America and elsewhere do not find in our back yards.
Before hopping into our bus to move onto our new hotel, we visited the giant church that is in this tiny town.
La Chiesa Parrocchiale San Giovanni. It is huge, baroque and filled with interlacing arched areas.
The inside of this religious architecture is stunning. One of our travelers, Patricia, said she had never seen a church with this many interlocking vaults, arches. I haven’t either. And it is a total surprise in a town this size. We feel fortunate to have seen it.
Yet, saying arrivederci was important for us. We had a long day where we stood and walked for much of it. We also sat for a couple hours eating, drinking and generally enjoying one another. After a bit more time with Gabriella, we joined Gianni in our trusty little bus and headed to our next hotel adventure.
There is so much more adventure to share from our Hidden Liguria travel adventure. Be patient—there is more to come.
Ciao for now!
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