Living Life to the Fullest in Chiavari, Liguria

June 13, 2022

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Yesterday was the first day in nine months that I traveled in Italy outside of Chiavari. I traveled 21 minutes by train to Beautiful Camogli (above).

These last 9 months have been a time of reflection, a time to live in the moment, a time to think about family, friends and the world at large. 

It appeared that we had finally emerged from the Covid-19 lockdown and had begun to live a bit more normally here in Italy.  Then the buildup to the war in the Ukraine happened, followed by the horrific reality of it all.  We did begin to anticipate travelers from the USA and elsewhere to return but the bombs were flying with all the destruction and loss of life in Ukraine. We watched in horror as what looked like World War III could occur at any moment. 

Yet, the pent-up demand that Italophiles felt for La Bel Paese, beautiful Italy, could not be held at bay. Travelers returned.  Spring was full of promise. 

Next, the unimaginable murders in the USA sent us all into a quicksand of rage and depression. It was difficult for me to think about promoting travel. 

Instead of travel planning, shooting hundreds of photos and sharing it all on social media, I had chosen to simply live in the moment, experience each wave on the sea, each cloud in the sky, each bite of seasonal foods. To do that fully, you must do it for yourself, not anyone else. You must put the camera down and simply watch the sunset from the upper heavens until it is below sea level. Only then does it truly sink into your soul. You must think of nothing but the food you chew, the wine you sip, those flavors, those scents. It fills your body and makes your heart sing. It stops time.  These experiences were the gifts to myself, to support my life balance and to find joy in my days despite what was happening across the world. 

Seaside by the yachts.

I caught up on sleep. I assessed what was necessary for my life and gave away a closet full of clothing, shoes and other unnecessary items. I felt lighter.

And I walked by the sea for the emotional support it always gives me, that is, until I flew to the USA in April to see my girls, my godson and his family plus my sister, Patrice. Seeing them, hugging them and talking in person was the best experience for me at that moment. 

My sister, Patrice, surprised my girls by meeting us for Easter. Maggie, created a design for a 3-layer cake and she and I spent hours making it.

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Maggie’s creation. YUM.

My sister, Patrice, is a joy to be around. She has an excellent sense of humor and an open heart. She always brightens a gathering or outing. 

Maggie, at age 11, is now 5ft. 5inches tall. She can lean on my shoulder. There is an old Italian-American adage that says you know your grandma is Italian if you can lean on her shoulder when you are 10 years old. Well, mine can. I am only 5ft. 3inches now. What’s scarier is that she, her mom and I all wear the same sized flip flops. YIKES.

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In order: Maggie, Stephanie, Me and my sister Patrice at a Jurassic Park event. We adults had more fun than the 11 year old Maggie.

These people have lightened my heart. As always, their love refills my soul with hope, love, and joy. Being so far from them is a true challenge. Thank the Light for the ability to chat face to face these days. Thank the Jetsons for showing us facetime phoning many years ago. I’m still waiting for flying cars. 

After returning home to Chiavari, a strange thing began to occur. Friends in Italy and Followers of Take Me Home Italy came to visit Chiavari, most for the first time.

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Sandi and Steven moved to Chiavari for one month and are considering a move here. They are wonderful people who I enjoyed meeting. They almost crashed the Kardashian Wedding when they chose that day to visit San Fruottoso. What a coincidence!

One of the highlights of our first day together was meeting Franco Casoni, Intagliatore (wood carver), our local artist in residence who’s medium is wood and is a unique character. He is most famous for his pasta presses cut from wood and made to order. 

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Sandi and Steven bought two custom presses and also received the pasta recipe with instructions.

We also enjoyed his studio filled with his unique, whimsical humor and talent. Here is a taste of it.

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I love the guy and am always thrilled when I can catch him at his shop.

On the 14th my friend Deb Larsen of Italy Unfiltered, a travel company specializing in winery experiences and the Crete Cenese area around Siena, decided to explore Chiavari with me. Her husband, Massi the Driver, stayed back in Siena to continue working. Deb and I had girlfriend time together. She fell in love with Chiavari.

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Deb enjoying her first Vermentino by the sea in Chiavari.

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When I picked up Deb at the train station, I accidentally ran into one of my followers, Shirley Hare (2nd from left), her husband and another couple who were staying in Chiavari and discovering some of my favorite places in the area. What a surprise! She said she recognized me by my smile. How sweet.

That weekend was the Chiavari Flower Festival. Deb and these four loved it. I attend it every year—however, this is the first one after the two -year Covid Lockdown. It was packed.

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The entire centro storico was covered in blooms. It is always a joy to experience each spring.

Before attending the festival, Deb and I stopped for true Ligurian Focaccia. Have a taste.

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Vermentino with that focaccia too!

Since Deb stayed for a few days, and we were on the sea, she wanted to indulge in as much fresh fish as possible.

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Deb and I enjoyed this fresh whitefish at Renato’s by the sea. It was phenomenal.

After our meal, we wandered along the lungomare, the promenade, enjoying the sea breezes and the views when we met two brilliant Brits enjoying huge gelato bowls. When they heard our American English, they invited us to join them. 

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They had great senses of humor, sharp minds and some visual impairment. Here’s Deb photobombing my shot. Giovanni lives part time in Chiavari—I have made a new local friend.

Deb and I had so much fun exploring my town, chatting with locals and with each other. Deb is another American living in Italy. She and Massi married several years ago and she is integrated into her life in the Siena area. But sometimes it is fun to speak English and talk about how our lives have changed. It is also fun to share drinks, new foods, new experiences with an American point of view for a change. 

One dinner we enjoyed sushi here in Chiavari. The food was very good but the servers and staff in general were not. I won’t name that place but there are a few sushi places here. Next time I will try another one. 

For our last dinner out, we stopped near the sea for the taste of Pinsa Romana. It is almost a pizza but not a pizza. The dough is made from a mixture of rice flower, soy flour and 00 wheat. The madre, the yeast that is saved and used, rises for anytime between 24 and 72 hours, making the crust quite fluffy and tasty. It was very tasty.

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My veggie pinsa. There was no way I could eat it all no matter how delicious.

The next day, It was time for Deb to return to Siena to her work and to her husband. We really did have fun without even leaving town. She promises to return once again and explore beyond Chiavari. I look forward to it. And, of course, I will return to Siena to see them and one of my favorite places in Italy.

For those of you seeking a special wine tour, cooking class or Crete Senese experience near Siena, Please let me know. I will put you in contact with Italy Unfiltered where, because they are my friends, they will treat you like family. Let me know.

There were so many more visitors in May that I must make this a two or three part series.

Until we meet again, live in the moment and dream of Italy!

A dopo!

Ciao for now!

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