August 18, 2020
Please join me as my friend and I travel via Ferry from Chiavari in Liguria all the way to the town of Portovenere on the Bay of Poets. It is my first time taking this Ferry ride and it was worth every minute of it. Have you enjoyed a Ferry ride in Italy? Come along and see what you can discover while on the water and at your upcoming destination of Portovenere.
This is 2020, the time of Covid-19. We had rules for riding on the ferry: keeping social distancing of 2 meters apart, wearing your mask and being respectful of other travelers. We were fine with all of that if we could find seats outside and up front.
Time to put that mask up and board early. We found seats on the side of the Ferry where we could see all the hidden towns along our way. The wind blew away any feeling of heat (thankfully) as we coasted along.
We began passing many little Ligurian enclaves bordering the sea. Each town was a spray of color. Stone abounds in the water and alongside it.
All this stunning beauty was set against a background of mountainous farmland and vineyards.
We weren’t the only boats in the water. Pleasure yachts and sailing vessels were our companions.
And what was this? Was it an old fort? A castle?
I wish I could have explored those structures, the open doorways, all of it. But we were not on a private yacht. We were with the locals, families, and individuals from all over Europe. We would stop when we reached our destination.
We passed Cinque Terre along the way. Here is one photo from the sea.
These Five Towns are always beauties to visit. Yet, all along the coastline there were many just as lovely with less tourists. And as we pass Cinque Terre, our two-hour ride is nearing its destination of Portovenere.
This photogenic coastline of tall, brightly colored row homes with the castle looming above is so memorable.
The ancient Church at the head of the precipice and the ancient walls are stark in comparison.
It’s time to explore. No, wait! We needed to leave early to catch the Ferry and neither of us had eaten breakfast. It is now almost noon. We left the boat and wandered along the waterfront seeking out a restaurant. We decided on Trattoria Iseo and, since we were early, got a table with a view.
Here’s the menu.
We were early and did not expect excellent service because of that. We ordered acqua frizzante e vino bianco a casa, sparkling water and house white wine, plus our meals. We had our drinks right away and the house wine was surprisingly good. My friend, Sandy, ordered this and loved it.
I ordered a cutlet meal that included French fries.
We did enjoy the meal and cooled off in the shade. We made our plans for exploring the island and asked for il conto, the bill. That’s when the fireworks began.
Our waiter brought a bill and double charged me for the French fries. When I pointed it out, he said I was wrong. I got angry and said rather loudly, “NON e` Vero! Guarda il menu`!” (That’s not true. Look at the menu!) I walked to the menu on display and he didn’t bother. He accepted the 5 Euros off but no apology. I know every business owner is hurting as they have been closed for months without income. I had planned to tip him 5 Euros. But he heard us speaking English and, I think, chose to try to make a few extra Euros. He had no idea we could read or speak Italian. I would not recommend Trattoria Iseo because of this and because the food was decent but not great.
After our lunch, everything went quite well. First, we walked to the main shopping street that we both recalled from our separate visits before this one. There were more people here.
There was very little shade and it was a very hot day. But it was worth it.
While Sandy was on the hunt for a certain shop for spices, we found a shop with pasta for curtains.
So Italian touristy. I loved it just the same, especially with the bike in front.
This narrow, winding street, filled with shops and hanging laundry, led to the sea straight ahead or, alternatively, down these stairs.
We took the path straight ahead and ended here.
We were on our way to the church and the medieval walls.
The entry doors are incredible.
The views from the church are lovely.
While we were in the church, I could feel the centuries of devotional prayers that had been shared here.
After exiting the church and off to the left is the famous Byron’s Grotto.
The plaque commemorates the time Lord Byron swam to Lerici to visit his friend and fellow writer, Percy Shelley and his wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. They were great friends. This section of water, The Gulf of Poets, is named for them and other artists who chose this area as their home.
And you can see why.
Byron’s swimming hole.
With the Castle Ruins above.
The composition of Portovenere appears to be a work of art—ancient and 19th century construction. Color and concrete. Stones from Earth’s history and young and old alike sunbathing on them.
Portovenere is a joy to behold and explore. I could have stayed longer but our Ferry was about to take off for home.
The ride back seemed a bit shorter. I felt contemplative for a good part of it. It takes a while for all I see and experience to sink in. Do you feel the same way?
Then, there was one obnoxious person on the outer deck near us who acted as though she was on her own yacht. She was wearing a sundress over a swimsuit—I hope that was a swimsuit—who insisted that we were not 2 meters apart. I would respond to her by saying “Dov’e’ la tua mascherina?” ,“Where is your mask?” She would not answer. Nice people would walk out on the deck to take photos and she would try to send them away. Those Italians, those nice people, would just roll their eyes when she finally stopped talking.
Toward the end of our journey, I do not know how this all happened exactly. I guess I was tired of her behavior. Lei non fa una bella figura! She was not behaving well and looking her best. Her dress began to blow up over her behind, up to her upper midriff. We could see everything. I let her annoy me until it was just too much. I grabbed her sundress, yanked it down and said, “Signora, BASTA!”, “ Mrs. Woman, ENOUGH!” My friend laughed behind her mask so hard she nearly fell off her seat. But the Signora kept her dress from blowing over her shoulders, thank God.
It was a wonderful experience overall. If you have not enjoyed a ferry ride in Italy, you could add one to your next Italian adventure. They are (in most cases) quite pleasant, filled with fresh air and sea spray. If you are in Liguria, the coastline is unmatched and well worth the ride. Maybe we could go together. Until then, stay healthy and dream of visiting Italy when you can.
Ciao for now!
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