Liguria: Almost Under the Tuscan Sun

I recently spent five days in Italy. Two days were dedicated to Northern Italy's mountainous Liguria (northwest of that infamous Tuscan region). The topography was so reminiscent of the Rocky Mountains (where I grew up) that being surrounded by such familiar mountain peaks felt like being home.

We stayed in what was once a strategically located castle compound - tucked up high on a mountainside in what is now a rural commune.

Here's Howard, one of our hosts, leading the way in what is a favorite local pastime: walking the trails.

Seriously, this could be a replica of the canyon behind my house in the Rockies.

Now this I've never seen before: a branch of a prehistoric pine tree perhaps?

On a clear day . . . the view from atop our castle commune.

The best sort of clothes dryer.

Fantastic old rock and a wonderfully weathered blue door - with mountains to match.

Below, a shot of our lovely hosts, Howard and Ina, who were entirely good sports, and patiently waited for us to catch up to them on more than one occasion.

Indulging my request to present the free water for the camera.

Besides a few foreign interlopers like Howard and Ina, the compound residents are mostly the sort of locals like the man above, who were born, raised, and never left - I always find it so comforting to encounter such breathing proof of a simpler life.

As seen inside a creek side tavern of the variety you would never find unless you had extraordinary locals like Howard and Ina as your guide.

Limoncello con and senza crema.

A jar of beautiful local miele!

Whimsical restaurant interior.

The dignified ritual of decanting an illustrious red into a truly magnificent heirloom of a decanter.

No, it does not matter who you are, or what you are willing to pay, this delightful decanter is not for sale. (Much to someone's - and my - dismay).

Oh, what was a torturous moment for this vegetarian: cured swordfish (of all types of pesce, still one of the most ethically questionable . . .) compliments of the chef. I do hate being outrightly rude, especially in front of new aquaintances, especially in a foreign country. It was chewy and tasted like salt.

The romantic stoll afterwards, however, made up for it.

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