Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sepia Saturday: You Will Meet a Man

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt with its street scene in a Cornish fishing village takes me back to 2004 when my daughter Jordan and I took a trip to Italy. The narrow downward slope of the street reminds me of almost every street in the Cinque Terre.

Manarola in Cinque Terre, Italy 2004
THE street through Manarola in the Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre was our third stop in a 10-day tour that began in Rome followed by a weekend in Venice with my other daughter Zoe who was lucky enough to be studying abroad that summer. After we said our arrivedercis and ciaos, Jordan and I boarded the train for La Spezia located along the Ligurian coast. There we planned to hop on the local train to the town of Manarola where we had reservations at La Toretta B&B.

Unfortunately, we arrived in La Spezia too late to take a train to Manarola, so we hired a taxi. The driver deposited us in a dark parking lot at the top of the hill off the one main road that connects the five towns of the Cinque Terre. He assured us – in his broken English – that we would be safe finding our way through the town despite the total absence of lights. I am glad for the traveler’s tip to carry a penlight.

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy 2004
We followed the steep downhill path by an oratory, tall houses, a waterwheel, a church, and a bell tower into the piazza. We then followed signs to La Toretta along tight, twisted stone paths lined with vines and flower boxes. Our host greeted us (after repeated ringing of the doorbell – it WAS rather late!) and gave us directions to follow the road to the supermarket where we would “meet a man in the street” who would show us to our apartment.

A man in the street?? If this had happened in the United States, we would have been scared and possibly would have refused, but here in the Cinque Terre, it all sounded mysterious, funny, and even quaint.

Our apartment was cute and quite comfortable. In the Cinque Terre, buildings cling to the cliffs so it should not have been a surprise to find a huge boulder in the bathroom. I suppose their policy is if you can’t get rid of it, just build around it.

Jordan outside our apartment in Manarola

The rock in our bathroom
Beautiful blue tile though!

  [Please excuse the poor quality of my photos. These are pictures of pictures in my scrapbook.]

A look back at Manarola from the hiking trail

Clothesline system on the balcony of our apartment
Manarola 2004

In the morning, I was finally able to get a close-up look at the clothesline system that I spied only in flashes as we traveled by train. I wondered how clothes could be hung from a window. 

Since we allowed only one full day to hike the five towns, we started early. Around 10:00 in the morning, we wandered into a little bar just outside Riomaggiore. A large, friendly Italian tourist waved us in.

Jordan and a friendly Italian tourist
(although he doesn't look very friendly in this picture!)
Riomaggiore 2004

Not speaking any English, he gestured enough for us to understand he was encouraging us to order some wine and food. He even offered us a sip of his wine. Strangely, we accepted as if drinking out of a stranger’s glass was a normal and safe thing to do. He then offered Jordan a bite of his food. In her simple Italian, Jordan asked what it was. The gentleman turned to the waitress and asked, “Come si dice le acciughe a inglese?” She answered, “Anchovies.” Everyone in the bar laughed and roared in unison, “Anchovies!” as Jordan tried to find a polite and discrete way to spit it out.

We lingered a short while at this bar enjoying the atmosphere among locals drinking wine in the morning, but there was more hiking and more towns to visit before time to catch the train to our last stop in Florence.

Part of the hiking trail included this tunnel with windows.
You wouldn't want to miss the view!
Why not stroll the colorful streets of Sepia Saturday and partake of the delightful treats in story and photo? I doubt there will be anchovies.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. You had me at the title! What a marvelous time indeed and your photos are beautiful.

  2. What a special time - and great memories!

  3. Great memories, and amazing photos! I love the boulder in the bathroom. :)

  4. What an adventure! But it did look like fun and I'm sure you have wonderful memories from that trip!


  5. I laughed when you mentioned a rock in your bathroom. Not so unusual, that - even here in Calif., albeit in a mountain cabin my brother rented at Lake Tahoe one year. It is rather startling to walk into a bathroom & find yourself staring at a big rock right in the middle of it! :)

  6. I've always wanted to go there. Hearing your adventures reinforces my desire to travel there.

  7. Great photos and memories. Amazing that you only had one day to hike the towns and yet you went into a bar at 10 a.m. I'm surprised you got any hiking done at all! I quite like anchovies myself.

  8. Wonderful, and funny, memories. I would have been spitting anchovies out too - bleugh!!

  9. Wendy, you openend a pandora's box full of memories. Always looked at Italy, La Spezia, as my favourite second home. I love Anchovies!

  10. I think we remember adventures in exotic places better when we experience them in short concentrated visits. How does anyone ever live there all year round?

  11. Such a fun post and I felt like I was right there with you, experiencing it all.

  12. Isn't it strange how on vacation things that at home would have you think twice seem fine and dandy? I remember going out in Paris every evening to watch the police get ready for riots. Ahhh, Paris in the fall.

    Lovely little Italian town.