2005 Letter from Ventimiglia: The next day we left early. The road down was much quicker than the drive up the hill because the instructions we had been given went the long way round. We drove to the mainland town called La Spezia where you get either the train or the boat to visit the five towns that are all built into the mountain next to the sea (which is why they are called Cinque (five) Terre (land). We had been told we could leave our motorhome at the railroad station, but that did not seem like a good idea to us. Someone might decide to see what things we have in it. Instead we planned to leave the vehicle at a secure campsite that was supposed to be right near the ferry dock. We drove a long time in that town and could not find the waterfront, let alone a campsite. There were almost no signs and those that were there had very small print. Without a safe place to leave the RV, we decided we’d have to leave that visit for another time, and we left for the last town on the Italian Riviera before you enter France. We had been told that on Monday, Ventimiglia would be a huge outdoor market – and you don’t have to tell us that twice. We love outdoor markets.

So we drove to the town, heading for a resort-campground in the outskirts that was listed in one of our books. On the way we passed a campground right in the middle of the town – so we changed our plans and stopped there for the night. We washed our clothes and hung them out to dry. Then we took a walk. We found the beach – all pebbles and no sand – and walked around the beach area, had our daily gelati and generally acted like tourists. After all, we’ve never been on the Riviera before.

One of the things that struck us both about Italy in general was that there are so few birds or other animals. We see pigeons and wrens, though not many, and don’t hear songbirds. But just as Adelle noted that there were no birds in the water, we walked back from the beach where there was a large area of brackish water on which were swans, several kinds of ducks and a few terns. It just goes to show that you should never make broad generalizations. But the fact is, we hardly see any animals – domestic or otherwise although there were some as we moved south. The farm landscape is nearly all crops.

Next morning we got ready to go to the market only to find that our original information was wrong. The market is only held on Friday. Disappointed, we walked downtown to go to the supermarket, and bumped into an indoor market that was nearly as good as any outdoor market. We bought too much stuff, walked a short way, and then found the supermarket. Ron still wanted to get a few things in the supermarket, so Adelle sat down with all the packages in a café across the street, had a cappuccino, and watched everyone go by. There were very few tourists in this area. Many passers-by were greeted by name, and most were locals. The time passed very pleasantly watching people go by.

So what conclusions did she reach from her observations from the café? First, that babies are adored by older siblings. It is a pleasure to watch them interact. The older children take care of the little ones, often kissing them. Second, that all those old stereotypes about elderly Italian ladies wearing black is a myth. There seem to be a lot of well dressed, swinging old ladies in Italy.

Before we left Italy, we had to buy some salami and a pannetone. That was the least we could do. There was a lot left to taste, but we couldn’t taste everything we saw because we just can’t eat fast enough! Arrivederci, Italia.

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