This part of Italy is called “Cinque Terre”, or five towns. They are primitive tourist towns near a national park with miles of hiking trails, part of the Italian Riviera on the west side of the peninsula.
We had some bad luck – there was a rail strike on Sunday, which delayed our arrival, and then rains the night before last which caused them to close all the trails. The hillsides can be very dangerous.
Consequently, we rode the train yesterday to the five towns, Rigamortis, Corningware, Motorola, Vernazza and Monty Python. Those are not the real names (Vernazza, where we stayed, is the actual name), but that was the only way I could remember them.
Today we travel to Milan, and from there fly home tomorrow. It has been so much fun, but we’ve been gone so long. Italy is like a drug, with its climate and food and wine. The people are beautiful to look at and friendly. The place is affordable. unions are strong, and jobs like bus and train work, waiters and cooks are all held by Italians. There is no need for tipping, as the jobs pay well enough to support them, due to the unions. The trains run on time (when not on strike). The water is clean and fresh, the European coffee is a treat by itself. We don’t eat much, and locals don’t seem to either, so we don’t see too many overweight people (except Luca).
I hope you all have a chance to travel, as we have. We know we are fortunate souls.