Musings on the Enchantment of the Italian Riviera

with 26 Comments

What is it about Italy that makes this Celtic-heritage redhead eager to spend precious travel time there?

Speaking little of the romance language… rolling out a buon giorno, a buena sera, a prego and grazie…somehow these words see you through your journey. You point at a menu and stumble out an American version of the name, misinterpreting the accent, yet the Italians understand. You pull out a map and indicate the street you’re trying to find and the passerby helps you along your way.

Is the attraction the light, delicate pasta?

Ravioli sage & butter

The elegant ravioli or tortellini melt in your mouth before you tear into them with a bite. The fresh salads and aromatic herbs tantalize your tongue, while the clarity of the wines and boldness of their flavors satisfy.

 

 

 

 

Or could it be the simple togetherness?

Ladies on a Bench

The oft times too curt and casual habit in my country of diving in to ask an employee where the peanut butter is, falls quickly away as you wander through Italian stores. Here, you are gently welcomed by a person uttering a greeting to match the time of day. You learn to respond in kind and venture out a polite inquiry of, “English?” Only then do you move forward with your question. You are locked into an encounter of connectedness with a person you may never see again. How vital that one-on-one moment is in this day of divisiveness.

Perhaps it is the brightness of the smiles from a wide age range of locals?

Smiling red hat lady

At times they can look overwhelmed and serious (most likely wondering what the tourists are doing there). What you’ll discover is that if you make eye contact and volunteer a smile, you’ll receive a broad grin in response. Isn’t it great that a universally known gesture is a smile?

 

Maybe it’s the crystal clear coastal views stretching from Genoa to La Spezia.

Rapallo - sea side

The Italian Riviera lands captivate your vision and retain little pieces of your soul long after you leave. The fresh air from the Ligurian Sea fills your nose with crisp, salty aromas and brushes hints of the conjoining Tyrrhenian, and farther away, Mediterranean Seas against your skin.

For this Christian architecture-lover, the churches draw me in—every time, in every town.

Sanctuary of Montallegro

I wander in awe, light a candle for those lost from me, sit and pray for friends facing struggles, and close my eyes to ponder the people who have worshiped here for hundreds of years.

Ah, yes to traveling in Italy…

Italy, from the food to the people to the age-old structures, is a complex country that is best enjoyed simply. Savor the length of time you’re given to eat your lunch or supper. Look at the people taking pleasure in life and be aware that they are living their daily routines with delight while you are on holiday. Marvel in the rigid trail you’re hiking that was, maybe, could-have-been, built by Romans as they traversed the heavy woods.

This country, younger in its unification than America, is best taken in wholeheartedly. Embrace it, relax into the pace, and let the myriad parts of it seep into you, erasing stress, experiencing life in the moment you’re living it and truly realize that communication and community between peoples come from seeing each other, truly seeing each other, when the words between us differ.

 

Next: Italian Riviera Foods


Also published on Medium.

26 Responses

  1. William Rusho
    | Reply

    What a beautiful place, it looks perfect.
    The architecture seems to be breathtaking, and so is the view.
    Thanks for sharing this with us, and I look forward to more posts about your trip.

  2. Emily
    | Reply

    Oh I am so jealous. I was supposed to go to Italy in January last year while travelling around Europe but unfortunately an unexpected turn of events saw me cancelling the last leg of my trip, which was in Italy. I am glad I got to have a little taste of it though through this post.

  3. Jamie Schroder
    | Reply

    Beautiful descriptions and photos as always Rose and I can’t wait for the day when I get to explore some of Italy! You’ll be with me in spirit.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Thanks, Jamie! I’m eager for when you get there as well. Italy is waiting for you!

  4. Erica
    | Reply

    Now I really want to go to Italy. You make it sound so relaxing. My mother did a semester in Italy while in college. Her childhood best friend did that same program and still lives there to this day. She’s invited me to come stay in her guest home, but I’ve never done it. But this makes it seem very tempting.
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    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, Erica! Take advantage of that offer and get to Italy! Which region is she in? I love that your mom maintained that connection. That’s wonderful.

  5. Jeannette Paladino
    | Reply

    Being of Italian heritage, I love all things Italian. I’ve been to Italy several times but not in many years, the last time with my beloved late husband. I’d love to return…someday.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Jeannette, the heritage connection is great and I’m glad to hear that you’ve been there many times. I’m glad that you got to share such a great trip with your husband and will say a prayer that you get to go back. Soon.

  6. Phoenicia
    | Reply

    Italy looks like a beautiful country. I am yet to visit and taste the rich cuisine!. The photographs of the Italian Riviera and church are equally beautiful – you have captured their beauty.
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    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Thank you for the photograph compliment, Phoenicia. I passed that along to my husband since he takes 90% of them for me. It’s so gorgeous–pop on over the channel (and okay, a couple of other countries) and check it out. Lovely.

  7. Ken Dowell
    | Reply

    Your descriptions pretty well captures the feeling of Italy. It provides an energy but one that gives you a sense of being at peace.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Well said, Ken. I missed not seeing Milan this time, but we sure filled up the trip with other special places.

  8. Lenie
    | Reply

    Rose Mary – instead of calling your travel posts ‘Musings from a redhead’, you should call it Rose Mary’s Travels – Making friends around the world. I love how you focus first on the people of the countries you visit and then on the scenery, architecture and food. Sounds like another successful trip for you.
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    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Lenie, that is so sweet of you to say! I do love meeting new people and learning about their lives–we’re all so different and we’re all the same. It amazes me every time. It was a successful trip, to be sure! Lots more pics coming.

  9. Marquita Herald
    | Reply

    I absolutely LOVE Italy! Well, everything except the taxi drivers. Anyway, incredible history, food and on my first trip there I fulfilled the dream of a lifetime when we visited Pompeii. Amazing! I met Omar Sharif there – we were having a drink at the bar and he sat next to me and winked at me! Oh yes, thanks for bringing back some pretty great memories RoseMary. 🙂
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    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Oh gosh, Omar Sharif! Really, Marquita? What an incredibly fun thing to have happen. He was always a favorite of mine. Pompeii? Had to be amazing. Our friends there keep insisting that the next trip has to be Rome and Sicily. Okay by me!

  10. Donna Janke
    | Reply

    Beautiful description of the spirit of Italy. It sounds wonderful to enjoy it simply. Relaxing into the pace and feeling seeing each other is a good way to be anywhere!

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Thanks, Donna. I feel so much more able to be in the moment when I’m in Italy and in Wales–there’s something about those cultures that really gets into me. I’m sure other places do, too, I just haven’t discovered them yet!

  11. Doreen Pendgracs
    | Reply

    I, too, love Italy, Rose. The food, wine, great chocolate, friendly people, and breathtaking vistas are just a few of the reasons.
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  12. Jeri
    | Reply

    I would love to explore Italy one of these days and take in a country that enjoys just being more than America tends to, not to mention the food alone!

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      “Just being,” is a good way to say it, Jeri. We crazy, rushed American folk could truly learn a thing or two about living in the moment if we really let time in Italy seep into us. You WILL get there!
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      • Stacey
        | Reply

        Hi Rose Mary, I feel the Italian Riviera calling me. It looks so beautiful and restful! My father’s family came from Calabria and now I want to go more than ever! Stacey

        • Rose Mary Griffith
          | Reply

          Stacey, I urge everyone who feels that Italy-pull to indulge in it and check it out. It is a beautiful country with a rich cultural history, butt-kicking hiking trails and food…well, oh YUM! Let me know if you go and check out the Calabria area.

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