The coastline of Cinque Terre is known as the "Italian Riviera". It holds some of the prettiest and remote towns on earth.
We took a couple of days to explore the towns and their beaches.
The villages cling so steeply to the cliffs. I've lived in small spaces and wondered how in the world I'd have a little garden. The people of those villages have figured it out.
No space is too small, just terrace it. Gardens cover the cliffs at every turn.
I loved these stairs to get up there. They aren't even wide enough for one foot in some places.
The cuisine is typically differing focaccias. Homemade flat breads with different toppings from grilled vegetables to olives, capers and cheeses.
We grabbed a few for lunch as we walked.
The cliff-sides were gorgeous and turbulent.
So of course my boys had to get out there and explore.
Then jump off into this area made for swimming. We paid no attention to those crashing waves.
There were a few others who were joining in the fun.
First, we were observers to the craziness.
Then I threw my camera down and we all gave it a try because our mantra had become, "We will never cross this path again so do it now."
So we did and lived to tell it.
Then walk around very wet.
Charlotte was a trooper climbing the steep roads but needed all the encouragement Eliza could muster.
I love those two.
They are so fun to watch together.
Again, that simplicity of the gardening. I spent so much time in my past gardens trying to configure bean poles and tomato cages. They make it look so easy to just use bamboo and sticks and twine.
Much prettier, too.
The road we drove from town to town was the most windy, steep, supposedly-one-way cliff clinger I've ever seen.
But it's not one way.
And Italians drive fast.
And they don't like to be in the rear.
And they'll pass any time, any where.
And sometimes that's in an RV or van.
And sometimes it's a semi truck that we wondered how the heck it got up there on those hairpin turns anyway.
And sometimes one car has to back up to make room for another no matter how far that backing may take or what obstacle may be in the rearview ... including on coming cars.
But we lived to see a view like this.
We drove, catching our breath at that view (and trying not to drive off the road) from Manarola to Monterosso.
We stopped in Monterosso for dinner and to check out their sandy beach.
The waves were not super friendly but we gave them a go anyway.
The beaches of Italy are very different. Most of them are privately owned by hotels and beach clubs. They fill them with umbrellas and rent out space.
It makes the sandy strand seem kind of crowded and takes away from the vastness of beaches which I love. Kind of sad.
We tried out Monterosso at sunset and high tide.
The water was so rough these girls clung to the permanently-placed, empty umbrella stands.
Annie and I tried out a photo on the rocky cliff.
It ended pretty much like you'd expect with some crying laughter because we didn't see that coming.
I love the beach. Newel loves the mountains.
So getting a turn to soak in summer sun and sand was a bit of heaven to me.
We took a couple of days to enjoy Viareggio.
There are a few public beaches that are so nice. I thought they were less congested and better maintained than some of the private beaches bordering.
The sand got so hot, Grant had to jump from shadow to shadow to get across it, and maybe that explains why they filled the sand with umbrellas and chairs leaving little open space.
Again, a little sad because I love the wide open of an ocean front, but you couldn't beat the blue clarity of the Mediterranean.
The first day we went, the sea was like glass. I thought it so odd not to see any waves at all. Kids were playing out on the water like a lake.
And the shoreline had patches of these pebbles that I just had to collect. Each one is a different color.
So stunning to have mountains meet the sea.
That day was a slice of heaven.
The second day, the wind was heavier and the coastline looked like a proper beach with great waves. No more glassy lake.
The boys were excited and took off running to body surf the waves. They didn't get very far before a lifeguard dug them out and yelled in Italian that they were not allowed in the waves.
The water was safely guarded and no one was permitted more than ankle deep.
That seemed pretty hard to police with so many people and sort of put a damper on the fun but we figured the lifeguards must have known something we didn't about a heavy undertow.
We did our best to comply but it seemed that every move we made to enjoy the edge of the water caused an upset. Not understanding the language or the rules, we made quite a scene standing on the sand being screamed at in Italian complete with mad hand gestures, over and over again.
Leave it to Linfords to make a scene ;)
Either way, we sure fell in love with the Mediterranean and the beauty of the Italian coast.