Sunday, 24 October 2010 21:31
Written by Gemma

In Italy, I have to concentrate here a lot more while driving because of the little motorscooters that zip in and out around your car. I missed one by an inch. These young boys on the bikes – mamma mia – they do crazy things – illegal and give you a heart attack!! We saw an 80 yr old woman on a motorscooter.  However she was more sedate!!! Ju laughed her head off!!! Here kids can ride a 50 cc at 14 yr. I guess ju would have one by now if she lived here. (glad we don’t live here now). Unfortunately my children say to me “But you rode a motor bike mum when young – why can’t we”???  I think if I lived here though I would get one again for the summer  as the drivers are a lot more used to bikes than we and finding a park is a nightmare for shopping and so expensive.

Driving here up to Liguria from Pisa nearly killed me with heart attack, from too much adrenaline. We came out of a big tunnel through the high mountains and there we were swaying in mid air on a suspension bridge thousands of meters up in the sky strung between two high peaks that dropped down to the sea. I made the mistake of looking out over the edge.  Wooohhhh!! screamed the kids. With that I had to start deep breathing as i suddenly felt sick.  It took all my concentration to think about following the lines on the road as i was absolutely terrified. I am scared of heights and it was simply terrible.

I had to pull over and stop when I could and calm down. It was one of the most fearful episodes of my life.  Then I had to get back in the car and keep doing the same thing for mile after mile. After every tunnel I knew I would have to come out to mid air. It was like a dread when I neared the end.   I was never so happy in my life to get to lower ground and get off those Ligurian mountains. I wanted to kiss the ground.  We are not meant to be air borne. If god meant us to fly....!!!!

I have to return the same way and do it again.  It is called ‘facing your fears’ . In fact trying to not think about it. It is my nightmare come true!!!  Merlin the wizard would be proud of me.!!!  These roads are incredible engineering feats.  The highest bridges with cement that drops hundreds of meters to the ground. I do not know how they build them- they are awe inspiring.  One thing for sure – i will never get a job doing that. I do not like even going up high buildings in a lift.

Liguria is incredibly beautiful.  The more regions I see in Italy the more beauty I see. Here it is rugged coastal cliffs dropping down to the sea with little villages on top. The roads wind around the edge and the scenery is breathtaking. Wish the kids could drive though so i can look at the scenery. Now i do not dare take my eyes off the road to look at the views. I might see how high we are and then ......

There were heaps of cyclists on the roads and the roads are so narrow that you have to go around them which makes it difficult.  Cinque terre was divine with no one there so we had all the villages to ourselves.  Want to return there to swim in the summer. No sharks – my heaven. I could even learn to scuba dive there – one thing I would not even attempt in Australia.  Imagine a sea with no sharks.....!! how lovely to be able to swim with no fear of dark shadows in the water and no rips. Yeh well there are no waves either but hell sharks or no waves. I know what i choose!!!

Liguria is where the focaccia comes from but here it is divinely soaked in tasty olive oil & not dry . They add all sorts of things to it as well like onion and potato and tomato. The kids just loved it. Imagine a whole shop devoted to different types of home made focaccia.!! One can smell these shops down the street and you only have to follow your nose.  I felt like the perfumier out of that novel ‘ Perfume’ for those of you who have read it – where the scent wafts for miles and you just have to follow it to find the bread shop. My pasta pouch has become a focaccia pouch so you can now call me ‘The magic pudding ‘ and leave it at that!!!

However we are proud to say that at Corniglia, Cinque terre, we walked up 382 steps to the town which is perched high up on the top of the cliff.  Now that is no mean feat!!! Normally I would avoid such an attempt at steps in Australia but the old Italians (like the hard working farmers and  Bernini, Michelangelo etc) were very smart and had good common sense and a great flair for design (however I do not know if that can now be said about modern Italians eg internet in Italy). In the old days here, they made great wide steps about 3 foot wide which are very easy to walk up.  I rewarded our great effort and all that exercise with a feast at a restaurant and after a magnificent seafood risotto  I could not move and wanted to find a bench for my siesta!!! I looked with envy at a homeless person sleeping on the park bench and thought for a fleeting second about pushing him off so I could have it.!!!

We spend half an hour choosing chocolates in the chocolate shop.....!!!( I do not know how the Italians stay so thin with such magnificent chocalate ) Then home for dinner when I start fantasizing about bringing someone with me  to cook if I ever do this again. ..The cuts of meat are so hard to work out as they cut the meat completely different to us.  Sometimes i just do not know what the hell it is.  I do know what is chicken though as they have their heads on – red combs and all.!!!  Then we all get into bed together with our "Twilight books" only I have to kick them out quite soon as my eyes can no longer stay open and I pass out in one second flat.