Such a beautiful town, with amazing hospitality…
As I walked into the village (or rather climbed — up rocks) I saw the owner of a restaurant standing outside waving at people. She wasn’t doing anything and she most definitely wasn’t telling people to come into her restaurant. She was just standing outside smiling at tourists (who are also mostly Americans) and she was just talking to them about their journey and about their life.
Here, I saw something that I didn’t see in Florence, something that I saw a lot in Rome… That kindness and hospitality go a long way.
My friends and I ended up having a late lunch at this restaurant. It was amazing and I walked out of that place feeling like I was at somebody’s house. The restaurant had three floors. The first was a bar, the second the restaurant and the third was their home.
These people, this family that was serving us (because we were the only ones in there) were serving us from their own home — where they cooked and slept and took care of their daughter. It was so personal and so amazing and completely different than anything I’ve experienced in Miami or Rome or Florence.
To think that a family would open their own home to strangers — just to serve us a hot lunch in a relatively cheap environment — really amazes me because I don’t think it happens anywhere else. That’s what it all comes down to… The fact that I’ve found people, complete strangers, who will happily talk to me and ask about my life is striking. It’s something I’ve simply never found elsewhere — which isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist; it just means I’ve never experienced it.
In Miami, as well as in Rome and Florence, restaurants and places to eat aren’t ever this personal. For instance, I’ve never met the owner of a restaurant and I’ve never met the owner’s family before.
I met this one, as well as his wife and little girl.
Cinque Terre has five villages. Corniglia is just one of the five and the most popular one is Monterosso.
Though they’re relatively close to one another, there are huge differences between the two. On one hand, Monterosso is extremely touristy and has Americans and Asians and Australians everywhere (these are just the different types of people I spoke to, but there are obviously many more).
Corniglia is different. Yes, there are tourists but it’s a lot less concentrated than in Monterosso. Where Monterosso is loud and crowded, Corniglia isn’t. Where it’s packed with stores, Corniglia isn’t. Where it’s heavily populated in the beach areas, Corniglia isn’t.
The Corniglia beach was different than any of the other beaches in the villages. To get there, you had to walk about a mile through a pitch-black tunnel through the mountains. The water was aqua-blue and I counted a total of six people there.
My goal for this time in Cinque Terre was always to find a place where I could encounter peace, tranquility and quiet. A place where I could reflect on my own life and on my perspectives on different things — both personal and educational. And I found that. I found all of that in this village, in this town.
And that’s something I could never have found in any of the other places I’ve been to on this trip.
Through this time, I’ve realized that I’m coming back to Miami as a different person. That I’m coming back completely changed, which means that, once I get back, a lot of things are going to change for me.
I’m glad about that.
Next stop: Venice.
Featured Photo Credit | Venice Smith | Sept 11, 2012