This place. I have been trying to return here since 2006. Monterosso al Mare.
After spending most of the day stuck on a platform in Genova dealing with a train strike, then getting on the replacement train – going the wrong way – we started hugging the Italian coast and the Ligurian Sea dazzled me with its deep blue hue.
We stayed in old town at Hotel Pasquale which is built into the side of a hill. The fresh pastries during breakfast were fantastic and our room opened to the sea (it’s one of those on the second floor). From the looks of things, they have renovated since we visited, and raised the rates accordingly.
The seafood was phenomenal. Each morning when we opened our windows, we saw fishermen selling their fresh catches right there on the seafront.
Boats parked on the shore at night.
On October 25, 2011 Monterosso suffered catastrophic flooding and landslides that completely devastated the village (as well as its sister village Vernazza). The entire population (roughly 1,500 people) banded together to help each other, clear impossible amounts of debris, and rebuild their beautiful community.
We were lucky enough to be in Monterosso in 2006 when Italy won their fourth World Cup – 24 years in the making. We got a taste of how close the locals are with each other and how passionate they are about their football!
We were dining at Via Venti during the game and enjoyed sitting outside, listening to the village watch the game.
Via Venti was one of our favorite restaurants in all of Italy. The gnocchi was out of this world – freshly homemade. They also worked with my dairy allergy and had a great wine list. We ate there three or four times and became friendly with the family who owns and runs the restaurant.
After the win, our waitress, Ilaria, came outside with the Italian flag and said it was tradition to hold it above our heads. I was pretty wrecked from a day of kayaking from Monterosso to Vernazza and back, so I guess I didn’t hold the flag up high enough (which I didn’t realize until I saw this photo). Oops!
Since we were engaged at the time, we actually looked into the possibility of getting married in this gorgeous church. It is the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista – Church of St John Baptist. Since we’re not Italian, sadly this wasn’t an option, but the dream was nice.
I loved being there so much that I canceled two nights in Florence, where we had great accommodations, close to a plethora of museums. I felt at home in Monterosso and did not want to leave, so I canceled with only enough notice to get a refund for one night. It was an impulsive decision, but I followed my gut and I’m so glad I did. Florence isn’t going anywhere.
We were sad when it was finally time to leave, but we had one last round of the local (Cinque Terre) drink, Sciacchetrà.
Have you been to Monterosso or Vernazza since the flooding occurred? Leave me a note in the comment section – I’d love to hear about your experience.
May your journey be your muse,