MORE LIGURIA On Thursday, most of the morning was spent trying to track down Betsy’s leather jacket that she left in the Alitalia first class lounge in Milan. Alitalia was of no help and we began to learn more about how things work in Italy. We gave up on that endeavor. Later in the day, the Luconis drove in from Tuscany to spend a day here on the coast. We had a nice dinner at Dal Baffo, a nice community pizzeria. This was followed by our usual nightly pastime of sitting on the promenade. Here is a picture of us with the Luconis watching all the people go by.

The next morning was spent arguing with the local laundry that ruined Lesley’s white blouse and slacks by turning them yellow. Their analysis after an hour of haggling back and forth was that the color changed because we had the clothes cleaned in the USA first and this interfered with their cleaning. I explained that this didn’t seem to be a problem with previous cleaning, but it was to no avail and their final solution was that I actually owed them more because they had to wash it twice to try to get out the stains they created. Welcome to Italy.

Because the weather was so beautiful, we decided to go to the beach. Here in Santa Margherita the beaches are mostly run by private companies that provide chairs, lockers, umbrellas and a clean beach. We found one right across the street from our hotel for ˆ8 per person and settled for the afternoon. It was calm and very hot and didn’t take long for us all to doze off. Once we were warm enough, we all went in the water to cool off. On the beach we were surrounded by young families with small children, tourists and a few honeymooners.

That evening we took the bus to Portofino, a short 5 minute ride. We walked through the small harbor behind the yachts and then climbed up to the path above the harbor that led to the light house. More hiking. The view was worth it. Then back down to the harbor for dinner. With the sun setting, the colorful buildings and the tiny harbor were a beautiful site.

On our return to Portofino later in the evening we found nearly the entire town out on the piazza watching the European Cup soccer match on a giant screen TV. It was a happening. This picture provides a glimpse of the people sitting and watching the game.

The next day we took a train to Forte dei Marmi, a beautiful 15 mile long wide sandy beach with bath clubs all along and elegant hotels. The streets are lined with the finest shops in Europe and we finally figured out where all the beautiful people of Italy have been hiding.

It’s a beautiful place and we plan to return the end of July. We returned to Santa Marhgerita and had a wonderful dinner at a local Pizzaria. The town was jumping with hundreds of young people at the clubs on the main drive along the promenade with music coming from the clubs and crowds clustered around the tables drinking and talking.

On Sunday we took the train to Riomaggiore in the Cinqua Terra. We strolled around and then decided to hike from here to the towns of Manarola and Corniglia. Each is isolated from the rest of the world except by boat, train or trail, though a high mountain road allows access to a few near the top. The towns are small with populations of several hundred living in splendid isolation except for the millions of tourists that come through each year to see the sights, eat the wonderful food (pesto is there specialty along with a tiny pasta called trofi), and hike the trails. As an illustration of the crowds, this shot is of the train platform opposite us at Vernazza prior to the arrival of the next train. They run almost every 30 minutes.

The scenery, both manmade and natural, was great. Here is a picture of Corniglia from the trail after we had walked out.

We walked on to Vernazza where we had a great lunch down by the harbor while a wedding was coming out of the church a few steps away. We took another shot from high on the trail after we had walked about 10 minutes out of the town.

From here we walked back to Monterosso and then got the train back to Santa Margherita. Once we were showered and relaxed, Betsy and Lesley with minimal assistance from me prepared a wonderful dinner of salad and pesto pasta with local wine. We finished it off with a walk along the harbor and then a stop for a tiny gelatto. Tomorrow, Monday, should be a day off. We’re tired of hiking for a while.