|We awoke this morning to rainy weather and to see the locals still moving the boats out of the harbour and onto the piazza but I had one thing on my mind – traditional Sicilian pastries for breakfast!
We arrived at Pirata to a warm welcome from Luca, who spent most of his time in the kitchen last night – they must alternate roles. Luca greeted me with a 'hello beautiful', which is always a nice way to start the day! We then got the same query from Luca that we did from Massimo – are we married! When we said no, Luca looked at Daryl and said 'What?... why not... she's beautiful... You better hurry up!! I couldn't help but laugh – I do like these guys... Great pastries and flattery, what more could a girl ask for! Speaking of the pastries... Oh, so good! We both had the recommended panzerotto, which is made of ricotta, cinnamon and vanilla and without a word of hesitation, I would say it was the best thing I'd eaten so far on the entire trip! Our pastries were accompanied by orange juice that was actually freshly squeezed from an orange – pulp and pips included!
After my morning ego boost, we popped back to our room to contemplate our movements, given the average weather but then proceeded to spend a good hour watching the locals still moving the boats out of the harbour. By this stage, they had filled up most of the piazza with boats, blocking in some of the delivery cars that bring in fresh fruit etc. There was a bit of an argument between the fruit van (who might be infringing some copyright laws, as he has a picture of Papa Smurf on his van) and one of the locals moving the boats, as the poor fruit guy couldn't get out – he was blocked by boats! All rather amusing. We have surmised that they moved the boats out of the water in anticipation of rough seas due to the weather, as there was also now a red flag up on the breakwater. We later saw a postcard with a massive wave breaking right over the top of the entire breakwater which confirmed it for us!
After we'd finished watching the people move the boats, we headed back on the hiking trail from Vernazza to Monteroso but as the weather was still a bit poor, we decided not to go too far. With all the poppies around, I couldn't help but think of my Grandpa. He was in Italy during the 2nd World War, so I picked a poppy from the side of the track and put it between the rocks of the man-made retaining walls that help create the hiking paths, making sure it was a spot with a spectacular view over the town of Vernazza. I imagine Grandpa would have been quite impressed with the Italian building techniques – building a three-level house on the side of a cliff has got to be difficult!
Vernazza basically sits in a valley, with mountains all around it, so after we got back to town from our little hike, we headed up the stairs on the other side of town, to get a closer look at the medieval castle that overlooks the coastline. Seems the Cinque Terre towns were the subject of regular pirate raids a couple hundred years ago, so each of the towns has a castle high on its hill, so that they could see the Turkish Saracen pirates coming and warn each other. Even with the bad weather, the view from the top of the castle was awesome.
After our castle visit, we headed to the breakwater and bumped into Matt and Michelle again. We chatted with them and a few others for quite a while, watching more locals jumping into the waters by the breakwater and riding the waves back up. The waves were so high now, that some of them were landing on their feet on the breakwater!
Matt and Michelle were interested in living in Australia, so we chatted with them about the economy etc but Michelle also mentioned that Americans are obsessed with Aussies – apparently they love our accents and our colloquialisms and she was curious as to what we thought about them – did Aussies hate Americans? I thought it interesting that she thought we might not like Americans. I told her Aussies love everybody, unless they're beating us in sport, which is the only time we get patriotic! I also told her that I hoped Americans didn't think we were all out there wrestling crocodiles and yelling 'crikey'. (No offence to Steve Irwin fans intended). Of course, about 2 minutes later, Matt pulled out the video camera and asked us to say hello, so Daryl threw in a 'G'day mate' ... No doubt just to embarrass me but they loved it!
Alas, Pirata was closed for dinner today, so we grabbed some pizza and took it back down to the breakwater to eat. Matt and Michelle joined us again and we chatted for quite a while. An Aussie couple sat down next to us, so we started chatting with them too, though later on, Matt and Michelle mentioned that they found it hard to understand them! Melbourne-ians... A little too ocker for the Americans!
The waves coming over the breakwater had been building all day – some of them were going right over the top of the breakwater and making it to the harbour on the other side now.