que bello!

We had two visits to Cipressa this summer, and both were lovely. My Opa (grandfather) bought a hundreds-of-years-old house in Cipressa, Liguria, Italy in the 1970’s, and vacationed here for the rest of his life. Since his death in 1998, my step-grandmother, Caroline, has continued to come stay in Cipressa often, and has good friends here. It is a very small town, with views of the Mediterranean. Originally, the plan was to meet up with Caroline here along with my mother. Sadly Caroline was unable to come out and meet us, nor was my mother, but Caroline sent us instructions for the house and had many phone calls with across-the-street neighbors, Rina and Franco, asking them to help us out in a variety of ways.

We flew from Geneva to Nice, planning to catch a train to Taggia in Italy, where Franco would pick us up and drive us to Cipressa. Due to a variety of shenanigans — traffic in Nice, the train station being in some kind of insane meltdown — we missed the last train to Taggia and ended up spending the night at the Best Western in Nice. Initially grumpy, we celebrated AMERICA by eating a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner while watching American Ninja Warrior YouTube videos. I am not kidding…and it was amazing.

Luckily the next day we had a lot of time before our afternoon train, so we enjoyed visiting the old town in Nice and even put our feet in the sea. It’s a beautiful town and we really enjoyed our unexpected stay there. After a brief train ride, we were in Taggia and met Rina and Christel, another neighbor. Christel speaks German and has been an immensely helpful translator because David and I speak about ten words in Italian, and Rina speaks continually. They drove us to Cipressa and Rina gave us a detailed tour of the house, explaining how various appliances work, where to find towels, and showing us that she had stocked the kitchen for us with eggs, milk, butter, peaches, and bread.

David and I enjoyed several very quiet days — long walks, cooking simple meals in the kitchen, lots of reading (me) and dissertating (David). I was slammed with a bad cold and spent several days mostly napping and listening to podcasts.

with Franco at the four hour dinner

Once I began to feel better, we took the Marebus down to San Lorenzo al Mare, where we spent a morning swimming in the sea. That night, we went to Christel’s cantina for a huge dinner cooked by Rina. Over four hours we ate many delicious courses, drank a lot of wine and beer, and enjoyed conversation in Italian, German, and a lot of gestures. It was a fantastic night and we finally went to bed at 1 AM with grins on our faces.

In the days following, we enjoyed many good times with our lovely Cipressa neighbors. Watermelon at Rina’s, a tour of Christel’s beautiful house (next door) and a conversation with her over pastries. We went with Rina to Santo Stefano and accompanied her through the street market — David wandered around examining various goods and I trotted behind Rina, carrying her shopping bags and weighing in on purses and dresses that she examined. (She ended up buying a nice beige purse that is machine-washable.) We then went to a small beach where we swam, got completely sunburned, and swam again when Franco arrived on his bicycle. It was a beautiful moment, wading into the water with this sweet, gregarious, Italian woman in her eighties, carrying her swimming flippers that she then put on and swam with. David and I swam out and back to a red buoy twice, and Franco told us that it’s 250 meters. Not a bad swim, really.

We then took our “Northern Europe” trip — Copenhagen, Sweden, and Cologne, Germany — before returning to Cipressa. More posts to come on those trips later!

Sadly on our way back to Cipressa the second time, David’s shoulder bag was stolen. The saddest bit is that it contained his camera, with photos from Sweden that we hadn’t yet backed up online. We will miss those photos, as well as David’s Kindle & some of our souvenir postcards and whatnot. However we were relived that we still had our passports and other important documents, and that we weren’t hurt. (We didn’t even see the thief — the bag just disappeared from David’s feet.)

After arriving at the house and comforting ourselves with big bowls of homemade carbonara, we focused on enjoying Cipressa once more. During our stay we tried both restaurants in the town (we preferred La Torre), went swimming in Santo Stefano, strolled around San Lorenzo al Mare, and had two big dinners in Christel’s cantina — one to say goodbye to her (where we met her daughter Annette and Annette’s two children, Leona and Max) and one just before David and I left. On our last afternoon there we were hanging out in Rina’s kitchen with Rina and Leona, and using gestures and Leona as translator, Rina insisted over and over again that the next time we come to Cipressa we must have a baby. She volunteered to watch said baby while we go to the beach. 🙂

Cipressa was so lovely and I was so happy to share this bit of my childhood and family with David. We’re excited to go back!