Ciao Italy!

With two days left, sore knees and thickening waistlines from all the delicious pasta and gelato, we decided to re-visit the Tower of Pisa. We both had been there in the seventies when it was still leaning precariously at 10.5 degrees. In the late nineties the bell tower was in danger of collapsing and restoration work started. After securing the building with cables around it’s third level which were anchored in a far distance, workers removed huge amounts of soil from underneath the raised end of the tower. Thus the lean was reduced by 5.5 degrees to a safer 5 degree angle. Additionally the outer surfaces of the tower and it’s beautiful Cathedral Di Santa Maria were cleaned and rehabilitated from hundreds of years of exposure to pollution and weather. 

How forceful the effect of weather can be we experienced after climbing the spiral staircase and exiting at the top level. A sudden windstorm blew with such a force through the lofty belfry that we had to brace ourselves against it and kids started to cry out clinging to their parents. It was gone as quickly as it came, and we could enjoy the marvellous view.

The last day we spent in Monterosso visiting the Oratory of the Dead. It bears witness to one of the two fraternities formed in the catholic church to withstand the growing influence of the Lutheran movement. The “Black fraternity” as it called themselves not only looked after funeral procedures but also took care of widows and orphans. Their sign was the skull, crossbones and hourglass.

Staying on the religious pilgrimage we then followed the path of the Capuchin monks up to the statue of Saint Francis overlooking the whole of Cinque Terre.

From here the path continues upwards to the small church, minded by the last Capuchin Friar and harbouring “The Crucifixion “ by the famous Dutch painter van Dyke. The ruins of the former castle on the very top of the hill houses the towns cemetery. Lots of fresh and artificial flower tributes placed at the white marbled crypts are showing respect and love for the persons passed.

In the morning we left Levanto on the early 7.59am train to Genoa where the Volabus took us to the airport well ahead of time for our return flight to Amsterdam. Only to hear at the check-in that the plane was overbooked by 10 seats and we might not get on. So we held onto our suitcases for dear life before getting the ‘all clear’ 20 minutes prior to departure. Phew! We didn’t know then that there was damage on the train tracks between Amsterdam and our home port and that we still had a long day ahead!

© Austin Robinson 2019