We wake up with the rain tapping on the roof of the camper; the weather forecast warned us. We postpone the departure of an hour, hoping the weather improves, but the storm is waiting us. We go down the hill of the camp and we follow the road that flows between the waterfront and the hills, last uplands of the Maritime Alps. The rain starts to intensify, the drops turn into projectiles that hit our bare arms and legs, our feet are immersed and submerged in our water-soaked shoes. Within few minutes, the road becomes a big flood, water swallows the tires of our bikes. For twenty minutes we are submerged, even the cars are forced to stop to avoid to lose control.
Finally the rain returns to normal intensity, as always during this last week. The seventy kilometers to Levanto, however, are longer than expected: new unexpectedly long climbs continue to appear, tied up with a strong headwind and an abnormal cold that freeze our feet and hands, and this turns a relatively short stage into a torture. We hold on and reach the camp, to meet up with the camper to plunge immediately into a triumphant hot shower.
Tomorrow Michele will leave us to go round to Milan to fix his thesis. We will stay here and enjoy another rainy day watching the match of the National team.
Michele leave us at five a.m.. From Levanto Station, after the necessary stops, he will reach Milan to correct the thesis that, after each day of cycling, keeps him up at work even at night. After the meeting with the supervisor, he will come back on Monday, ready to get on the bikes once again.
Meanwhile we enjoy a quiet day with no alarm problems. We take a walk in Levanto, working a bit with the cameras. Back in the camp we do the laundry, which for days has infested the hold-bathroom of our camper. Then we watch the Italy’s match: as usual they lose…
In the evening we eat pizza down town, we plan tomorrow’s journey: the trip will be of only thirty kilometers, although it’s full of climbs. In the early afternoon we will meet Marzia, from the Cinque Terre National Park, which will lead us between the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site. We will sleep in a real bed, in a small house provided by the Park: Van Mac will stay alone in a parking lot above Riomaggiore.
We leave Levanto, without Michael who is still in Milan, I’m the only cyclist. The camper follows me close behind along the steep climb inland, but after just few kilometers the team car struggles, and the camper’s water boils: the camper team has to stop and allows the vehicle to stand. I take this opportunity to take a little advantage, I go up and reach a wonderful view; from up here the hills, like curtains, reveal to me the shining sea, in this first day of summer.
I keep climbing until I reach the junction that leads me on the Cinque Terre coast road. The vegetation on the roadside let the heat of the sun reach my legs. The sea is painted in different shades of blue and invites you to dive inside it. From this position I can see a long stretch of coast, where towns have their vital space between the steep sides of the mountain. I go back down, reached again by campers, who stop at every turn to film this landscape.
Where the mountain meets the sea, in a narrow inlet, there is the village of Riomaggiore, gathered all around its marina, with groups of retired old men sitting next to the boats on sandbars. The rugged hills around the bay obstruct the passage, isolating the country from the rest of the world, enclosing it in his own reality. The houses, narrow and high, are resting on the rock, perched on the cliffs.
We are greeted by Marzia. We leave the camper outside the town and we take equipments and food in one of the port houses.
In the evening we take “Via dell'Amore”, a path carved between rocky slopes that plunge into the sea, turning into cliffs; here the beauty of the landscape is almost moving. A short cocktail at sunset and then at home to rest.
Surpassing the porch and several flights of uneven steps, it seems to be in a nativity scene: we are smaller and precipitated in a paper village, we admire enraptured the fairytale image of which we are part.