Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Winding down

Sunday is my birthday, a laid back day. The church bells call to me and it feels fitting to attend mass at the small church a few steps from our apartment. The congregation numbers 30, mostly people in their 70's and 80's. The young priest is so animated in giving his sermon that everyone is completely captivated and I wish I could understand what he is saying. I am captivated by the beauty of the language. The old church has old wood beams, frescoes and well worn pews. Outside the church bells toll and inside, the organ and choir voices echoe through the church, though I see no evidence of a choir. The elderly organist serves multiple roles. A few men accompany their wives, open folding chairs on the side, and nap or read their newspaper. The only children in attendance, two young boys, take the collection. 
     We relax on our balcony for the remainder of the morning, then go in search of an atm to collect cash for the apartment. Who knew how difficult this might be! The only atm in Manarola is out of cash, as is the one in Riomaggiore! Finally, to our relief at the end of the afternoon, we make a successful withdrawal in Monterossa. 
     After taking sunset photos, we get to Dal Billy in time for our 9:15 reservation at their second seating. Dal Billy comes highly rated and we are seated on the balcony, down two flights of steep stone steps; there are no flat streets here! As recommended, we start with 12 tiny plates of seafood antipasti-octopus, cuttlefish, tuna, sashimi, razor clams, etc , then have seafood pasta and end with stuffed mussels and grilled sea breen. It is all fabulous. We develop a camaraderie with the group of 3 other couples, from Michigan, Italy, and Quebec, staying until midnight and chatting; the waiter brings out gigantic bottles of groppa, limoncelo and wine. What a great ending to our stay in the Cinque Terre and what a memorable birthday it is.


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