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RAINY RAPALLO
Apparently the time to skip Italy, if you want to avoid the tourist jam is July, August & September. What luck for us, then, that we chose to go the first week of November. The weather could have cooperated just a teensy bit more, but we had some sunshine at the end, so we were happy, and after all, rain in Italy on vacation is better than rain at home, right?

The place we stayed was an apartment building up the hill in the west coast town of Rapallo. It belongs to the parents of my colleague, Sara, another love refugee in Sweden. We flew down on Sunday night to Milan, picked up our rental car and zoomed through the darkening evening south to the coast. Anders, who has been in Italy over 10 weeks this year alone (for work) isn't scared of driving on Italian roads, despite my relating a news story my mom had read in USA Today just the week before about Italy being 3rd highest on the list of countries where American tourists die in traffic accidents (Mexico was first).

Rapallo had the feel of a town recovering from a long summer of tourists. Even though there isn't actually that much to SEE or DO in Rapallo, it's on the coast of Italy! There's a little castle built out in the harbor and the entire seafront is lined with palm trees and huge mosaic sea creatures along the sidewalks. It rained pretty much the entire day after we arrived and it was our totally-take-it-easy day, as I had arrived the day before from Boston and was pretty jetlagged. It was relaxing to just walk around and explore our home base, eat delicious Italian gelato at a little piazza in the center of the old town and walk along the waterfront.

Right around the corner from the apartment building was a huge urban cemetery, surrounded by a high white wall. We could see the tops of tombs and mausoleums jutting above it, and during the day, there were a steady stream of visitors going in and out, and the little flower shop conveniently located just across the street from the back entrance was doing a booming business. As we walked down the street, I was very puzzled by several high buildings on the far side of the cemetery that seemed to be full of small windows, filled with flowers and red & white candles, until we got close enough to see that they were actually graves! The lights twinkled late into the night and the kids couldn't decide if the graveyard-apartments were cool or creepy.


All the buildings in Italy, unless they're cathedrals or ruins, seem to be painted in candy colors and to have been built around the same time. There was a remarkable uniformity to the buildings everywhere we went. We ate gelato at the cafe just under the umbrellas. Pistachio & chocolate: YUM!


Even the manhole covers are works of art in Italy! The ones in Rapallo's old town featured dolphins, sailboats, starfish and waves!


The Castello sul Mare (Castle-on-the-Sea), erected in 1551 to counter the frequent pirate attacks. It includes a small chapel dedicated to St. Cajetan, built in 1688.* The model in front of it was on the boardwalk with an information plaque and a couple of blackly rusted cannons.






Shark! We also saw a lobster, a whale, and a stingray along the waterfront.

(All photos copyright Anders Ek)

Sugarcone Sweet Belated Birthday Wishes to 1222, vember and Eva!

*Source: Wikipedia
 contemplative
mood: contemplative
music: Marie Digby—Breathing Underwater


Comments

Palm trees! Sounds nice to get a break someplace new, even if it is rainy.

It was rather surprising at first to see palm trees, actually...I wasn't expecting them, for some reason!

Those artsty manholes are positively awesome!!

Aren't they beautiful? The little castle is on them, too!

(Anonymous)

So beautiful!!

Mia

http://mias.blogg.se
http://www.meraord.se

It's a beautiful country!

rainy or not, it's beautiful! this post makes me really want to go back...(swoon). so much history there. love the idea of the grave apartments...how odd! cute pic of the kids. xo

And that was just the first, rainy, day! More to come :)

(Anonymous)
Joy here

How nice- your story of Italy and the photographs. :)

Did you happen to take any pictures of the apartment graves? I am trying to picture this... was it just a wall like apartments? Or ?

I am glad you had a good time!

Re: Joy here

We didn't, actually. I wanted to, but every time we were near the cemetery it was pitch black in the evening (you could see the candles flickering) or there were a lot of people around, and it felt sort of rude and sacrilegious to be taking photos then.

Great photos! I'm so jealous!

You should totally get over here, STAT!

Great pics. Your children are starting to look so grown up.

Aren't they? It's freaking me out a bit!

I love the colors of the buildings. and the manhole covers. Practical things can to be artsy! Why not, right?

Why not, indeed! Here's to beautiful functional things!

Here, here!!

(Anonymous)
ciao bella!

oh that is so cool--- that manhole cover! gee whiz-- but you addressed my core fear-- driving on the roads-- I have this plan where I only go where i can travel by train-- am a weenie, I know.

smooches, bp

Re: ciao bella!

Well, if Anders hadn't been driving and we hadn't had GPS, I sure wouldn't have dared driving there. The train was a breeze, though :)

Karin looks so old in that picture!

She's practically a teenager, eek!

(Anonymous)

Amazing - makes me want to go back to Italy soon! And I was wondering - does your family speak Swedish together, or English, or a mixture of both? In other words, would they think you were Swedish or American tourists in Italy? Glad you had fun!

-Heather

If I'm around, it's mostly English, wish some Swedish thrown in. The kids speak Swedish with their dad, and they switch back and forth between themselves depending on what they're doing.

(Anonymous)

That's so cool.

I stand by my vacation philosophy: When in doubt, go to Italy.

Haha! Mine is Holland! :D

From Megsie

I love these photos, and the manhole cover. Why doesn't everyone do that? It makes even the mundane interesting, and beautiful! I really love the buildings, and love how you described them as "candy colored" yes! I love that. I would be scared to death to drive there, but I would love to go. I have never been across the pond. It makes it overwhelming to think of going, because where do you even start?

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