Leaving the train station, we step out into the unimaginable beauty of the beach of Monterosso. Mountains rise up around us, blue water splashes over black rock beneath us and colorful, Terra cotta houses dot the mountainside. We take the walkway through a tunnel and arrive in the Plaza Girabaldi where we have reserved a small apartment for the weekend. As we wander the streets with our luggage, I begin to wish we had purchased an Italian phrase book prior to our arrival for it seems that, unlike Paris, not many people here speak much English and we speak no Italian. Fortunately, God arrives in the form of an older Italian woman who notices our confusion and immediately takes up our cause to find our lodging. (For CFers, think Ms. Rachel and Ms. Mary combined and suddenly Italian.) She quickly locates our destination only to discover that no one is there. She seems to take this personally and begins to help us locate a suitable alternative, all the while fussing passionately in Italian. In less than 20 minutes we are putting down our things in the cutest little studio apartment, with warm greetings from our new host, Gabriella.
Soon after we went in search of our first authentic Italian meal which can be summed up in three word - Oh...my...God!!! Spaghetti with pesto served with the most flavorful bread, olive oil and grated Parmesan I have ever tasted. We began to discuss how we might arrange living here - bringing Joel, setting up a school and starting Mission Year Italy. We feel confident that we have capable people in place to run things back in the states.
Dinner was followed by gelati, the wonderful Italian ice cream that is everywhere here, and a great nights sleep. Amazing.