Dante and I wanted to go to the beach, but at the same time, avoid the crowds at Viareggio. So, after my medical appointment at Camp Darby, we headed north toward Cinque Terra. Dante knew of a little area called Tellaro where he thought there would be fewer people on the beach. Tellaro is a lovely little hill town just south of Cinque Terra. So it’s not so famous, and therefore less crowded. Knowing also that I tend to crisp up like a Freedom Fry, we looked for a place where he could sit in the sun and I in the shade. After parking the car and slathering me up with sunscreen, we walked down towards the water. We soon encountered a woman who was returning from her morning swim. Dante asked her about the lay of the land, and how to access the beaches. She told us that she preferred to sit on the rocks, and showed us the path that she takes. Then she explained in great detail that if we wanted also to go to the sandy beach, it was not very far away and there was a path over and through the rocks so that we could take a little passeggiata. On the sandy beach you can rent umbrellas (very important for me), and have access to bathrooms (also important for me). We could see the beach from where we were as well as the obligatory life guard and his little boat. Also at the beach, there was a little bar where you could get a sandwich and coffee (very important for Dante).
So, off we went to find the path through the rocks. After a couple of wrong turns, we did indeed find what looked like a path. We decided to take our time and just amble over to the sandy beach as we were told we could.
Now, since I’d joined Curves, and had been working out pretty regularly, I was in decent shape for a bit of rock climbing, but the closer we came to the beach (which we could see was only a few hundred meters away), the more difficult the climb on the rocks became. I was carrying a beach bag with towels, sunscreen, magazines, my wallet, etc. So every few feet, I had to hand the bag off to Dante so I could climb using all fours on the rocks. We thought of stopping at one point where there was a bit of shade, but the beach seemed so close…
Then we came to a part on the rocks that was near impossible to cross. Dante, acting as the point man, tried one way, and finding it impossible to pass, came back and tried another. This one, although navigable, was pretty hairy. Not only difficult, but dangerous as well. An actual rock- climb! But, as some of you know, I’m game for most anything, so after he climbed up, I handed him the bag, and pretending to be a cat (or maybe a goat), I scrambled up the rock as well. At this point, we found ourselves on the patio of a private villa!!!
The villa was closed (probably at least until the weekend), and there was no access to the street except from the inside of the house. On the other side of the patio, a set of stairs led to a dock. Through a window in a garage-like structure attached to the side of the house I could see a small speed boat, which would no doubt be tied up to the dock come the weekend. Though the curtains were drawn on the glass door leading to the patio, I could get a glimpse of the inside of the villa. It looked so lovely. Beautiful furniture and tasteful decorations left me thinking that if it had been Friday instead of Tuesday, I would have liked to stay there and wait for the owners to come. I’m sure they would have invited us to dinner after we told them the story of how we’d come to be stuck on their patio. But, alas, it was Tuesday.
There was a fence around the entire property with the exception of the part of the rocks from which we had come. I suppose whoever owns the villa thought that no one could come onto the property from that direction. HAH! But now our advance was halted! We were probably only 100 meters or so from the beach, but we were stuck there. There was no alternative but to swim from that point. Now, this would have been alright, except for the beach bag I was carrying and the big straw hat I had on. Turning around was not a good option because the last part of our climb was truly dangerous, and we were both a bit tired. This was during my sixth life, so I was already in my sixties and Dante is only two years behind me. We weren’t exactly what you’d call spring chickens.
We went down to the dock and Dante decided to swim to the beach and ask the lifeguard if he could borrow his little boat to come and get me! Dante stripped down to his bathing trunks and handed me his clothing and wallet to stuff into my bag. Dante was so funny! It took him about five minutes to lower himself into the water! He’s not the type to dive right in (which is the way I would have done it). But in he went, my hero, and I watched him from the dock of the villa as he climbed out of the water and approached the salvetaggio (lifeguard). Then I saw him swim back out to where the boat was anchored, so I gathered that he had talked the lifeguard into letting him use the boat. But, actually, he was bringing the boat into the beach for the lifeguard (I guess he didn’t want to get wet). Then the lifeguard rowed over to me and rescued me from the lovely villa (I could have stayed there a bit longer).
I apologized to the lifeguard for having to be rescued, and I covered my face with my hat, pretending to be embarrassed. But, in fact, I was having a great time! It was really funny! After we got to the beach, Dante asked him how much he owed him. But the Salveggiatto said “niente”. We then went up to the bar, which was part of a little hotel built right into the side of the hill, and had lunch. As it turns out, all these lifeguards actually work for the hotels that own the little private beaches. But after lunch Dante did hand the lifeguard some money. And I thanked him once again for rescuing me! We rented an umbrella and spent a few hours on the beach.
There were probably 10 people on the little private beach who watched the whole operation. Dante later told me that he explained the story to the lifeguard and pointing to me said; “See that lady with the hat on, over there on the dock? She needs rescuing!”
What a fun day! I’m still laughing!