Thursday, 21 June 2012

Day 5: Wednesday, 13th June - Rapallo

After three days in the quiet villages of the Cinque Terre, with our return flight to the UK due in two day’s time, we moved on to the small town of Rapallo, in order to adjust back to civilian life before the impending chaotic nature of big city life in Genova arrives tomorrow! Rapallo is a small sea-front town with around 30000 people, and was once a popular resort on the Italian Riviera. Although it is no longer as popular as it once was, probably due to the advent of low-cost flights elsewhere for Italians, this actually improves the appeal of the place, leaving it feeling more like a usual town, with the added bonus of being by the sea, with a marina and the mountains closeby.

The area around the seafront is pleasant and airy, with numerous restaurants clustered together, whilst a couple of long streets and a number of meandering small alleyways with shops form the heart of the town. Surprisingly for such a compact place, Rapallo manages to back in bookshops, clothes shops, and shops selling traditional Italian food, drink and sweet goods, which for me made it quite an unexplored delight, with everything you could want that is Italian at a considerably lower cost than in the more commercial offerings in the villages in which we stayed – despite their quiet and solitary appeal, the presence of numbers of tourists has resulted in higher prices for everyday goods, something which Rapallo fortunately does not suffer from.

Along the waterfront, there are the remains of a small castle/fort on a small outcrop, which can be visited, although we didn’t go in. This enhances the unique appeal of the area, and is not the only interesting old relic to be found. On the main road leading to our hotel, there can also be seen a very old Roman bridge, to which I could not put a date but I would imagine it is certainly at least 500 years old. Due to its age and prestige, the bridge cannot be removed for legal reasons, and certainly looks unusual as tall vehicles cannot pass under it, and it does not fit with the modern design of the road, which was clearly wider originally under the bridge than the current road. Walking by the side of the bridge also reveals the bridge to be closed off with gates, suggesting either that it is unsafe to walk on (although it looks very sturdy) or it is an attempt to preserve it for a longer time. Nevertheless, it would be easy to climb over the side if one wished, although I did not attempt it.

Another attraction in Rapallo exists in the form of a cable car that whisks you up from one of the city’s suburbs to higher up in the mountains for a panorama over the city, suspended on a line in a small carriage. As my Dad didn’t fancy it however, I decided not to go on alone, especially as it was more expensive than the higher (and longer) mountain railway we were planning to take tomorrow. After finishing our explorations of the city’s back streets and narrow alleys, we returned to hotel where I spent some time on the roof terrace, which despite being four storeys high, had sensational views to the surrounding countryside, and was a very pleasant space to spend some time, despite the fairly strong breeze up there. All in all, a pleasant end to a very pleasant day.

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