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Friends in Beautiful Places...

One of the best things about being a rower is having friends in gorgeous places. Think about it...we're always near of Nature's most photogenic elements. We are ON that water, often at the most gorgeous moments of the day...sunset or sunrise. We are all gorgeous, strong human beings (in our minds anyway, as we row along in the water..). We are surrounded by beauty.

Yesterday was no exception. We needed to do some research for our Cinque Terre trip coming up in May and so off we headed to our friends at the Spezia rowing club. We arrived there just as their rowers were coming in after an exquisite morning row, where the sea is as calm as one gigantic swimming pool.

Our good friend Francesco the head coach picked us up, turned his Zodiac around and headed right back out into the bay, destination Portovenere. As we motored along, he narrated all the details of nautical life around us: the story of that lighthouse, that 400-year-old Pisan tower, the time the containers blew off that quay. All the areas controlled by the military that don't even allow rowers to enter. The fish in the sea, the plight of fishermen, the excellence of the mussels being cultivated just over there.

Past the Spezia breakwater, the small towns begin. Le Grazie, where we'll sleep our last night on the coast. Portovenere with its exquisite little church suspended over the rocky point. The island of Palmaria which we'll circumnavigate, with its caves and hermitage. And then the coastline of the Cinque Terre begins...straight up from the water the thumbprint of geology is on display, with its whorls and loops and waves and lines, where the Earth has folded into itself, flipped over and then kept going. You won't be able to see it in these pictures probably... but rowing past it will be awe-inspiring.

As we round the shoals just before Riomaggiore, our boys (ever present in our explorations) were sleeping in the boat, the warm sun and wind making them relaxed and sleepy. Once we were back at the rowing club, they woke up at the mention of ice cream!

Our next stop was Lerici, a new town to us but highly recommended. A 900-yr-old castle is at the tip of this town and offers amazing views of the bay we were just exploring by boat. The town is absolutely adorable, with ice cream that despite 22 years of great gelato made me literally cry out with joy.

Lerici might well be our next tour starting point, to row to the Cinque Terre from the South. Certainly their ice cream is a huge bargaining point!

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