My friends know that I was writing to four people in Italy for several months before I arrived here last August. I've had wonderful meetings with three of those "penpals", and on last Friday, I was warmly greeted by the fourth. His name is Riccardo, and he's a retired bank executive. He and his wife, Marina, graciously invited me to spend the weekend at their house in Camporossa, a small Ligurian town about 45 kilometers west of Imperia by train. I can't write about the time we shared together in just one blog entry, so I'm going to do as many as it takes to make sure I can easily recall the wonderful time I had.
Riccardo met me at the train station in Bodighera, nearest to his town, and we spent some time walking around this village of about 10,000.
Claude Monet lived in Bodighera for a few years and painted several pictures of this beautiful seaside village.
You won't be as impressed with my pictures (pun intended), but here's the first--my friend Riccardo in front of an ancient tree whose name I can't remember, but it might be a ficus.
Imagine waking up to this view every day. I couldn't get enough of it. Liguria is rich with scenes like this.
And this is pretty nice, too, and you know I had to walk uphill to get this shot!
This canon was used to protect the town against invading Arabs.
Back at sea level you get a different perspective.
Riccardo and I spent a couple of hours walking around Bodighera and made a nice transition from writing to communicating in person. Riccardo has studied English for 4 years and is determined to become fluent, so his English vocabulary is much more extensive than my Italian one. I spoke in sentences that were half English, half Italian and he was only occasionally lost for the right English word. Our pooled resources meshed well, and we had good conversation.
Camporosso, a small town of about 5,500, is where Riccardo was born.
He and Marina have a beautiful home here with a huge garden, much of which is covered with roses of all varieties.
The roses weren't at their prime season--I was just a little late for that--but they were still this beautiful.
There were many beautiful colors and varieties--this was one of my favorites.
It was a pretty magical garden, and I enjoyed wandering through it each day I was there.
There were also six resident cats, as well as one guest black cat who stopped by occasionally for a meal.
I never happened to have my camera to catch all six in one picture. That was possible only when it was mealtime. I was a little late this time and got only two sharing the remains of lunch.
This cat was having some fun with a broom.
Besides cats and roses, you can find several different fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs growing in the garden. And if that isn't enough to take care of, Riccardo and Marina have greenhouses where they grow ornamental ferns to sell to florists.
This picture is out of order in terms of when it was taken during the weekend, but I want to introduce you to Marina, who made a delicious dinner of typical Ligurian dishes this first evening. Riccardo and Marina are really gracious people, and I felt doubly fortunate to have landed in another Italian home where there is an excellent cook in the kitchen!