Riomaggiore and every other town we saw in Cinque Terre are by far the most unique and beautiful places ive ever had the pleasure to visit. I referenced the beach versus mountain question in my last blog, but here you don’t have to choose. The waves crash right up against the base of the mountains creating a place where two of my favorite sights are colliding in the most majestic and powerful way.
One unique thing I noticed and loved immediately is the way that this coastal town is so easy to take you in and allow you to get lost in it. I saw it with Coach P and his many friends and deep connections he has with restaurant owners, store owners, and many others across Cinque Terre even though he only gets to visit once every year. I also got to experience this when I walked up to get coffee for the last time from Bar Centrale. Before I even had a chance to speak, the barista started to make my 5th cappuccino of my time in Riomaggiore. The people here are so strikingly ready to accept you, no matter where you come from. This was also evident during our dinner with Daniela and Piero. Eating home-cooked pasta and salad and cookies off of paper plates in that little backyard overlooking The colorful buildings of Monterosso, I felt strangely at home. Not because the scenery reminded me of my backyard in Bartlesville (not even close) or that we eat authentic Italian pasta every night at my house, but because I felt loved and accepted and completely comfortable being with the people around me. Italy and the culture of CR are good at creating that feeling.
A thought I had sitting by the water as we quickly approach the end of our experience was how grateful I am for this almost-month and the way it is changing me, but also how sad it makes me that a lot of other people will never get do anything like this. But I’ve decided that it’s not like CR is a secret. It would be cruel to keep the things that we’ve seen and have challenged us from the rest of the world. Thats when I discovered possibly one of the most important parts of CR in my opinion: sharing our experiences and growth with those around us. I’ve learned how to build deep relationships, how to ask and answer hard questions, and appreciate people who are different than me because we most likely have a lot more in common than I think. I’ve loved CR as this perfect place where everyone values each other and has a desire to make each other better, but I also believe that I can make an effort to live the rest of my life that way. And now I have 17 other people by my side to encourage me and hold me accountable.
I am overflowing with thankfulness to be here as we leave Riomaggiore.