Cinque Terre, Liguria – Italy

Here’s my Flashback Friday for this week over at Karin’s Cafe Bebe, prepared with lots of love and scheduled for while I’m away, have a great week everyone!

This was my first trip to Italy and was the catalyst for falling in love with Enrico but also with Italy. I had met Enrico the previous autumn and now it was June 1986, I had booked two weeks off work to go and see him as we hadn’t seen each other since our weekend in Paris back in April and before that it had been January in London. I knew it was make or break this time round as if we were to have a relationship we’d have to at least be in the same country, it figures really doesn’t it?

I flew into Malpensa in Milan paying full whack as those were the days long before cheap flights arrived. Enrico met me in his car which really impressed me, having been a penniless student and now only just starting my way in the work industry a car was like ‘rich!’ On our drive home we stopped off at the bottom of Lake Garda and dipped our toes in the fresh lake, we hugged, we chatted and we laughed as we tried to rediscover the easy ground between us so we could both relax. It’s a very strange feeling meeting up with the person you love after a couple of months; holes need darning, dropped stitches need picking up and bits need casting off but once the click happened we could both relax and enjoy one another’s company.

We went to Folgaria where I stepped inside his family hotel for the first time. I met his mother and his brothers, his sister and aunt all of whom, little did I know then, would become my family. We spent a few days in this pretty, quiet village that hadn’t yet started it’s summer season and then on a whim it was decided that we would join some of Enrico’s friend’s on a weekend trip to the sea, Liguria was to be our destination, a place I knew nothing about.

The drive was about 5 hours and the car was packed to the hilt as we were going to prolong the trip and do a mini tour of Italia. We would be camping. Thank God as I hadn’t budgeted for hotels not thinking we would be going’ away’. My BA flight had wiped me out and all I had was some Italian Lire for evenings out, ice creams and postcards.

We had been dancing till quite late the night before so on arrival our first stop was a beach where eight of us laid out our towels and promptly fell asleep in the hot June sun. Thank goodness I remembered to cover myself in sun cream as one of the guys burnt his feet quite badly.

Rice, cereals, petals, salt and many other natural ingredients

In the evening we walked into the centre where I took these photos. May and June are Holy Communion months and Italy being for the most part Roman Catholic go to town on the event. In this particular town immense work had gone into decorating the pavements that the children would walk the following day in procession to the church to receive their First Holy Communion. Flowers, religious symbols and animals were all represented with flower petals, rice, leaves and many other different mediums. I was amazed at the work and the beauty of such a touching symbolic thought.

We ate at one of the busy restaurants and I let the Italians order for me as they knew what they were doing. I had my very first taste of Linguine al pesto, a delicious so-easy-to-make sauce for pasta made with basil and pine nuts (recipe below) we washed it down with a bottle of white wine (or two or three) also called Cinque Terre. I soon discovered that a plate of pasta was only a starter and already full up I sat and picked at plates of grilled meats and salad not understanding any of the lively conversation going on around me but it didn’t matter I was here with the man I loved and in Italy! I was the happiest girl in the world.

A bit of local info :-

The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera in the region of Liguria and as the name suggests it is made up of five different villages all interconnected, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The Cinque Terre is renowned for its beauty; steep cliffs that drop into the sea have been carefully built on with terraces and its charm is more enhanced by the lack of visible modern development. The Sentiero Azzuro, The Light Blue Trail, connects the five villages and the part running from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called Via Dell’Amore the Walk of Love which if you’re wondering, no I didn’t walk with Enrico :) Here is our local Italian Tourist Board where should you be interested, contact them and they can send you more detailed information on the area.

And here as promised is my Easy Pesto al Genovese recipe


3 good handfuls of fresh basil leaves,

1/2 clove of garlic

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

a handful of pine nuts lightly toasted

A generous handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Traditionally made in a mortar and pounded, it can be made with just a good outcome in a food processor, whizz the garlic, salt and pepper add the pine nuts and basil leaves and whizz again. Remove the blade and add half the parmesan and stir adding olive oil as you go – enough to bind and make a wet but not soaked consistency. Add the rest of the cheese and season to taste.

Done! As your spaghetti is finishing put enough pesto in a frying pan for the amount of people eating and slowly heat. Once drained, add the pasta to the pan amalgamate well and serve! Extra Parmesan should be offered on the table and ideally Focaccia bread which is also from Liguria.

Easy AND cheap AND delicious. Remember, you could make a large batch and keep it in a jar covered with oil to preserve and it can be used to top salmon together with breadcrumbs and baked, or pork chops or drizzled over roasted veg.

Here’s my Easy risotto recipe with a video too. Go on give it a go!


  1. Jenny Paulin
    May 27, 2011 / 9:20 AM

    Wow what a post! A wonderfully romantic flashback complete with a delicious sounding recipe and some facts of interest!. I can imagine how lovely a romantic break in Italy must be…….I would love to visit te country one day. The field art is amaaazibg too! Great flashback post xx

    • Mari
      June 20, 2011 / 2:25 PM

      Thank you Jenny, you really must go to Italy one day and I promise you won’t be let disappointed

  2. Mama Syder
    May 27, 2011 / 11:18 AM

    What a Fab Flashback! Italy is one of those places I keep saying I want to visit and never get around to it…One day though! Sounds soooo romantic x

    • Mari
      June 20, 2011 / 2:26 PM

      It is romantic and you must try to go at least once if you do you’ll be hooked as the whole country has something to offer

    • Mari
      June 20, 2011 / 2:26 PM

      Isn’t it lovely? I’m so glad this old photo has survived all these years and I’d love to go back and retake it one day

  3. SAHMlovingit
    May 28, 2011 / 7:34 AM

    Such a fabulous Flashback Friday Mari and it’s made me even more excited about going to Italy next week! The part about darning holes etc. really struck a cord with me as when I met my ex-husband we had only been dating about 2 months when he had to go and work in Germany for 3 months so I didn’t see him until I took a flight over to Zurich (he was staying in South Germany) after about 6 or 7 weeks.
    Hope you have a FAB holiday xx

    • Mari
      June 20, 2011 / 2:27 PM

      I hope to bump into you one day and sit down and share life stories as often we remark on similarities. Have great fun in Pisa – you’ll love it

  4. Funky Wellies
    May 31, 2011 / 4:38 AM

    Fantastic flashback, I love Italy and the food there!

    • Mari
      June 20, 2011 / 2:28 PM

      Me too ;) in case you hadn’t noticed

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