Italy – 3

Levanto by Boat 7-9-06

The perspiration trickled down my face as we sat in the sweltering 2 o’clock sun. We sipped our Pepsis out of glass bottles and waited impatiently for our mariner to arrive. I made small talk in broken Italian and English with Angela and Luca as we dipped our feet in the salty Mediterranean. After 15 minutes, Mauro, our stalky, sun-burned middle-aged mariner walked up with a smile, a frozen water bottle, and a big red container full of gas. He stepped into our boat, “Bubolina”; a wooden beauty, 12 or 15 feet long with an outer coating of cracked white paint.

After draining Bubolina of the previous night’s rain-water, we carefully stepped in. I was so excited I squealed with delight and everyone laughed. I introduced myself to Mauro in my best Italian, and as he began to spew out a response, Angela told him I was the babysitter from America, and he stopped and smiled kindly. I was flattered that by my introduction he thought I spoke Italian!

We made our way out of the small boat harbor called the Porticcholo (a place we came daily to swim, relax, jump off rocks into the water and buy ice creams at the local bar). We waved at all the families lounging near the water, then turned sharply to steer around the large configuration of rocks that enclosed the harbor. Soon we were on the open sea!  Gentle waves pushed the boat upwards and downwards and a cool breeze blew through my hair. It was exhilarating! As breathtaking as Framura is from the land, it was magnified by ten from the water. The vibrant hodge-podge of homes and buildings looked perfectly imperfect from the boat, and I snapped picture after picture of the hillside.

As we inched along toward the closest town, Bonasola, we stuck our feet out of the boat and let the cool water splash up on us. Elettra and Maddalena had huge smiles on their faces as we passed old corroded buildings and the sun beat down mercilessly on our shoulders. We headed toward the shore at one point and Mauro steered us into a cave! When we entered we found that the tide was so high, if we tried to enter completely, we’d have banged our heads on the ceiling! So we backed out and continued down the coast to Bonasola.

We stopped the boat in Bonasola near some rocks and Elletra and Maddie began daring each other to jump into the chilly deep blue water.. Before either of them could say, “No, YOU first!!!”, I stepped over them both and dove head first into the water. There was no time for hesitation! I grabbed a mask and snorkel and we spent a good 20 minutes exploring the creatures that lurked below. After we realized there wasn’t that much to see, we hopped back in the vessel and headed toward our final destination, Levanto. Levanto was the next town south which Ellie, Maddie and I had visited by train a few days prior. By boat would be much more exciting, though! Mauro dropped me and the girls off near a tall rock where we could climb, then leap off into the water. It was about twenty-five feet high! When a lone “meduse” (jellyfish in Italiano) campe floating by, we were afraid to jump in the water, but once we saw a few other brave souls make the jump, we decided we’d be fine. I was told to go first. I stepped up to the ledge, plugged my nose, counted to three and took the plunge! Success! It was a great deal of fun and I had no jellyfish stings to show for it.

The girls figured since I was fine, they would be too, so Maddie jumped right after me and swam back to the boat. Ellie got a little nervous staring into the water below. It took a good 10 minutes of encouragement and cheering before she finally jumped. She arose from the water to applause and “Bravos”, then we embarked the boat once more to head back the way we had come. The sun was now lower in the sky, and sparkled on the water like billions of diamonds that had surfaced from the deep. Maddie, Ellie and I took turns sitting up at the front of the boat, staring ahead into the vast reaches of the Mediterranean and letting the wind blow through our hair. It was an unbelievable afternoon.

As we passed Bonasola again, I looked out at the sea for a moment, and when I turned back around, Luca (the 12 year old boy staying at the bottom level of our Framura home, Torserenella) DRIVING the boat!  Mauro had let him take the wheel… er, steering stick and suddenly we were weaving back and forth so quickly, I felt seasick! Then Maddie wanted a turn so she took the helm and we steadied a little, but not much. After I snapped a few pictures of Luca and Maddie, it was MY turn! Muahahahaha! I turned out to be a pretty terrible boat driver, as we swerved back and forth, and well, almost into some rocks. Mauro thankfully took over and we gently cruised back into the Porticholo harbor.

What a memorable afternoon. I think this trip may have been my favorite memory in Italy so far.

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