Monterosso al Mare
To the west of town is the realatively recently established village of Fegina (dating from about 1900) between the Mesco headland and the monte dei CAppuccini (mount of the capuchins). At its western end is atiny harbour surronded by stone houses; the harbour mount is dominated by an imposing cement statue of Neptune, commonly know as “il gigante”the giant), sculpted around 1910 by a certain Arrigo Minerba di Ferrara. Today the harbour is home to the Circolo Velico wich holds sailing instruction courses, as well as being a winter dock for the fishing boats, some metres beyod il gigante, going up the road leading to the Mesco hill, we find the villa formerly belonging to the poet Eugenio Montale, Nobel prizewinner for literature in 1975. It was in this house and in the lemon groves sloping down to the sea that be wrote the great liteary work “Ossi di seppia” (Cuttlefish bones):
“Lazing in siesa rapt an pale by cra, bling orchard wall, blackbirds crackle, snakes swish, throngh thorn and underbrush”
Turning backs towards the waterfront and heanding cast, on our left we come the little parish church of Santa Maria Nascente, while on our right the long beach on fine sand leads to the crag of “Mapass”, before going up the historic town centre.
Sheer above the sea, we enter the imposing stone construction of the ” TORRE AURORA”, built in the sixteeenth century to defend the town from Saracen pirate raids.
On the left a long flight of steps takes us to the mount of Capuchins, were the monastery of the same name, CONVENTO DEI CAPPUCCINI, commands a breakthtaking panorama.
Erected in the seventeenth century, the building boats a magnificent dichromatic façada, whilist inside are preserved noteworthy paintings by Cambiaso, Bernardo Castello, Bernardo Strozzi, and the spendid crucifix attibuted to the school of Van Dyck.
In the father guardian is there, you can visit the Chiostro and the orto del paradiso, to experience an unforgettable view over the bay. At the foot the mountain is the Centro Storico, the old village bordered by harbour where the fishermens boats are moored along with free facilites, where the crag of the CORONE was an important look-out and defence point during the first world war. Uphill from the village is the vallery of the Morione with its incomparable lemon groves, an on its “western side the remair of the CASTRUM MEDIOEVALE (medieval castrum), whose ancient walls can be observed on the hill of the cementery of San Cristoforo.
Strolling through the town starting from the square we come upon the “loggia della canonica”, and, a little higher, the parrish church of SAN GIOVANNI BATTISTA. This was originally built between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Ligurian Gothics style, and subsequently added to during the Baroque period. The church, with a central nave and two a large fretteng rose window below the ogival door with lunette containing fresco depicting the Baptisim of Christ.
The great crenellated bellower was built in fifteenth century on top an old look-out tower; the little mullioned two windows typical of the era are particulary noteworthy.
To the right of the parish church the oratory of MORTE ED ORAZIONE contains a statue of S. Antonio Abate, which came long ago from a demolished monastery on the mesco point. Today the oratory the CONFRATERNITA DEI NERI (Brotherhood of Black, or benedictine monks). Continuing north up the narrow alley we come to the oldest part of the town, with low roofed passageways burrowing between the houses of stone an pebble. To the left, up a little alleyway leading towards orchards and olive groves, stands the oratory of the Santa Croce, seat of the brotherhood of the Whites.
Nature and history have cospired to create the towns known as the CINQUE TERRE (“Five Lands”), tucked away in a series of little inlets at the very end of the Levante (eastern) side of the Ligurian Riviera. The landscape here is so unique that in 1998 it was listed as a world heritage under the protection of UNESCO.
Here we find untamed nature, completely virgin Mediterranean maquis. It is a breathtaking composition, a mosaic of a thousand shades, the old houses with their characteristic colours clinging to rocks that drop sheer to the sea or perched on imposingly jagged hills, everything vying to touch the sky , lifting our gaze to the famous terraced slopes, “reclaimed land contained by drystone wals”. This was work done long ago, at a timelost in history, by the local folk, a people well accustomed to contending with the difficulties of dizzying cliffs or precipitous slopes when getting about , and who, in order to survive, had to “steal” space.
The tarraces are works of peasant engineering, an operation which we can call “land architecture”, and were used to create space for the cultivation of vines, olivese and fruit. Such agriculture, able to support the livelhood of this population, together with the ancient art of fishing practised in a uncontaminated sea, represents the major strength of this territory. A strenght that, not without countless sacrifices, produces the famous white wine of the CINQUE TERRE, protected nowadays by the “d.o.c” hallmark (a guarantee of the wine’s authenticity of origin); as well as the SCIACCHETRA’ (a dessert wine made from partially dried grapes), the wine of the gods, as it was called in the times of the ancient Roman Empire; the OIL of particular fragrance and acidity; and finally the famous ANCHOVIES.
All this has been passed down from the people who lived here in ancient times to the present day, bequeathing us the CINQUE TERRE in their setting of rare beauty and particular natural interest. The NATURE PARK and MARINE PARK have created new opportunities for visitors, who can embark on spectacular sea or mountain excursions; marvel at leisure in the peace of cliffs, the silence broken only by crashing of the waves; or wander lazily through the “CARRUGGI”(maze-like narrow alleyways typical of the local villages) discovering for themselves the local crafts, the age-old activities of peasants and seafolk; or just simply wander in search of a table to sit und sample the anchovies and white wine of the “CINQUE TERRE”.