I have been on the fence about taking the kids to Cinque Terre, renowned for its hiking trails linking intensely coloured villages cascading down craggy cliffs. I didn’t know if I had the stamina to experience this magic against a soundtrack of whinging and arguments. But after our time in Firenze, I realised it couldn’t be worse. And “accidentally” falling down a cliff would be heaps more believable than drowning in a 60cm deep fountain in Florence. So. Three nights ago, I booked a house, anticipating a crash course in obedience for the kids where the repercussions could be fatal. I joke. My mother is always burning incense; so no one would die. But. Worst case, one or both of the kids fall down a cliff and break a limb or sustain a decent injury, it could instil some excellent listening skills going forward. My falling down stairs broken ribs story has ceased to have any traction. Actually, I don’t think it has ever obtained a care factor higher than zero.
Our first mountain climb was purely by accident. The noises coming out of the children were completely obscene considering their preoccupation with sprinting and hanging off monkey bars all day long. I pointed this out and even Matisse laughed through her own admission that she was bunging it on. Shortly thereafter, I told her to wait at the bottom of a rickety staircase that wound precariously through houses and bush, so I could check the view at the top. I was legitimately not trying reverse psychology. But. This created a monster. She proceeded to tear up 4 up the 5 terraces with a vengeance; Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso and Manarola. I’m saving Corniglia for a solo rainy day - or month.
Admittedly, there were a couple of occasions where Matisse revelled in her newfound state of “independence” and “strong will.” In Manarola she placed her foot right on the crumbling cliff edge under the loose barbed wire fence flailing in the breeze, above the 100m drop off into death luring cliffs, staring me down whilst wiggling her toes, defying my request to stay on the other side of the path. I just stared her right back in the eye. The teenage years are going to be a riot.
Elspeth mostly got a lift on Karl’s shoulders. But. It was obvious that he was using this as a measly excuse to get an upper body workout after we had spotted some dude sexier than Channing Tatum stripping off in the car park earlier. Karl picked the car park directly beside him, right as he dropped his jeans and then continued to loiter in a state of all but nudity for quite some time, trying unsuccessfully to get my attention. Later he was rubbing up against me in the train station. I only noticed because I thought he was trying to pick pocket me.
Anyway. Kids. Cinque Terre. Take them. It’s the best. Castles, beaches, nature, more exploring than you can poke a stick at and some of the best food in Italy.
Look at the magic.