Discover the beauty of Liguria
I had a very pleasant surprise a couple of weekends ago when I discovered this tiny village on the Ligurian coast in Italy. We chose to go there arbitrarily as it was at the halfway point between our house and where the friend we were going to meet was staying, plus there was a restaurant on the beach that sounded good. Our group was made up of five adults and seven kids, so any restaurant on the beach that leaves the adults to eat and sip wine as long as they like, while the kids run around outside is a solid reason to make the choice. The restaurant, called Ristorante Restano really did have excellent food and served the children first, which earns a five star Tripadvisor review in my books, or it would if I could ever get around to writing a review there.
How not to get growled at after jumping in the sea
After a few hours of the adults eating and chatting and the kids secretly trying to dry their shoes after jumping in the sea with them on, so they wouldn’t get told off, we waddled out to explore the village of Cervo. It’s true that the beach is not much to write home about. It is stony, though it suits those who want to sunbathe without getting sand in their sandwiches. The village perched on the side of the hill rising up from the beach is beautiful! Even on the cloudy day we were there, the colours of the buildings were bright.
Cervo is built on a very steep slope, so the climb up to the main square is quite puff-worthy, especially after eating a huge plateful of fried calamari.
Puffing up the hill is worth the effort
When we got to the main square, we discovered this terrace (and I assume the apartment that goes with it) for sale. Can’t you just imagine sitting there on a warm Summer’s evening, sipping a Spritz and gazing out at the blue Mediterranean Sea? The only problem with it is that everyone standing in the square can look over your shoulder at the view you are seeing too, so maybe we won’t buy it just yet.
Once we managed turn our backs on the stunning sea view, we turned around and came face to face with the elaborate baroque-style church of St John the Baptist. This imposing church was built during the 17th and 18th Centuries. If you think it already has an abundance of decoration and ornate carvings on its facade, you just wait until you step into its cool interior.
A Baroque extravaganza
The inside of the church was definitely worth a visit. The frescoes all over the walls and gilded statues are in perfect condition. If there’s a mass on, it’s worth waiting outside until it’s finished so that you can have a look at the inside of the church. While you’re waiting you can grab an ice-cream from the gelataria in the square. Well, you can do that even if you’re not waiting. You earned it after that trudge up the hill (tell yourself that anyway).
After a little more gazing out to sea, we wandered around Cervo while the kids played Hide and Seek in the narrow alleys of the village. Surprisingly, we managed to come out with the seven kids we started with, even though there are so many places to hide. Luckily none of them are the stubborn kind of hide and seekers who have the patience to stay hidden for hours.
The colourful walls of Cervo
You never know what you’ll find around each corner in the village or what colour the next building will be. I can’t even imagine how much heavy lifting it must have taken to get the fishing boat in the photo below up the hill through the narrow winding streets. I imagine that they don’t take it out to sea that often, if ever.
Taking the long way home
After a stroll around the village, we set off for a walk through the countryside on a loop that took us through olive groves and under towering pine trees. Remember that, even if the olives are ripe, don’t pick them. For a start, they belong to someone, and anyway, you can’t eat them straight off the tree. They have to go through a long process of soaking in brine until they can actually be nibbled on. I would love to know who came up with the process. It’s not exactly intuitive to soak olives in salty water of a certain concentration for a month or so and change the solution frequently. I can understand leaving a cheese somewhere damp for a while by accident, and then finding out that the cheese tastes better with mould, but inventing the process making olives edible surprises me!
In spite of the cloudy day, it was still nice to go down to the beach and throw stones in the calm water once we got back there. Getting a stone to splash in the sea, or trying to skip it across the water, is fun no matter how old you are. So, if you find yourself on the coast of Liguria in Italy, do go to Cervo. It’s absolutely worth a visit!
You can also read about Cervo and four other Ligurian villages that are worth a visit on Ishita’s wonderful blog all about her love of Italy called Italophilia
By Lisa Watson