A hike to Montellegro

A full-blown, loose hand slapped Manish. It echoed and echoed in the silence of Santuria di Montellegro. All the people who had come to pay homage to this sanctuary turned to us and clapped. They took it light, delighted in their own memories as parents and shouted bravo to Rachit, who having thrown his anger, was now surprised by his tantrum as well as such a reception of it. It could have been possible only in Italy where children are adored and family is the prime of life as in India. Now! That was something least expected and even lesser dreamt of in our scariest and wildest of dreams, as a reward after a difficult hike to Montellegro from the Rapallo. The hike itself was very rewarding and a further ‘reward’ was not needed at all!

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Santuario Montallegro – courtesy Panoramio

Rapallo is the largest of the sea-side resort towns on Italian Riviera. It is in Genoa province, located somewhat between Genoa and Cinque terre. As all the sea-side towns, it has a promenade, pedestrian shopping centre and some beaches. For a change it has a ‘castle’ built in sixteenth century, to guard against pirate attacks. When I heard that I was amused. Actually human mind works like that. For someone from India, castle is something of a rich architectural building in a vast and magnificent large campus, not something just more than a cellar.

Castle at Rapallo

Castle at Rapallo

Having done a customary walk on the red bricked promenade, indulging in the hues of sea and views of ‘ready-to-display-to-die-for-each-other-till-we-stay-together couples’, ‘appropriately’ and ‘inappropriately’ dressed lasses, and well-heeled and Prada -Gucci-Armani clad jet-set-people on private Yachts, we went to the Funivia(cable car) station of Rapallo.

Panoramic View of Rapallo

Panoramic View of Rapallo

This Funivia goes to the Santuary of Monte Allegro, at a height of approx. 600 mtrs.Legend has it that Virgin Mary appeared to a farmer here, presenting him with a Greek-Byzantine icon and asked him to build a church to house it.There is a hiking trail from Rapallo to this sanctuary, which passes through Oak and Chestnut woods and past lovely houses and Villas.

We were their with a friend. He and his wife decided to take a ride up and down. They happily took Rachit along and we were to trek and reach there in some one and half hour, and then take the Funivia down to Rapallo. The hike was told to be very steep and if Rachit had not agreed to go with them, we would not have done this treacherous but beautiful hike and perhaps Manish would have been spared of a hard slap. I handed them some snacks and drinks for my son, waved goodbye and looked at Manish.

We had been parent for four years then and it was our first time to be together without kid. I felt the freedom and together we started, hand in hand, walking at our pace and talking our own things. I stopped to admire the beautiful houses, blooms in balconies, people mowing their lawns, a taste of luxury of having private swimming pools. We took our time there appreciating the mountain side houses as rest of the trek was to pass through heavy woods and we would not have much reasons to stop.

The blooms

The blooms

A few of these villas had farms, but they were fortified with high walls. Sometimes the barking of a dog was the only proof of somebody living in those mountain-Villas. A turn in the trek past one of such villa and there sprang a bunch of red cherries, hanging on some outside branches of a tree inside the boundary wall. We looked here and there, to find someone to take permission to pluck crisp red cherries but found no one. It was too tempting to leave the cherries and we found ourselves plucking a few. Cherry was crisp and juicy, flavors bursted in my mouth and the greed of tongue took hold. We plucked more and then came a thundering, heart-stopping bark of some ferocious dog. We ran and ran till we were safely away from that bark and the dog and the villa. A few cherries were still in my hand. We sat down and relished one at a time.

Temptations!

Temptations!

Another such villa, another bunch of cherries stopped us again. We plucked whatever was within our reach and again ran at the first bark of dog. I cursed the dog and thanked the people who raised walls so high that the dog could not jump out but cherries could.

They say that the beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I doubted it when we reached at a point where we could see Rapallo and the bay and as far as Portofino and its bay. Can someone refuse to stop at such a sight and move ahead on his trekking expedition?

Look no far!

Look no far!

A few more photo-stops and we realized that by the time we would reach up, it would be well above three hours. The hike was relentlessly steep but we had no way out now. To aggravate the difficulty, path was paved with rough stones and we had to look where we put our feet. Despite the steep hike, we forced our leg muscles to do more than normal and reached well within three hours. But it did take a toll and we felt cramps in calves.

Hmm! A Stop Again!

Hmm! A Stop Again!

We pushed ourselves to almost running on a steep hike. My ribs threatened to jut out, lungs denied to take more worked load and heart throbbed to a dangerous speed. But all was ignored by mind who acted like Arjun, focussing only at ‘time’.

Now, this delay irritated our son to no end, for whom it was first time without mummy-papa and a small tantrum became a big one, which culminated in a sharp slap to Manish, the first and the last, from Rachit, and a scuffle broke out between the till-now-happy couple.

The plunge down to Rapallo in Funivia also gradually plunged the scuffle and touched the ground, both funivia and the scuffle. The views of bays thawed me and rest of the melting was done by Manish by bribing a leg massage for me and a big cone of Gelato to Rachit.

Bays seen from Funivia

Bays seen from Funivia

He played the role of an ideal husband and father and impressed his friends’ wife and showed a trailer to the husband what was to come in future!

And then wasted all his efforts of reconciliation by declaring that at times he had to manage two kids!

8 Comments

  • Arun says:

    Again a superb post from Jaishree Ji.

  • Nice to read you!…… Are those only left cherries after you plucked a few (I guess you plucked numbers of them)? We too love juicy cherries :) Itna-se-kya-hoga!

    Beautiful Pics!…..great that you could write such a nice story even after 8 years from your actual visit!

    Thanks

    • Jaishree says:

      We did pluck more than a handful of cherries and those were the most delicious, juicy and crunchy I have had till date. Even the freshly plucked cherries enroute Kinnaur were nowhere near these.

      How Do I remember?
      I remember all the places where I have walked and just walked and that too without competing and completing the points. So I do not remember much of my Munich city tours, zipping through Ajanta Ellora in two days, but I still remember vividly my hike to Naina peak to Nainital in 2000 when we began traveling together.

      Thanks for reading and liking the post.
      Manish has replied to your comment.

  • Avtar Singh says:

    Hi Jaishree

    Hope this time you will have no issue with the salutation!

    While reading the previous one and this current story, I was recalling Manish, saying in Lodhi Garden that, when he had written a travel log, Jaishree rejected it immediately as a crap right away!

    Now after reading these two, I fully agree with your action, you earn this authority by showcasing the beauty of your narrative style.

    The slap, the romantic walk and the cherry( Can I call it stolen!… as this led to me in the lanes of childhood… and I firmly believe even today that the fun you enjoy with stolen fruit can not compare with the purchased one…. LOL)

    Although, I am not familiar with that part of the world, so most of the names sound Greek to me, but your style of weaving a story makes it comfortable for me to read till the end with great enthusiasm.

    Anupam is right that its great to write such a beautiful piece of writing, after eight years of your actual visit.

    Pics too are awesome. But I am surprised to notice just a few comments on this post!
    Like the post… this mystery is also amazing!

  • Jaishree says:

    I agree. Plucked with permission are tastier than the purchased ones. Stolen fruits are the tastiest.

    Thanks for calling me Jaishree. I will add Ji when I become a grandma. But by then you too will be a Grandpa so one Ji calling the other Ji will still be too heavy.

    I am a lazy person when it comes to commenting. I have read all of your logs of Camp Roxx and I envy you for your description skills which give a better picture than camera, but did not leave the comment. I read all the logs of Anupam of Baba Amarnath and his ghumakkar insight and I am yet to leave a comment. And commenting is mostly a give and take business.

    It feels good to read comments but then there is a lot to do and it is difficult for me to write a comment if I cant write something substantial. That needs time and more than that a creative inclination to write when all I am doing is reading leisurely.

    Please excuse me when I am not commenting, but I do read all of your logs.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Knowing Rachit, I could not imagine him doing this. So I read on and realized that he must have been really small and then once you disclose that it would have been close to 3 hours, that can be quite a torture for a young child in a foreign city unless he is really with close friends/relatives/acquaintances.

    Even though you share the name of the place but it was hard for me to place them since I have no familiarity with the area. May be we should have put a small map.

    Try commenting, doesn’t have to be too elaborate but even a small one is very motivating for the author.

    • Jaishree says:

      Hello nandan,

      Back after a long trip.

      This place was in Italy, near Genoa. The entire coastline along the Ligurian region of Italy is called Italian Riviera. This coast line continues in France and is known as the famous ‘ RIVIERA’.

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