Santa Margherita Ligure
Today, my sister and I walked from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure, the next town over along the Portofino peninsula in Liguria, Italy.
I don’t know Italian. So don’t quote me on this. But I think Santa Margherita Ligure is named after the patron saint of margaritas and other liquors. However, I might be wrong about that.
There is a “red carpet walkway” that runs near the coast all the way from Rapallo to Portofino, almost at the far tip of the peninsula. It is so named because, a few years back they improved the sidewalk and, for a time after the upgraded walk opened, they laid a red carpet along the route. It was, allegedly, the longest red carpet in the world.
The red carpet is not there now. At least, it’s not there along the portion we walked on.
I read about the red carpet walkway before leaving for Italy. In my mind, it was a grand pedestrian promenade or possibly a pedestrian-only boulevard. It’s not that.
When we set out from Rapallo we went on a path that looked promising as the walkway. Its wasn’t. We hit a couple of dead-ends.
The good news is that our serendipitous route took us by a beautiful old church, Nostra Signora della Rosa (formerly the basilica of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia). Based on the name, I guess it used to be dedicated to the patron saint of margaritas and appetizers. And now its dedicated to the sign of the Rose family Cosa Nostra. But, again, I might be wrong about that.
The church is beautiful. What makes it unique is its crystal chandeliers. I didn’t count, but I think there are eight or ten of them. I guess the Rose family Cosa Nostra can afford that sort of thing. But its possible the church’s money came from elsewhere. I’m not sure.
The Walkway to Santa Margherita Ligure
After we left the church, and just as we were about to take yet another dead-end path, my sister, who is fluent in Italian, asked a couple of women for directions. According to the translation my sister gave me after the conversation, they said the walkway was beautiful and just for pedestrians.
This reinforced my image of a wide pedestrian boulevard. That’s not what it was.
It was a sidewalk. And not a very wide sidewalk, at that. Nor was it paved in any decorative manner. It ran beside a busy street. And only one side of the street had a sidewalk.
For a few short sections it’d didn’t exist at all. There, we had to walk on the road for at least a few steps.
So why did the walk get such hype? I don’t know, but I suspect a marketer or two at a tourism bureau had a hand in that.
My sister had another theory. Some of the busy roads in the area don’t have sidewalks at all. On them, pedestrians must share the road with cars. My sister figured that, to those two women, any sidewalk at all is a beautiful sidewalk just for pedestrians.
To my mind, “just for pedestrians” is a requirement for a sidewalk. It’s just a part of the definition. It’s not an optional element that must be celebrated. But maybe that’s just me.
Santa Margherita Ligure is a beautiful seaside town. The buildings are muted colours. Some of them had trompe-l’œils painted on their walls.
Turtles and a Market
We wandered around the town and headed to a park on a hill, the Villa Durazzo park. At the top, it had a circular pond filled with turtles. Most of the turtles slept on the few rocks in the pond. But there were more turtles than rocks. So some of the turtles climbed on top of the other sleeping turtles and rested there in layers. I guess it’s a low-rent pond.
When we were in the park, the switchback path that runs up the hill hosted the most eclectic market I’ve ever seen. From their tables, vendors sold houseplants, plants for planting outdoors, jewelry, crafts, soaps, lotions, liquors, fruits, vegetables, nuts, candies, and probably a bunch of other items I’ve forgotten.
One of the few things I didn’t see for sale at the market was turtles. I find that surprising seeing as though they could have garnered a high profit margin as long as people didn’t keep too close a watch on the pond.
I really liked Santa Margherita Ligure, even though we didn’t sample any of the patron saint’s margaritas. Although, we did each consume an alcoholic spritz.
Rather than walk, we took the train back to Rapallo from Santa Margherita Ligure. It took a few minutes.