Marilyn Geary

Journeys Illuminating the Old Ways

Marilyn Geary

2014 April Day22 – Zoagli


Life has its ups and downs, and today it took a downhill turn. This vacation couldn’t stay heavenly forever. The wheel of fortune keeps turning. But first we had a lovely breakfast sitting outside at Canepa’s 1863. All was going well.

We walked up to via Panettiera to deliver some gifts to our relatives Patrizia and her mother Claudia. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit with them because Claudia is in the hospital in Lavagna with Parkinson’s. She has been in a coma, although now conscious, and is not doing well. We are disappointed but understand given our recent experience with Dad.

We left Rapallo for our next stop in Zoagli, a 4-minute train ride away. My heavy luggage made this 4-minute journey difficult, as we had to carry it up a flight of stairs to the right train platform then get it on the train.

When the train arrived, I struggled to get the bags on board, up the high steps of the train. A couple of young girls pressed behind me, and I told them to go ahead because I was taking some time, but they refused. So I continued to struggle, then suddenly they started to help me, along with a large older woman who lifted up my bag as if there was nothing to it.

Extremely grateful, I thanked her profusely then noticed she had a little baby hanging from a cloth in front of her bosom. “Imagine!” I thought, “This woman is so kind. She went out of her way to help me even though she is carrying this little baby. How sweet and generous!”

I first noticed my camera was gone in Zoagli when we arrived at our apartment. I thought I might have left it in Rapallo at the last place we stayed. But then I saw my wallet was gone too! #%!$.

What I lost to the gypsies:

3 bank cards, my Kaiser card, about 250 Euros, my US SIM card, my camera, AND my photo card with the images from this trip. Thankfully I have been sending photos along day by day, otherwise all of them would be gone.

There’s more loss: my sense of security. That feeling of being violated takes a while to wear off.

What remains:

My passports, my iPhone, my glasses (both sun and regular.) So it could have been much worse, and for what remains, I am grateful. Also for sisterCheryl, who helped make those onerous calls to the banks to block the cards and who is fronting me for the rest of the trip.

She also tried the local ATM to make sure she could get funds. After a couple of failed tries, it worked. Whew!

Determined not to let this bad experience ruin the day, we took time to explore the place where we are staying, an renovated old barn next to the Castle Canevaro in Zoagli. The owner, Emanuele Canevaro, takes seriously his responsibility as heir to the Canevaro estate. He aims to hold on to the large historic property through rentals and weddings.

Our apartment has a lovely fireplace

And chairs that look like those traditionally handcrafted in Chiavari.

We have a terrace overlooking the sea.

Not a lot to do in Zoagli, a very small, slow town, except lie on the rocky beach or sit on a bench and slurp up gelato, as these women are doing.


After taking the 9-minute train ride to Chiavari, we discovered that we had made a good decision to stay in Rapallo our first three nights. Chiavari is much more commercial, and train tracks separate the town from the sea.

We looked around the Cattedrale di Nostra Signora dell’Orto, Mary of the Orchard. This enormous church sits on a site donated to the memory of Mary by woman who owned the gardens and was saved from the plague in the 1400s.

Then we visited the small market in a piazza fronting the Town Hall. This lion seemed to share my feelings, as this morning’s theft kept creeping back into my though

At the market, we purchased fruit and cheese for tomorrow’s breakfast and admired the produce…



and had a little afternoon refreshment.


Here’s my grandfather Charles Walchar in the same market in 1972.

Back in Zoagli, we met Ornella and Maurizio Lambrusca for coffee at 9pm. What a great thrill to see them after 20 years. Both are extremely enthusiastic and outgoing. We had a good chat for about an hour, as we showed them photos of relatives we had taken on prior trips. Here’s the group on a picnic to Mount Penne in 1994.

They invited us to dinner Saturday night and reviewed the menu for us, which includes cinghiale ( wild boar ) hunted by Maurizio himself. At least some of the food will be prepared by their children, Alessandro and Monica, who are both chefs. We’re in for a treat. We can’t wait to meet with the entire family.

Ornella’s mother, Giuliana, no longer lives in Campsasco, but Yolanda, sister to Eugenio, Ornella’s father, is 94 years old and still lives alone there. Ornella and Maurizio offered to take us there on Sunday so we can visit the home where Grandma Chiarina was born once again. here it is in 1994.

They asked about Rick and wanted to know how he was related to us. When we mentioned Eugenio, Carlo’s brother, they understood.

I had thought Ornella spoke excellent English as per her well-written emails, but it turns out Google Translate did the trick, and neither of them speak any English.

The coffee in the piazza with Ornella and Maurizio made a wonderful ending to a day that had its very low moments. Life is good. It could have been much worse.


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