Friday, November 12, 2010

Pastel Stacked Houses and the Slow Life in Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, translated as ‘Five Villages’ is up there with the most stunning stretch of coastline in the world I’m sure. It is mind baffling how these little villages of pastel houses have been built, piled on top of each other along the cliff face. No cars are allowed inside these villages because the houses are packed so tightly that there is only room for alleys and laneways. We wondered, not only how these houses were built like this, but how materials, furniture and items needed for every day living are transported and delivered locally. What we discovered, is that the locals here do life at a much slower pace and they seem to prefer it that way. We saw the odd piaggio (mini 3 wheeler ute), but other than that, it was men towing carts by foot and old fashioned baskets in arms. The locals in this part of the world are extremely active and appear to do so much more by hand than we could possibly imagine doing in our own technologically advanced society here in Australia. We watched fisherman as they finished up for the day, mooring their small boats and emptying their day’s catch from their nets into their big blue buckets. It was also fascinating to see two builders at work, one lowering rubble to the other down below from two or three levels above using a bucket and rope. Both guys were sweating profusely and it made me think about how good this work would be for their fitness. I wondered if we had lost so many opportunities for good health and fitness in our own culture, simply because of our use of machines and technology. Moreover, in a world that is forced to slow down simply because of the landscape, it really did seem to be a good thing – that maybe life could be somehow appreciated more. We have begun to openly question our own society where it seems that convenience, ‘efficiency’ and productivity are highly valued. In our endeavour to make life more convenient though, have we instead made it more complicated? Have we really freed up our time with all our technological advancements, or do we just fill our lives with more commitments and obligations? We have and are continuing to learn so much about simplicity from the Italian way of life.

The stunning village of Rio Maggiore

Fisherman in Rio Maggiore 


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