By Len Friesen, Tour Leader
In the Aftermath of the Notre Dame fire:
The fire that devastated Notre Dame yesterday is a reminder of how fragile our supposedly “timeless treasures” are. Beautiful structures can last a thousand years, then disappear in an instant, and the same applies to our earth’s fragile eco-system.
In a sense, I suppose, we travel because we want to feel a connection to place and time, even if it is another place and another time. We want to see those “timeless treasures” while we still can. That has certainly been the case on this trip, where we have seen great works of natural and created beauty that are every bit the equal to Paris’s Notre Dame.
We’ve seen a very different kind of beauty these past few days in the famed “Cinque Terre” of Italy. Our group has spent the last several days moving about from town to town whether by rail or on foot. We have climbed in the midst of ancient vineyards and olive groves. We have walked amidst centuries-old terraces, many only now being reclaimed, or watch as they seemingly spill down into the Ligurian Sea. We have stood in old town squares and wandered into cathedrals already draped in the purple robes of Holy Week.
Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riamaggiore. Each has their own unique characteristics, but they share a sense of natural splendour on the “Italian Riviera”. There is a calmness to this place in spite of the tourists. Our group has realized this calmness most particularly at the end of each day as we stroll in the quiet corner of the village that we call home, often with gelato cones in hand.
There is good reason not to travel, of course. But those of us on this trip can assure those who do feel the need or desire to travel that Italy is as good a destination as any to consider.
With the day’s activities largely behind us we will shift from the Cinque Terre to Milan tomorrow.