As I sit here on the train from Pisa Central to La Spezia staring out onto the passing Italian landscape I’m suddenly drawn back to my childhood in Manila where the weather is awfully similar to what it is now and can’t help but recall those innumerable summer days when I could do nothing during summer afternoons but blankly stare out onto our garage through our screen door as if waiting for something, anything, to happen. Looking back at it now I can’t help but feel wistful for a wasted childhood that could have been due to a number of possible reasons – it could be my parents had no capacity to send me anywhere my young mind could develop – they did have six children after all; it could be that it was simply too hot to do anything, which was completely possible given the hellish summers I remember; or it could be that they just didn’t care enough. I’m quite sure it wasn’t the third possibility but that certain memory from a long time ago still haunts to this day.
We’re on our way to where the famed Cinque Terre is located, and as we sit in a weakly airconditioned train carriage I can tell it’s absolutely steaming outside, looking quite lifeless and completely uninviting. Flying in from wealthy Switzerland my first impressions of this part of Italy aren’t very positive as it looks like the area has been neglected for a long while now, where weeds have taken over walls and rail tracks, and train stations and the locals looking comfortably third world. Sad to say, evidence of the financial struggles this country are facing are everywhere. The images I’ve seen of Cinque Terre however are powerful and I’m hopeful this will be another trip to remember – this time in a completely positive way.