Helen in Europe travel blog

Riomaggiore looking down

wineries along the way

tiny house with Tibetan peace flags

delightful church between Riomaggiore and Telegrafo

one of many little shrines

the path down hill including many charming houses


'Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;

Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.'

A phrase is adapted from the “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” by Thomas Gray: madding means “frenzied.” The lines containing the phrase speak of the people buried in the churchyard: “Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife / Their sober wishes never learned to stray.”

And in the late nineteenth century, the English author Thomas Hardy named one of his novels Far from the Madding Crowd.

To be “far from the madding crowd” is to be removed, either literally or figuratively, from the frenzied actions of any large crowd or from the bustle of civilization.

And I learnt this phrase from hearing my father refer to it so I understood the meaning but not the source; I love it when travel (and art for that matter) inspires you to dig deeper into meaning and history.

After yesterdays' experience of the 'madding crowd' I decided today to be completely unstructured and avoid the crowds, and so packed my back pack for a walk, again not knowing how long it would take or where I might end up. I headed uphill towards the hills behind the Bnb and actually found steps to ascend; I only ended up on a road with cars for a short time before I found steps yet again. With no deadlines, no tours to adhere to I stopped to admire picturesque views and have fun with the panorama function on my camera. I rarely passed any humans at all. Eventually I saw signs to Telegrafo and thought 'that will do'. At times the very narrow (single file) trail took me right between vineyards and gardens. How amazing it was to have a pathway cut through private properties. Eventually I arrived at Telegrafo and found a charming cafe with elderly woman playing cards; I could actually hear the cacophony of excited multiple syllabled conversations from a while away and I wondered what was happening; it clearly sounded celebratory. I completed another another walk nearby which was quite different to the one along the beach and was shady and spacious. After doing this walk and exploring an abandoned house with a beautiful antique ceramic tiled fireplace I returned to the cafe, thinking that I could have lunch there. It was right on lunch time for the ladies and in they went, cards and cash away and sat down as their small carafes of red wine were put on the table. I enjoyed seeing them helping each other walk along, arm in arm, all smiling at me and shorter than me. I decided to let them have their time and headed back down the pathway again; taking a slightly different route I took a windy path passing by quite a few little shrines with different prayers (?) one I anima mia magnifica il signore translated as My soul magnifies the Lord. I photographed a few of them and the inscriptions were all different; I thought about how I would have missed these if I had taken the same path home and thought about how it is always good to have new experiences. 15 kilometres later and I was trying out the hotel's free Jacuzzi; not for long though as it was in the sun. After enjoying my complimentary Corona (free mini bar) I am pondering whether to go off the beaten track again tomorrow or brave the crowds by taking the train to a different Cinque Terre town - or do all five!



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