I saved the best to last. Cinque Terre. Part 3 – Vernazza. A photographic journey.

Vernazza village – Cinque Terre’s crown
Pastel houses cling to cliff tops
Steep streets take us down
Into the winding narrows
, of Vernazza’s heart
And from this place of beauty
You will never want to part.

Vernazza is a sight to behold. It’s a photographer’s dream and also a photographer’s nightmare. It’s such a lovely place, scenic, colourful – that it’s almost a sin if, as a photographer, you take a bad picture of it. Not even a bad picture….just a picture that doesn’t reflect the full beauty of the place. It’s so difficult to capture…my photos don’t do it justice (in reality the colours are so bright they “ping”)…you must go and visit yourself.

Sure it’s a little shabby in places. Some of the buildings have paint peeling from their facades but it’s a kind of shabby beauty….beauty with age maybe. I loved it here. I spent so long wandering the streets, in and out of alleys and buildings, that I missed out on the final 2 of the Cinque Terre’s villages. But it was worth it.

From the train station you can either wander straight down to the little harbour – the heart and soul of Vernazza – from which everything else radiates, OR do as we did and climb upwards instead. Up the steep stone stairways and narrow paths that bring you out on the hilltop above the village, with spectacular views over the church steeple and down to the harbour of this gorgeous little fishing village. It was exhausting but well worth the climb to the top. Only after drinking in the beauty of the place from this vantage point did we venture down into Vernazza proper.

When in a catholic country like Italy you can’t help but notice the churches and religious icons – especially in these small villages – dotted here and there in quiet corners. A chance to pass on your thanks to the powers that be…..if that’s what your beliefs are….or just enjoy the moments solitude away from the tourist throngs.

Of all 5 villages of Cinque Terre, Vernazza is the only one with a natural port. It has no car traffic either which, if you can get there early and beat the other eager tourists, adds a special tranquility to the place.

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Poem for all self-pitying writers suffering from writers block.

Anyone who writes, whether they call themselves a “Writer” or not has probably experienced this. Last night I hardly got any sleep at all because I had lots and lots of ideas for blog posts or other articles swimming around in my head….demanding my attention…rather than allowing me the bliss of sleep. Eventually around dawn I dozed off with several pieces already written…in my head anyway. Only to awaken, unrested, unrefreshed and very grumpy to find that all those brilliant ideas had evaporated into the ether and I sit frustrated in front of a blank screen. The great writers…..many of them alcoholics…..would use this enforced pause in their ability to write as an excuse to have a little drink…or two. But for me, as perverse as it may seem, I turned to poetry to break my writers block. Please forgive me…..I know not what I do. I am tired after all.

I toss and turn all night in bed,

Amid rumpled sheets all damp with sweat,

Ideas for writing swarm my head,

But morning comes and I forget ……..everything.

I sit before my keyboard,

My first coffee growing cold,

As I try to recall a single word,

Of great ideas once bold ………disappeared.

I’m angry, grumpy, tired,

If I could one idea recall,

My mind once sharp now mired,

Writers block – bricks in a wall…….inaccessible

The screens bright light taunting,

Fingers poised above the keys,

Illusive lines are haunting…. me,

Half remembered thoughts just tease…..like dreams

Ideas so clear last night,

No need to write them down,

This morning not a single bite,

I feel like such a clown……….ridiculous.

But I refuse to let it get me down,

To wallow in self pity,

So I’ll turn that frown upside down,

And jot down this little ditty.………..poetry

Or if you prefer poems that don’t rhyme (free verse)……as the words that aren’t in bold above read….

“everything disappeared,

inaccessible (to) me,

like dreams ,

ridiculous poetry.”

Eulogy for the Poets (of old).

Whilst I agree that some poetry of old was as corny as a Hallmark greeting card. I do lament the passing – or apparent passing of the rhyme. And although I am sure that a lot of thought and agonising goes into more “modern poetry” – to an onlooker who knows little about poetry or poems (namely me), some of what these days goes under the guise of poetry can seem to be random thoughts jotted down in broken prose….to shorten the lines to make it look like a poem on the page……without the rhyming couplets etc.

I do however realise that there is merit in, and room for, all kinds of poetry and poets. I mean no offense. So….dipping my quill into the inkpot……here’s my Eulogy for the Poets.

When I was a child all poetry rhymed

But poetry like everything changes with time

Rhyming words on the end of lines gone, I suppose

Poems have been hacked and become chopped up prose

The mad poet swings the axe

Attacks the words once fluid

Now abrubt and angry rampage

Across the page, undisciplined rage

Against established system

Rebelious writers turn their backs

No more Ballads, No more Sonnets

Mindless acts, thoughtless hacks

Gone Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson, Keats

Trampled under heavy boots, pounding feet

Into dust

Great poets and poems crushed

Tradition down the toilet flushed.

And in view of my earlier statements above….by hypocritical contrast……here is, (in chopped up prose), an homage to Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris.

Octobers end

Golden leaves crunch underfoot

On pavements wet with rain

As Hugo’s gargoyles gaze down

Upon the riverbanks lined

With purveyors of nostalgic words

Swathed in scarves and coats heavy

Against the approach of winters promised chill

For winter brings death

But here in the Bards house of books

George Whitmans’ reality

Readers breathe new life

Into the written word

Literature’s dream lives on

Its pulse is strong

And ‘Beats’ to the words and worlds

Of Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac

These walls a haven

To writers and artists in need

It is indeed the ever beating heart

Of this city that is…..Paris.