Rapallo, Montallegro and Chiavari.
Back on that train again, this time to Rapallo. But for some strange reason the train only goes as far as Sestri Levante where we have a 40 minute wait for an ongoing train, time for a walk round the town of impressive buildings and a coffee. Once at Rapallo we cross the small town to make our way up to the Funicular station for a squashed 500m ride to the upper station. A short walk up steps leads to The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montaleggro. Here in 1557 a vision of Madonna was seen and a sanctuary built for pilgrims, the present day impressive marble facade dates from 1896. From here we had a well paved level track [with stations of the cross] along a ridge of oak and chestnut trees, unfortunately the mist interrupted coastal views.
For most of the day the pilgrim/mule trail was cobbled, often between old stone walls running across terracing on the hillside. Inland low hills, with scattered farmsteads, led up to the distant Apennines whilst down to our right were glimpses of the coast. There was a steep scramble up a rise in the woods and we were nearly mown down by mountainbikers on the descent. The ornate church of La Madonetta suddenly appeared in the trees further on.From here paved ways led down to the town of Chiavari which had some grand buildings in its centre and lots of alleyways leading nowhere. The railway station was tucked away in a tunnel. This was a relatively short walk as we had a wine tasting to attend in the early evening. This took place in an old house used in the past for the preparation of Anchovies which were an important food through the winter months. Our host runs a restaurant here and gave an entertaining and informative presentation helped by his young daughter. [blurry picture below] One of the grapes used in this region is the Vermentino producing a light fruity dry white wine. We tried four from slightly different areas and methods. After that we staggered out into the street and into a nearby restaurant [Gian Maria] for a tasty prawn spaghetti and of course more wine.