Tuesday 4 August 2009

I dream of Cinque Terre

"Come, follow me." KC said as she led me out of her strangely modern bungalow set in a landscaped garden amidst grassy plains that stretch for miles and miles towards the horizon.

We walked leisurely along the dirt road across the flatlands until we arrived at the coastline. There, before us, was a breathtaking view of dramatically terraced hills, picturesque villages and azure seas.

A well-trodden path brought us to the shore below where a cluster of white-washed buildings appeared in the empty landscape like an apparition. There were houses packed together like sardines, wonderful views of the rugged coastline and strangely, a sense of isolation and peace.

Most of the townfolks have retreated for their afternoon siesta. Even the dogs lying on the verandah were too lazy to move. We found a quaint restaurant by the coast and entered from the back door. It was small and cosy, with old-fashioned timber chairs and tables highlighted by sunlight streaming in from the tall glass windows.

KC spoke quickly in Italian and we were soon seated. Plates of food were put on our table in quick succession. KC frowned as I tucked into a pasta dish. She explained that we only take what we need. True enough, the untouched dishes were brought away to make way for new ones. I must have sampled a dozen Italian dishes and desserts.

While KC was still eating, I made an excuse to sneak out for a walk. The tiny seaside town, with its confection of pastel houses that climb up the cliff, was a sight to behold. A quick ascend through the village's mazelike alleyways led me to inspiring views of sweeping vineyards and garden terraces.

It's almost unfair that KC could live in a place of such intense beauty and great cuisine. I mustn't wander too far lest I lose myself in the maze. Reluctantly, I returned to the restaurant to find her enjoying a glass of sciacchetrà, a super-sweet late-harvest dessert wine generally reserved for special occasions.

See, that was a dream I had last night. The dream was so vivid, it was as though I had been there before. The place was Cinque Terre, along Northern Italy's Riviera, where I had dreamed of hiking for some years now. Somehow, Cinque Terre manifested in my dream last night and of all people, I was with KC who happens to be CH's sister in law!

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