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I remember, like it was yesterday, the first time I arrived in Montemarcello. I'd walked with my son from Tellaro and via Ameglia, through beautiful forests, views of blue seas far below, Tuscany and the Maritime Alps in the distance.
We walked into the village, a little before 2:30 PM. on a sweltering hot July day and found ourselves all alone.
There was not a soul about. No tourists and no locals.
The only sound were the cicadas and the occasional clatter of china from within an open window where the last dishes were being put away before the afternoon nap. It was the Italy of long ago. In few Northern Italian towns do you still get that quietness and sense of peace on a summer's afternoon in July.
I fell in love right there and then with Montemarcello.
There is the rather wonderful and rather expensive Golfo dei Poeti Relais & Spa just outside of Montemarcello and not much else. If that doesn't appeal to you, or if you are on a budget, then the best idea is to stay at the Hotel Fiascherino in nearby Tellaro
Just spending time soaking up life in Montemarcello is pleasure enough for me. Here the locals have time for you and are happy to chat.
The stories of Italy you take home from places like this are different from those you take home when rushing through Italy, crossing off "must-see sights". Here, the stories are those of a village. Tales told to you by locals become your stories to tell on your return home. The whole place becomes a part of you.
The main architectural attraction is the 15th century church of San Pietro. It's a lovely little church, one of those little churches, like many other scattered throughout Italy, where I really feel the presence of God. I don't know what it is, but I'll walk through the doorway, leaving behind the hot, sweltering summer's day for a cool and shadowed world where in the quietness, often all alone, I'll feel moved to tears of joy.
What else is there to see? Well, the other main historical sight is the 15th century arch as you enter into the town and outside of town there's a famous botanical garden, L'Orto Botanico di Montemarcello, where you can view the very distinctive and varied plant species of this region.
Take a walk up to Monte Caprione and view a coast that DH Lawrence waxed lyrically about. Up here to is the local version of Stonehenge, where strange shaped rocks called the Menhir of Monte Caprione have stood since prehistory times. The rocks come alive during sunset on the summer solstice when the suns light passing through one rock illuminates another with a glowing butterfly shape.
Nearby there many splendid beaches which are often yours alone to enjoy - most of them require walking down a lot of steps to get to, with the loveliest of them all, Punta del Corvo, having around 800. Getting there is alright, if a little hard on the knees, but getting back up after a long day under the hot summer sun is another matter.
Seafood is the local specialty and nowhere does it better than Ristorante Locanda Pescarino. Tucked away down a narrow country lane and surrounded by fairytale scenery, everything on their menu is as fresh as it comes - anything fresher is still swimming in the sea.
Chef Gabriele is an expert at all the local dishes and sticks pretty much to these except for an occasional inspired touch of his own here and there.
It's a family run affair too with recipes from Mamma and Nonna and all the family helping out.
To me,these family run restaurants are always the best and this one proves the point. They can keep those Michelin star restaurants - give me somewhere like the Ristorante Locanda Pescarino anyday.
The best way to get here is by car, although you can get a bus from Lerici which takes around 30 minutes.