When the weather turned hot, we would escape the valley, the heat bowl that is Florence, on the weekends. We would pack a basket, our red umbrella, and some food and water, hop on the train or a in rented car, and find our way to the sea.
We had heard talk of a beach near Montemarcello in Liguria which was more private and “wild” than the ones closer to Florence. It was called Punta Corvo, and according to the rumours was a bucket-list worthy destination, so we hopped in the car and headed northwest. We were told it was not for the faint of heart, but we didn’t know what that meant, and surely we were not faint of heart. Though we didn’t have a clear idea of how to get there, we figured we would see signs once we reached the town.
After several hours on the road and some wandering, we found ourselves at the head of a trail. It was quiet, the floor covered in crunchy leaves and pine needles. They said there was a bit of a hike to get to the beach. My roommate said. We all tightened our backpack straps and started on the trail.
The first leg was peaceful. We came out on a winding dirt path, weaving through colourful houses and gardens, fig trees and mountain views.
It was hot, but we could see the glistening blue water in the distance, pushing us on.
After about ten minutes, the trail started to dip, and we re-entered the trees. I was beginning to sweat, wishing I had worn hiking boots rather than beach sandals. Soon we found ourselves on a very sharp decline, descending the side of the forested cliff, towards the sea which was looking further and further away the more we walked. It seemed forever out of reach as we tripped our way down the rocky path. It was hard to perceive distance from way up here, looking down at the vast blue that stretched out further than we could see. We continued stumbling our way down.
When will be get there? We’ve be walking for ages…
We must be almost arrived.
Conversation fell away as we all lost our breath, tripping over rocks and roots, hopping from one wooden step to the next, when there were steps. We didn’t stop, the sea was calling us from below, though it never seemed to be getting any closer.
After about forty minutes, colourful umbrellas came into view, encouraging us to continue on our unintentional pilgrimage. Lovers of sand and sea, unite! I chanted in my head as I forced myself to keep walking, sweat dripping towards my navel and my legs burning. Something about our beach journey seemed truly authentic to me. We were more dedicated to our love of waves than those who simply headed to the pay-beaches, where you had to rent an umbrella and loungers for the day, sitting by a bar and sipping cocktails in the sun, music pumping. We were true wave warriors, explorers, lovers of adventure.
When we finally made it to the final stretch, we were exhausted, ready to collapse. But the trees opened up and we were on the edge of a craggy cliff, turquoise water and dark sand calling us forward. When we stepped off the last stone of the path leading down, we skipped out into the hot sand, jabbing our umbrella like a flag into our newly claimed territory, flinging out our beach rug and hanging our t-shirts as we stripped down to swim suits and headed for the water.
My love affair with the mountains and the sea continues.