Cinque Terre, known for its unspoiled, architecturally blended topography and craggy cliffs, is a home to profound lessons on life as strong as the beauty of its breath-taking Italian coastline. Home to the five small Italian towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Mararola and Riomaggiore, towns with multi-colored smooth stucco buildings picturesquely tucked into the inlets of hidden Italian coastline coves, this place ranks among the most beautiful destinations in the world.
In the small hilltop town of Levanto, just north of Cinque Terre, is a man named Alberto. Proud host of the Hotel Al Terra di Mare, the upscale Bed & Breakfast we were lucky to have stumbled upon, Alberto is a real Roman man who spends his summers welcoming tourists to what he calls “Italy’s Secret.” When we met Alberto he immediately chauffeured us from the train station to the top of the mountain, and didn’t allow one second of silence. In a thick and enthusiastic Italian accent, he emphatically told us about the beauty of this secret spot of Italy and of his love for us as his visitors. His promises about his countryside were not a let down, but it was not his countryside that most affected me, it was his over-whelming love for life and people that will stick with me forever.
Later, he escorted us back down to the train station for a trip to the coastline, and on our way down we asked him what he most loves about Cinque Terre. His answer? “I’m happy-a. I’m always happy- a with-a de sand and-a sun-uh.” He then shuffled us into the train station, double-checked our departure time options like a concerning grandfather, and scattered off to the Levanto mercado to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for the Hotel’s terrace top restaurant dinner that evening, a dinner of ensalata caprese and bruchetta al pesto that we savored with local wine wino and lemoncino.
The next day, upon our departure, Alberto shared with us why he loved his job so very much, and for this answer, I believe that he is one of the wisest men I have ever met: “Peace-a, love-ee-a, and-a w(v)ork. We are united in Italia be-a-cause-a we love-ee-a each-a other.”
I have never met a man with so much pride and passion for his country, loving others and sharing his love with others through service (work). Alberto is man to emulate, and man with a profound affect on the world that will extend far deeper than the inlets of Cinque Terre or the Colosseum of Rome.