Just when you think you have seen them all, you will find there are lots more than 5 villages in the Cinque Terre. My little village of San Bernardino sits above Corniglia and Manarola with a breathtaking view of both and on the 8th September it was party time.
The permanent residents are around 12, along with 3 dogs and 5 or 6 stray cats, boosted by the holiday makers renting out during the summer. The plaque on the side of the church rings true as Basso is everyone’s surname ( which made it easy for me when I first arrived so I never got a name wrong!) and the place is “divine/ of wine”.
For a little village this is THE EVENT of the year and there was no holding them back! Locals had been planning for the day ever since last year, gathering goodies for the bazaar and prizes to give away at the lottery as well as preparing the food for the 2 day festival. People came from everywhere; on foot in a procession from Corniglia even pushing babes in prams, on the shuttle bus from the other villages, or hitching lifts with friends. Ties are really strong with Corniglia (our nearest village) as they consider San Bernardino to be their Sanctuary too and we were not to be let down by the turn out.
Our young local priest had worked hard to promote the event, as had the locals at San Bernardino in offering their hospitality. Even the Vernazza council sent up the street cleaner to pretty us up and we had laid out the piazza with new gravel, se we were feeling very spruced up and flashy. Prizes galore in the lottery and the bazaar, food non stop and a local band to entertain us.
Everyone was catered for, from young to old, toys and handbags, clothing and kitchenware, even a piano keyboard as a prize donated by…who knows? If you didn’t like your prize you could even re-donate it and it did another round! Kids squealed with delight when they peeled off the pasta holding their bazaar ticket to win a sought after doll, or mini tractor. Over 1000 lottery tickets sold and lots of donations collected, probably enough to frescoe the church!
Old photos brought back memories to many of times past and family members long gone, and a few tears were shed. I love to hear people reminisce, to learn what the place was like when they were young, when the trails were all clean and everyone worked in the fields and on the terraces. Just to see the village and church in the photos of 1950s was touching. How hard they had worked to make it what it is today.
So if you are on the trail from Corniglia to Vernazza look up to the right, give a wave to us at San Bernardino or drop by to see the “Paese dei Basso, luogo di-vino”.