St. Tropez, France

There are a lot of things we love about a traveling lifestyle – the list is far too long to type here. If we did type it, though, one thing that would appear at the very top would be experiencing a touch of local life in the foreign places we go. It’s easy to be a “tourist” and see the sites and taste the food, etc., but to really get to know a place you have to go further than the tourists go, you have to go off the beaten path, you have to take more than a superficial interest in the culture, and most importantly you have to spend time getting to know local people. When we’re able to take those extra steps, the rewards for us over the years have been remarkable, and we’ve formed some of our most lasting and valued relationships this way. These people have shown us the world through a different lens, they’ve given us perspectives about life that fundamentally change the way we see things, and in doing so, they’ve expanded our minds, they’ve humbled us, and they’ve made us care about people and cultures everywhere, not just those close to home.

The reason I babble on about this here is because we’ve had just such an experience over the past few days Rapallo, thanks to the Pelloso family (to which our friends Lisa and Mara belong). By train, they took us to the Cinque Terre fishing villages, which are a must-see for anybody coming to this part of Italy. But the real fun began when they invited us to a family dinner at their hilltop home just outside Rapallo. This is where the Pelloso family ran a family business making olive oil, and today the house still has all the original production equipment in perfect working order – they could make oil tomorrow if they were so inclined. We learned about the olive oil machinery, the family’s local shoe companies, and the cliff-diving uncle known as “Tarzan”. We finished off the night at a local tavern telling sailing stories and getting so drunk that we forgot to wake up yesterday morning to leave for Monaco! Grazi (thanks) to the Pelloso family for such an amazing time – it was difficult saying arrivaderce (goodbye).

We’re now back on track after sailing most of the night towards Monaco and arriving there a few hours before sunrise. We threw the anchor just outside the harbor, snagged a few hours good sleep, got the sunrise pic inside the Monaco harbor, and are now on the motor in windless conditions heading for St. Tropez. We’re looking forward to a relaxing evening there tonight because we’ve got a big two-day passage to the Balearic Islands in Spain that begins tomorrow morning. Unfortunately this means we won’t have time to infiltrate a French family on this trip, but we’re feeling far too Italian for that right now anyway.