I have had a pretty busy day – taking care of my guests, a little climbing and biking, driving the minibus on the tormented roads of the Italian hills, finding good restaurants and having lots of fun in the meantime. When I finally went to my room at midnight I was to bed in seconds, tired but happy. It uses to be at this moment of my day as a guide in my own travel business, that I can relax and perhaps overview the spent hours mostly with a smile in my heart.
My room at the “agriturismo” Il Bandito e La Principessa in Finale Ligure was under the roof and the windows were barely one big and one small hole, slipping in the tepid air of the Mediterranean night. On one side there was another hole as a door, no pavement and, as the only decoration, an overhanging bouldering wall. Two ropes hang from the ceiling, with clothes hangers where my dresses swayed slowly as magic shadows in front of the big gorgeous bed I laid on. Silence, the darkness interrupted by small candle lamps in all different colours.
I was perfectly lucky.
" Narra una antica leggenda che qui, come in tutti i castelli che si rispettano, ogni tanto tornino a farci visita vecchi ospiti vissuti in altre epoche....narra quella leggenda che rimanendo piacevolmente affascinati dalla pace e dalla buona armonia che regna nelle nostre camere passino intere giornate a sonnecchiare e fare incetta di marmellate e dolcetti..." can be read in the home page of the agriturismo.
The house is a manor built by a Maresciallo Caviglia (one of Italy’s first generals, and a pretty singular personality – but this is a story too long to be told here) in the beginning of the past century on top of an ancient house that was built on top of a 1500th century chapel, and so on. This area of Liguria is known for prehistorical caves, so who knows when the first people were sitting here looking out at the landscape, and even if they had a tougher life than our and no time for contemplation, I am sure they were captured by the natural and spiritual beauty of it. The house is on a rock above the valley of Feglino, a village of a couple of hundred souls. It is surrounded by soft hills in the green of the Mediterranean macchia, a real jungle of all possible bushes and small trees where wild pigs, rabbits and birds find their most luxurious habitat.
Today it is Raffaella and Giuliano who rule over the property, and they give the place its wonder, continuing the tradition of the house - it is obvious that it is one of those places with a soul on Earth, you feel it when you stop and open your mind for a moment. Raffaella worked in finance (in one of Berlusconi’s many companies!) in her life before Il Bandito e La Principessa, coming from an intellectual family in Rome. She is a rock climber. Giuliano, is a rock climber and was travelling all over the world to find the best walls, before he settled down with La Principessa in this spot, where he doesn’t feel the need of go back to his nomadic life anymore – or at least not for the moment. They have restored both house and land with loving care of the story of the place and real passion for biological cultures. Agriturismo means that you open your house for tourists, and use the products of your land for their and your meals, so why not try to produce the best possible tomatoes, grapes and olives?
When we arrived at the house, they were welcoming us in their kitchen – stopping whatever they were doing at the moment, if baking some delicious quiche in the oven or trimming the fruit trees in the land - as they do with all the many different kind of guests passing by during one day, from the lady whit fresh nettle tagliatelle to the bricklayer who is also a climbing friend, to the other rooms’ guests – everyone is treated in the same friendly and personal way. Everyone who comes here is going to become a respected and beloved friend in the turn of a few hours. There is always a smile and time for a talk, which make you drop stress and anxiety.
I had the occasion of spending four times at Il Bandito e La Principessa and I can say that my impression of the people and the place was growing better for each. The secret for me is that Raffaella and Giuliano live in full contact with earth, which occupies their energy and mind, and that they have decided to open their home for all kind of passengers, which gives them a never ending flow of love. The last days I felt completely at home and had no worries left, even if I still had my guests to take care of and help. They seamed on the other hand not to need so much from me anymore, sitting around the big table of the agriturismo after a delicious dinner with all the others, guests or not, in this magic place.