The beauty of the sea oftentimes lies above the water-line. The salty air that sticks to your skin and clears your lungs. The colors that the sun takes on as it finishes its daily journey toward the horizon. And on the clear days when the wind has whisked away all traces of fog, mist, or smog, the seemingly limitless visibility.
In Levanto, we don’t have to worry much about smog (there isn’t a single traffic-light in town), and so we live with excellent visibility. But some days are better than others. Sometimes you can see all the way to Corsica. Some days you can see across the Ligurian Sea to the other side of Italy and the beginning of the French Riviera. And on particularly spectacular days, you can see all the way to the Alps.
My experience in the Alps has been limited, even if I have lived in Italy for 10 years now. One winter we stayed for a week in a cabin directly underneath the Dente du Géant , climbing ice and nordic skiing in the nearby Val Ferret. Another year we huddled inside drinking vin brulé and playing cards in Gressoney. But that’s about it. So it took the help of a local friend, Claudio, to figure out just what mountain range I could see from the beach yesterday afternoon as the sun went down.
Turns out that the peak that poked up into the sky like a deep blue-gray triangle is Monte Viso, or Monviso as it is called in Italian. It’s not a monster, but at 12,600 ft, it’s not exactly small either. It’s found in that part of Piedmont where you can still find Occitan dialects spoken.
Italy is beach. Italy is cities. Italy is mountains. All usually within 100 miles of each other.