Rossiglione, where everyone knows your name.
Liguria is a crescent-shaped region in northwest Italy. Its Mediterranean coastline is known as the Italian Riviera and includes Cinque Terre and Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure, as well as Sanremo. And then, there is Genoa, birthplace of Christopher Columbus, and gateway to the sea.
Twenty-five miles north of Genoa, deep into the Liguria Alps is a small village of a mere 2000 residents: Rossiglione.
I arrived in Rossiglione by bus from Genoa and settled in my Airbnb B&B, housed in a narrow 5 story building, originally built in 1700 in the commercial/industrial area of the village and ultimately abandoned and left vacant for years.
My Airbnb B&B host and train driver by trade, Andrea, bought the building about ten years ago. He began refurbishing it about 3 years. He has done beautiful work and now has an impressive building with incredible character and charm. He continues to work as a driver; however, he now rents rooms out through Airbnb.
I have been traveling throughout Europe and South America for over twenty months now. I know what I like. I prefer old buildings over modern hotels or homes. Andrea's house is beautiful with large rooms, efficient private bathrooms, and large windows overlooking the narrow streets of Rossiglione.
After I settled in my room that first day, I ventured out and crossed the stream to explore “greater” Rossiglione. I stopped in a grocery store and heard a women singing inside. When I turned to the next aisle, I met Louisa who spoke little English but certainly knew how to belt out Italian lyrics to what must have been a traditional song because other employees joined her. When the singing stopped, Louisa and I introduced ourselves. Then, she introduced me to other shoppers, referring to me as “DIYana....FlorEEEda!” We all chatted as best we could, given my little knowledge of Italian.
On my way back, I noticed a cafe/bar just around the corner from my B&B. The front of the cafe was lined with twelve people seated, smoking and chatting away. By the time, I reached the opened door, all talking ceased. All twelve people, and the women especially, looked me up and down with frowns. I decided these facial expressions were not exhibiting disapproval, but rather, curiosity.
I stopped, turned to them and in my best Italian and biggest smile, said, “Buon pomeriggio.” Most frowns turned to polite smiles. Not all, however.
Undeterred, I nodded and said, “Bella giornata.” Eleven out of the twelve returned broad grins. But, there was still one...a 70ish woman, who had the most severe frown. She leaned toward me and said something I couldn't understand. I shrugged my shoulders, “No Italiano...Inglese.”
I watched as the entire line buzzed with each other for about 30 seconds and, then, looked back at me in blank silence. I smiled, went inside and ordered a macchiato.
The outspoken women followed me in and asked me in broken English where I was from. When I said “America, USA,” she wanted to know what “country.” I knew she meant state. When I said, “Florida,” she went outside and announced that I was from Florida, then promptly returned to me and asked my name. When I told her, she went outside again and announced, “DIYanna...FlorEEEEda!”
She returned inside again and said her name was Carmen. She took my arm and led me back outside and introduced me to the line of locals who now were very gracious.
Everyday after, I stopped at the cafe, sometimes two times day. The same group of twelve sat on their chairs. And, they added another chair for me.
Carmen and her sister, Giuseppina became fun friends and are pictured in this selfie.
I was in this tiny, lovely village for a week. I attended the outside musical events, that took place 4 out of the 7 days I was there. Everywhere I went, I ran into people I had met throughout this quaint town. They always shouted, “DIYanna...FlorEEEEda!”
And, of course, everyone asked me, “Why, why do you come to Rossiglione? There is nothing here.”
I had a simple response. “It’s wonderful here, with peaceful mountains, lovely people. And, I am greeted by everyone...you want to know my name, where I am from.”
When I explained this to my host, Andrea, he said, “Sì, sei una celebrità locale adesso...you are a local celebrity now.”
We laughed. He added, “If you stay longer, you will become president!”
There’s some to be said about escaping the big, touristy cities and landing in small communities where everybody knows your name.
Please click HERE to listen to the Rossiglione Podcast
Please click HERE for the Rossiglione, Italy, Photo Gallery.