Via dell’Amore

Via dell’Amore, Cinque Terre, Italy from Frances Schwabenland on Vimeo.

Via dell’Amore or the Pathway of Love is located in Cinque Terre, Italy. The beautiful rocky coast and Ligurian homes carved into steep mountians make this a must see for anyone wanting to experience a bit of heaven on earth. The path connects the villages of Riomaggore and Manarola and after World War II became a lovers’ meeting spot. With the movie, Three Meters Above The Sky, it became the craze to declare one’s love on a lock and throw the key into the water, forever uniting the couple. (I am such a sucker for a great love story!)
Along with hundreds of new and rusting locks, declarations of love are written on walls and carved into the plants along the way. I believe firmly that there is an energy of place. Here on this pathway of love, one can’t help but feel the expansiveness and beauty while looking out and at the same time, being caught up in the wonderfully uplifting energy of amorous affections.

Copyright 2012 Frances Schwabenland. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Frances Schwabenland.

From Cinque Terre to Dosojin: Renewal, Surprise, and Newness

I just returned from a wonderful trip throughout Italy. Spring is definitely the time to go with cool breezes and fewer crowds. Many people were on their way in for Easter services, while I was on my way out with an Easter story, one of life over death. Cinque Terre is an area of 5 beautiful and charming medieval towns. Tourists can walk a 12 mile footpath from town to town and be gifted with breath taking views. Last October though, devastating mud slides hit. Mad Mudslides is just one of the many videos on YouTube showing the degree of destruction. While there, my group was staying at the Cuccaro Club located at the top of the mountain. It was here I heard the story of courage, resilency and community. The hotel was built and run by three generations but the mudslides broke through the generational legacy. It was destroyed. As soon as the rains stopped, the townspeople from all over came to help the family dig out. Little by little, bit by bit, the hotel was restored. The day we arrived, was opening day! There was such a spirit there I cannot even begin to describe it. All the local people who helped dig out now came back to celebrate the reopening. It was an amazing experience to be able to be a part of this grand celebration and Tonya (the daughter) made us feel just like family rather than the total strangers we were. Nature is powerful but the human spirit has a resilency and strength that was able to prevail through it all and we could all party over that!

This trip was the first time I had ever heard of Kinder Eggs. They are popular throughout Europe but definitely banned from the US. Last year, Customs and Border Protection seized over 25,000 of them from people trying to bring them into the country. These are chocolate eggs that contain a toy inside…a puzzle, an airplane, a doll, etc. They can be found all over and are delicious. Many pastry shops had very large, hand decorated eggs in their windows and I was told they all had surprises inside! We just have scratch off lotteries and Cracker Jacks!

Lastly, when I arrived home, I was so happy to receive word that a new multi-faceted travel website, Dosojin, had just been launched. Dosojin refers to Shinto stone markers which are placed along village borders and street corners to protect the travelers from evil influences. This is the vision of four very talented and creative individuals and I feel so very privileged that they decided to feature my work as part of their launch. Stop by and sign up for the app… it will be a much used tool for anyone who travels. Best wishes to
the creators of Dosojin.

Copyright 2012 Frances Schwabenland. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Frances Schwabenland.