For reluctant urbanites who, back home, sit in traffic with jaws clenched, villages are literally the land of dreams. These ancient, echoey warrens are what we picture when, back home, we sing ourselves to sleep.
The French painter Claude Monet spent one winter -- the early part of 1884 -- in the Italian town of Bordighera, having been introduced to this part of the Riviera by his friend Renoir the year before.
I've been giddier than usual this week as I'm finalizing my travel plans for 2014. I've got an amazing itinerary promising four months of fun and learning, and there'll be lots of great new information to share.
As each village has its own persona, we chose Vernazza because it has been reported by many to be the loveliest of the villages with an ancient castle, pastel-colored cliff-hanging homes, an inner port and a small intimate seaside church.