All Tours By Locals guides are nice enough. But Fulvia is a cut above the rest. I hired her for a run through the five towns of Cinque Terre, which are located on the Italian Riveria, about 10 miles west of La Spezia in the Liguria region.
Within 5 minutes of meeting, you feel like you’ve known Fulvia for years. And within an hour, you’ll learn that she knows everybody and everybody knows her. Fulvia has been variously described by clients and residents of the five towns as the president, queen, boss, etc, of Cinque Terre. I went with Mayor, with a capital M. The fact that others have come up with similar nicknames is a testament to her character, and a character she is.
Of course she shares all the facts about the five towns — why they exist, how they developed, and how they sustained themselves despite being isolated from the mainland. But you get a little more from Fulvia. For example, she explained that because the five villages were even cut off from each other before roads were built in the 20th century, families tended to marry into each other. That in-breeding led to a high percentage of mental deficiencies. But because they maintained a Mediterranean diet they were physically healthy. So the residents tended to have long lives, but weren’t the sharpest tacks in the box. (That may be why they never figured out they should just walk over to the other side of the mountain and join the civilized world.)