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When In Roam

By Ma. Isabel Lopez

Celebrating my birthday in Italy with my boyfriend, Jonathan Melrod (human rights lawyer), I thought of doing something outrageous. Something I’ve only experienced once in my life during the 80s- at the set of my French Film Joy et Joan, when we were billeted at the Club Pacific, a German owned hotel in Cebu (Hubohubo Beach). When you’re in your 50s, time seems to go faster. So, my boyfriend and I set out for an adventure in Cinque Terre, in The Italian Riviera (it is called so because of the five villages). Thanks to Lonely Planet, we came across a secret naturist beach called Guvano Beach in Corniglia- where clothing is “optional”. See, I’m out of the my country and i’m incognito. So, I thought, why not? After all, I was a sex symbol for decades and comfortable in my own skin. Yes, I did that for the money, but this time I’m doing it for fun! Life is short! The place is not easy to find. We had to check Google about Guvano Beach reviews, and other travel websites.

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Lonely Planet says, ask a local for directions. It is a must to bring flashlight, not the iPhone flashlight. I tried to borrow one from Giuliano, owner of the Camere Giuliano. But he raised his eyebrows when we said we are going to this beach. “No good. A few days ago, the police closed it because too many young people, you know, take drugs right there on the beach,” he explained. Oh no! Knowing me and my negotiation skills, I managed to borrow a high-powered flashlight from him. Guys, take note.

According to my research, Smartphone flashlights won’t work in the very dark tunnel. Soon, our imaginations were already running wild. Italians are such sun worshippers, and Jonathan was thinking, maybe some hot Italians are sunbathing in the raw. I don’t give up that easily. So we went to the police station in Vernazza, where we were staying and inquired about Guvano Beach, and ask how to get there, etc. The beach is accessible from the town of Corniglia . The cop, however, made no mention that the place was closed. So, I ask him if it’s open, and the answer was positive. So, Jon and I hurriedly proceeded, and I was equipped with my UV protect umbrella, (yes, I use an umbrella in the beach), water, sandwiches, and my traveling companion, the selfie stick. Upon reaching the Corniglia station, we asked a musician playing in the street for directions. From the train station, you need to hike at the bottom zigzagging several private homes. It took us 10 minutes to get to the entrance of a tunnel, an old abandoned train track.

A scene at the nude beach
A scene at the nude beach

At the entrance of the tunnel were illustrations and new roles of the beach with nudes! Hmmm…It’s really dark! The tunnel was 1 km. far, and at one point, we heard the sound of a roaring train coming behind us. And from a distance we could see a light getting closer and closer, and the sound of the train starting to become louder and louder. We decided to press our bodies on the walls of the train tunnel, thinking that it was going to hit us.

The friend we met in the tunnel
The friend we met in the tunnel

Then we heard a voice saying (holding a flashlight). “Oh don’t worry, first-timers normally experience this, but there’s nothing to be afraid of!” The train was coming from above us but it sounded like it’s behind us! We almost didn’t notice the distance as this guy was very entertaining, talking to us about the Secret Beach . He was hiking alone. I wondered if he was going to pick up some lover? But he was quick to tell us that he is a professor of engineering, and he usually comes there with his wife. But this time he decided to go there alone.

Upon reaching the end of the tunnel, we saw a homeless Italian who set up his bed comfortably. Our guide dropped a coin at the entrance as a token. Passing by olive trees, and a few tents. It’s a campground! Guvano has two beaches. The first is wholesome – you could see families having a picnic all wearing bathing suits. Our guide told us that the second beach is the naturist beach. But to get there, it was quite a steep descent down a rocky cliff. We were clinging on to heavy ropes for safety. It reminds me of my stint in Survivor (Philippines). Luckily, with baby steps, we were down in no time. The beach is nothing compared to the beautiful white sand beaches of the Philippines. Alas, I could see – men, women and children in the raw! I scanned the area if there were any Filipinos – none!11960278_10153585673474766_8865277401701542718_n

Both my boyfriend and me took off our clothes. I draped a thin animal print sarong on my body. Took my selfie stick and extended it to its maximum length! Then started clicking away. Of course I took photos of them. Little did they know that I plan to write about this in this column. (Unfortunately, those photos were deleted from her FB page. Ed.)

Next to us is a mother and child washing their bodies in the beach. What a beautiful sight of a Madonna and Child-so pure! Jonathan was looking forward to seeing some hot Italians, but he saw were old and overweight Italian women. It was a mix of gays, heterosexual, some alone. Or couples like us. The protocol here is -respect. Boundaries. The adventure in this naturist beach reminded me of how we used to be-pure. Just like little children frolicking on the beach. The nudist camp-if it is a beauty or filthy-is really in the mind of the beholder

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