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Ciao Bella!

rain 17 °C

I remember Natalie mentioning wanting to go to Italy for almost as long as I have known her and she has talked about the area in Italy called Cinque Terre since we started discussing this trip. Unfortunately, as things unfolded it really looked as if we would have to miss it because of time and how our schedule was looking. She hid her disappointment pretty well, but with this unexpected road trip while we wait for my visa, our options were wide open and it was within our reach. So we added it to the schedule and left Eze, France yesterday and headed for Italy.
It was a little less than 300kms and unless we were in the city of Genoa I'm pretty sure we were either in a tunnel or on a bridge, building this highway must have taken a small army of engineers and a hundred times as many builders. I think we covered a few of their salaries with the amount of tolls we paid, but the drive was pretty entertaining.
Cinque Terre is a group of five tiny towns along the rugged coastline in north west Italy. We are staying just above the most southern town of Riomaggiore in a little collection of cottages built into the side of the hill. Trip Advisor warned us about the stairs and they weren't kidding, it is probably a hundred and fifty steps down to our room...and back up to our car. For the first time in our travels we are seeing rain, we shouldn't complain, but we have been a bit spoiled so we just aren't used to the wet stuff. When we got up this morning is was a toss up as to whether we were going to find a place to do some laundry or we were going to find some trails to hike. Our compromise was to throw the laundry in the car and head for the town which is where the trail starts. There was a cool breeze coming off the sea, but the sun came out and we went hiking. The photos hardly show it, but this terrain is straight up and down and is made more interesting by the locals persisting to grow grapes for wine on the steepest of slopes. The trail is supposed to go 9kms down the coast passing all five towns, but just after the second village the trail was washed out so we headed back to Manorola for some lunch and a sample of the local vintage. The combination of the freshest seafood and excellent local wine washed away all worries about rain or damaged trails.
There is a train that connects all 5 towns, but we opted to go back to our car and see where we ended up. The third town is called Corniglia and will have to wait until tomorrow's train ride because it isn't accessible by road. We drove down to the fourth town called Vernazza which was also a bit of a challenge as it started to rain just as we arrived and the parking lot isn't anywhere close to town. It was worth the wet hike as the town and was Nat's favourite of the day. I can't call it my favourite as I didn't sample the food, but it was a postcard picture wherever you looked. We spent an hour here and then headed on to the last town of Monterosso. Tomorrow we need to take the train back there because it has the oldest wine bar in the area and they have a tasting menu that serves wine from each of the five towns/valleys. From what we have tasted so far, that could be delicious.
The drive home is only nine kilometres as the bird flies, but it took us almost an hour and it wasn't the fault of the driver or the Citroen Picasso. The winding mountain roads, the lack of guard rails and the falling rain kept me in second gear most of the time...it was a little ridiculous. A wrong turn or a wet road and it is probably about a kilometre straight down to a wet, rocky demise. We stopped in Riomaggiore for another amazing seafood pasta before we drove back up to our little cottage on top of the mountain. We'll see what the weather holds for us tomorrow.

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Posted by colincampbell 12:36 Archived in Italy

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Comments

I am so jealous! The houses and view is just amazing! I hope the food is just as amazing looking forward to hearing about the meanu.

by Lisa

Natalie, haven't seen you since probably your high school graduation party, but I love reading your traveling story. One pic is more beautiful than the next. Enjoy your trip, definitely a once in a life time opportunity.

by Martha Anne

My favorite. I told her repeatedly to go here. My experience was right after Italy had lost world cup in 98? They closed the hostel in a rage. Some guy put me up in similar "buget accomodations" that was sick awesome fantastic for hostel price. Ahhh, the market on Tuesday buying pesto and prawns. The hikes. I slept between towens one night on a flat rock and met a girl. I remember the buildings lined with lights in one of the towns and the beaches. Oh, and I 'met' a girl.

by abraham

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