Saturday, May 23, 2015

Around Cinque Terre

Part of the pleasure of being in Cinque Terre is the easy access one has to the other villages. The local trains run regularly among the five villages, and there are also both coastal and mountain trails that link them. During the course of our three days, we were able to visit all of the villages, each with its own unique characteristics and personality. 

Corniglia, situated on a promontory was the first village we visited after Riomaggiore. To reach the center, you have to climb 365 steps from the train station, one for each day of the year. Therefore, it usually is recommended for tourists not to stay overnight here, as you would need to lug all of your bags up this way. Corniglia has nice winding alleys and a great look out point where you can have a view down the coast. 

Manarola, another village in Cinque Terre, has a main street that leads down the harbor. One of the restaurants near the water has great gelato!

The next day was brighter and sunnier - lucky, because we were planning on making the famous hike between Monterosso and Vernazza. Monterosso is a larger town, the northernmost of Cinque Terre, and has the feel of a seaside resort. There is a wide swath of sandy beach, perfect in a warmer season for swimming and laying out under the sun.

The two-hour hike between Monterosso and Vernazza leads you up into the mountains in between the two villages. The trail is not marked particularly well, and we actually found ourselves up in some farmer's terraces because we lost the main trail. Several times during this hike, we would accidentally wander off the path and into farmland.

Eventually, we found the stone steps of the main trail, as it led away from the terraces and into the heavily wooded side of the mountain.

As you descend over the side of the mountain, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the next village, Vernazza, which lies on a spit of land curling out into the sea.

The harbor area makes for a nice stroll. Though there was some construction happening in the village because it was the off season for tourism, that hardly detracted from our enjoyment. 

We spend some time looking out to the sea from the harbor, before getting more gelato from a little place in the village (No day was complete without a little bit of gelato!). Then, we took the train back to Riomaggiore, packed up, and got ready to leave Cinque Terre for the next morning. I really loved this little gem of a place in Italy, and additionally enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the off-season.

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