Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cinque Terre

Despite last night being our first real sleep in two days, we woke up fairly refreshed at 8:00, had croissants and cappucino at the local coffee bar where we bought our phone card, and set out on our hike of the Cinque Terre. These five towns, part of a recently-established national park and World Heritage site, are connected by seven miles of hiking trail. Each town is set on a (steep) hillside by the sea, and consists of little more than a single narrow, uphill street, surrounded by colorfully painted buildings.

The first leg of the trail, from our "home" of Riomaggiore to neighboring Manarola, is called "la Via del Amore," after the young couples that frequent it. It is flat and easy, only about 20 minutes walk. In Manarola, which is prettier than Riomaggiore, we watched a short movie at the wine museum about the local dessert wine "Stracciatella." Evidently they have been making it for many centuries.

After a short walk around town, we continued on the trail to Corniglia. This trail was longer and slightly harder, taking a little over an hour. We got lots of great seaside views of the clear, blue-green water, and the amazingly regular boulders at the bottom. As we approached Corniglia, we skipped the nude beach (a decision, however, which we questioned somewhat as the day got hotter), and proceeded up the 384 steps to the town, which unlike the others is perched high on a hilltop. We bought a picture from a local artist camped at the bottom of the stairs. In Corniglia we ate our first deli-bought ham, (local) cheese, and (to-die-for) salami sandwich, which is a cheap, delicious, and fun way to eat lunch.

Onward to Vernazza! This section of trail was much hillier, much rockier, much longer (about 1.5 hours), and (due to the time of day) much hotter. Tara's flip-flops really got a workout on this one. This trail was more through the forest above the sea, so we didn't get as many views to go with our workout. We also passed an enterprising guy who set up a restaurant halfway along the trail, but since he wouldn't fill our water bottle we continued on. Eventually we made it to Vernazza, which was a little bigger and busier. We had our gelato of the day here.

We skipped the last trail segment, which is 2 hours long and even rockier than the previous one. Instead we took the train to Monterosso, which is the busiest and beachiest of the five towns. Having lost all of our posessions on the flight over, we were excited to find a few cheap clothes here -- a shirt for Tara and some shorts for Scott. After a stroll around town and some pizza focaccia, our tired feet carried us back to the train station to make our way home. Dinner in Riomaggiore was at a nice seafood place, with some amazing pesto linguini, swordfish with marinara, and a half-bottle of local wine.

We really enjoyed this day of our trip. The combination of hiking through the seaside scenery and strolling through small, tradition-filled towns was an ideal first day of our vacation.

(pictures to follow)


boston sherrill said...

Yeah!! You're alive and well...

Lacy said...

Lost all your possessions??? Oh-NO!
I'm salivating listening to your menus.
Have fun!