Follow my adventures while living in Italy with my husband and our two dogs Moose the whippet and Ruby the Australian Terrier. It's sure to be full of fun, frustration and cultural confusion.

Monday, 23 December 2013

A weekend in...the Cinque Terre

OK so we didn't choose to go to just the Cinque Terre for a weekend, we were already travelling around Italy but we DID only spend a weekend there. From Bolzano it wouldn't really be possible for us to go to just the Cinque Terre for the weekend as there would be too much travel time (all day on a train) but you could do it from another main European hub by flying into Pisa and then catching the train north to La Spezia and then onward to the Cinque Terre. And it really is the perfect weekend away destination.

Cinque Terre means five lands and is composed of five fishing villages along about 20km of coastline at the southern end of the Italian Riveria. Each of the villages has it's own charm and can be reached by train, ferry or walking tracks. 

We stayed in Riomaggiore, the southern most village. 

My handsome husband, looking kind of italian in his linen shirt and pants

On Saturday we got up discovered which of the walking tracks we closed due to the very bad weather they had had recently. We made a plan and caught the train to the northern most town Monterosso del Mare. This is pretty much the only village with a beach, it was an amazingly hot day and we found a gelato stall selling as much gelato as you wanted for a euro.
unique building at the end of the beach

I so wished it was summer and these were being hired out still - a peddle boat with a slide!!
We hiked for a couple of hours along the little trail that the farmers used to use as the only transport between towns. 

Jonathon, getting his walk on


The family, with Vernazza in the background
As you walked around the coast you caught glimpses on Vernazza the next town in the distance. Then as you got closer it was just idyllic, the stuff postcards are made of.

If you do a google image search for Vernazza you will find various versions of this shot.
Vernazza was an adorable town and we had a great afternoon having lunch by the sea and wondering the winding streets.

There are cats EVERYWHERE in the Cinque Terre, this one was having a nap on a boat cover

On Sunday unfortunately the weather wasn't so kind to us as it was the day before, I was quite under-dressed thinking it was overcast but warm when really it was overcast and kind of chilly. We got back on the train and headed to Corniglia. Corniglia is on top of a rocky cliff so you have to either take a winding road or walk up a zillion stairs from the train station to get there. We took the road up and the stairs down.
This did mean the views from this place were incredible!
Looking back to Manarola

Family admiring the view, Jonathon and I  are very colour coordinated in our clothing choices
The village itself was cute (they all are!) with a Church and winding streets
The statue in front of this church looked kind of like a Zombie so we all pretended we were of the undead

Then we headed to the last village Manarola (last for us to visit, it is the second most southern village). 
Looking down from up the hill, on the right at the terraced gardens. In a lot of the Cinque Terre these were quite derelict but in Manarola they were still tended and producing crops.

Looking up the main street from the Sea

All in all it is a wonderful way to spend a weekend, exploring the 'five lands', and a weekend is just enough time to see them all (although you could definitely spend longer there). It is not too expensive, you pay for the Cinque Terre pass each day (nine euro each I think) which lets you catch the train and walk the trails between the villages. I would suggest going earlier in the year than October to optimise your chance for trials being open and some slightly warmer weather. I cannot imagine hiking along the coast in the middle of summer being particularly pleasant but September or erly June would be nice I'm sure. It is not really the destination where you "do" things in that there are no galleries or museums but it is a great place to go wander around, eat good food and admire the unique, colourful cliff side villages. 

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