Sorry for delay to part three, not sure where the time went-
Our next, and last stop was 6 days in the Cinque Terre. We had been there once before, about 20 years ago for 2 nights and always wanted to return and really relax and soak it all in. We also knew it got exponentially more crowded and thought we were prepared for it. As most tourist places go, most travelers to the Cinque travel through stopping in the various towns, so in the morning and evenings, you had the towns to yourselves. But the daytime was a different story.
I think most people know of the Cinque, but for those who don’t, it’s five towns perched on hills at the tail end of the Italian Riveria in Liguria. There are no cars allowed and you can ride a ferry boat, take the train or hike between them. We did all three. Trains and ferries were crowded, but we always got on. Getting off the train platform required some patience. The hikes that were in the national park were more crowded on the trails that required you to buy a pass. There were many hiking tour groups up on these trails click clacking their poles along the rocks. The other hikes were populated but not crowded. We did every open hike except for one.
And even in town there is very little flat ground here. You are almost always going up or down, stairs, inclines, hills. I would like to see how they rate this trip for the many, many tour groups we saw. There were quite a few people we saw at the bottom of the hill and wondered how they were going to get back up.
That being said, tour groups during the day were impossible to ignore. Some small, some large. People following the pole and flag and others tagged with stickers of their group. Cruise ships regularly offer this stop as an excursion. When you see the group from the Celebrity Cruise fill the streets of Vernazza, you wonder how the town can support it. But the shops are busy, all the cafes are full of happy people.
We generally hiked during the busy part of the day, ate a late lunch somewhere off the beaten track, went back to our fabulous house for some refreshments and a view and then found our way back to town for dinner and “nightlife”.
We stayed in Manarola and this house was fabulous. It is the house when you are at the harbor looking up, you say, I want to stay there. It was the house next to the spot where everyone climbed up for a picture. I could have sat on the terrace there forever. A quick walk downhill to the coop for fresh bread, meat, cheese and wine was snack and breakfast most days.
One of the things so interesting about Italy is how regional they are with wine and food. Weather, terrain, what is local to the area, all play a part. We were now in seafood and pesto land!
These stuffed mussels were quite a treat and we had them almost every day and in different places. Take out the mussel, combine with a stuffing mix and some mortadella and put it back in the shell, close it up. Cook it from there and serve with a delicious red sauce, so yummy.
Pesto by the gallon being made.
Manarola was a lovely little town on the water. Built in between two hills. It is one of the towns where you can swim in the harbor. It was busy with people jumping and yelling as they got into the water.
All of these little towns had the street lined with fishing boats.
We spent most of our time here during the day hiking. Up to the grapes.
Stairs anyone! These were nice stairs, most ups and downs were homemade rocky, uneven stairs. That being said they were not hikes that you needed full gear on. We wore gym shoes. Some had hiking boots. Some had sandals (not sure that worked to well in the end).
But the trip to Volastra was worth it, cute town and yummy sandwich to fuel our continued trip to Corniglia
Just to give you an idea of the climbs and the views. The first picture is Manarola, where we left and the second is Corniglia, where we were going.
As I write this, I realize how little pictures I took of the other towns. We visited them all, either hiking into or out of or just going there for dinner at night. Here is the best of my small collection! I think part of my lack of photos was the full on sun over the water washed out so many views when photographed. (I am going to a photo bootcamp next weekend. I realized I need much better skills!) Since most of our hikes were done during mid-day, those views will have to live on in our minds!
Riomaggiore (only town with a real beach for swimming
Bar Il Gabbiano
One fo the few rest stops along the hikes. Views are out of the this world and their slushy lemon drinks were fabulous.
We had a beautiful trip and I would tell anyone thinking of going to Italy, to just go. Every worry you might have, is really not that big in the end. Some things will not go perfectly, but the experience is worth it.
Now onto to figuring out where to next!