Well, the view was wild that is for sure!!!
We finally made it the lovely, touristy, yummy, perfectly beautiful Cinque Terre. The land of five towns is everything I had read, over priced, filled with tourists, no cars allowed, narrow paths…but so worth the visit. The views and the walk from town to town was simply a glorious day.
We asked our new friend Lizzy (from the States living in Lucca now) to help us brave the drive into the Cinque. YES-I know everyone said just take the train but we had a group and a rented car and we are used to the crazy roads in our village so we felt like we could make it!
Cinque Terre is located in the La Spezia, Liguria region and is a short hour or so drive from Lucca-and actually quite easy…we enjoyed the views on the way uppppppp and dowwwwwnnnn to the eventual car park. We so enjoyed the town of Manarola with it’s lovely shops, fishing boats lining the streets, views to die for and brave men diving into the crystal blue ocean. It is known for it’s brightly colored homes lining the cliffs and the San Lorenzo church. We were unable to hike from this town however due to the “under construction” trails form the prior floods. I was actually in Italy and flew out Oct 19, 2011 the day it literally started pouring rain. These rains grew to devastating floods in the region leaving nine dead, homes destroyed, one town almost leveled and trails and roads a mess. The people of the region have worked hard for three years getting the area back in shape but not all the trails are open yet. I was disappointed as this is the “Via dell’ Amore” or Lover’s Trail
We jumped back in the car and headed to an equally precious tiny fishing village of Vernazza (circa 1080) where we grabbed lunch at the small swimming hole Piazza Marconi, then began a hike to the next village.
The hiking trail included shaded areas, narrow “hang on to the cliff” areas, lots of steps, ledges, suck in your gutt to let the other person pass first areas and more! We did NOT take enough water and I braved a drink from a trickle of water coming from the rocks (luckily I did not get sick). As always, I was amazed at how Italians can grow anything…anywhere!! How do they care for fruit trees and pick olives while hanging from a cliff over the ocean??? My kid would love to find out as she has decided she will live and die here…it was that beautiful.
We finally arrived to Monterosso al Mare…the trail actually ended at the largest sandy beach of all the towns. It was packed with sunbathers and swimmers and lovely hotels overlooking the water. We shopped, had some of the best gelato, and looked inside the parish church of St John The Baptist (circa 1282), the convent (which was kind of creepy to me) famed for housing loads of art and historical items. After the long day we jumped the train back to where are car was parked and held our breath as we drove back to the Autostrada!
It was a place we will return to and hopefully stay over and hike more!! Here are some reasons why…