Friday, 10 July 2015

Italy - The Villages of Cinque Terre

How did we pass our time in Cinque Terre?  By visiting all five villages of course.  While the villages all closely resemble each other at first glance, they each have their own flavor we soon discovered. 

The first village we visited was Vernazza.   

I know I shouldn't play favorites, but Vernazza stole my heart the very first time I walked her cobblestone street (and yes, there is only one street).   

We stayed in the hills above this lovely little town and often started and ended our day here.  It came to feel like our hometown in Cinque Terre, and maybe that's why I developed such a strong affection for it.   

Or maybe it's because this adorable little village that only takes five minutes to walk from end to end seems to spill out of the valley into the Mediterranean Sea...

Or maybe it's the sea urchins lurking in the pools of crystal clear water that collect along the rocky shore that the girls begged to explore every chance they got...

Or maybe it's the colorful buildings all snuggled together on the shore of the Sea with laundry hanging from the windows that reminds you there are people lucky enough to actually call this fairytale place home... 

Or maybe it's because this is a profession here - water taxi operator...

And this is your office - the Mediterranean Sea.  Are you starting to see why I liked this little village?

We did visit the rest of the villages during our stay as well.  Our first morning in Cinque Terre we strapped on our hiking shoes and we were off.  

Our guide was these signs marked with red and white.  Follow the correct sign and hopefully you will end up in the right place.

Keep your eyes open when hiking these trails because you never know where the red and white markings might pop up to point the way. 

Our destination that morning - the village of Monterroso.  

We didn't see much for beaches along the rugged coast of the Mediterranean until we visited Monterroso.   After our long hike, we grabbed a couple of pizzas and some cold drinks and sat on a bench overlooking the beach as we ate.  Not a bad way to spend a day.

We hiked back to Vernazza after lunch taking a different path that runs right along the Sea.  It's quite a precarious trail at times, but the view was amazing!  We caught glimpses of our little village of Vernazza as we made our way back. 

Day two we decided to try a different mode of transportation, a ferry.   We boarded the ferry right at the end of the pier in Vernazza and out onto the beautiful blue Mediterranean water we went.

We passed the village of Corniglia sitting high on a rocky outcrop...

And then Manarola...

But our destination that day was the village of Riomaggiore, the last of the five villages, and that is where the ferry deposited us... 

And where we were greeted by the village pussycat.  

The ferry ride was amazing, but getting on and off the boat was a bit dicey as it bobbed up and down with the waves of the Sea.  

We walked the street (again there is no plural at the end of the word "street" because these really are tiny villages) of Riomaggiore for a bit before heading up into the hills on foot towards one of the villages we had passed early on the boat, Manarola.  

After a rugged climb and descent, we found a place to enjoy some food and refreshments...

While watching the colors of the village change in the light of the setting sun. 

And about that setting sun...

We decided to take the easy route back to our little village of Vernazza - the train.  Yes there are trains that actually run between the five villages, although at first glance it's hard to image because of the rugged coastline.  But the trains have a secret - they cut through tunnels in the hills and pop out only when arriving at each village.  And do you know what that means for those who choose to use the train in Cinque Terre?  

You get a view like this while you wait for your train.  

We still had one more village to explore - Corniglia.  We headed there via train on the morning of our last full day in Cinque Terre.  

Upon arriving in Corniglia via train there are stairs to climb, and climb, and climb to actually get up to the village.  

After wandering the village a bit, we set off on our last hike in Cinque Terre.  We were hiking to the village of Manarola.  As with the other hikes, we had to go up, up, up and then down, down, down...

but this hike also took us right through a terraced vineyard....

And through someones yard.  We passed right by their front door, or maybe it was the back door (it's hard to tell when your house is sitting on a terrace) and we could see a man inside doing his laundry.  We felt like we were invading his privacy, but that's just where this trail took us.  There was no other route.  I'm guessing he's used to strangers passing right by his house.  He probably didn't even notice us.  

The house and the vineyard seems to just hang in the air over the Mediterranean.  

That people can take a rugged rocky steep hillside (and this is no small hill mind you) where one wrong move earns you a quick trip straight down to the Sea and turn it into this beautiful home and vineyard - it's simply amazing, or maybe crazy.  

But with a view like this and a perfect climate, can you really blame them?  

The last part of our hike would take us down 1200 stairs (there is a reason we decided to start at the other end of this hike)...

And into the village of Manarola from where we had watched the sun sink into the Mediterranean Sea the night before.  

And that was our trip to Cinque Terre.  

A perfect place to visit.  

I've got nothing left to say about it... 

Except that you should go.

If these pictures can't convince you... 

Then there's really nothing left to say.

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