Cinque Terre in a day (yes, its possible.)

I woke up in the morning and felt like P Diddy. Ok, not really but you get the idea. I felt great! We had a delicious breakfast at a local caffe  It wasn’t what you’d expect in the U.S., though. Cappuccino, orange juice and focaccia bread. Yea, that’s the stuff.

Before I tell you about my wonderful experiences, it’s important to note that Cinque Terre is  a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare,Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We grabbed our train passes and began hiking the city of RiomaggioreRiomaggiore is the first village of the Cinque Terre.The village, dating from the early thirteenth century, is known for its historic character and its wine, produced by the town’s vineyards. Riomaggiore is in the Riviera di Levante region and has shoreline on the Mediterranean’s Gulf of Genoa, with a small beach and a wharf framed by tower houses. We saw some beautiful towers, Italian graffiti, and buoys there looked like pelicans from afar.

It was a cloudy day, the skies were loaded with clouds and the waves were crashing against the rocks, turning them to dust. I got some sharp stills of the waves crashing against the rocks. But in the moment of getting so close, I let a wave take me out. My jeans, socks and shoes were once again soaked. It was like Sperlonga Round Two. Spending time admiring the town, and looking at its monuments lasted long enough. We were off to the next town, Manarola.

Manarola, the second and second smallest, of the five towns may be the oldest of the towns in the Cinque Terre. With the cornerstone of the church, San Lorenzo, dating from 1338. The local dialect is Manarolese, which is marginally different from the dialects in the nearby area.

What I liked about this town was its similarities in strip Tuesday to some of the other islands I have visited  The island is kind of like a combination of Sperlonga and the Amalfi Coast. We admired the coast, which is also where we took our group photo. And once again, the theme of this week — as quickly as we stopped, we were back on the move.

The third town of the Cinque Terre is called Corniglia. Corniglia is not directly adjacent to the sea. Instead, it is on the top of a promontory about 100 meters high, surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces and the fourth side descends steeply to the sea. To reach Corniglia, it is necessary to climb the Lardarina, a long brick flight of steps composed of 33 flights with 382 steps or, otherwise follow a vehicular road that, from the station, leads to the village.

We climbed up all the steps to the top of the town. We had dinner at a restaurant called Il Purin, mentioned in Rick Steves Italy book. It was a tough climbed with a rewarding lunch. Eight euro for gnocchi with salmon here. This is also the most open town, meaning we could see much of the train rather than the seashore from our vantage point.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre’s fourth town was comforting. if I had to describe it in one lousy word, that’s what it would be. Vernazza is one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre region. Vernazza is the fourth town heading north, has no car traffic and remains one of the truest “fishing villages” on the Italian Riviera. I really loved the small cave we used to get to the other side of the rock onto a very diverse rock beach. Rocks of all shapes and sizes and a running stream!

Monterosso al Mare is the fifth and final town of the Cinque Terre. The town is divided into two distinct parts: the old town and the new town. The two areas are divided by a single tunnel that caters to pedestrians and the very few cars in the town. The beach at Monterosso runs along most of the coastline and is well used by tourists and locals. The beach is the only extensive sand beach in the Cinque Terre. Monterosso is a small town that in the summer months is overrun by tourists.

Here, we walked around the coastline and into the center part of the town where there were tourists snapping ridiculous photos of multicolored buildings. We visited the shops packed into the narrow streets and Gothic painted cathedrals.

Finally, I had to go to the beach. After yesterdays frying, I wanted to take advantage of the lack of sun narrowing in on my back. The water was mild. No colder than it was the day before in Capalbio. It was another rock beach, though only small ones that left an imprint in your foot. At least I can now say I went swimming in the Cinque Terre town, monterosso al mare and its angry Mediterranean waters.

We took a late train back to S. Stefano di Magra, which is the stop closest to our hostel. After dinner, I slept like a baby knowing I was one of the privileged d to visit Cinque Terre. It was beautiful and worth the money, too.

The weather could have been nicer and I wish the trails were open. But not everyone has the opportunity to do what I did and I’m grateful for that.

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