Saturday, October 25, 2014

10/20/14 Day 277 Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is the most recommended place of all of the destinations I was advised of before my travels and along the way people continue to praise this destination like no other. We were so lucky to get to stay with Ari, a very creative street artist (in his previous life) in the comfort of his home nestled way up, deep within the mountains in a village comprised of nothing more than a few dozen stone homes and friendly neighbors and just 20 minutes East of our destination. Cinque Terre is a series of 5 adorable villages cut perfectly into the cliffs of Northwest Italy's coast. There is a walking path connecting all five of the villages, but the paths between the first three villages suffered a fatal landslide incident a few years back and the paths have yet to be restored. As for the remaining three paths there is a fee of 7€ to walk the short paths, averaging 1-2 kilometers each. While walking cement enforced "trails" is not really our style, paying for something that should be free is definitely not... so we hopped aboard Polly and down the steep, windy roads we drove. The homes in the villages are brightly painted and the charming restaurants and storefronts sell everything from pizza to sunscreen. Each village offers something a little different than the last but the three furthest South were much more quaint and preserved. We started in the North at Monterosso, which of the five is the largest with easy transportation options and accessibility degrading some of that charm. We quickly cruised through the village before piling in the car and heading to the next village, Vernazza. Down the weather worn streets the hillside crumbling underneath the pavement and detouring around the closed roads to the bottom where we found a place to jump in for a swim in the crystal clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. We also found a cave you can duck under to transport yourself to a more remote beach with no buildings or tourists damaging the view. We drove up into the village of Corniglia, built high up in the rocks and climbed the hundreds of stairs demanding the worthy views. By the time we reached Manorola it was time for food and we treated ourselves to the Cinque Terre specialty; farinata, a pancake resembling bread made from chickpea flour and cooked in a wood fired oven, delicious and cheap at less than 2€ a slice. Riomaggiore is usually considered the first town of the five earths, but since we did them in reverse, we ran out of time and visited the first village on our last day in the La Spezia area. It is the smallest and definitely one of the most beautiful and quaint, especially early in the morning before the buses have arrived! 

The harbor at La Spezia: Gateway to the Cinque Terre 

The foggy village of our hilltop host
Ari (CS host), Kevin, myself, and Kevin

Monterosso
The faltering roadways leading down to Vernazza




Stair building in action
Vernazza 
The alternative to paying to walk between villages, paying to take the train


Surprise surprise he found something to jump off 




Corniglia, the middle village high up in the hills

Kevin and Kevin all ready for some beach time





Manarola 




Riomaggiore
 




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