Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cinque Terre

  Our last destination on our trip to Italy was along the Cinque Terre. I first heard of the Cinque Terre from a professor who gave a presentation detailing the slow deterioration of the terraced vineyards that run along the steep cliffs of the Mediterranean. These terraced vineyards are supported by stonewalls built and persevered over generations of wine growers who worked the land. The extent of these stone terraces is equivalent to that of the Great Wall of China.

It was absolutely wonderful to end our vacation in the seaside villages of the Cinque Terre. Our first day was spent eating focaccia and lounging on the beach in Monterosso. We stayed at Manuel’s guesthouse. A beautiful location over looking the small village, with a terrace where one of Manuel’s buddies would serve beer and wine from the tap along with some mixed nuts. 

Up the stairs to Manuel's

Not there yet... the path is well marked!

Our second day we headed out to hike the Cinque Terre. With a pass to the trails and train lines we walked the length of the open trails from Monterosso to the villages of Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The trail between Corniglia and Manarola was closed due to mudslides so we had to take the train to the last segment; the Via Dell'Amore (lover’s walk) ending at the final village Riamaggiore. The lover’s walk is a pleasant ten-minute stroll along paved walkways, while the trails between the other villages are quite the hike. It was about a four-hour hike over the course of the day, not including a stop in Vernazza for some slices of pizza, gelato in Corniglia, and a swim in the lagoon like port of Manarola.

 Along our trip we met a number of Rick Steves enthusiasts travelling with his Italy book in hand. It turns out that the Cinque Terre is one of his preferred destinations. We even heard his name mentioned a number of times along the hike, my favorite was: “I gotta write this Rick Steves a letter, there needs to be some serious upgrades, I mean have they never heard of an escalator?”

The next day was the end of our trip. Before catching our plane in Pisa we raced to the old city centre so I could have a glimpse of the leaning tower before boarding the plane back to France….

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