Cinque Terre: A Dream Come True

5/20/16


During one of my lunch breaks at my desk, I had stumbled upon a beautiful photo of a small, pastel-colored village along a rugged coast overlooking the sea. Later on, I'd discover that the small town was, in fact, a real place. For years, I convinced myself the villages of Cinque Terre along the Mediterranean coast in Italy were a picturesque place I would only ever see in photos.

"I'll see it someday."

Well, someday finally came.

Many will ask if it actually lived up to the hype I had built up in my mind. Would it be as beautiful as the touched-up, heavily filtered photos on Google?

My answer is cliche, but there's just simply no other way to respond:

"Yes. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen."



Nice to Cinque Terre


Our train ride was from Nice to Genova, then continuing on to Monterosso. Along the way, we were greeted with many coastal towns with views of the beach. It was a very nice train ride!












Monterosso Day One


After hopping off the regional train, we walked south towards our lodging. Immediately, we were greeted with a gorgeous view of the ocean.












Our lodging for the first part of our Cinque Terre adventure was in a bed and breakfast named Alle 5 Terre.









The steps up to our room were no joke!














Perched high in the mountains above the "new town" in Monterosso, our huge room had sweeping views of the mountains, the sea, and the sun!







Famished, we made our way to the "old town" along Via Fegina. The famed pebble beaches and resorts of Monterosso are along this main road and promenade.














The old town was quiet at this time, not very many tourists are out and about during the evening.
















We ate at a place named Trattoria Da Oscar. The waitress was very helpful and we took her recommendation of a white wine from the region called Begati and gnocchi for two!




















Monterosso Day Two


Waking up to a beautiful view!





After a hearty breakfast provided by our bed-and-breakfast host, Cherry, we made our way out to explore Monterosso and the other nearby villages of Cinque Terre. We purchased Cinque Terre cards, which made traveling on the regional train between the towns much easier.













Our first stop was the harbor and beach down at the bottom of the old town. It was still quite early, so there were little tourists in the area.




























We hiked up alongside the hills above the harbor to the Chiesa di San Francesco. Overlooking the sea is a statue of a man (San Francesco) and his dog.
















Up further along the hill is the actual church. It isn't fancy, but we stopped in to say a little prayer.












Nearby is an old castle-turned-cemetery, where many of the important families of the village lay to rest.











The trail alongside it offers great views of the back side of Monterosso!








After making our way back down, we hopped on the regional train to the village of Corniglia.

Corniglia


While the other villages of Cinque Terre have easy access to the sea, the mountain village of Corniglia requires a hike up 382 steps to get to. While it can be a deterrent to most, the climb up the stairs is very scenic! 




























Once at the top, we were extremely thirsty. So, we briefly stopped into a market to buy some bottles of water. To our surprise, the lady at the checkout stand was from Detroit, Michigan!







The central part of the village is very pretty!












The town has one "main" road named Via Fieschi. Along it are various shops and restaurants.









Many back-alleys led to gorgeous openings with views of the mountains surrounding us.
















At the end of the main road is a gorgeous viewpoint of the sea with Monterosso to the right and Manarola to the left.








Caffe Matteo is nestled right in the main plaza housing the Largo Taragio, a monument in the village. We need a snack from all the climbing. Their Mediterranean salad was really delicious, the tuna was extremely fresh!


















After eating, we decided to walk along the main road up towards the mountains. Here, we were greeted with gorgeous views of the village itself!









Also, wonderful views of the terraced vineyards where grapes for Sciacchetra (the local wine) is grown.











We made a quick pitstop at Chiesa Di San Pietro, another small church, before heading back down the steep stairs to the train station.














Manarola


It wasn't in the plan for the day, but we decided to take the train to the next village south, Manarola. From the train stop, it felt like this village was built more vertical. It was a steep walk down to the harbor below.









First, we made our way left down to the Manarola Marina. At the end of the road was a concrete dock where we watched the waves crash along the big rocks of the coast.















Then, we walked across the way to the boat launch down in the central harbor. There were many others hanging around the rocks below, taking in the views of the village from this vantage point down below.









The walkway continues south, up and along the cliffside. Here, we stopped to experience the "classic" Cinque Terre view of Manarola!











As we made our way back up the main road, Via Renato Birolli, towards the mountains, we stopped at a small restaurant named Aristide. My wife ordered a limoncello, a small, very sweet shot of liquor. I enjoyed an espresso.










After our break, we marched up to the Chiesa di San Lorenzo, which offered a gorgeous view of Manarola from the back side.


















On our way back home from Manarola, the trains were experiencing some technical issues. It took us a couple of hours to get back home...

Vernazza


Since the trains took so long to get us back to Monterosso, we rested up and made our way back out to the neighboring village of Vernazza. It is known for its beauty, being one of the most picturesque villages of all in Cinque Terre.





On the way down the main road towards the harbor, we picked up a snack at a place named Batti Batti Friggitoria. A friggitoria is an Italian food shop that specializes in fried seafood served in a cone.













When we arrived at the famed harbor at the bottom of the village, there were many others sitting along the dock and enjoying the sun as it went down.



















Just as the sun was beginning to set, we hiked part of the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza. We wanted to reach a viewpoint high above the village to see it during the golden hours before sunset.

















The hike was worth it, as I was greeted with a view of Vernazza I'll never forget. It's seriously one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen!












When the sun finally set, we made our way to a pizzeria in the harbor named Baia Saracena Pizzeria. We enjoyed beer, wine, and a salami pizza as the village grew dark.












Soon after, we made our way back home to Monterosso.






Riomagiorre Day Three


After another wonderful breakfast with Cherry at our bed and breakfast, we checked out and left for the final village on our journey through Cinque Terre.





We arrived in Riomaggiore early, so we couldn't check in to our lodging quite yet, but the nice lady at the front desk let us leave our bags with her while we explored the village!










We hiked up the stairs on the south side of the village to Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista. The walk up was pretty scenic. The church had a unique feel to its construction, different from the other churches in the other villages.



















Further up the walkway, we stopped into a small bar named Fuoritta. We each sipped on cappuccino inside the restaurant while the waiters were busy bussing many tables outside. It was a nice break from the sun beating high up above.











At the end of our journey along the south walkway, we were greeted with views of entire village from the Castello di Riomaggiore. We gazed at the village, mountain cliffside, and sea all from this single viewpoint!














Just as the wind and clouds started coming in, we walked back down the main road to the harbor. On the way, we stopped for more delicious fried seafood at a friggitoria named Tutti Frutti.













We also gazed at the large mural at Piazza Vignaioli, a small plaza built above the main road.










The harbor in Riomaggiore is quite narrow, but there are many places to sit and enjoy the view of the water or views of the village up above.




















The harbor also has many narrow walkways to explore. I made my way up the steep stairs of the south end to a pirate flag at the edge of the cliff side. It was daunting at first, but a really nice view of the ocean!

























When it was time to check in, we made our way back up to the leasing office. The name of the rental is Appartamenti e Camere Edi. While the leasing office is along the main road in the upper part of the village, our actual room overlooked the harbor near the water!

















Out of all the places we've stayed, this was the most picturesque!







With more time to kill, we had some beers at a busy place named Bar Centrale.













After a couple of beers, we had a small snack at a take-away shack named Da Paolino. The friendly shopkeeper gave us a delicious recommendation, but I don't remember what it was called.















We dropped off my laptop at the apartment before heading back out to watch the sunset on the north end of the harbor, just across from our room. It was very beautiful, and very romantic.























When the sun had set, we made our way back up the south end walkway to the Castello di Riomaggiore to snap our final photos of Riomaggiore at night!
















For dinner, we enjoyed some wonderful Mediterranean seafood at a restaurant named Enoteca con Cucina. The dishes were delicious and the the portions were very generous!


























The End


I've traveled to many beautiful places, but nothing I've experienced is quite like Cinque Terre. I definitely left a piece of my heart in each of the villages, and I'll always long to go back.






2 comments:

cdeitrick206 said...

WOW! That's how you spend your time in Cinque Terra! Fantastic post Fred! Glad you had a great time.

Diana T said...

We just arrived in La Spezia! Can't wait to see all that! Looks so amazing!

Post a Comment