cinque terre - june 8th thru 12th
The next morning Amy, our guide for the Cinque Terre.... (sometimes abbreviated ‘5T’ which I hope is not as grating to the locals as is ‘Frisco’ is to us) met us at about 07:30 at Locanda L’Elisa along with her driver, Dannino, who is the boyfriend of Nicoletta’s (whom we would meet later) youngest daughter and whose family runs a cab company in Monterosso-al-Mare, our home for the next five days.
Imagine five little villages, each tucked into an inlet in a rugged coastline. The houses looking for all the world like Legos in colors of peach, apricot, mango and rose.
The towns are vertical as is much else in this region of the Ligurian coast. The “streets” may well be staircases. There are no cars or other vehicles other than the occasional taxi or bus (the busses are the size of mini vans).
It's a wonderful place to be a pedestrian.
the seaside villages
There are five towns / villages in The Cinque Terre…..thus the name of the area. Five Lands. From the south they are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. In a straight line it is only about 7 miles from Riomaggiore to Monterosso, maybe less. The train (built, we think, about 75 years ago) runs through tunnels connecting the towns and can get you from one to the next in minutes, literally. However, one of the glories of the 5T is its trail system connecting the towns. To walk from Riomaggiore to Monterosso is about a 6 hour jaunt that will take you up and down the slopes which rise directly out of the sea to a height of about 700 meters, tops. The trails are steep, at times very steep, mostly steps, hard going up, worse going down. But the views are phenomenal and once you get out of town there is almost no one on the trails. Interestingly, the most common nationality as judged by the comments on the trail was German. These were the adults. The young people seemed to be either Italian or American.
Over the course of the next several days we hiked, ate and drank (wine). Amy took us through some of the most wonderful scenery (have you seen the Pacific from Highway 1 south of Jenner?...... that’s what it is like.... except the water is azure blue and crystal clear like Lake Tahoe.... maybe that’s a better comparison). And most of it is an Italian National Park, coastal waters included.
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