"" Writer's Wanderings: Cinque Terre, Italy - Day One

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Cinque Terre, Italy - Day One

Cinque Terre is along the west coast of Italy just south of Genova and north of Pisa. T
he name Cinque Terre means five villages and the area includes the towns of Monterossa, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These historic towns are nestled into the cliffs and seaside in dramatic fashion.

Our first day of exploration started in Corniglia, the middle town. We decided to start in the middle and perhaps avoid some of the weekend crowds that might start at one end or the other instead. Arriving by the local train (we purchased a two day pass for the paths and the train) we started out by following the hardy creatures that were sporting Nordic walking sticks and realized that they were headed for a huge set of steps to take them up to the town. We turned around to seek out a better approach that would leave our knees intact.

As we read the sign back at the station, it gave us the information we needed. To avoid the 365 steps (one for each day of the year), we could take the ecologically fueled park bus to the top for “free” if we had the park tickets. We did and in a few minutes when the bus arrived, we smiled all the way to the top and past the sign that welcomed the climbers with “Congratulations! You made it!”

Corniglia is the smallest of the towns and does not have a lot to see but is a delight to wander about. Weathered buildings are adorned with shuttered windows from which hangs the day’s wash. Flowers are everywhere—flower boxes, pots, cracks in the pavement. The town sits high on a cliff and overlooks the ocean.

From Coniglia, we set out south in the direction of Manarola along the park path that we had paid to travel. At the start of the path outside each town is a small booth where an attendant checks your tickets. There are other paths that are free but the park paths stayed along the coastline. We prided ourselves on having chosen well as it seemed that the path was mostly downhill in the direction we were headed. It was an interesting walk with some great views and lots of beautiful flowers.

Manarola was a bustling town by the time we arrived forty-five minutes later. We found a small pizzeria and ordered a pizza and water. The pizza was delicious topped with proscuitto, mozzarella and mushrooms. Cappuccinos followed. No one makes cappuccino like the Italians!

Hunger satisfied and refreshed by a little rest, we wandered about a bit and then found the path to Riomaggiore. This path is name Via Dell’Amore—but more about that later.

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