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

Friday, June 04, 2010

Cinque Terre, Italy - Day Two

Our day two in Cinque Terre got off to a jumbled start. We took the local train to Monterosso the first town just south of Levanto. From there we had hoped to hike the path to Vernazza but upon arriving in Monterosso we found that the path between the two had been closed due to landslides some time back. “When will it be open,” Bob asked. The answer was “maybe tomorrow.” We discovered that “maybe tomorrow” had been the answer for a long time now.

We took a short stroll along the boardwalk while we waited for the next train. We looked at a map and debated the best direction to take for the path between Vernazza and Corniglia. It appeared that from Corniglia, which sits high on a cliff, to Vernazza might be more downhill so we ventured on to Corniglia to start our hike. Along the way, we met up with the Swiss couple from our Milan train ride. As he put it, “the trail has its ups and downs.” And then he smiled. I should have known. . .

It would not have mattered much whether we took the path from or to Vernazza. Each direction was equally challenging with narrow one-person pathways and steep climbs on uneven stone steps that were often worn smooth and looked slippery despite the dry weather. The estimated 1 ½ hour walk was a good two hours for us as I had to rest my knees and cool off on occasion. By the time we were done we were both spent and ready to settle down for a good rest.

We grabbed a couple of sandwiches from a local bakery and sat on the steps in front of a building and ate along with a crowd of others. It was enough to give us the strength to explore a bit of Vernazza before we decided to call it an afternoon. It looked much the same as the other towns with just a little different character. A few more cars on the outskirts indicated they were closer to a highway. So did the fact that there were tour groups from a Princess cruise ship wandering about.

The amazing thing about this area is the terraced farmland and vineyards. It is a wonder how anything got planted on the sides of the cliffs without it all washing away into the ocean. The buildings are literally built on and into the solid rock. One of the interpretive signs I saw stated that the area had been farmed terrace-style for over a thousand years.

The weather was perfect to this point and afforded us a spectacular sunset in the evening. My special couple (see previous post) sat on a park bench next to us and watched with us as the sun dipped below the mountainous horizon in the distance.

Knees screaming and legs complaining, we made our way back to the room and vowed no climbing for the next day.

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