Cinque Terre = Perfection
April 11, 2010. Cinque Terre: by far the most amazing and breathtaking weekend in
We met at the train station around 6ish in the morning. The train ride was pretty long, about 2 and a half hours to
Anyway, the hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola only took about 25 minutes but it was full of beautiful views of the coast line and lots of Kodak moments. I think one of the cool parts about the trails is that once you get to one town you actually have to walk through it to get to the next trail and you get to see how cute and breathtaking the little towns are. Manarola was cute and there were sailboats & fishing boats everywhere. Thus far, the “hiking” part of this trip wasn’t at all difficult. It had been mostly just walking paths, kind of like a sidewalk. We wanted to keep up the pace and were excited to see what was in store for us on the next trail and in the next town so we kept on with it on the way to the next town, Corniglia.
From Manarola to Corniglia I would guess probably would have taken a little more than an hour, but we stopped a few times for people to get some trailside gifts and to go exploring down by the water for a while. This path led to an area where there were all these little bungalows lined up in rows overlooking the coast. I’m not sure if they are completely abandoned or just only used during the summer months, but they were closed off for us to see. To get to town #3, Corniglia, which is situated on the top of a promontory
In Corniglia we stopped for a bathroom break and headed on our way to the next town. The trails finally started to turn into actual hiking trails at this point. A lot of the Cinque Terre region is known for wine-making so we started hiking through vineyards and woodlands on the mountain side. And up and up and up we went until we climbed higher, higher, higher; so high that at one point I have pictures looking down on Corniglia, which was pretty high up to begin with. Like I said before there really is no way for me to explain in words or show in pictures how beautiful the scenery really was, all I can say is that it was breathtaking and a place I could never dream up because it was so beautiful. We stopped to take a break for a couple minutes and get some water at one point, and we all just sat staring out at the open sea taking in the view and talking about how this place can’t be real. It is unimaginable how beautiful these coastal towns are. Definitely a must see place in
As we continued onward the trails got a little rougher. Steep slopes and steps for us to climb down or climb up, walking along the narrow coastal paths with only a railing separating you from what is sure to be imminent [but a most spectacularly, beautiful] death. And up and down we go hiking along, straining our muscles, trying to catch our breath for the next 2 hours until we reach the most beautiful, and my favorite, town #4… Vernazza.
The trail into Vernazza takes you right into the heart of the town where at this point we can’t ignore our stomachs or our noses and it’s definitely time to eat. We took kind of a long lunch break, got some pizza and ate it sea side just enjoying the little town and being able to look across the sea, around the cove to admire the next town we’d be coming to where tiny little ant people were sprawled out across the beach. Vernazza was by far the coolest town. It remains one of the truest fishing villages on the Italian Riviera in that there is no car traffic, a road only leads to a parking lot of the edge of town where from there you have a choice between walking and biking. I think it was probably one of the bigger towns too, and definitely one of the bigger tourist attractions. There were people everywhere. There was a ferry boat bringing people to and from the towns which we contemplated taking for a while but us being the good little hikers that we were decided to finish out the hike, no matter how difficult it would be.
After eating and taking in the beauty of Vernazza we mapped out our last trail and kept on our way. This hike was supposed to be 2 hours long and pretty difficult. After having eaten and rested we thought we were ready to take on the trail, little did we know what was in store for us. This hike was by far the most strenuous hike of all. The trails were narrower, it was a constant battle between legs and stairs, and it was around 4pm so it was the hottest part of the day. During this hike we had to stop several times for water breaks [when you do this hike make sure you have lots of water!!] and periods of rest to catch our breaths. When we finally cleared the treacherous trails and could see the beach and Monterosso, town #5, in sight there was so much relief and excitement. We had done it!
We rewarded ourselves by relaxing on the beach in Monterosso al Mare, puting our feet in the [cold!] water, and just enjoying the moment. Shortly thereafter we headed back to Florence on the train where the tiredness finaly crept into me [after being awake since 4:30 in the morning] and I drifted off. It really was the most accomplished feeling having finished the trails and seen the beauty of the Italian Riviera like I will never see anything again in my life. I had just had the most amazing day and made new friends all while on an adventure of a lifetime. It was truly spectacular; words cannot describe. When we got home I showered and fell right to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. It was the epitome of a perfect day. :)
Submitted by Erin Wingert. Spring 2010.