Monday, October 5, 2009
I left my <3 heart <3 in Cinque Terre on the road of Amore!
This weekend a few friends and I decided to take a trip to Cinque Terre. The group consisted of Julia, Marie, Ally, Elizabeth, Natalia, and I. Thanks to Julia’s friend we found an apartment with beachside view, room for 6, and located above a bar that loved to play Lenny Kravits…. Oh yes it was a great thing!
We took a 3 ish hour train from Siena to Riomaggiore Friday afternoon. The 5 cities in order are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and finally the biggest and most popular is Monterosso al Mare.
We got in Friday afternoon and once we got all settled and a little cleaned up we went to explore where we were staying, it was tiny so it didn’t take long but we took some pictures of the beach and decided to see what good ole’ Rick Steves the “travel genius” had to say about some good eating. We decided to take his advice and go to Vernazza for some shopping and dinner. We chose “Ristorante Al Castello” which had a gorgeous bay view patio and amazing food. The million stairs to the top was worth all of it! The view and the food were incomparable!
The area is known for their pesto and their Focaccia bread and it made complete sense, both were AMAZING. After dinner we decided to go to Stalin Gelateria…. Yes, like Joseph Stalin. Mainly, for humorous reasons but also because it came “Mr. Steves approved”. I don’t care what it was called but it was delicious, minus the below poor service from the American hating woman behind the counter. The pineapple, blood orange and strawberry gelato pulled through to make it all okay
The next morning we woke up to start the hike between the 5 cities. The first two cities weren’t too bad of a hike it was more of a pathway along the coast with amazing views. Via Dell Amore is the road that connected these two cities which allowed the people in the old days to meet people from the other cities and it would be filled with couples meeting half way. (so precious!) There are thousands of locks on the fences now symbolizing the love of the two who place it there. (I….. didn’t put one there if you were wondering…. I couldn’t con any Italian men into loving me… haha). The hike between Corniglia and Vernazza was pretty harsh, about an hour and a half of up and down the whole way. We stopped in Vernazza for a quick lunch because the timing was right and we might have died if we didn’t take a good break. We got some pesto pizza (good but interesting) and some more of Stalin’s gelato as a reward for doing well but also to con us into feeling like we could do the last part which was rumored to be the hardest and longest. Julia was on fire for the first part and I was pretending like I was too… almost all up stairs. After about 45 minutes, we perched on some stairs waiting for the rest of the group to catch up. While waiting 3 women in their mid 40’s who, to be nice, weren’t in the best shape, came down from the way we were headed started telling everyone how awful it was and that we should just turn back…. I was a little annoyed; I would rather not know what is coming and power through until the end. Well, we knew we weren’t about to turn back when we were relatively close to the 5th city where we were going to go to the beach in the last city, the whole reasons we wore our swim suits on the hike. Go rain on someone else’s parade ladies! We jumped up to go… (okay, more like got a little help from a friend to pry me off the rock I was so content sitting on but that’s irrelevant.) The hike was a lot more scary between Vernazza and Monterosso del Mare, there were small pathways and no railings and steep slopes down and steep steps but the view was so amazing when I got a chance to look up (too worried I would slip and fall off the cliff, which was possible). The best feeling was looking back at the cities to see how far we had been. The hike was a total of 7 miles which doesn’t sound too crazy until you are walking up winding stairs that my long legs have a hard time getting high enough let alone if I was a normal height…. We passed the time solving riddles (I got one! I was so proud!) It was also fun to play “spot the German” -an easy game because it’s obvious, they are dressed like they are climbing Kilimanjaro complete with backpacks, walking sticks and boots. It wasn’t an easy hike by any means but seriously? Unless that walking stick somehow allows me to magically hover while it does all the work then, I don’t understand it…. Around the last hour or so my knee decided to forget it was only 21 and though it was 60 years old. It was really giving me some issues and I was in a bit of pain but only when trying to walk stairs. When we finally made it to Monterosso Del Mare we could hardly believe it. We went straight to the beach which felt AMAZING! We spent the evening enjoying some shopping and we ate at a great Trattoria named Via Venti, where I got brave and tried crab pasta which I enjoyed. We met two Norwegian couples at the train station, who spent the day wine testing and they were so funny and kept us entertained on the ride back to Riommagiore. We ran into them the next morning and realized that unless they woke up with a bottle of the Vino, then they were naturally just hilarious! We had a good laugh and got a picture with them to document the event! We had breakfast at Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre (oh my heavens! I am not a pastry fan but THE BEST PASTRIES EVER!) Then we decided that due to the overcast weather instead of spending the rest of the time on the beach we would just catch the train home a little early.
What a trip! It just might be my number 1 so far! <3