From the country, to the city, to the sea…
Our next stop took us to the area known as the Cinque Terre (aka five lands). The Cinque Terre are five villages nestled into the most picturesque coastline you have ever seen.
I don’t know, I think the sea cliff towns are giving the hill towns a run for their money. Picturesque. Picturesque. Picturesque. (Someone please find me a thesaurus). Arresting. Striking. Charming. All of the above.
The coast reminded me a lot of the Big Sur coast in California. Think sheer cliffs meets vivid blue sea. Stunning in every direction.
While many travel to the Cinque Terre to hike between the 5 villages, unfortunately, we left our hiking poles at home, so no hiking for us. (Obviously we were *very* disappointed about this… heh).
The trail between the first two villages, known as Via Dell’amore (Lovers’ Lane), didn’t qualify as true hiking in our book, so we didn’t hesitate to brave the largely English and German-speaking crowds (yes, it’s a touristy place, for obvious reasons). The entire path is riddled with padlocks, symbolic of a couple’s everlasting love (we laughed, however, at the combination locks mixed in as well – you know, just in case it doesn’t work out, you can always come back).
“And that, my friends, is how it is with love. For the sun is warm and the world is a beautiful place.” Very sweet graffiti.
I love the colors. Why can’t we paint our houses like this in the US?
Even more impressive than the hills themselves were the vineyards and olive groves carved into the hillsides. The steep terraces tower hundreds of feet above the sea below. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to create them.
The stairs to Corniglia. For what it’s worth, we only walked down them (thank god!). We were able to catch a shuttle bus on the way up.
Cinque Terre brought the urge for fruity gelati. Peach, banana, lemon… and, uh, kiwi. Please, whatever you do, don’t order kiwi gelato. It’s just not right.
We stayed in the last of the 5 villages, Monterosso al Mare. I’d make the recommendation that anyone planning to visit the Cinque Terre do the same thing. Monterosso was lovely because it was flat. And flat is good when you’re rolling your luggage from the train station. The other villages? Not so flat. I can’t even imagine dragging a suitcase up some of the streets we saw.
Hmm… wonder what’s on that pizza…
Lunch in Manarola, this particular dish is called Testaroli, a rustic whole wheat crepe of sorts (I thought I was getting pasta when I ordered it, but it was a lovely surprise). The dish came with three varieties, one with tomato sauce, one with pesto, and one with a fabulously fruity olive oil and cheese. We did our best to devour as many of the regional specialties as we could during the 3 days we were there, including pesto, focaccia, anchovies, and capers.
I love the fact that our trip, while we stayed within a relatively small region in a single country, felt like 4 trips in one. I can’t call one our favorite, but Cinque Terre was certainly in the top 4 (hehe). If we’re judging on views alone, Cinque Terre takes the cake. I don’t think I can describe it other than simply stunning.
We have one more stop on our trip, Florence, a city filled with art, architecture, and, oh yes, more gelato. Stay tuned!