Love and Olive Oil

Italian Adventure Part III: To the Sea

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!

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  1. Truthfully I prefer the white houses of Greece over the different colors here. At first it would be lovely but after awhile I think I would tire of it as being to busy. Just my preference.

  2. I just finally caught up on your Italy posts and just wanted to say that I love your pictures and stories! Sounds like it was a grand adventure! (And just reading is making my hungry for lasagne and gelato…)

  3. Cinque Terre….sigh….I have been there 3 times and love it more everytime I go. Now I want to go with the hubby and enjoy it even more! Gorgeous pictures!

  4. Good grief! Lovely photos and travels and now I’m dying for some great Italian!

  5. I enjoyed these magnificent photos! Don’t know this part of Italy, wish I did!

  6. What’s wrong with Kiwi gelato? I mean it won’t ever be the first flavor I ask for but just curious.

    I love the picture from the steps – the cluster of table umbrellas is so festive!

  7. Lovely photos – thanks for sharing your journey

  8. Oh wow, what beautiful pictures! Makes me want to travel abroad…

  9. Absolutely gorgeous photos. Have fun for the rest of your trip!

  10. every photo is so beautiful and so very very inspiring.

    you make me sick with jealousy.

  11. Just beautiful!

  12. Beautiful!! And those crepes look fun – I didn’t know they were an Italian tradition too!

  13. Though I still have yet to make it to Italy, all of my friends who have been there rave about Cinque Terre and tell me how much I would love it. Your photos, however, are more beautiful than any I have seen before of this gorgeous seaside place. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you enjoyed your trip!

  14. Wow, those houses are gorgeous! Must go there… as much as you can!!!

  15. As if I weren’t jealous enough after your first two posts…this has just pushed me over the edge! Your pictures are stunning…they remind me of everything I’ve dreamed Italy could be. Thank you so much for sharing!

  16. Italy is my dream! Super jealous…amazing photos.

  17. We spent two weeks in Tuscany and I really regret not making it as far as Cinque Terre. We got to Viareggio, but never hopped on the bus from there. Plus we laved Lucca, SIena and Firenze so much, it was hard to spare another day. Next time for sure!

  18. My house actually is the lovely light salmon pink stucco! Although I don’t have the terra cotta roof (I live in MN afterall)- We figured that the lady we bought the house from had a thing for Jamaica or some tropical port (the interior colors also had hues of aqua green, yellow and lavender). But maybe she was just Italian?

    When we first bought the house, my hubby swore that he would change it right away, but we’ve found that we’ve gotten used to it and it’s much easier to say- “it’s the pink house on the right”! In a world of beige and tan, it’s ok to be a little different!

  19. IT’s so funny that I live about 150 km from there. I live near the coast of Liguria too, but the other part of Liguria. And I am very very ashamed that I have never been to the cinque terre. Although we have “fasce” (the terrasses), focaccia and so on here too, the atmosphere in that particular place is just so magical!
    I am happy you enjoyed Italy, and the photos are beautiful!

  20. Those are some of the most beautiful photos I have seen. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Your pictures are really bringing me back to my week in Italy last year. Can’t wait to see your Florence pics – Firenze was my favorite!

  22. So lovely! The houses remind me of the house in Secret Life of Bees…pepto bismol PINK! I love the colors!

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