Cinque Terra: between the sea and the mountains in Italy!
End of summer holidays!
After enjoying our late summer holidays in Empuriabrava, Costa Brava, (Renting rural farmhouse for summer holidays in Costa Brava, Spain), where we rented Los Cabaretes, an old farm house, where we were able to pick ripe figs, have barbecues, visit cute villages on the coast and go for walks on the beach and countryside, the time came to say good bye to my sister Susie and my two nephews. After we had driven some kilometres and already crossed the border into France, we suddenly realized that we had left our light jackets behind on the farm! We immediately called Susie and told her to take all the jackets with her to Madrid and then later called Olga, one of my husband’s Spanish colleagues, to ask her to please pick the jackets up from Susie’s place and to take them with her to Brussels, where she was to meet my husband in a few days time.
The jackets found their way to Madrid and then on to Brussels, where they finally met with my husband, who eventually brought them home to us in Austria! We missed our jackets, as we continued on our way along the French Riviera to Italy, where we decided to break our return journey in two, by stopping in Cinque Terra for a few days.
As we were using our GPS system, so we just followed the English woman’s instructions, even though we were not very pleased when she took us through many tunnels, as we had few chances of seeing the Mediterranean and what we thought would be a spectacular coastal scenery below. After a long string of tunnels she finally led us inland to a never ending country road that just went on and on, twisting up down winding roads, which made us ask for directions many times. We eventually got there late in the evening, only to be stopped by two local Carabinieri, who insisted on seeing my husband’s driver’s license and passport when we stopped to enquire about hotel accommodation! They let us go eventually and we did find two rooms for the night, but we then had to go for a much deserved dinner and drinks in a restaurant.
Cinque Terre (Five lands) is a rugged section of coast on the Liguria region of Italy. The Five Lands are made up of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastal area, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of theCinque Terre National Park and they are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Cinque Terre area is noted for its beauty and over the centuries, people have built terraces on the rugged and steep landscape, which go all the way to the cliffs overlooking the sea. Part of the charm is its natural look, as it does not have much of the modern developments characterizing other coastal regions. The villages are connected by walking paths, trains and boats and it is difficult to reach the area by car from the outside. As can be imagined, it is a very popular tourist destination.
We had breakfast the next morning with some spectacular views of the deep blue sea and the greenery all around. It was only when we had driven around for a while that we could understand the set up of Cinque Terra and the fact that space was very limited, so finding a place to park the car was almost impossible! The only way to move around really was either by train, or by boat. Trains were very efficient, but the only problem was that they always went through tunnels, so it was dark and one only got glimpses of the sea and coast outside.
One had to admire the middle aged women one saw walking up those hills, as they were always carrying parcels and the hills were quite steep too! One day we had lunch in Rio Maggiore and there was much activity all around us: mothers with their babies, pets, school age kids, grandmothers and many, many tourists of all nationalities! There was an assortment of restaurants with a wide variety of food choices, where one could have lunch and also places to have ice cream or drinks. One could see the laundry hanging outside to dry, the church bells calling locals and vacationers for mass, while the waves rolled on, inviting people to board one of the boats to go to another of the Cinque Terre villages.
Via Dell'Amore and the famous love padlocks!
A walking trail connects the five villages. The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Via Dell'Amore, or the Love Walk and it varies in difficulty. Some of the trails wind through olive orchards and vineyards and can be rough in some places, but offer the best view of the bay and the spectacular approaches to the villages. The difference in height for the whole trail is more than 600 meters, the length is about 10 km and it takes approximately 5 hours to walk it. One of the interesting things that you’ll see along the trail are padlocks on a fence and under the tunnel near the Manarola side. Young loves wanting to lock in their love forever, come to Via dell’Amore, write their names on the lock and close it on a fence along the trail! We also walked this famous trail and even waited for the sunset!
After a couple of days we got our car from the tight fitting parking space and drove our car all the way home to Austria, where we found out that the summer was truly over! Summer 2010 had been short, but we had enjoyed every minute of it!
Interesting links for you!
- Cinque Terre, a String of Jewels on Italy's Ligurian Coast
- The Cinque Terre: Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, Riomaggiore
- 5 Terre Online: portal for the Cinque Terre and Levanto, in Liguria, Italy
- Cinque Terre National Park | Italy
- Cinque Terre travel guide - Wikitravel
- Cinque Terre Travel Information and Travel Guide - Italy - Lonely Planet
- Italy Vacations: 5 Useful Tips for a Great Trip
- 36 Hours in the Cinque Terre, Italy - NYTimes.com
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