I also, want to finish my story of my trip to Europe to visit Ryan and Emily and Michelle before he returns home... so onto the Cinque Terre. I am quite sure I never knew of this enchanted land hugging the rocky coast of northern Italy - but I am very thankful my daughter did.
The Cinque Terre are five small towns - maybe even considered villages - that are only connected by train or trails. Each one can be individually accessed by narrow, winding steep roads but there are no roads between them. They grip the edge of the sparkling turquoise sea dotting the cliffs with pastel hued homes and shops as if in a fairyland. Carved into the steep hillsides are vineyards and small farms. Fishing boats bob gloriously in the bays waiting to be hoisted up to the towns narrow streets before the tide changes. No one is hurrying. Italians and visitors linger outside in the evening savoring the sunsets and cooler temperatures. Daybreak comes and the shop keepers open their shutters and welcome you in with genuine warmth.
|A small balcony over looking the sea in Corniglia|
One goal was to actually swim in each of the towns bays - Riomaggiore -is the furthest west - the train takes you the edge of the town, where you can take a elevator up to the town. Each town had its own distinct flavor - I could have settled down for days in any of them. (But Corniglia did turn out to be our favorite.) From Riomaggiore you can "hike" towards Manarola along the lover's walk. It really is a paved walkway along the edge of the cliffs and part way through there is a statue of two lovers kissing. People attach locks to the fencing behind it which is to prevent them from being torn apart. Of course we had to have Emily and Ryan sit in front of the figures and kiss for us:) A little further we came upon a musician playing in the tunnel part of the hike - where Emily and Ryan enjoyed a sweet dance!
We took the train to Vernazza and Monterossa. Monterossa is furthest north and edges the Italian "Riviera." It has a wonderful long beach - but nearly all of it - one has to pay to enjoy and use the lounge chairs. We walked to the far end - still lots of sand and swimming but tucked in with fishing boats. We all took a short nap, I think, and cooled off in the water. Monterossa felt much more like a tourist town - it is considerably more level, has several large hotels and shops. We did a little grocery shopping before heading back on the train to Corniglia for the night. Tired and warm but I wouldn't have changed anything.
Our last morning we cleaned up the apartment, paid for our stay and headed out to play in the water again - only to find out the wind and waves on the Mediterranean were huge that morning. No chance of going swimming - the waves crashed over the cement jetty and found Michelle and Ryan testing my nerves as they stood out on the edge! We watched for a while and then headed to Vernazza to swim (it has a more protected bay- but still parts of the walkways were closed to pedestrians) enjoyed lunch, a little shopping and more gelato!
P.S. So I didn't get this quite done before Ryan arrived - but he is home and we have had a wonderful weekend enjoying being a family.