To conclude my weekend of day trips, I saved the best for last- Cinque Terre. Possibly the prettiest place I have ever seen. I woke up at 6:30, got onto the train at 7:20, and arrived at the Italian Riviera at around 10:00. I had no plans and no expectations, I heard about a 5 hour walk that went through all five towns, and I was sold.
I got off the train at Monterosso al Mare, and decided to walk from there because going from this town to the other five is the harder walk, as opposed to finishing at Monterosso al Mare.
All I had was a tiny shoulder bag with a trail guide, 20 euro, a camera, and my train ticket home. I didn’t have a back pack because in a desperate attempt to make my bag lighter for swiss air in Boston, I took it out- but I didn’t need it. Some people were decked out with tents, ski poles, the whole nine yards. There are 12 hour long hikes that go way up into the mountains and I’m sure you would need to be pretty prepared for such an excursion. But all I wanted to do was walk fast and take pictures.
The walking fast part happened in parts, other times I was stuck behind old farts with ski poles huffing and puffing, but I would simply say “Passato,” they would step aside, and I would pass and say “Grazie.” Each of the towns were about an hour or so away from each other. Sections of the trail were very dangerous, even strenuous, and since it had rained the day before people were taking their time. I was gasping for breath at times.
I would go into detail about every town, but looking back on my trip, they all blend together, in summary:
- They all have very colorful houses
- people are either eating or sunbathing
- they are all situated on a hill
- they all have ports where ferries transport people from town to town
- they all have a church
- they all have touristy shops
- and all look like a postcard
My favorite town by far was Vernazza, I stopped at every town but decided to have lunch here. I got foccacia with pesto sat on a rock in the sun and people watched. The Liguria region of Italy is famous for their pesto, foccacia, and sardines. I got a jar of pesto, which didn’t last more than two days, and a jar of sardines for my dad.
After I left Vernazza, I started walking behind someone who was actually fit, probably in his mid-forties- a geek with a beige hat, a serious camera, and hiking boots on. For three towns we seemed to pass each other and pass other people, but didn’t speak a word to each other. We worked as a sweaty team to pass and conquer. Some american idiots were wearing flip flops and sun dresses, I can’t even imagine how upset they must have been an hour into the walk. I was wearing spandex and sneakers, and sweat through my t-shirt in about half an hour, naturally.
There is so much that I saw, but to write about it all would exhaust me and you. It is a place that must be experienced, ideally alone; if you are like me and don’t like waiting for people (bad habit, but can’t help it.) It doesn’t even have to be walked, there is a train running through every town, and the cinque terre day pass is good for 24 hour access to the train and the ferries that run every half hour.
I got home at around 6:00 and was exhausted.