5 Villages/One Day

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March 29th 2015
Published: March 29th 2015
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Palm Sunday dawned sunny and clear again. As we had our coffee we could hear the church bells as the procession began to celebrate this final Sunday before Easter. We stopped at a small place for a quick bite and then headed off to the train station to go to Monterosso.

Our original intent and fervent wish had been to hike between the five villages of Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The walk takes about 5 hours, not counting for stopping and wandering through each village. This would have been a wonderfully tiring walk but unfortunately due to landslides, the trail is closed from Riomaggiore all the way to Vernazza. We could have opted to walk from Vernazza to Monterosso but decided that if we wanted to spend time in each we should just take the train (and after yesterday's incredible climb our legs were begging for a reprieve!).

We first stopped in Monterosso where the sun worshippers were out in force, finding their place in the sand on the beach. As we exited the tunnel we came upon a race! Imagine that. Another European city where my husband was thinking, " Geez I could have done a race here." Until we found out it was a 47 km ultra trail race 3100 m of elevation changes! You are constantly going up and down. When we saw the elevation map we both just shuddered. The highest point along the trail reach 750 m above sea level. In the other villages we came upon racers at water and food stations who were sporting walking poles to help with the steep trail. These poor souls were 7 hours in! They went through terraced vineyards, up steep stairways, on ashphalt and even mule tracks lined by olive groves.

In Monterosso we wandered through a market that was set up where local vendors were selling wines, cheeses, and meats. It was a culinary flea market!! After touring through churches and streets we made our way back to the train station for our next stop, Vernazza.

In October of 2011 Vernazza was the hardest hit village of Cinque Terre when landslides and flooding wreaked havoc on this beautiful town. We saw pictures of devastation and they continue to work on restoration still today. We lounged on the newly built area at the water's edge where the surf crashed in. They are currently rebuilding the area which meets the water with a huge open piazza. Looking up to the mountains behind we could see the trails where the landslides occurred. We went up to a lookout castle where the scenery went on for miles and miles and the waves crashed far below.

Corniglia is the only town that does not have a access by sea and sits perched up on the mountain. So when we got off the train we had to head in my favourite direction - UP! Luckily we opted for the road route as opposed to the stairs. We passed by Italians on theirs knees weeding their gardens, lemon groves where the trees were heavy with succulent fruit, and small vineyards. Corniglia was the only village I did not get to in 2008 so I was quite excited to see it and I was not disappointed. Corniglia is by far the village that is best kept. Probably because it does not have to deal with water damage etc. The cobblestone streets had been recently restored and the houses and shops were very unique in their settings. I went into the small church in the square where I was able to get some beautiful palms made into crosses in celebration of Palm Sunday. We walked to a lookout over the Mediterranean and were able to see Manarola perched on the cliffs to the left and Vernazza to the right. The terrraced vineyards are incredible and made me marvel at these people who work this land. While there, we kept running into a beautiful girl from Canada who seemed to be travelling on her own. I had remarked to Curtis how she reminded me of our dear Vanessa. As luck would have it I turned to make a comment to him and it was this girl! She just pleasantly laughed and continued on her way. I am amazed at the number of young people who are in this area, several travelling solo, in groups, or pairs.

We then made our final stop in Manarola. This town is very much like Riomaggiore with its colourful houses set into the rocks. We walked around to the far side on a beautiful concrete path where we captured some wonderful scenery of this town.

Returning to Riomaggiore we picked up another container of pesto to take with us to Florence tomorrow. We plan on watching the sun set with a bottle of wine and then head out for a pasta dinner before the chore of packing up!

We have vowed to return to this magnificent area so that one day we can make the trek between the five villages. Anyone want to join us?


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