Cinque Terre, Italy 26 - 31 May 2011

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May 31st 2011
Published: June 3rd 2011
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Cinque Terre Italy

We travelled from Siena in Tuscany by train to the Italian coastal region known as Cinque Terre or the Five Towns due to the position of five little townships on the overlooking the ocean.

As soon as we arrived in La Spezia to catch the local regional train to our town, Deiva Marina, we witnessed the masses of tourists lining up on the platforms of each of the little towns – we were shocked to be honest as there were SO many people, literally packed platforms 2-3 deep. The crowds are here to see the towns and do the coastline walk that are part of this area that is world heritage listed.

We found it hard to book anything in the five towns and luckily we stayed in a lovely family run hotel in a little town called Deiva Marina which is only 12 min train trip to 1st town in Cinque Terre, Monterosso. All visitors take the local trains as car travel is not really possible with the volume of visitors. Similar to the Amalfi Coast which is serviced by the SITA bus service, here in Cinque Terre you have the trains
or you can go by Ferry if the sea is calm enough. We only had a 300m walk from our hotel to the train station – easy!!.

Well we were right across the road from a quiet beach and several little restaurants / pizzerias. Beautiful - Tranquilo

We did four long tough days of trails in the Cinque Terre (CT) park avoiding the main walk that the visitors due until our last day there. We did all the walks that were hardly used by anyone else, in fact on our 2nd 6 hour walk we only saw 3 Mountain Bike Riders (MTB) and 3 trekkers for the whole time. It was beautiful with a steep start up to reach 825M and walk along the ridge line along the coast line then a challenging descent at the other end. It was totally unspoilt and no big crowds – we were in heaven. We did these trails using the very well marked ‘way markers’ and our CT walking map – perfecto!!
There are some great trails for MTB both in the CT parks but also between the towns north of CT towns. Beware that on Wednesday and Sunday, hunting is permitted of wild boar between 9.00am and 4.30pm, we saw a few spent rifle cartridges. Not sure if the wild boars scared me more or the hunting. Dave has had wild boar stew dish couple of times on the trip and he quite enjoyed.

After our walks we just head to the beach approximately 6.00pm so not too hot and chill out before heading out for dinner. One of our favourite meals was the local dish of pasta with pesto, pine nuts & garlic sauce.

Our main take outs from visiting CT included:
* avoid the hoards by doing any of the trail walks in CT except the No. 2 one as it was packed. Word is that they are building a cable car to reach the top ridges so that will no doubt end the tranquillity we experienced in the future.
* Just buy a CT walking/MTB map for E6.50 for all the trails, they are so well marked that you will set.
* Stay outside the 5 CT towns in either Deiva Marina, Bonosolla, Levanto if you want to avoid the crowds. We had dinner or lunch in the CT towns but as the train runs all night it was so easy to head home.

We’re glad we visited CT as the walking trails were fantastic.

Our last night in Italy was spent in Livorno, a port city so we could catch an early ferry to Corsica on 1st June. We had an amazing meal at the little Cantina della Ciurma where we had the most amazing pasta dishes (one with black tagligone pasta in a seafood & garlic broth) followed up with cheese & honey for dessert and of course our last Italian gelati dolci / dessert…..well not technically our last gelati forever (I hope).

Dave even devised his system of selecting gelati flavours system so you don’t ‘overpower’ your selections. This unique and highly scientific system is based on numerous gelati tastings $!!$. For example: Pistachio & dark chocolate – not so good but Pistachio & Ricotta – much better. Dark chocolate & Caffe / coffee – good.

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