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Published: September 2nd 2011
It would have been easier to just stay on the beach and finish with a lazy meal on the strip. However I've never been a big fan of easy, and I was dying to do the big walk to Vernazza although all the reports we'd heard were a little scary. One family told of coming across a mother and her pre-teen daughter crying on the trail - the child because her feet were a mess from walking in thongs, and her mother from having to literally push her crippled daughter up the hundreds and hundreds of stairs because they were in the no-mans land of half-way between towns!
Again, we decided an evening walk would be the go, and we did have a lovely day on the beach. Isabel settled for trying the Monterosso jumping rock (which was still a massive drop, mind you) and though I half expected her to chicken out at the top, she didn't! Very brave. I wasn't going near it.
There is no doubt in my mind that this was the most beautiful section of the Cinque Terre walk. We booked a table at a restaurant in Vernazza thinking that it would be an
incentive to get there in a timely way, and dressed accordingly. Earlier in the week we'd spotted an old man on a stool outside the restaurant, giving prospective diners the thumbs up or thumbs down when the Maitre'd looked his way! You did poorly if you were a woman alone, or a group of young backpackers dressed in shorts. It was almost the equivalent of the King Street night club doorman!
Our spies hadn't been kidding about the steps. They did seem to go on forever, but we hadn't been told about the beautiful shady sections of the walk which were overhung with vegetation, gorgeous trickling streams, ocean views and vineyards. It was not at all hard to keep walking once we had gone about an hour and a half, as we got the most spectacular view of Vernazza in the evening light. Hugo was an absolute trouper - he didn't flinch at all over the two hours or so it took us to wind our way all the way up from Monterosso, then all the way along and down to Vernazza.
Dinner was lovely under the multi-coloured umbreallas, despite us all feeling like a shower might have
been a nicer alternative! As we were finishing, crowds seemed to appear from nowhere and started to pick spots on the wall overlooking Vernazza Harbour. Vernazza has a TINY beach, and I wondered what they were all looking at when lo and behold, a group of men began sweeping the sand. I thought the locals must be pushed for entertainment to be watching this, but all was revealed when the men did eventually put up soccer goals at each end of the beach. Next thing, the teams came marching down, dressed in their colours, and began warming up. It was a hard fought game once the whistle blew. Whenever the ball went out, one of the team members had to wade into the harbour to retrieve it so we couldn't help laughing. We were entertained for ages, and Frank found a good gelato shop so we had a treat at half time!
Italian trains being as they are, our train back to Monterosso was cancelled, so we spent some time playing a riveting game of Paper, Scissors, Rock on the platform while we waited. Then it was off at our station and up just a few more steps............
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