It has been an awesome weekend getaway to Cinque Terre, Italy. Meaning “Five Lands”, the area consisted of 5 villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza & Monterosso al Mare. Blessed with warm & sunny weather, our group of 5pax fell in love with the rustic villages, clear blue seawaters and steep terraces filled with farming for grapes, olives, lemons etc.
We arrived late afternoon to Manarola, our base for the next 2 nights after a 2hr train ride from Genova city. Our hostel was Ostello “Cinque Terre” – do recommend it for its cleanliness and eco efforts (www.hostel5terre.com). We even had special tokens for the showers ,which limited it to 5 min for water conservation. Amazing experience since it does make one realise how little time we actually need for a proper shower.
(Manarola basking in the sunset)
The whole area is filled with plenty of trails connecting the coastal villages or leading up to the various hilltops. As we only had one proper day for exploration, we opted to stay on the well-trodden footpath #2 from Manarola to Monterosso al Mare (8km walk), which can be done easily in 5-6 hours.
(Footpath linking the villages between Manarola & Monterosso al Mare)
The footpath is varied in terms of steepness, but definitely well laid out to appeal to walkers from all ages. There was the interesting 382 steps in zig-zag style during the last section leading up to Corniglia. The final footpaths from Corniglia to Vernazza & Monterosso al Mare were more challenging in its steepness, but one is rewarded with the beauty of the olive trees & grapevines on both sides of the trail.
(Zig zag steps leading up to Corniglia)
(View of Vernazza from the harbour)
Arrived at Monterosso al Mare about 3pm, and jumped with joy that our hard walking moments are over for the day. The village was definitely busy for the Sunday – plenty of local & foreign tourists soaking up the sun & warmth. It was also a long weekend for the Italians, who were enjoying a public holiday on Friday for May 1st Labour Day. There were people everywhere looking for souveniers amongst the many shops in the town centre, or relaxing along Fegina beach.
(Il Gigante with Fegina beach in the background)
Took the last ferry trip at 5.50pm from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore and enjoyed the views of the villages and cliffs from the sea. Didn’t really explore much of Riomaggiore as I was indeed tired from the long day of walking. Enjoyed the easy paved footpath from Riomaggiore back to Manarola, which was called Via dell’ Amore (Lover’s Road). The 20min walk was flat all the way – we even had time to fool around with various poses for the camera while savouring the sunset.
(Plenty of love declarations in the form of locks found along the Via dell’ Amore)
Ended the night with a wonderful dinner at Tratorria “Billy” – our table was set on an open balcony where we had a marvelous view of the sun setting in the open sea. Food was excellent, shared the Black Squid Ink Linguini with clams. Didn’t really stayed long at the restaurant, as our group was finding it difficult keeping our voices & laughter down amongst the other diners, mostly couples enjoying the romantic setting.
Definitely enjoyed the village of Manarola the best – mainly because it was quieter and less commercialised compared to the other towns, particularly Vernazza & Monterosso al Mare. It was simply magical exploring the narrow & winding pathways amongst the rustic buildings and out along the farming terraces. Given the opportunity, I will love to return and walk the other trails leading to the many hilltops and drink in the marvelous natural beauty of this national park.
(View of the terraced farming at village of Manarola)
More pics at http://picasaweb.google.com/wyeyim/CinqueTerreGenoa#