Road Trip Part II: Cinque Terre

August 21, 2012

Cinque Terre was every bit the dream I expected it to be. In person, it feels as if you are living each day in a postcard. The towns were amazing, the views were amazing, the sea... ahhh, amazing. The only thing that was less than amazing was the weather. It was May and the skies and temperatures were still very much in spring territory - grey, cold and rainy. It put a bit of a damper - literally - on the seaside holiday I had in my head, including the Mediterranean swims I was hoping for, but somehow we managed. 

We stayed in Riomaggiore at the most impressive apartment (that window, above, was seriously ridiculous and half our photos with it in the background look as if it's just a beautiful painting up on the wall, rather than an opening to real life outside) for an incredible deal for what we had. We did our first apartment stay on our trip to Paris, and I must say, I'm hooked. Your own kitchen, no housekeeping to get in your way, the feeling of living like a local - you can't beat it. It also makes things like making coffee in the morning and being able to live on take-out rather than expensive restaurants more of a reality. I can't recommend it highly enough. 

Other than one whole rain-soaked day we all spent indoors reading The Hunger Games, we managed to do a good amount of exploring around the five villages. We did the Via dell'Amore (Lover's way), which is a cliff-side trail that went between Riomaggiore and Manarola, where we stopped for some of the best gelato (out from the train station and up on the left) and focaccia (La Cambusa) I've ever had. The sun finally started to come out that day just as I was admiring the clear, teal water in the most perfect swimming spot in all of Cinque Terre, only to realize not only would I have to peel off four layers of clothes, but the water itself was still ice cold. A few brave girls went for it and everyone in town gathered to watch and cheer them on. We did manage to make it down to Monterosso's rocky beach in time for a little laying out in the sun and to dip our toes in the freezing sea while it was still light enough to do so.

On another day, we made it to Vernazza, the town most ravaged by the floods last fall. While much of the main street's buildings were still being worked on, seeing the photos of where they had to dig out from shows how far they've come. We enjoyed lunch there on a massive outdoor patio literally right on the sea and even though the food was mostly so-so tourist fare, it felt good to bring at least a bit of business to this town that's still  rebuilding. 

We also made a stop in Corniglia, the only one of the five villages not at water level, which meant a massive, nearly 400-step climb up the cliff from the train station. Our brief stop there offered tasty frozen lemon drinks and beautiful views - not to mention a charming canine mascot who overlooked the main square - but I felt this town lacked a bit of the charm of Riomaggiore and Manarola. And I promise that was not just the burn in my backside talking (gotta work all that pasta and focaccia off somehow, I suppose).

That final night we hurried back to our apartment to enjoy our last Riomaggiore sunset (really the best view of all the villages), which serendipitously turned out to be not only the most gorgeous sunset of our stay, but one of the most gorgeous I'd ever seen. The bi-polar weather created the most amazing canvas of sky and clouds to create the appearance of a world on fire. The spectacular display made it especially hard to realize we were leaving this magical place the next day...    

Next up: Leaving Riomaggiore for Pisa and Florence.

Daily Crop Cap by Jessica Hische
Some photos courtesy of Mom