Thursday, May 12, 2011

I *heart* Cinque Terre, Italy

It really was amazing, and we only got to see two of the five villages that cling to the cliffs along this rugged portion of the coast in northern Italy. The villages are isolated and undeveloped, which is their charm, and are also tourist magnets.


I was really glad we visited in spring (when it was still fairly crowded), I can only imagine how crazy it'd be in summer.

You can travel between the five villages by train, hiking tracks (very popular) or boat (would love to do this some day without the kids).

We had disembarked the ferry at about 8 am and within a few hours made it to Riomaggiore, the north-most village of Cinque Terre. I had chosen this village to visit because the hiking trail between it and the next closest village, Manarola, was the least difficult (and suitable for the little ones).

The first order of the day was to have an early lunch, before places got too crowded. We walked down to this little cove:


Then up around the corner to a terrace cafe to order some pasta (of course).


Very humourous to see the waitress, after taking our order, walk to a large freezer stored on the terrace and pull out four frozen pasta meals.


But as the mister said, you don't come to places like this for the food. (It actually wasn't that bad, truth be told).

Once refuelled, we walked back past the cove to start our hike to the next village. They really have no right calling it a hiking trail, the whole thing is paved and has plenty of benches to sit on along the way while pondering the spectacular coastline.


There are also plenty of rocks to climb along while pretending to be a seahorse and a shark, if that's your thing.


There's even a bar along the way, which is my idea of a good hiking trail (sadly it wasn't open when we passed through).


The trail is called the Via Dell'Amore, or the Walk of Love. I'm not sure which came first - the name or the declarations and symbols of love that adorn the walkway.




Even the cacti weren't safe.

But not all love stories have a happy ending. I think Arnold Schwarzenegger had paid a visit with his bolt cutters.


The walk was only about 900m and toward the end we could see Manarola. (You can also see the train that operates between the villages on the right there.)


We strolled through Manarola's streets, ice creams in hand.


Down at the cove the kids found some more rocks to climb over under the mister's supervision. I headed up and around the bend a bit to take some pictures of Manarola from afar.


I would've loved to stay a week and explore all of the villages and complete all the hikes, but unfortunately we only had a day to spend in Cinque Terre. We headed back along the Walk of Love and then started our drive to our accommodation in the heart of Tuscany.


I'm glad I didn't know then that our 2 hr drive to Tuscany would take almost 4 hrs thanks to crazy traffic around Florence. That might have taken the glow off what was a fabulous day. Cinque Terre gets a hearty recommendation from me - kids and grown-ups alike will love it.


Some quick tips:

- Info on Cinque Terre can be found here.
- Don't forget your hats, sunscreen, water and money for tickets (depends on which towns you hike between, but for us it was 5 euros an adult, young kids free).
- Sometimes it's just easier and quicker to use the paid parking garages. They are close to the action, safe and beat trawling the streets for 20 mins to find a free park. Not to mention how long it'll take you to walk to and from your 'cheaper' spot.
- While having lunch, try not to think about how you're paying 10 euros for a 2 euro frozen pasta meal. Just enjoy the view!


Betty said...

Super beautiful over there!
And I'd say that picture 17 and 18 would be great for a quilt!
Not easy, but great!

Susan said...

Kirsty, I did comment the other day, didn't I? Or did Blogger lose it! Ugh! It's still misbehaving here! Your photos are beautiful-brings back memories of my visit there in 2008!

Sarah - Red Gingham said...

Oh Kirsty what a wonderful place. My heart melted completely looking at your photos. I so want to go there NOW!!! There truly is a heaven on earth.

Lilbitbrit said...

I visited Cinque Terre a couple of years ago and totally loved it. We did also take the boat from one village to another as well as walk the paths. Would love to visit again.

Lil Bit Brit

Unknown said...

Italy is my #1 place to visit before I die. My husband proposed to me from Italy on the phone while in the Navy. Some day.....

blandina said...

I will absolutely have to go, I can not believe that I live so near and that I never went to Cinque Terre. I wonder what else you will make me discover about Italy that I do not know yet!

Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts said...

Suz, seems blogger was having a Friday 13th moment - I haven't seen a comment from you (except the one above!). There was one comment from Betty which has also been lost. I'm not sure what happened, but I'm glad they found the post as I really didn't feel like doing it again.

Pene said...

Oh gosh I so want to go there it looks absolutely stunning!! I'm not sure if I went I'd ever be able to leave
Glad blogger seems to be working now!!
Pene x

Lauren said...

I have seen a doco on Cinque Terre and decided there and then that we would have to visit some day. Your photos are even more appealing than the doco and I'm having heart palpitations at the thought of visiting there. Thank you for these amazing pics.

Aidan said...

Beautiful. I'm just trying to figure out how you got from Barcelona to Italy.
Cinque Terre is my first choice for my birthday trip with TX besties.
a xo

Val said...

Some parts of that part of the trail were closed because of mudslides when we hiked it a few years back - but I do remember it being a whole day event, and not much pavement. There's also a tiny wine bar between Vernazza & Corniglia - delightful unfiltered hooch with mullion windows looking out toward the sea. I also remember Monterossa to Vernazza being a little dicey. It seems they may be improving the trails! This time of year you can also take the ferries between 5 Terre & Santa Margherita in Ligure (HIGHLY recommend), Portofino (eh), and a tiny little cove called San Fruttuoso (ahh) where the beach is pebbled, & the kids can splash around in cool, clear water - and fresh seafood & pesto to die for - no frozen. Loved your shots too!

Teresa Kline said...

these are gorgeous photos, I have visited this same spot...totally amazing. I wanted to share that I linked up your lantern makeover to my can find it under the Just 4 You section at the top of my blog....hope your week is fabby!

enjoy *~*

Sara Louise said...

The colors are spectacular! Truly breathtaking photos Kirsty :-)
And, I've passed on a wee award to you, come on by my blog, and pick it up x

Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts said...

Thanks Valerie for more info for anyone planning a trip to Cinque Terre in the near future.

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