Sunday, April 10, 2016

Day 2 - Cinque Terre: Beautiful Seaside Hills

"Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate."
                      --J R R Tolkien

When we first decided to come to Florence, Paul said, "We should definitely go to Cinque Terre." It means the five cities and it is the picturesque coastline you always see in the postcards or advertising for Italy. There are actually MORE than 5 towns, but there are five connected by train: Monterossa, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. You can get there by train from Florence, but we chose to go on a "hiking trip" with Walkabout Florence. This was a tourist oriented trip but provided all the transport and a guide who knew the cities and the trail.

Paul hits the rocky trail. Here he is on a flat surface. Most of it is either up or down. 

We were told that we should wear sturdy shoes. Amazingly, one person showed up in flip flops, one in boat shoes (it's near the water, right?) and one in pennyloafers. Oh well! They made it, so who is to question?

The Cinque Terre region is in Liguria (the province Genoa is in) and not Tuscany, but it is close by. We passed through towns that were famous for nurseries, toilet paper making and marble quarries on the way. We didn't see the T.P, but the rest was fully visible from the road. We drove by the Appenines and misty valleys which were scenic and finally to Spezia and the "bay of the poets." Keats and Lord Byron both haunted the area and loved it. Then we were over the hill to Cinque Terre.

You can get to Cinque Terre by seemingly always late train from Florence or Genoa. Beware of friendly pickpockets.

It's really hard to express the loveliness of this UNESCO world heritage site. Just gorgeous everywhere you look!

The terraces of Cinque Terre are full of flowers, fruit and vegetables. 

Artichoke country. They have a transport that looks like a roller coaster for riding the terraces and collecting 

Many of the towns have only pedestrian traffic on the streets and the roadway can be somewhat steep. I warned you. There are a few beaches, many restaurants and bars and plenty of little souvenir shops. Hotels seem scarce but there were plenty of people's home you can stay in. We hiked the path between
Vernazza and Corniglia---about 3 miles. But very rugged. It was certainly do-able by anyone of average fitness, including ladies in pennyloafers :)

Narrow lanes. No cars but many are packed with people.

I know plenty of people who would like to shop here.

Holy cow content---GELATO!

The madonna of the gelato 

Our lunch was in Vernazza overlooking the sea and a great view of Manarola.

Fresh seafood. Even the anchovies were delicious.

Where fresh seafood came from

We got back too late to do anything but pizza for dinner, but who's complaining?

Our constant view .

Another view along the trail

What a beautiful day hiking and exploring Cinque Terre---a place you read about once, and dream about for a lifetime!

Paul's Ponderings:  A great day out in Cinque Terre.   It's quite a lovely place and you can see it all in one day, more or less.   The walk/hike was a bit stout as the path was fairly steep and rocky in places.  Not all that suitable for folks in flip flops, but we were prepared.    By the end of the day, the temperature was quite cool and windy as we waited for a train back to be picked up.  

It was a fairly long day, as we started at 745 am and got back to Florence about 930 pm, just in time to get another fabulous pizza for dinner with some local Chianti Classico to accompany it.   

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