Cinque Terre

Weekend update- parte due.

Yesterday, Saturday, my two friends and I took a train up to La Cinque Terre to spend the day there.  Cinque Terre (“Five Hills”)  consists of five villages on the coast of the Ligurian Sea; Monterosso al MareVernazzaCornigliaManarola, and Riomaggiore. We went to the first four, and they were absolutely amazing.

Monterosso beach

Each village has its own, unique charm.  To get to each village, there is a regional train that goes up and down the coast.  The first one we went to was Monterosso.  Monterosso is mainly a beach with only a few shops.  The beach was small and crowded, but we fell in love with the water right away.  The water was blue and clear, unlike the muddy green at home.  It was at the perfect temperature, it was like we were floating in a bath.

On the beach, it was easy to distinguish who was Italian and who was not (Speedo’s anyone?). Regardless, everyone was relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather.  Finally, we were happy about the unusually hot summer that Italy has been experiencing.

The next stop on our trip was Vernazza. Vernazza is more of a town than Monterosso and has a small port.  The small, brightly colored shops are lined along the hill, with the doors open, welcoming the tourists to inspect their products.  At the bottom of the hill, by the port, are three or four restaurants overlooking the water.  The restaurant we chose had large, colorful umbrellas, where we happily sought cover from the sun.  We sat next to an older American couple; the wife was reading from her tour book aloud to her husband, which enlightened us with some information on the town.

Vernazza

While waiting for the next train, we got gelato at a gelatteria named “Gelato, amore mio,” or gelato my love. A title that I can definitely agree with.

Our third stop was Corniglia.  Instead of going into town on our right, we decided to be adventurous and go to the left, to a pebble beach near the train station.  Getting down there was a huge process. There’s a path that follows the tracks, but then leads to multiple flights of stairs to get down to the coast. At one point, when facing a left or downstairs, we decided to go down.  We get to the coast and it’s aligned with huge boulders.  We then see the pebble beach we were looking for in front of us, with stairs leading to it from where we should have made a left as opposed to go down.

Instead of turning around, we decided it would be a good idea to climb all the rocks to get to it. As we progressed further, the rocks became more slippy and further spread apart.  With waves crashing on the rocks, our balance became even more off.  We finally decided that it was a terrible idea and to turn around and take the proper path to the pebble beach.

At the actual pebble beach, and the word pebble was an understatement, smooth round rocks coated the fifteen foot coast.  We had to carefully crawl into the water and sit down on a rock, because, even off the coast, there were only rocks along the floor-no sand.  Our lack of balance made things a little difficult, but the view was unbelievable.  We would have loved to sit there the entire day if we could, watching the water roll over the rocks and the sail boats in the distances.

Corniglia pebble beach

Alas, we had more places to visit. Our next place was Manarola.  Manarola was also on a hill, with small businesses and homes aligning the streets.  At the top of the hill there were signs with poetry (in Italian and English) of the Cinque Terre and its wine.  There is also an overlook, where there is an magnificent view of the sea and port. There, we went right down to the coast where there was a cove, something like a natural pool. We swam in the water, climbed the rocks surrounding it, and watched the school of fish that stayed close to the rocks.

I absolutely loved climbing the rocks.  I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so the higher we climbed, the more exciting it was.  I could not jump off the highest point, for fear I may not clear the rocks below it, but we jumped in at various locations along the way.  During the jumps, I was filled with so many emotions for the moment.  There’s the excitement, the hint of pride for gaining the courage to do so, the terror that there is no turning back, and the appreciation of the view surrounding me.  I just wanted to freeze frame it and never let go.

Manarola cliff

I was finally convinced to get out of the water and leave the cove.  We were unsure of the time our train was leaving for home so we had to get to the main station (La Spezia) soon.  We had difficulties actually getting home though, which will be explained in my next post roughly titled Difficulties Abroad.

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