I was, for once, the pessimist in the group. My instinct was to NOT go with the group to Cinque Terra, but to take a bus to lovely Tellaro (town next door to Lerici). or have a nice beach day somewhere near by, or even to hang out reading my book. Brad would have been disappointed, and as I have been the "tour guide" and dragged everyone else to where I wanted to go each day, I slapped a smile on my face and went quietly along.
If you are hoping for gorgeous photography on this blog entry, you will be disappointed. Brad took video at each stop, and I took three photos all day. I even forgot to take lunch!
We boarded the 9:30 ferry in Lerici, changed boats in Portovenere, and were on our way.
Let's talk briefly about my feet. They have at times been know to swell in Italy. I have tired various theories, because they don't ALWAYS swell, and this only happens in Italy, on SOME trips, or only in SOME places. Too much salt? (Cheese and prosciutto?), too much coffee? I will have to die happy. I think it has to do with how much walking/climbing I do. They were fine in Varenna, except swollen the day we went to
Villa Balbianello. They were fine until our second day in Lerici. Remember those steps up to the hotel? They were FAT today!
The first stop was Riomaggiore. After a few sets of steps from the boat to the bottom level below the tiny piazza, I found a cafe. I happily sat with a latte and my book, while the others explored the tiny town for the 40 minute stop. All said, "You didn't miss anything".
Next we stopped at Manarola. We decided, to stay on the boat. The boat sails by Corniglia, you can see at the top of the hill. Hmmmmm. Okay, WHY did I come?
I actually enjoyed the ferry ride. The water was a beautiful blue, and the sun felt good on the breezy deck. I thought, "I'll never have to do this again! Tomorrow we'll be in Piemonte!" BAD tourist!
Vernazza was next. It is a crowded hillside town, sloping down to a piazza on the sea with a church tower, unbrellas, many touristy (junky) souvineer/t-shirt shops, and a main street of small stores and restaurants. We stopped for a cold drink, and wandered for almost an hour. This wasn't doing anything for me either. Am I so spoiled by the beauty of the Amalfi coast? This doesn't hold a candle. Maybe the hikers like it because you can walk the path between villages. Go figure? Here are my photos of the day in Vernazzia. Are YOU charmed?
The last, and largest (and flattest) village is Monterosso. We would be here 3 hours, so there was no need to rush around. We wandered around town, looking for a restaurant for lunch, and it was busy everywhere. We found a cute place with one table left, and grabbed it. I had an absolutely fabulous plate of gorgonzola cheese with fig jam. The others all had pasta, and for some reason, we decided to share a really good plate of french fries! The cheese and fig preserves were SO good! (My happy moment in the Cinque Terra...how pathetic is that?)
We walked around town afterwards, and Brad enjoyed a local wine/grappa shop.
We spent our last half hour before the ferry laughing hysterically at a cafe with gelato and coffee.
It was a cloudless, blue sky on the warm, sunny and breezy ferry ride back to Lerici. We decided we weren't going to hike up the hill to the hotel TWICE tonight, so we stayed in town, and had "happy hour" wine and appetizers at a restaurant on the harbor. We hung out there until 7:30, discussing our days in Liguria and excitement over getting to Piemonte tomorrow. Then we had a delicious marscapone-prosciutto pizza and some muscles for dinner.
We sampled creme brulee/panna cotta gelato. After some internet time, we were in bed at a record 10:30 PM!
Final thoughts on Liguria:
Lerici: won't be back
Portovenere: We enjoyed our day there!
Food: good seafood, pesto, farinata, focaccia,
5 days is enough
Chiavari: Highlight of our days in Liguria. I would stay here again in a heartbeat!
Genoa: Big city with lovely buildings, good shopping, I'd like to see the aquarium, worth more time if staying in Chiavari or Camiogli (where I would also return).
Cinque Terra: Been there, done that, cross it off the list.