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Report 1905: Firenze, Cinque Terre, and Tuscany Hill Towns

By ktp from California, USA, Spring 2011

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Page 3 of 5: Cinque Terre – Three Nights in Vernazza

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Vernazza on the way to Monterosso, it really looks like this

After a three-hour train ride to La Spezia, switching trains to the towns of the Cinque Terre, we emerged from the tunnel to see the Ligurian Sea. We stayed in Vernazza, near the trail to Corniglia, at Rooms La Torre. The room was spotless, new, and about the size of a king sized bed with a double bed, fridge, and bathroom squeezed in - comically tight for two people. The huge terrace’s 180-degree view included terraced grape vine hills, the pastel town, a castle (well worth the €1.50), the harbor and sea beyond. Most everyone speaks English in the CT and everyone carries an embarrassing Rick Steve’s book. Try to hide it in your backpack.

Many of the low trails were closed due to rock slides, so we hiked a combination of low and high trails. Some of the trails they said were closed were actually open. The first day we took the lower trail #2 to Corniglia, followed by the hill trail to Manarola. The elevation change was dramatic, from terraced grape vines to pines. New friends along the way included Seattleites and Aussies. In Manarola, we ate panini and pizza and shared a bottle of wine on the rocks by the harbor, before heading off to the Via del’Amore to Riomaggiore. The Aussies were game to add on a hike to a hilltop church so we joined in. About 16 miles were hiked that day. We jumped on the train back to Vernazza and closed down a bar with our new friends.

The next day we set off “early,” meaning 9am, taking the high trail to Monterosso. The view leaving Vernazza is breathtaking. The trail was empty save a couple Italians and Germans. My husband fixed a woman’s walking stick and we all cheered. The country cathedral of Madonna di Soviore was especially lovely. Frescoes were used throughout as money was obviously not available for marble. Plexiglas floors revealed ruins beneath. A bonus was the attached coffee shop! A lovely meal in Monterosso, where I had pear and pecorino pasta (at Via Venti), was followed by sunbathing at the “new town” beach. Warm blue sea, multi-colored pebble beach, and dramatic coastline.

Another eating highlight of the CT included Il Pirata in Vernazza. The Sicilian brothers running this place were characters, full of deadpan humor and hand gestures. Don't ask for bacon and eggs, they may kick you out. The pastries and cannoli were out of this world. Go here for your morning pastries, then go back for dinner. At the top of town, this short walk is worth your time. The raisin dessert wine schiattera and local limoncello were great.

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