Thursday, 9 August 2007

Cinque Terre

True to form I am only now getting around to posting this, more than a week after we actually returned from Cinque Terre. To be fair we have been rather busy over this week, having packed up our apartment in Florence and made a dash over the border to Switzerland.

You would have to have been living in a box to not know about the Cinque Terre, so I won't go into too much detail. You can read plenty of info at the official website.

We stayed at Manarola, which is the second town up the coast. Linda did an incredible job of finding us an apartment in this town, which I think is actually the nicest of the 5, on the cusp of the peak tourist season in August. Actually, when we arrived, we spent a few tense minutes wondering if they had made a horrible mistake and given us the wrong room, which was somehow bigger and had a better view than the one we had paid for. Fortunately this was not the case and we soon relaxed into our great room with views over the harbour.

I think it would miss the point to try and document where we went and what we saw while in Cinque Terre. We were there, after all, to have a holiday and relax before 'heading off to work'. Mainly we just ate seafood, swam in the Mediterranean, and walked and trained up and down the coast visiting the various towns. The seafood was a special treat, given the lack thereof in Florence - we had some delicious fresh anchovies and calamari.

Since we were staying in Manorola, it made sense to walk to Corniglia and Riomaggiore, which are the towns on either side of ours (the whole 5 mile length was too ambitious for a holiday). The path from Riomaggiore is called Via Dell'Amore (lovers walk). It was the path beyond Riomaggiore to torre guardiola that had the most spectacular scenery, however, looking back along the coast to all 5 towns.

I could say more about the beach at Corniglia (itself built on the cliff-top), which was a disaster on many counts. So much so it is probably deserving of a full blog post of its own.

We also took in the towns from the water, catching a ferry all the way from the west-most town (Monterosso) through to Portovenere (not actually one of the Cinque Terre but, from the boat at least, also a very pretty town).

It took us until the last day, however, to get to Vernazza, which is reputed to be the smallest and most picturesque of the 5 towns. It was indeed a very pretty town, but it was a little overrun with tourists (attracted to it because of its reputation). We spent a very relaxing few hours there taking in the sun, eating pizza-by-the-slice, and popping our heads into the shops (I got a Cinque Terre T-shirt).

Since it was our last day (and actually overcast when we left our room) we didn't have our swimmers with us, so we had to settle for wading in the lovely water in Vernazza. We did, however, manage one last swim at Manarola before getting changed into our travel clothes for the train ride home to Florence, feeling rested but knowing we had a lot of work ahead of us.

All the photos are here.

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