Wednesday, October 15, 2008

le bellissime cinque terre

To continue on with my catch-up blogging, this post is about my trip to Cinque Terre, or "Five Lands," which was a few weekends ago. Cinque Terre is in the region of Ligura and it consists of five fishing villages on the coast: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. My roommates and I went with a tour group called Florence for Fun and we took a 3-hour train ride to Cinque Terre with a bunch of other young people form various programs in Florence. There must have been a faster train there, but I think they wanted o give us the cheapest option. Anyway, once we finally arrived we began our hike through the utterly gorgeous fishing towns. 

We followed the Via dell'Amore or "Lover's Path" from Riomaggiore to Manarola. It was originally built during the expansion of the railway lines in the 1920s and it earned its name when a journalist writing for an Italian newspaper came across a sign left by young lovers while following the path. The path was basically carved out of the hills, so the drop to the ocean from the path was a bit frightening, but the beautiful views made it worth it! The vegetation and the blueness of the water made some of the views look exactly like Hawaii... it was so crazy. I can't believe that two VERY different places could look so similar if you photographed it a certain way. 

Next, we hiked from Manarola to Corniglia and the hike got a just a bit more strenuous... we had to walk up a staircase that looked like Lombard Street in San Francisco that was 365 steps! It was tough, but we made it. 

View of Manarola

Our tour guide told us that the houses in these fishing villages are different colors so that when the fishermen are out at sea, they can look back at their houses and be able to pick out which one is theirs so that they can think about their families at home. 

The hike from Corniglia to Vernazza was much more strenuous... I felt like I was in Yosemite doing those hikes! Somehow my roommates and I ended up in the "fast" group, but that actually turned out to be better because we had more time to spend in Vernazza, which was my favorite city. Vernazza had a very intricate layout because it has caruggi or narrow lanes and steep stairways. 

View of Vernazza

By the time we got here we were STARVING because it was around 3pm and the last time I had eaten was an apple on the train at 11:30am. Plus we had been hiking, which makes me even hungrier! I definitely earned that meal! Cinque Terre is in the region of Liguria which is also the region that Genoa is in. Pesto originated in Genoa, so basically anywhere near that has amazing pesto. The four of us got a nice cold beer and my roommate GiGi and I shared a seafood pizza and trofie with pesto. Trofie is a short pasta that is made by rolling the pasta dough in your hand for a couple seconds and then dropping it. It was SO GOOD... hands down the best pesto I have ever had. The area must grow the best-tasting pine nuts and basil for the pesto to be so amazing...

Next, we took a ferry from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare because the hike was supposed to be even more challenging. We didn't get to spend too much time there before catching the train back to Florence, but it was very beautiful. One day, I would love to go back and spend a couple days there and stay in a cute little bed and breakfast that overlooks the beauty of the sea. 

My next post will be about Pisa and Lucca.


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