Hiking on the Mediterranean
Trip Start Oct 29, 2009
15Trip End Nov 15, 2009
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The southern most town of Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore; this is where we parked our car for the day and headed from the hillside to the coast-side village. Like all the five towns, Riomaggiore is colorful and quaint and at this time of year, very sleepy. All the sheer buildings have windows with adorable, functional shutters; laundry was drying on balconies and the streets were covered in cobblestone.
After enjoying a little lunch overlooking the Mediterranean, we began our hike on this well-marked trail.
There were so many steps between the first two towns (Monterosso and Vernazza), an article we read said 700, and they are so steep that many of them required a lunge like move--very much chin-to-chest and hoist!
Vernazza is probably the most picturesque of the five towns and it's so exciting to reach it after an intense workout. There is a tiny harbor and square at the center of town which is surrounded by little shops and restaurants. Children were riding tricycles and older couples were strolling hand-in-hand. It was so peaceful and rich with new experiences.
The trails are designed to route travelers from the hillside through the streets of a town and then back into the hills. It's such a great and wild blend of nature and town life, unlike any trail we've ever hiked. At one moment you could think you are in Big Sur, hiking an amazing coastal trail but then suddenly you see an ancient and colorful fishing village in the distance and an hour later you are walking among its streets, sampling its food and culture before heading to the next one.
After Vernazza is the quiet town of Corniglia, which prides itself on being the center of Cinque Terre. It's mainly a residential village with just a handful of restaurants and cafes and we loved strolling among older Italian women who seemed to be gossiping about the day while out for their evening walk. The sun was beginning to set so we widened our strides to get to the next town, Manarola, before sunset.
The hike between Corniglia and Manarola became more of a coastal walk than a hike which was perfect since we were loosing sun light. The walk flattened a bit before we walked up the crest above Manarola. The beautiful colors of the setting sun were illuminating its colorful homes just as we rounded the hillside to see it.
The last part of the walk is romantic, well lit and designed to be a stroll for lovers: La Via Dell' Amore. Since we were only twenty minutes from our final destination, we slowed down and took in this amazing experience and were filled with gratitude. We threw our big backpack in the car and took the train back to Manarola where we had a Cinque Terre dinner right on the water. It was a perfect ending & fueling station for a spectacular & rigorous day.