I don't know how many places I read online the quote "I wish we had scheduled more than one day..." for the villages of the Cinque Terre. So possibly to a fault...depending on whether you ask me or Luke...we spent more than one day climbing all over the cliffs and hills of this area of Italy. The first day was in the later afternoon after we visited Portovenere on day one. Not the best idea really-it was mine of course. I think I remember Luke saying "We don't have to do everything in the first day." to which I mentally thought "Who knows...Italy may sink into the sea tomorrow." :) That hike ended in such worn out defeat it was laughable. I wanted to hike the "upper" trails that most people don't ever give a shot at (okay, I'll admit it, I thought we would run the
upper trails stone steps that never end...turns out a rock slide (Monday when we arrived) on the main trail made that our only option. I was smiling ear to ear as we parked our car and took some cryptic instructions to find a monastery that had a map posted on sight for our next leg of the hike (as we had no map... seriously). We did run...a few yards maybe. :) We crawled up the side of the mountain for about 2.5 hours taking a minor detour off the trail by accident as the most foot beaten path veered off and back down the hill...before a huge set of stone steps (hidden by trees) and then ended in deer trails going all directions through briar patches. Luke was not pleased. Marching up the last flight of stone steps, the conversation went something like:
L: "It's getting dark. We're in a foreign country in the middle of nowhere. It's time to backtrack to the car."
A: "I don't want to stop." I peer at the picture I took of the map on my phone.
L: "Yes, I know. I like that about you, but it's time to stop."
A: "I don't want to stop."
L: "Have you ever been lost in the woods in the dark in a foreign country?"
L: "I have, it's time to go back."
A: "Are you for real? You're just saying that. I think we can make it to the next village and take the train back."
L: "Mexico, and the trains are probably done for the night."
After a big sigh and a look at my tired feet that conceded Luke was right, we marched back down the mountain. When we got to our car, it was in a restricted area for residence only with a gate down. The dark streets were totally empty of anyone to ask for assistance. we sat in the car for several minutes considering the cold fact we may have to sleep there when a lone random car pulled up behind us, and glory be, the gate opened.
We did the trails Luke's way the next go at it. A water taxi picked us up at Eco Del Mare so we left the car totally out of it. ;) We started in the morning as well (imagine, daylight :). Turns out Luke has some pretty good ideas, because this was one of my favorite days. Seeing the villages from the water was really amazing (and clear blue water at that).
working olive grove
Our little trail...with no rails. They don't babysit the tourist on these hillsides that's for sure.
The main cinque terre trail is visible down there (I think) to the left of the train rails. The trains are the only real access to these villages in the middle.
sections of the trail made running laughable...(yes, those little stone steps are the trail) but we did trot along when we felt lively...when not staring at the sea and terraces.
This was the only mechanical device we saw for grape harvesting on the terraced slopes...they send the baskets of grapes down on these things.
The owner of this little house was doing some laundry out front...but I didn't feel like she wanted her picture taken. :) Can you imagine living here-for real?
If these little villages survive unchanged, it will be from people like this. They were laughing and chattering and fixing a terrace wall by their house.
There are churches everywhere...but they seem like museums. It made me deeply contemplative in a way I didn't expect. It's sad how beautiful the buildings are...but how still they are inside.
No matter how small the village or how primitive the place you visit-there is always cafe`
The third day we hit the
trials errr trails, was the only day we took a ride on the train. We walked all the way from our last hotel of the trip in Volastra to the village several miles north. Then we took the train to the the village a few miles north of the last Cinque Terre village and back track hiked to it. We got to see the flood damage still present in the hills on the way down to the village.
The gate was there, but the villa was totally washed away
top of a displaced house
they had images posted in the village as the flooding was only a year ago
The church tower survived the mud slide.
Life going on as normal in the square by the ocean
vacation-ish village north of the cinque Terre's northern most village
panoramic view of the whole coast from north to south
As the light faded