Monday, September 29, 2008

Cinque Terre

Did you hear about the UCI World Cycling Championship? It was hosted by the city next door: Varese, which meant that all streets were closed to general traffic and that there was no way for children to get to school. So Nico was on vacation for a week, and we just had to take the opportunity and get away when all the rest of Italy was not on vacation.

We left early friday to the cinque terre, or the five lands. This five little towns hang precariously from the hills bordering the Ligurian coast. Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are a world onto themselves. You can easily arrive by car to Monterosso al mare, and from there you can choose to take the train between the towns, or sail away on one of the many boats that connect this area, but the best way as far as we are concerned is to hike the gorgeous trails by the sea. This is a hiker's paradise, so you better be prepared. The most challenging trails are those connecting Monterosso with Vernazza, and Vernazza with Corniglia. These trails are narrow, steep, challenging, but oh, so beautiful.

The last part of the trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore is a wide, well maintained path, mostly flat, and it is know as Via dell'Amore or Lover's Walk. This twenty minute walk gives you easy access to some of the most romantic views of the Sentiero Azzurro or the Blue Trail. There is a little nook with a modern statue of a couple, and next to it the rail is crowded with locks left there as a promise of everlasting love! I have seen these locks before, but I never understood their meaning until this trip. Next time I am bringing my own to leave at such a privileged place.

I cannot finish this post without talking about the delicious food we had. Superb Troffie with pesto (you know what they say? that the only basil worth eating is that grown with a sea view!), fish, clams, anchovies, etc. My favorite has to be the cinque terre wine, a dry and tangy wine. We loved it. Salute!

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