Archive | Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre :: Monterosso al Mare

Our last day in Cinque Terre… and did we want to visit one last town?  We decided to swing through Monterosso for lunch on our way back to Milan and a flight to Sicily.

Little did we know what a treacherous road we were about to go down!

We snaked up and down the green hills of the coast, passing through tiny little clusters of houses and shops, villages too small to be considered one of the “cinque terre” towns.  The view from the tops of the hills was amazing: a horizon that melted into the sea, cathedral spires nosing the clouds, bright orange nets spread under olive trees for the picking season.

However, as the road twisted down towards the coast numerous times, the scenery changed.  Water collected quickly and formed dangerous rivulets, then streams, then rivers.  At the bottom of the valleys we felt like we were in a war zone; there were barricades everywhere.  This is why parts of Cinque Terre have disappeared in mud slides in 2011 and 2012, and why the Via dell’Amore was closed between the towns, and why there were so many warning signs on the roads… and perhaps also why we were the only cars on it!

A few times I looked back and saw that the earth had washed away underneath the outer edge of the asphalt.  If we had been driving too close to the edge… would the road have fallen away beneath us?

I was actually trembling when we finally parked in Monterosso al Mare and realized it was because I had been so tense in the car.  What a relief to step out into such a quaint little town and have nothing more on our minds than where to find some lunch!

 Farewell for now, Cinque Terre.  Maybe we’ll meet again… in the summertime?
9 :: in Cinque Terre, friends, Italy, pretty places, travel

Cinque Terre :: Riomaggiore

Day Three in Cinque Terre dawned rainy and gray.  
This is an unfortunate state of affairs if you are in a small apartment with four children under six years old.  We waited for the rain to abate somewhat and then, hungry and stir-crazy, we headed out into our little town of Riomaggiore.  Below is the view of the heart of town and the boat slip.  Looks a little different on a rainy day than it does in the sparkling summertime!

At the top of the town, the sun came out!  As we looked towards the back of town and the rising hills, low-hanging clouds lingered, but if we looked out to sea there was only sunshine.

For all lovers of Naomi of Rockstar Diaries, we missed each other by one day in Riomaggiore.  She took this same photo a day before I did.  I also have a sneaking suspicion we might have even stayed in the same apartment, but do not yet have proof….

Our apartment included the top floor of the narrow rose-colored house on the far left.  Below is the view from the balcony at the very top.

And then we were home after another fun day of exploring.  Time to cook dinner, read a few stories (this one‘s her current favorite… thank you, Jo and Will!), and snuggle down into bed.
7 :: in Cinque Terre, friends, Italy, travel

Cinque Terre :: Vernazza

Beautiful Vernazza, the most famous of the Cinque Terre villages, was our lunch stop (and last stop) that first day.  We had wanted to stay in this town because it was famously lovely, but in the end I actually liked Riomaggiore more.  Nevertheless, Vernazza (ver-NATZ-ah) had a gorgeous coastline and lovely little harbor… and some yummy eats.

All the beached rowboats reminded us that we were visiting in the off-season.  Oh to come again in the height of summer when every captain is plying his oars across the sparkling blue sea!

We found a great little restaurant called Bar del Capitano in the main square and settled down for some traditional fare.  I ordered the trofie al pesto this time, which is pesto pasta that is cooked with sticky homemade noodles.  Delicious.

                                                                                                                                        ^ Waiting for the train! 

At home I carefully set up my camera on the balcony railing to take a photo of Riomaggiore by night.  So beautiful!  Later we played games of “This Little Piggy” before dinner.

After our babes were a-bed, the adults played Settlers of Catan… and I won!  For like the second time in my life?

6 :: in Cinque Terre, friends, Italy, travel

Cinque Terre :: Manarola

Christmas card photo, maybe?
We had been planning our trip to Cinque Terre with the Arthur family since… August, I think?  In fact, we bought our plane tickets even before we went to the Amalfi Coast, which is some planning ahead for you!  Elliott spent a lot of time on AirBnB, our favorite website for home away rentals.  We finally settled on this apartment and extra room in Riomaggiore, one of the five (in Italian, cinque) towns of Cinque Terre.  I recommend the apartment if you want a prime location for a great price.
We arrived in Riomaggiore on Friday afternoon, found the apartment with some difficulty, and went out for a delicious meal in town that night at La Lampara, which our trusty friend Rick Steves recommended (although Trip Advisor apparently does not).

Seafood spaghetti wrapped in foil (a local specialty) for me and stuffed mussels for Elliott.  Below, Miss Becca with two little munchkins.

The next morning, refreshed and excited, we took off exploring.  Our plan was to see whatever we could before the kids called it a day.  Thankfully, they were troopers, and we were able to enjoy three of the five Cinque Terre towns: some of Riomaggiore, a lot of Manarola, and a bit of Vernazza (which I’ll share tomorrow).

Our plan was to walk the beautiful coastline trail called Via dell’Amore (Way of Love) between Riomaggiore and Manarola.  The hiking trails between the towns are a major tourist attraction of Cinque Terre.  Sadly, however, due to recent rain and mudslides, the trail was chiusa (closed).  Le sigh.

We decided to take the train instead.  Unlike the Amalfi Coast, where you must drive or take buses everywhere, Cinque Terre has an amazing train system.  We paid 4 euro per adult for a ticket that would take us as far as we wanted to go in Cinque Terre for 6 hours.

Beautiful Manarola, the second town in the coastal necklace of Cinque Terre:

We popped into the cozy wooden “bar” (Italian for coffee shop) behind Lena for a mid-morning pick-me-up.  Ahh cappuccino… how I love thee.

Lena and Lucas were having so much fun in this little hideaway.  (The boards and barriers in front of doors are supposed to help with flooding.)  Later, Lena got a smooch from Caleb.  Already so popular with the fellas!

We found a beautiful vineyard hiking trail and followed that from the rear of Manarola back out to the coast.  Along the way we could admire the carefully built dry stone walls (no cement), terraced vineyards and orchards, and spectacular views.

Prettiest location for a town cemetery… ever?   And behind it was a fantastic playground!

To be continued tomorrow morning!
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9 :: in Cinque Terre, friends, holiday, Italy, travel

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