Charming Cinque Terre
Today was our promised "vacation from our vacation" and we were excited to explore this area we had heard so much about.
First stop, Vernazza! With its narrow passageways, colorful buildings, and rich history, Vernazza is what many guidebooks call "the most charming" of the five
towns. Struck by disastrous mudslides in October of 2011, it is quite remarkable how these people have perservered and rebuilt their beloved town. You'd never know from the hustle and bustle that only four years ago the cobblestone streets and colorful facades were buried in 3 meters of mud and left without water, electricity, or phone connections. We feel quite honored to be here.
The streets here are for foot traffic only, and as we walked through town, we watched the locals about their day. A nonna picking out the perfect tomatoes for her daily cooking. A baker artistically stacking perfect loaves of bread. An old man carrying parcels up a narrow stairway to his home. His HOME. These people LIVE here. This is amazing to me.
We saw a man walking with the most incredible-looking piece of pesto foccacia, and suddenly we were on a mission to find it! It didn't take long and soon we were walking down the street with pesto on our lips and smiles on our faces.
Shoes & Rain.
Into each life a little rain must fall. Be prepared. Honestly, I don't really remember the weather. We were so caught up in all the amazing adventures that it didn't matter. It helped that we were prepared. Tony and I each had an umbrella and a rain jacket. There were days where it would rain a bit and then the sun would peek out only to rain a bit more.
Pack at least 2 pairs of shoes. Walking shoes. Good walking shoes. Buy them at least a month before your trip and wear them every day. Make sure they fit and don't rub in all the wrong places. And because even the best shoes can sometimes cause havoc, bring along band-aids and lambswool.
Be prepared and you'll have nothing to worry about!
Now that our tummies were happy, we took a quick detour to the Castella Doria to take in the sweeping views of the area before setting off on foot from Vernazza to Monterossa al Mare. Then we saw it...the view that is the poster child for every postcard, travel brochure and calendar of the Cinque Terre. Swoon. Pardon me while I sit here all day and take photographs and daydream. Oh! But wait! We have a rugged 3km hike ahead of us!
OK, so let's be real. This hike? It was worth every step. Truly. But...It. Was. Not. Easy. And if your feet happen to be adorned with flipflops, I'm telling you right now, skip it. Let this be a warning...pack some good shoes (sneakers will be fine) because this is part of the Cinque Terre you won't want to miss.
Highlights along the way were the views, of course. But also the little stray cat town where small kitty houses lined the cliff and local cats sunbathed and barely batted an eye at the passersby. And the old man making fresh squeezed orange juice for weary hikers.
I swear, it was the best OJ I've ever tasted. Was it that I was parched from our hike? I prefer to believe it was the sweet Italian oranges and the Ligurian sea air. Whichever it was, it was perfection.
An improptu meeting with several of our tour mates led to dinner at Ristorante Belvedere, a Rick Steves Guidebook recommendation. Christine & Bob ordered the fish stew, or anfora belvedere. The stew is cooked in a huge pottery amphora and impressively poured into a giant bowl tableside. I can't even describe it, so you'll just have to trust me when I say it was like nothing I've ever seen. Why don't I just show you? Are you even kidding me with this food? Yum.
Happy bellies. Happy hearts. I'm pretty sure this is all a dream I never want to wake from.
Day 6 Photo Highlights
Bring on the Renaissance!