Unforgettable Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre means “five villages” in Italian. You won’t find it  as a single location on a map, but instead you’ll find the names of each village (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso), which are all part of Cinque Terre National Park. This destination has gained popularity recently, since Rick Steve’s declared it his favorite location in Italy. The villages are literally perched on hillsides along the Mediterranean sea on the northwest coast of Italy. The villages are connected by hiking trails (for which you must purchase a 5 euro National Park pass) and also by train. My companions were not in the mood to hike, perhaps out of consideration of my gimpiness, but more likely because it was the third italian city we’d visited and burning the candle at both ends was catching up to us.

We stayed in the village of Manarola, considered one of the quieter towns. We also stayed there Sunday and Monday nights, two of the quietest nights of the week in most Italian cities. The villages are also connected by roads at higher elevations above each village, but we only rarely saw a vehicle.

Because Manarola was so beautiful and relaxed, we spent a lot of time there and most of my photos are of that village. It’s beauty changed throughout the day and so I just kept taking photos as it got more and more enchanting. We hiked up to a small park perched on a hillside each evening to watch the sunset, drink wine, and be silly together.

Emphasis on the silly.

Cowboy Ken tamed this bucking bronc.

The view from our room was also among the best of the trip. This looks out at the ocean from our room. The park we played in was midway up the hillside from the left.

Each village also had terraced hillsides containing small gardens, presumably of the vegetable variety.

In each of the villages, you can see the influence of tourists. We witnessed a game of “spin the bottle” in this square at the center of the village.

Small shops sold tourist items like post cards, scarves, and hand-made pasta and wine. Very occasionally, we saw a note addressed directly to tourists.

Or I guessed it was for tourists since it included an english translation.

Manarola also had great restaurants. This area is famous for originating pesto and focaccia and well-known for its anchovies and other seafood. Manarola also offered more American breakfast options than any other location we stayed in. 

But instead of American breakfast, I opted for this fruit crepe and a hot chocolate. Hot chocolate in Italy is not made from some powder or syrup, its made of some version of melted pure chocolate. My cup below was so rich and thick it was more like a melted mousse than a hot drink. Mind you, I’m not complaining, simply stating a fact.

I think all my companions would agree that we found a restaurant with the largest portion sizes, la Trattoria Locanda Il Porticciolo, because we all groaned when they brought our second courses and we could barely walk home after eating antipasti, pasta and fish courses at this restaurant mentioned in the Rick Steves’ book.

Tomorrow I’ll share more stunning photos of the other villages of Cinque Terre.

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