Cinque Terre

This is the summary of our vacation in Cinque Terre, Italy between 2015/08/21 - 2015/08/27

Day 1: Arrival to Monterosso

Monterosso is the westernmost city of the Cinque Terre. After 6 hours of travelling we got off at the train station shortly after 3pm. Judging from the sheer number of people it's clear that we have arrived to a rather touristic place. One hears conversations in many different languages: Italian is dominant, but also many French and English speaking tourist come here for holidays.

The room we rented for the first night is very close to the station. We called our host who dispatches Fabio, a surfer looking local dude to escort us to our room. He gave us the keys and some tips about the hiking routes nearby. The room was clean and that's almost everything we can say about it. It's OK for one night and tomorrow we would move the different place anyway. Leaving the luggage in the room then we left for a small tour in the village.

Monterosso (as the other cities of Cinque Terre) is very small, but it has all the necessary infrastructure: restaurants, ice cream shops, grocery stores. The prices are adapted for tourists, but they are not unreasonably high. After a bit of exploration we found a nice spot on the beach and did some snorkeling.

Day 2: Hike above Monterosso

In the morning we spent a half an hour hunting for an ATM which accepts my card. The village is full of cash withdrawal points but cards using the Plus network are not accepted by most them. This is a bit annoying. In other parts of Italy I had no problem using this kind of card at all. After having tried at least five different ATMs from 4 different banks, the Italian post didn't disappoint me.

Armed with enough cash we had some breakfast. Cappuccino, erbazzone (spinach pie) and brioche filled with marmalade. Enough energy content to embark for a hike.

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We decided to make a tour in the hills above Monterosso which embrace the village and its bay. Starting direction west a steep path leads to an old abandoned church. Somebody thought it was a good idea to build a lighthouse there, some others though it was a good idea to abandon that too. From the top I shot some pictures of the city and its bay.

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Monterosso

The rest of the trail leads on the ridge. We traversed the peaks of Monte Focone and Monte Negro to arrive to the Colla di Gritta. When we arrive here it already rained quite a bit. We continued walking for an other hour in increasingly intensive rain to the sanctuary Madonna di Soviore where we had a short break and a coffee. I took a look at the newspapers in the café and I realized that the World Championships in Athletics is ongoing and Usain Bolt was about to defend his title on 100 m. We headed back to the city. It's only downhill from here.

We just caught the start of the 100m finals which Bolt won with 9.79s. While having a short recess it stopped raining. Next stop: the beach.

We ended the day with a copious dinner at Da Eraldo. Delicious and cheap. My favorite.

Day 3: Hike to Vernazza and Corniglia

There is a coastal hiking trail connecting the villages of Cinque Terre. The trail, leading along the cliffs that overlook the sea, undergoes heavy erosion. One often finds torrents running down the hiking path. Some parts are easier to walk, others are completely closed due to danger.

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Vernazza and Corniglia from the coastal trail.

Before we arrive to Corniglia we take a side route and descend to the sea. We were following the signs to the beach of Guvano. We needed to go down very steep on a slippery path through dense bushes. The beach is just below the old now defunct coastal train line. The big concrete structures left behind give a post-apocalyptic feeling to the place.

Besides us there are three other people there. The sea was rough due to the strong winds over the Mediterranean. The decent waves stirred up the bottom making the normally crystal clear water opaque. We took a short dip, relaxed a bit then moved on.

Corniglia is not far, but it lies just the opposite side of a big hill. A tunnel of the old railway connects the beach with the train station of Corniglia. This tunnel is used as a non-official route to access the beach. Inside is pitch black and we used our phones to provide us some light during the 15 minutes long spooky traversé. Fun fact: my headlamp is in my backpack that I had left in the hotel room.

We took the train back to Monterosso and in the evening we ate a pizza.

Day 4: Riomaggiore and Manarola

Our days in Monterosso are over. We packed our backpacks and took the train to Riomaggiore. It is the first of the Cinque Terre one meets when travelling north from La Spezia. The choreography was the same as in Monterosso: leave the luggage in the hotel then off we go.

We walked to Manarola. It takes only an hour to get there, but the trail goes first up then down very steep.

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Riomaggiore

Day 5: Porto Venere and Isola Palmaria

We took the train to La Spezia then a bus to Porto Venere. A ferry connects the harbour and the island. The ferry takes only 5 minutes.

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Porto Venere

On the island we walked a bit on the coastal trail to reach the Pozzale bay. The military seems to own great parts of the island, including a campsite close to the beach where we arrived.

The sea was calmer then yesterday but the visibility underwater was still quite low. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach where I finished Andy Weir's The Martian. Looking forward to seeing the movie.

Day 6: Santa Margaritha di Ligure

In the morning we left Riomaggiore and travelled to Santa Margaritha di Ligure. We followed a free guided tour in the historical city center followed by a courtesy drink and some snacks.

We spent the evening in the city center. As it had turned out this day was the second day of a local jazz festival. We listened to some jazz music and ate ice cream.

Day 7: Portofino

In the morning we took a boat to the nearby Abbey of San Fruttoso di Capodimonte. There's a small beach here where we did some snorkeling. Over the course of the morning more and more boats arrive bringing tons of tourists and the beach got really crowded. We decided to move on.

We walked to Portofino. It's a nice harbour mainly famous for the luxury yachts at the moorings. After some sightseeing we continue our hike back to Santa Margaritha.

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Portofino

In the evening we had a great dinner in the restaurant L'insolita Zuppa.

Day 8: Leaving

We spent the morning shopping and walking around in the city center. In the early afternoon we took the train back home.