Next up was the world heritage coastline of Cinque Terre. It took us five trains, one bus and twelve hours to get there, but it was certainly worth it
. The area includes a National Park with five fishing villages and a Marine Protected Area. We stayed at the popular Riomaggiore and spent a day hiking between the villages along a coastal trail and the evenings cooking up our own delicious Italian food. There were a lot of tourists (the place attracts Aussies like flies to a BBQ, outnumbered perhaps only by Americans with Rick Steve guide books) which made walking along the path frustrating at times but still enjoyable. The next day we jumped back in the water (to get over our Croatian diving misadventure) and did a interesting dive in the protected waters. It was good for us but two people needed rescuing at the end of the dive! It was hard to leave this beautiful area, but with time running out we headed on to Florence.
We headed north from Venice to the Dolomites, after spending the previous day stressing about our next destination following earthquakes in the alps bordering France. The Dolomites are a stunningly spectacular mountain range that made any late change of plans seem fortunate. Formerly a coral reef, the mountains cut into the sky like jagged teeth 3000 metres high. A fresh batch of snow made prior to our arrival made them all the more stunning. We stayed a couple of days hiking around including a brilliant hike up to about 2300m, with clouds rising from below, panoramic views and some rather unnerving paths. We stayed at Molveno town, which is beside an alpine lake and boasts some fine restaurants dishing up local delicacies.