Italian Riviera

Trip Start Mar 12, 2010
Trip End Sep 17, 2010

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Flag of Italy  , Liguria,
Saturday, May 15, 2010

From Pisa we headed to Cinque Terre which boasts some of Italy's most dramatic coastline and is located just north of La Spezia. We found La Spezia crowded, difficult to park and overpriced for accommodation – and it was Sunday so most of the shops were closed.  Also if you had a vehicle and accommodation you had to pay extra for parking either on the street or in a parking facility.  We  ended staying at a little place on a hill near Manarola which was basic but had great views from the bedroom windows of the water.  It also allowed us to park for free at Manarola where we planned to base our ventures.  We never got to do much walking between the villages (you can walk between four villages) as there had been continuous rain storms prior to us going and the paths had been closed as they were considered unsafe. So we caught the trains between them which worked just as well until the last stop.

After booking into our hotel 15 minutes from  Manarola, and 20 minutes away from La Spezia, we went to check out the closest village which is Manarola.  What a great little place tucked into the valleys between cliffs and on the water!  Running water coming from the mountain and flowing down virtually under the village, the old buildings are fascinating, withstanding all the wind from off the water, their pastel paintjobs presenting a stark difference compared to the deep green of terraced hills and the deep, dark blue water.

The next day we after finding the walking track closed at Manarola we caught the train to Corniglia.  From the station you have to walk up 308 steps up a mountain, this is a plus as well as a minus, the beautiful picture spots out looking Manarola and the coastline, with its crashing waves and the terraced mountains pointing out to sea. The minus is that you are VERY tired when you reach the top. When we reached the actually village, which outlooks the ocean, we went up one of it many alleyways and found the church, from there we went to a lookout which is situated behind the church. This area was netted off and there was goals painted on the ground. We instantly presumed that this was the play area for the kids, but we hoped that they wouldn’t hit the balls too hard and send them over the edge. We then walked to another lookout, where an albino cat was begging for food from some people, even one person that had a dog on a leash next to him. Let’s just say the cat got a bit of a surprise. After this we walked down the stone paved alleyways to the dock, where two people were sunbaking on the actual path leading to it, so we stopped in a park like area and stopped for morning tea, which was nutella and basically large croutons. While we were sitting munching on out biscuits, guess who came and started begging for food. You guessed it, the albino cat. Karlie loved the attention of the cat and she started feeding it straight away, then proceeding to let it lick the nutella container afterwards. Then, we started our arduous journey back down to the train station to make the next train to Monterosso.

Monterosso was a charming little town situated on the very tip of the coast, which had sandy beaches, lots of cafes and restaurants and a gelataria that made 'heaven in a cup’. The town would have been beautiful it we had our bathers, but since we didn’t we just sat contently as Daniel snapped off a few photos and listened to the water rush up onto the shore (can’t say there was waves crashing on the shore, as there was none whatsoever). From the tip of the town, as it was the last small town that edged itself on the coast, you could see all the way back to Manarola, this sight was spectacularly beautiful with tall the towns on the coast standing from in between the green terraces that had made this a UNESCO world heritage listed sight with the steeples of their churches pointing skywards. So this took up the whole day, and as we were walking back Paul heard a train and instantly thought it was ours, we were rushed to the terminal and entered just in time!  Later we found out it didn’t stop in Manarola where we wanted, but stopped at the next station. So we then had to wait for yet ANOTHER train to take us to Manarola. Thus ended our day.
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