Monday, 22 July 2013

Bongiorno! (The Cinque Terre: Arrival Day)

First off, some background for those who have not been...

Cinque Terre National Park is a coastline on the Italian Riviera. Cinque Terre translates to 'Five Lands' as the area consists of five villages linked together by a coastal path. The National Park (hillside, villages, and coastline) is a World Heritage Site, and a must see on any trip to this portion of Italy. The villages are mostly car-free, connected only by trains, boats, and the famous foot path. These Villages are Monterosso, Vernazza (where we stayed), Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. They are quaint picturesque seaside towns, that have somehow managed to escape major developments, remaining much as they were for centuries. The steep surrounding hills have been terraced for agriculture and continue to be farmed to this day.
S and I arrived into Vernazza on Tuesday evening. As Italy is experiencing the same hot temperatures as London these days, we were sweaty and hot after our long journey. After a terrible Ryanair cattle call from London to Pisa, we still had to take two trains in order to get to Vernazza. 

Upon arriving in Vernazza, we dropped our bags, and straight to the beach it had to be....

...but not before stopping for a cone full of Calamari with a squeeze of lemon.

Every last morsel....

By the time we got out of the water it was 7:30pm and still HOT! We scampered back to our apartment, changed for dinner and decided we needed a view for our first night on the Riviera.

So up to the highest restaurant we went...

This particular one was closed, but what a spot.
At some point I will return to the Cinque Terre, and this table has my name on it.

The view of our little town 'Beyond the Red and Black Umbrella'

We shared Prosciutto and Melon (one of my favourite combinations).

I then indulged in some gigantic prawns for my main course.

With full bellies, we headed back down the steps, through the narrow streets to our apartment.

After a long day of travelling, we tucked ourselves in our beds....but we were not alone (Jesus count:3)

Mary was there also (Virgin Mary count: 2).

I should have taken more photos of the apartment as I'm sure many of you will be too distracted by our friends to give this place a try. We loved it.
We found our apartment on the hostel world website. It was extremely convenient (steps from the main street, and a block from the beach), slept 3 comfortably (a queen and two fold-outs), and had a fully stocked and updated kitchen (though we didn't use it). It also had a newly finished bathroom. Francesco (the owner), was very friendly. He met us at the station, helped us with our bags, and walked us to the apartment. We booked this particular spot at the last minute, but I would definitely stay there again. If you would like Francesco's contact information, send me a note and I'll get it to you.

The villages of the Cinque Terre were severely affected by flooding and mudslides on October 25, 2011. Vernazza was one of the villages most affected by the torrential rains. We saw photos of how badly this little town was hit, and it is amazing that despite the devastation, to the untrained eye, there was little evidence that the floods had ever taken place. I will speak about how the floods have affected the walking paths in tomorrow's post.

For now you'll have to excuse me as I'm off to put lotion on my sunburns and dream about gelato.

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