I wish it was possible to record a smell… That’s all I was thinking of this past weekend.
On a last minute whim, my friend and I decided to make a swift jump to the Cinque Terre. I had always heard about that area but never really explored it in detail. All I knew was that you could only get to them by foot (and no it’s not walking, it’s hiking, or by train). Obviously, we chose the more adventurous route… And so, on a Friday afternoon, backpack in hand (only!), we made it to the train station and off we were – dirrezzione La Spezia. The train ride took around 4 hours but the things we saw on the way to our final destination were beautiful. We passed through Argentario, an area by the sea, some Tuscan villages, the rolling hills of Tuscany, Pisa, a few more villages and towns by the sea and finally we arrived in La Spezia. We changed train and 10 minutes later, we were in Monterosso Al Mare, the first of the 5 villages we were visiting. Simply breathtaking!
We located our hotel up on a hill overlooking the town and off we were. After a quick freshening up, we were on our way for what has become a daily ritual in my life: an aperitivo. Soon after we were sitting at a restaurant having what might be the best meal I’ve had so far since I’ve set foot in Italy. For starters a perfect seafood salad and for main, we shared a Trenette alla pescatriche. Delicious does not give the meal any justice, it was that good!!
The next morning after a healthy breakfast, and a real Italian cappuccino, we started our ‘hike’. The scenery and the nature, the smell of jasmine which was lingering in the air, the expansive blue sea below us was so overpowering that we had to stop every 5 minutes to take photos. I have not seen such natural beauty before. The backdrop of the sea, against the green mountain was really a sight to see. And so as we hiked from Monterosso Al Mare, exchanged stories, passed people, faces and scenery, an hour and a half later, we approached Vernazza, village number 2.
We could see it in a distance, almost hanging in the air. We got there, dropped our backpacks at Lulu’s rooms (cute name) and made our way to the village to explore the one main street and piazza they had. As it so happens in the least expected situations, we bumped into people we knew from Saudi Arabia in a town of 500 people! Now tell me that’s not a small world!
We had our refreshing granitas, and off we were to town number 3 – Corniglia. Supposedly another hour and a half away, with a little diversion we ended up hiking for 3 hours. At least the last part was downhill! As you’d have it, we arrived as the restaurants were closing for lunch so we had to make do with a small bakery selling focaccia (a Ligurian specialty) with all kinds of different toppings imaginable… Pesto, another Ligurian specialty was the focaccia of choice (among quite a few others!)
We took the train back to Vernazza, where we had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the sea. This time, the meal of choice was a zuppa di pesce (fish soup) and oh wow! By 9:30 pm we were ready to hit the sack. Early the next morning, we made our way to Manarola, village 4 and from there on walked on Via Dell’Amore where people have written declarations of love all along the way, left lockets without keys hanging on the cliff side… Quite romantic but not really sure this technique works.
Finally, we arrived in village number 5, Riomaggiore. It took us less than 5 minutes to cover the whole town. And then finally we were on our way back…