“we put our feet just where they had to go”

7/6/10   –   21:49

The Cinque Terre [Five Lands] region of northwestern Italy is a stretch of coast with five small towns perched on cliffs facing the Ligurian Sea. It’s become popularized due to exposure in travel guidebooks, but still remains less crowded than the ever-popular French Riviera. They call the Cinque Terre the Italian Riviera, and I guess it lives up to its name. It has way less people than beach towns like Nice in France, but it also has way less beach. And more rocks. Lots of rocks.

The Cinque Terre are an agricultural [and now, tourism] based economy with their livelihoods being based traditionally in fishing and wine/olive oil making. There are vineyards stretching from the peaks to the sea all along the hiking trails.

I left Florence on a 6 AM train to get to La Spezia, the closest railway hub to the five towns. I got into town around 11, and was a little disappointed to see overcast skies and dark waters. I was expecting clear blue and turquoise. Ah well, the clouds looming at the tops of the mountains brought about a different face of natural beauty than what I was expecting. The towns remained photogenic nonetheless.

The good part about the weather was that I was able to hike for longer. The first half of my hike was a meager 2 kilometers long [out of the 9 kilometer standard hiking trail from Riomaggiore to Monterosso] but it was pleasant because the trails weren’t too hard and it never got very hot. I was able to walk through the vineyards and I helped myself to some of the grapes that were growing that were destined to be made into wine. They were still unripe, but they tasted like grapes, which is all I can ask for.

The second half of my trek, from the third town, Corniglia, to the fourth, Vernazza, was a little more strenuous. And by a little, I mean a lot. The sun came out blazing and illuminated the waters and towns, giving me what I had been waiting for, but it also left me sweating buckets and pretty much on the verge of dehydration halfway through the trail.

By the way, the trails are pretty much nine billion feet from sea level and they begin at sea level. So in this picture, yes. I hiked all the way up to this elevation from the shoreline.

Also, the trails are treacherous. Most of the time they range between 2 and 4 feet wide, with steep drop-offs into masses of cacti and shrubbery followed by a freefall onto the rocks below. Was I scared? You betcha.

On the way, in addition to my impromptu grape-tasting and vista-viewing, far along the trail with the smell of hot greenery and sweat [yeugh] laced with rosemary and lavender, I had a nice random showing of nature at work! I couldn’t tell whether these two lizards were kissing. or mating. or. uh. killing each other, but it was entertaining to watch them thrash with their heads in each other’s mouths.

I reached Vernazza and nearly collapsed so I decided not to go from Vernazza to Monterosso. Instead, I bought myself an overpriced Powerade [no Gatorade? What is this?], downed it in about 3 seconds and treated myself to gelato. I actually did the whole gelato thing three times in different towns. I figured if this was going to be my last full day in Italy, why not take advantage of it? But yeah. I took the train back to Corniglia where my hostel was and oddly enough:

I met Jack and Lauren again. Yeah, remember my Aussie room-mates from the hostel in Rome? [::cough:: and Jack’s wake-up call? ::cough::] Well yeah. They’re here in the same hostel soaking up the sun [or actually  lack there-of] in the Cinque Terre. I knew I recognized that pair of voices in the common room. Damn. But yeah,  I probably won’t be seeing them again… ever, because they’re headed off to Barcelona and I’m headed north to Switzerland. In any case. I’m gonna call it an early night tonight because Corniglia is a sleepy town and not the party resort that Monterosso is. It’s alright. I’ll deal. Tomorrow is a travel day, so I might not have internet. If not, I’ll catch up with you when I get to Bern, Switzerland. :]


Fun fact of the day: Italy doesn’t believe in stick deodorant. It’s all roll-on or spray. And whichever one you choose, it will be expensive.

2 Responses to ““we put our feet just where they had to go””
  1. K-Mozzle says:

    I was getting pissed that you were’nt updating your blog, and was about to send you an angry facebook message until I realized that I was just looking at the June archive. Lol, fail on me xD

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Jinguji is a town famous for grapes apparently. I walked through vineyard after vineyard trying to get to the back of the town that bordered the foot of the mountain and in my hurry, I didn’t snap any photos, but it’s okay. Grapes aren’t that exciting anyway. If you wanna see grapes, go through the archives and find my Cinque Terre, Italy post. […]

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