The Cinque Terre
I am not overstating it when I say that Gana and I would go back to Europe just to stay on the Cinque Terre, skipping Rome and Paris. Staying here was the perfect break from the tourist pace of Paris and to rest of up for the even more frenzied pace of Rome.
From Rick Steves: "The Cinque Terre, a remote chunk of the Italian Riviera, is the traffic-free, lowbrow, underappreciated alternative to the French Riviera. There is not a museum in sight. Just sun, sea, sand (well, pebbles), wine, and pure unadulterated Italy."
Did you catch that? TRAFFIC FREE.
In these lovely five villages, there are no cars. You can take the train through them (or hop back and forth between them) or hike from one to another. Each little village has its own flavor, but all are perfect in their own way. We encountered only one or two other American tourists. The other tourists were Italian, French or German. The rest of the people, locals. If you like the night life with swinging clubs, concerts, museums and amusement parks, the Cinque Terre is not for you. But, if your idea of a vacation is swimming in clear blue water watching the fish, sitting outside a little cafe sipping wine for hours watching the parade of lovers hand-in-hand walk by, and eating seafood that was caught this morning, then Cinque Terre is for you!
We arrived by train in the early afternoon, having left Paris the night before. I was very hot and tired and so ready for some relaxation!
We got off the train in the second of the five villages, a little gem called Vernazza and headed down the one street that goes through town. It begins at the post office at the top of the hill, winds its way under the railway tracks, down through the village and ends in the sea.
First order of business was to find a place to stay, so we could unload our backpacks. We saw a sign that said rooms for rent (in Italian) and rang the bell. A little grandma poked her head out of the third story balcony. "Prego! Prego!"
Up we climbed. She showed us a room and between my broken Italian thanks to the phrasebook and charades, we negotiated the price. "Euros, si. No documento." She said as she swiped her hands together, gesturing to explain that she took cash and no credit cards and we'd have nothing to sign or fill out. We gave her money, she gave us the key and a compliment on my Italian. (ha!) She said I looked like I could be Italian. I said my mother was Spanish. She nodded and smiled with understanding.
|Here's our room. Had its own entrance and a private bath.|
I sat here, which was a great photo op:
While on the Italian Riviera, please enjoy what is locally grown and produced! The Cinque Terre boasts it's own wine--red and white--from vines on all the cliffs and hills, the best pesto you've ever tasted--from basil growing up the same cliffs and hills, olive oil, and seafood.
If you want to sample more than one, don't go with a bottle. You can get a quarter, which is decantered in little pitchers so you can try several.
|Homemade vanilla ice cream with espresso poured over|
|With Mario, |
the kind of waiter who makes you feel like you were at Cheers.
|It's actually the jacket that is photogenic.|
We've affectionately named this jacket, "the photogenic jacket"
because it's about impossible to take a bad picture while wearing it.
(btw, it's from Soma.)
|The night life.|
Locals, sipping their drinks and watching the world go by.
|We sat here for at least an hour watching the moonlight on the water,|
except for when we were laying on our backs watching the moon.