Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cinque Terre... and a million stairs

Bright and early we boarded our train and headed to Cinque Terre. This place is a series of five small towns on the coast of the sea. There are hiking trails that connect all of them so you can hike through every town and get some beautiful views while you’re at it. We stayed in the first town, Riomaggiore. When we finally got there we were so excited… and then soon found out the train was going to be on strike from 9pm that day to 9pm Sunday… We were supposed to go home Sunday afternoon to get back to Orvieto. So we just went with the flow. We extended our stay for an extra day! We got into our room, which was basically an apartment, and changed to go begin our day of hiking starting at about noon.

Our first walk from Riomaggiore to town number two, Manarola, was not a hike. It was just a flat trail right on the coast, but it was beautiful nonetheless. We walked around Manarola for a while because we had to find our way. There had been a flood and mudslide back in October so a lot of trails were closed, including the easy one from Manarola to Corniglia. So we hiked up the town and found the second trail… which consisted of stairs after stairs after stairs. It took about 30 minutes of walking up stairs to get to Velastra, which isn’t the town we needed to end up at, but it has to be a pit stop to get to Corniglia. After we finally made it, we continued on the trail to Corniglia which was more stairs (more down than up this time, but still quite the work out). I was glad to finally get some hiking in, but once we got to Corniglia we needed a little break. We wandered the streets and small shops and then took a load off at the overlook. And by take a load off I mean a short siesta in the sun :)
After a little rest, we needed to head to the next town, Vernazza. This town had been hit the worst by the floods and mudslide, so every trail to it was closed – so train it was. When we got off the train, I was speechless. I knew this place had been devastated by the floods, but I wasn’t expecting what I saw. It was still pretty damaged; they were still working on a lot of repairs and clean up. You could see where the waters reached about 15-20 feet up the buildings. It was a shocking place to walk through. It really was saddening because you could tell that this was one of the most beautiful towns of the five. I hope to go back one day when they have everything back to normal and see how it is different.
We were able to finish the hike from Vernazza to Monterosso. On our way, we ran into this man who had a stand off the side of the path where he sold his own wine and limoncello. He was pretty entertaining so we decided to buy a glass from him. We stayed for a few minutes and chatted with him – it was a nice little break – then we got to Monterosso. This town was also hit by the floods, but not as bad. It had a couple sandy beaches… but sadly it was closed because the waters weren’t very safe – they were angry while we were there! We made it to Monterosso finally at about 7:30pm… Yep, that’s about 7 hours of hiking. Despite the sore legs, this was such an amazing experience. It was so beautiful! I would recommend this to anyone!
We took the train back to Riomaggiore – no way would I walk back! Haha. We took one of the last trains before the strike started and got back to our town around 8:30. We went straight to dinner; we had worked up an appetite! We went to this restaurant recommended by our hostel that was very delicious! They gave us free focaccia first; then I ordered gnocchi stuffed with cheese and tomatoes and also some fried calamari. It was a great dinner! Right before we left they gave us a free drink of limoncello and a biscotti. I love the hospitality of this place!
We went home (which was about another 80 stairs up), and I went straight to bed… it was probably 10pm at the latest… and I didn’t wake up til 9am the next day. It was a glorious sleep! Since the train strike was going on, we had another full day ahead. I didn’t do too much except walk through our town to explore it some, and then soaked up some sun in the small piazza. It was cool to sit there all day because it is where all the kids of the town gather to play. It was very entertaining. After we got a little bored with sitting around all day, we decided to hike back to Manarola since it was a short, easy hike.
We got there and sat and watched the waters for a while. It really is beautiful – I would love to live by the water! The sun started setting so we decided to go buy a bottle of wine (made in Manarola of course) and go find a spot on the path to watch the sunset. It was a very beautiful, relaxing day, and this was going to be a great ending to it. The wine was delicious, and the sunset was great… well, until the clouds covered it up. :( We made our way back to Riomaggiore and had some dinner before calling it a night. We had to get up early again – 4am to catch the first train out to get back to Orvieto for our presentations.
Exploring Vernazza - the waters were angry..
We made it up that early, believe it or not, and began our trek back to Orvieto. 7 ½ hours after waking up, we were home. Whew… We got cleaned up, and made it to school for the presentations. It was a little rough considering we had been up since 4am! Haha. After class Katie and I made spaghetti bake, which was delicious! Then the rest of the night was spent finishing up Marco’s journal, which wasn’t too bad considering I only had the weekend to write about. But I had to finish it up because it was due first thing in the morning.
Sun setting on a wonderful weekend
Now I only have a couple real days of school left, then its a few trips and heading home. Can’t believe my time here is coming to an end so quickly! I’m gonna miss this place, but I’m so excited to see you all again!


No comments:

Post a Comment