As my blog posts have been fewer and father between, there haven’t been as many visitors to Nutrition Nut. And that’s okay with me. If you happen to stop by, then I am grateful; but these Europe Diary posts (that I’m taking my sweet time to write) are honestly to capture the adventure that my mom and I shared last fall. She has been gently nudging me for part two of the Cinque Terre posts since the day I posted part one, so I hope this brings at least a smile to my mama’s face — this one is for you.
For our second and final full day in Cinque Terre, we wanted to hike the infamous trail the connects all “five lands.” This trail is a tourist hot spot, but since we were visiting during the end of the busy tourist season, we anticipated less of a crowd. Before our trip, we did our research on said trail. I thought, for sure, we would hike the entire route: starting at one town and finishing at the opposite (you can walk in either direction). I think it wasn’t until we were chatting at breakfast at Amandolevanto B&B, that we decided do to part of it (you can start and stop in any of the towns). So, we decided to take the train from Sarah’s place – after enjoying another homadmade breakfast on the patio – to Corniglia.
The skies were a bit dreary and grey that morning, so I wore an interesting ensemble of layers, as we didn’t know how the weather would turn. Each of the five towns has a ticket booth for the trail, as it costs a small bit of change to experience the trail through this Italian national park. We bought a couple of tickets and then wandered around amongst other foreign travelers who wore the same curiosity — where does the trail begin?
Start of the trek — let’s pretend my eyes are open ;)
Darling Corniglia (excuse the blurry photo)
Just too sweet!
Not before long, we were climbing rock stairs escaping the town of Corniglia — headed “north.” If you read about each of the trails, the source will typically indicate their level of difficulty. Supposedly, the two trails/hikes we did were the toughest… and the hike from Monterosso to Levanto is the hardest. Tough is a relative term, however, so you don’t always know what to expect from a travel guide or fellow tourists’ accounts. Even for two fit people, I have never in my life been on such a hike. Holy stairs!
We took our time for many reasons: 1) we didn’t have anywhere else to be — this was it!; 2) these trails need your undivided attention: you were either huffing and puffing up 198 stairs, or you were stopping to let hikers pass because the trail is incredibly narrow; and, 3) to take all the pictures, duh!
I think this is Corniglia with Manarola in the background.
Writing this post brings back emotions (or is that you, PMS?). While I’ve stated that our Europe trip, as a whole, is one of the top five events in my life thus far, this day, and this hike, was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Sure, I’ve hiked plenty – it is one of my pastimes – but adventurous is not my middle name, and this pushed me out of my comfort zone.
As Mom and I trekked high above the sea on the cliffs of the Italian coast, my mom expressed that there would never be trails like this in the U.S. In some places (many places!), the trails deemed rather risky/unsafe. As in no hand rails and uncomfortably narrow paths. It was all part of the huge adventure I suppose.
We finally hit the summit that precedes the mysterious descent into Vernazza. You stop to pinch yourself a few times and soak it all it. I want to say the two legs of the hike took roughly a couple hours each; but like I said, we weren’t on race against the clock.
Vernazza, at lunchtime, was a tourism madhouse. I cannot even begin to imagine what it is like during the height of the season. Hungry from hiking, we ordered a couple pieces of fresh vegetable focaccia bread from a hole-in-wall spot (a line outside the door was our indication that it was worth a few of our Euros). The sun came out to join us as we enjoyed our fresh bread by the water. We were on a mission to get to the “castle” in the photos, so we asked around trying to find the route there. Naturally, it turned out to be a zig-zag path of narrow staircases through homes (?) and shops and restaurants. What a view!
Before leaving Vernazza, we got gelato cones… and hence, where our trip hashtag emerged: #willwalkforgelato2015
Basil gelato in Vernazza, you only live once! #YOLO
With the warm sun out to join us, leg two was a challenge. We did not bring enough water with us and paid for it via dehydration. There really isn’t anywhere along the trails to get water, so bring plenty (regardless of the time of year) if you plan to do the hikes.
The only bummer about this incredible day was that we didn’t pack our swim suits. The weather tricked us in the morning with cool, grey skies, but by mid-afternoon/evening – after a full day of hiking in the sun – I was this close to skinny dipping in the Mediterranean… this close. Gah, was it tempting. #onlyregret
Ciao, Vernazza — you are beautiful!
Step by step… to Monterosso.
Monterosso al Mare
I just want to dive in!
When we finally made it into Monterosso al Mare, via the stunning descent through cascading vineyards, we b-lined for hydration. Then we moseyed through the main streets of Monterosso, stopping in a few local shops (I was this close to buying a pair of Italian leather sandals, but they didn’t have my size) and Wonderland Bakery before we caught the train back “home” to Levanto.
If I remember correctly, we scurried on back to the B&B before heading downtown for our final night in Italy. We spent a good while making circles around the blocks (as if we hadn’t walked enough already) in search of a restaurant we remembered from the night prior. Caprese salad, white fish with citrus sauce, and a walnut ravioli dish… sounds about right. I excused myself from the table at the end of our meal because… this sunset. I ran to the beach (across the street) and whipped out my camera. This ending, to this day. It was magical, and I practically had to hold back the happy tears. I pinched myself to make sure it wasn’t all a dream. #bestdayever
I would go back to Cinque Terre in a heartbeat… in heartbeat… and I plan to — won’t you join me?