Saturday, September 06, 2014

If you like stairs . . .

If you like stairs Cinque Terre is the place to be.  I can't even begin to think how many stairs I've climbed in the past 2 days since we got here.  However, the natural beauty of the place is almost enough to make you forget about all the hills. I can certainly see why it's become a favourite tourist destination.
We're staying at Monterosso, the most northerly of the 5 small villages on the hills above the Ligurian Sea.  The thing to do here is hike the trails from one village to the next so of course that's what we did yesterday. Well at least we hiked from one to the next which took about 2 hours, mostly uphill (or so it seemed).  My calves are saying things to me today that I don't want to hear.

This is at the end of the hiking trail coming down into Vernazza.

This morning (Saturday) we took the boat to Portovenerre, a larger village about 1.5 hours away, with stops at the other villages along the way. Then back to Manarola and Corniglia - where you have 383 stairs up to the village from the train station (thankfully we took the bus up, stairs down). Each of the villages have narrow, winding roads with very few vehicles. They were originally fishing villages, obviously still lots of fishing from the offerings in the restaurants. The floods in 2011 in this area were quite devastating and some of the lower (and easier) trails are still being restored.
The cliffs rising from the sea are steep and rocky and it's very odd to see houses, vineyards, churches, etc. built high on the edge with no visible way to get there (except stairs of course).  Apparently there is one residence that requires 1000 stairs to get there. The hills are terraced with vineyards and lemon groves.

Monterosso appears to be a real happening little place.  On Thursday night we happened into the annual Walnut competition - kind of like bowling only with walnuts.  Then last night there was a wine festival so we bought tickets and had samplings of several types of wine. Today was a band festival - several different military type bands playing in the town square, complete with majorettes. Both Ross and I are hoping that tomorrow (Sunday) will bring a bit of peace - I think we're both exhausted from holidaying!

My daily dose of gelato.

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