Cinque Terre, Italy
Given that the skies are a bit gray today and it is somewhat drizzling, we purchase a train ticket ( remember to get them stamped!) from our town of Manorola to Monterosso al Mare for the last days hike. This is the biggest resort town and the only one with a sandy beach. And also cars, hotels, paddleboats and crowds under umbrellas.
There are coves, refreshing waterfalls, and natural and dangerous high dives tucked in along the coast. It is breathtaking. (so far we haven’t seen one ugly thing on this trip!)
Some folks don’t care for the bigger towns as much but, we think we’d stay here next time( if we are lucky enough to return!)..
There is alot to do and see. After more strolling we have lunch (more mussels for me of course!) – some great minestrone soup too.
We stop for wine tastings and I buy my son Brian a bottle of Limonicino liqeur, which Italy is known for. With our stomachs full, it’s time to hit the trail. .
A bit late at 4:30 but darkness also arrives late..Ahhhh…bella vista! The remains of a castle are first on the route and then it goes up to the top of the promontory to its decent on the other side of Vernazza.
Some parts of the trail are still wet from the morning rain. There are terraces created on step slopes with dry stone walls built in the old times. The hills are covered by a mix of spontaneous vegetation, the typical “macchia mediterranea”, small vineyards, olive trees, and bright lemon plants- the renowned lemons of Monterosso.
Speaking of which, I spot some lemons ahead on the path (we’ve been trying to snatch one for days!) and scream back to D that we may be able to grab it. But lo and behold, as we turn the corner, it is a lemonade stand in the middle of the trail!
An old Italian man, lemon trees framing his face, inquires in broken English ” would we like some lemonade or better yet Lemoncello!
Of course, this is worthy of a stop to chat. He dips the rims of glasses with sugar and for 2 euros, we are drinking lemonade in Italy on top of a mountaintop.
Gee , I really miss New Jersey now! And he has stories to tell. Turns out he likes the good ole USA and even George Bush. (this part I don’t get).
Regardless, he gives us his address and wants us to send him a postcard from the Empire State building..of course we will comply. I finally drag Dolores away and its On Di ah mo!..After so many twists and turns of stunning cliffs and Meditarrean blues, we stop for a picnic lunch and are the envy of passing hikers.
No one else has bread, cheese, salami and homemade wine! We’ve been hiking for about 2 hours now not including our time stopped for lunch and breaks… and the upcoming vision of Vernazza cannot be descibed in words, only ahhhhs..
A day to remember and the best hike of all the villages. We catch the train back to Manorola, eat an awesome dinner in town and chat with some folks from North Carolina…a professor at Wake Forest.
Turns out he is crazy about the New York Times and spends 20 miutes telling me how much he likes it..he reads it every day and adores the Op-Ed page..Gee, how about that?