The Cinque Terre is the lost paradise, hidden away on the unadulterated shores of Italy. It is truly a magic, special, dignified place, where tourism has just started to blossom. There are five cities, Monterosso Al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, all connected with a hiking trail. The entire hike is approximately 14 km. Not too long, yet imagine the ups-downs-a-lot- trek, zigzagging through passages of coast and beach, flowery vegetation and at times rough, dangerous falling-down paths. So the reason for my trip to this remote area of Europe was mainly to hike, breath, and enjoy being alone. Task accomplished.
I arrived in Vernazza, my homestead base after a over-night journey on the striking Italian trains, where my attention was mainly devoted to a novel by Mary Wesley. After experiencing the struggle of making myself incomprehensible in English, Spanish and my few phrases in French, I finally found my accommodations, overlooking the Main Street. Vernazza is a town, overseen by a ruined castle and an old church, where nothing high-tech exists, except the occasional train, that is never on schedule, arrival to the city. No cars! Vernazza has about 500 residents, who are all proud Vernezzans, with family ties going back generations and centuries. The Main Street, ” The Passegiata” is the perfect people watching location, with the villagers amusing themselves with the visitors. There is not a museum in sight, only a monument from WW 2, bars, restaurants, a harbor, a small kid’s beach, a bank, two atms, a Liguarian, Gothic church and the former monastery, nowadays transformed into the city hall. Never have I encountered more relaxed, happy, smiling tourists… me included.
My morning was spent eating strawberries, peaches, cherries, nectarines, and trying the local cuisine specialty: accuighe (fresh anchovies with olive oil, lemon, and capers). Interesting, yet not a dish I would like a second serving of. Midday was spent sitting on the rocks, listening to Americans, Dutch, and French, a boat-ride to Monterosso, where the afternoon was spent people-watching on the beach, and contradicting my sister Anna’s nasty comment of how pale my skin was, which is quite uncommon because I used to be naturally tanned. With this remark in mind, I attempted to sun-bade. An adjusted correction would be over-bathing, due to my two hour slumber and a sunburnt back. There, Anna, at least I have some color now! The evening was spent dining with an allured, fascinating group that continued to grow. The justification why I ended up at this American couple, and their newly found friend’s table was my interference in the subject matter of finding a hostel in Paris. Lets see, there was Sam and Leah, a loving couple, who were both in the army (Sam, pilot, Leah, officer in the navy), and Romy, finished his masters in ____ from USC. Then Kartik, a finished PhD in astronomy joined us, with insights of every scientific aspect that possibly exists. The last person who got to participate in our joy was _____, who just took his dentist diploma. Quite a group, where the discussion topics evolved around the army, politics, astronomy, and physics with a few book recommendations intersected in the conversational manners. After establishing a few new friends (with one thing in common – reading Rick Steve’s Best Of Europe, hence ended up in Vernazza), my evening ended with a good night’s sleep.
Saturday was spent hiking, the wild and rewarding paths between the five cities. My route, which ended up be a twosome route with Drew, a wonderful companion to hike with, due to his humor, and past experience as a triathlon athlete, runner, race-cyclist, and skier -which it was sometimes a bit difficult to keep up with (puh!). At any rate, the hike was eye-gobbling, in more than one sense. The view over the celebrious, and redoubtable nude beach, Guvano, would have made any man tremble. The most temptatious falling-of-the-trail promenade was between Vernazza to Monterosso. Luckily, task not accomplished. After separating from my hiking buddy (we tried to rent a canoe, yet did not experience the calmness of the waters), I returned to Vernazza in desperate need of a shower, due to my skin was blended with sweat, sun lotion and a tan from Saturday’s outings. Luckily, a shower was available at my non-speaking English hosts, who beguiled themselves with my expressions trying to show a shower. The evening ended after enjoying a typical Vernazzan meal, consisted of Troffie De Pesto (Vernazza is the birthplace of pesto), and Buccellato cake with Sciacchetra with Cappuccino. A festive end to an exorbitant, fantastic time, and again finding myself back on the train, destination Glarus [Switzerland].