Monday, June 20, 2011

The Five Villages

There are no words or pictures that will capture the beauty of this past weekend.  A rather large group of us traveled to the Cinque Terre which means "five villages."  In past times, the area was also referred to as "the sanctuaries."  We traveled by train from Florence making two stops along the way until we arrived in what would be our home base for the weekend, Vernazza. 

Since we got here after noon, we decided to just stay here on Friday and explore the town.  Cinque Terre is all about hiking trails and almost all of them go one direction...UP!

So, up we went.  It was 1.9 kilometers one way.  But the view was so worth the effort!


After the long hike, we treated ourselves to an afternoon iced cappucino, panna cotta with fresh berries (my new favorite dessert), and canoli with fresh ricotta at Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre.  This restaurant is run by the dynamic Sicilian brothers Gianluca and Massimo also know as the Canoli brothers.  These were by far the best pastries we've had since we've been here. I would have included a picture, but we ate it too fast!!  Next we checked into our Pensione.  Pensione Sorriso to be exact.  It was a very nice B&B.  Not usually my style, but as you can probably tell from the photos, no hotel chains here.  For dinner, we met up with George and went to the Ristorante Al Castello.  There was a slight hike to get to it but the food was wonderful and the view...well, judge for yourself.

After walking back down and treating ourselves to gelato, we decided to call it a night and get an early start in the morning.

On Saturday, we began tackling the hiking paths between the 5 villages.  We first took the train to Corniglia and hiked back towards Vernazza.  The hike was a liitle work and took over 90 minutes.  But again, the views were worth it.

Corniglia is the only one of the 5 towns NOT located directly on the water.  So we got off at the train station, hiked up to the village and then started the trail back to Vernazza.  Here's me with Corniglia in the background. And yes, that's where we started walking from.

Once we made it back to Vernazza, we took the train to town number 3 on our list, Monterosso.  We decided not to try the hike between Vernazza and Monterosso because we had been warned that it could be dangerous especially if wet and the weather was threatening rain.  Monterosso is the most like a true resort town and has the largest beach of the Cinque Terre.  It is considered the Italian Riviera.  This is where our students hung out.

From Monterosso, we boarded the ferry that runs between the 3 port cities and headed back east to Riomaggiore.  In spite of the chop, evidenced by the white caps in my photos, the views were amazing!  Here are the 4 other cities from the water. 



We got off the boat in Riomaggiore  and started the hike back west.  The trail between Riomaggioare and Manarola is called Via dell'Amore.  This path is literally carved out of the living rock plunging sheer to the sea.  The hike was easy and the scenery magnificent.

By the time we reached Manarola, we were famished and decided to try one of the local specialties...farinata.  It is a thin crepe made from chick pea flour.  We sampled two variaties.  One stuffed with cheese and the second topped with the area's other specialty, pesto sauce.  Yummy!

The plan was to continue the hike on to Corniglia and then take the train back to Vernazza, but the path between these two towns was closed because of a rock slide. So, we hiked back to Manarola and then took the train to Vernazza.  We ended our all day adventure back at Il Pirata dell Cinque Terre with the Sicilian brothers.  The dinner was as delicious as the pastry and we sat next to two fabulous women from California and Oregon.  We topped off the night with one more panna cotta with fresh berries!!  All in all a delightful way to end a perfect weekend.

Pensione Sorriso...Home sweet home!
This weekend was just the relaxing break we needed! We actually only have 2 weeks of school left.  The next two weeks I'm planning on staying close to Florence and seeing the sights around here.  So much to see and so little time left! 

Check out this link for more pictures from the weekend:

No comments:

Post a Comment