Monday 26 May 2008

Corniglia - San Bernardino - Vernazza

Since we weren't too excited about the path we chose on the day before, M. and I were hoping for a bit less crowded hike from Corniglia to Vernazza.

Once again we started our day in Levanto, from where we took a train to Corniglia. This time it took us a bit longer then expected. The train was packed and there literally wasn't enough place to squeeze ourselves in. We weren't the only ones with such a problem and some of the people were getting really pissed. I felt sorry for the railroad workers, because most of the anger was directed their way.

After a while another train showed up and everything was well again. Although it was an InterCity train, we didn't have to pay for the ride (Cinque Terre Train Card normally doesn't cover first class trains and fast trains, but this was a special occasion). The train even made a few extra stops.

Once we got off the train at the Corniglia train station, we first had to make a climb to the town (it sits high on a hill above the station). Our Cinque Terre Train Card also included a mini bus ride from the station to Corniglia.
Despite that, we didn't feel like waiting for the bus. Fifteen minutes and some huffin' and puffin' later we arrived to the town just at the same time as the bus from the train station.

We checked out the town with its spectacular views and bought some goat cheese for the way.

After that we were on our way further uphill. With every step the view of Vernazza kept getting better and better.
Our aim for the day was getting to the town of Vernazza but first we decided to make a stop at the little village of San Bernardino. It is situated roughly half way between Corniglia and Vernazza, but a bit higher up on the top of one of the surrounding hills. We followed the paths 7/b and 7/d to S. Bernardino and number 7 from there to Vernazza.

We walked slowly and stopped quite often to take photos. Despite that it took us only 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach San Bernardino and 1 hour and a half to get from there to Vernazza.

We took time for a light meal when in S. Bernardino. Sitting on a bench next to the church and enjoying some prosciutto crudo with formaggio caprino (that's Italian for salted raw ham and goat cheese) we bought before. Delicious!

After finishing our meal, we made a stop at a cafe just around the corner. We ordered two glasses of local white wine and got some potato chips and olives with it. It all went together real well and was an excellent alternative to our missing dessert.

While sitting in front of the cafe, we noticed they also offer accommodation, but we didn't inquire about the price.

The following descent to Vernazza once again offered spectacular views calling for many photo stops.
When finally in Vernazza we thought of climbing the tower overlooking the town. We found out there is an entrance fee and decided to rather just cool off by the see and watch waves splashing on the rocks. After all it was hard to expect the tower view would top what we saw earlier.

A train ride back to Levanto and a 10 minute walk to Acqua Dolce camping was all it was left for us to do this day. We had more hiking planned for the next day, so it was soon time to call it a day and turn in for the night.

If you liked this post and are interested in more information on our trip, please click on this link or on the Cinque Terre label in the right frame.


Wednesday 21 May 2008

From Manarola to Corniglia

Wandering around Manarola, we accidentally stumbled upon a small museum.
The museum offers free entrance for owners of Cinque Terre Card and features a video presentation (in Italian and English) about the history of wine making in the region. They also sell wine. You can buy a half liter bottle of their best CinqueTerre Sciacchetra for 100 EUR.
After visiting the wine museum and enjoying some cooling off by the sea in Manarola it was time to move on towards the town of Corniglia.

Before we went on, we climbed to the town's cemetery. The cemetery itself is nothing special, but it offers some really nice views of Manarola.

We continued using the Blue Path (Sentiero Azzurro) marked with number 2 on most maps (you can check out a map in my previous post for details).
This part of the way didn't take us long, but despite that we decided not to visit Corniglia on the same day. A few hundred steps uphill were another reason why we didn't do it.

The coastal path, as the name suggests, is relatively close to the sea. The town of Corniglia on the other hand is about hundred meters higher on a hill/cliff.
Train stations of all other Cinque Terre towns are on the same level with towns and relatively near sea level. The Corniglia train station is just next to the coastal path but some 20 minutes walking distance away from the town. It is not the distance, but the climb that might be a turnoff for some.

When we caught a train for Levanto it was already late in the afternoon.
Freshly cooked spaghetti con pesto Genovese with some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a glass of Chianti Classico in front of our tent concluded a perfect evening.

If you liked this post and are interested in more information on our trip, please click on this link or on the Cinque Terre label in the right frame.


Friday 16 May 2008

Via del Amore

I could also title this post "The most overrated part of Cinque Terre". In my opinion, that's just what Via del Amore is.

The fact is that this Path of Lovers is connecting two very charming towns - Riomaggiore and Manarola (the only green path on the map), but the path itself is nothing special. Yes, one can see some really interesting rock formations on the way from one city to the other, but that's about it.

Also the path is asphalted and nicely maintained, which if you ask me, is a downside really. As a consequence of that, even more crowds are drawn here - in fact I suppose this is the busiest part of Cinque Terre. It seems like all of the Japanese tourists visiting the area, come to check this place out. High heels and a Gucci (Armani or Versace) shopping bag are a must.

The thing that is supposed to be the most charming feature of this area are countless love graffiti covering almost every rock. It is supposed to be the cutest thing on the planet but I didn't see it that way. To me those scribblings seemed just as inappropriate as anywhere else.

Regardless of all that, M. and I have enjoyed the walk and the view, but if we knew what to expect, we would have probably taken one of the less crowded paths connecting the two towns. Other paths are situated a bit higher uphill and therefore offer better views.

We arrived to Riomaggiore in the morning, using a train. After a slow stroll around the little town and a short stop at the local church, we took the path to Manarola.

The second town looked even more charming then the first and we really took our time walking slowly.

In Manarola M. reminded me that her sugar level is getting low. A delicious chocolate ice-cream was just what she needed before we moved on. Our plan was to reach Corniglia on the same day.
More on that in the next post...

If you liked this post and are interested in more information on our trip, please click on this link or on the Cinque Terre label in the right frame.

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