After leaving Florence my sister and I headed northwest to Cinque Terre. This is a destination that is not always on the top list of places to go in Italy, but after hearing great things from friends and family members who had been, I knew I wanted to make my way there. I am so happy that my sister and I fit it in to our two-week trip because it ended up being one of my favorite places. My only regret is that we only stayed for two nights. Cinque Terre is made up of five towns that sit along the northwest cost of Italy. To the north is the town of Monterosso Al Mare, followed by Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. We decided to stay at a hostel in the town of Riomaggiore because it was the closest town to the main train station of La Spezia.
After a long trip from Florence to Riomaggiore, my sister and I hopped off the train and began walking up hill to find our hostel. This was when I began to regret my decision to pack over fifty pounds in my large suitcase. However, I quickly forgot about the pain in my arms and legs when I saw the view. In one direction we saw colorful houses stacked up the hill, while in the other direction was the crystal clear ocean splashing up against the cliff. Since the day was already half gone we decided to spend the afternoon laying in the sun and jumping off rocks into the warm water. After the hustle and bustle of Rome and Florence, this was the perfect place to relax and enjoy our surroundings.
|Looking north up the coast|
|Looking up at Riomaggiore|
The five towns of Cinque Terre are all connected by a trail that takes about five hours to walk in one direction. If you go to Cinque Terre you must spend a day hiking the trail! I had heard this from other people who had gone there, and I completely agree. On our second day there we woke up at 7am, grabbed fruit and water to bring with us, and headed for the trail. In order to hike the trail you have to buy a pass. There is a daily pass that costs 10 euro but allows you to hop on the train if you cannot finish the hike. Unfortunately one section of the trail, between the first and second towns, is not accessible due to a bad storm last winter. Because of this we were forced to take the train in between these two towns, so I cannot truthfully say that I hiked the entire thing. The terrain became very difficult about forty-five minutes in to the hike. I was glad that we were warned of the difficulty so we were prepared with sneakers, athletic apparel, and a lot of water. Hiking mostly up hill for five hours in extreme heat was one of the most challenging things I have done in a long time. At the last town we felt exhausted and proud to have finished the trail without taking the easy way out. Our muscles were sore for days but we had such a fun time! It is a day with my sister that I will never forget.
|Fourth town of Vernazza|
|Sunset on our last night|