The ringing started at seven am ding dong, ding dong sweet sounding notes that lingered on. Reverbrating throughout the village of Vernazza. We had made it to our destination. Bleary eyed I eventually lifted myself out of bed. Wandered over to the window and opened the shutters. I quickly made myself a coffee and went outside to the front terrace. I wanted to connect to this beautiful place. Our hotel was nestled in between the narrow streets and up winding stairs. I sipped my coffee until the mug grew cold in my hands. Enjoying the peace and visualizing what the village would become during the high season. The sky was brightening and the day was beginning and so was a new adventure.
This is how the trip started. Worked the overnight flight from New York to Milan. Quick stop at the Milan hotel with a repack of the bare essentials. Just enough time to grab a coffee and sandwich for the three hour train trip and we were on our way.
Cinque Terre is known for the five beautiful hillside towns (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore). Towns clinging to the rugged coastline. Pastel colored houses and buildings. Hiking trails, beaches and vineyards.
We choose to stay in Vernazza which we were told was the prettiest. We were not disappointed. The villages are connected by footpaths which allow you to delve into nature by hiking or walking far above the sea. What you won’t see is cars, what you will see is laundry swaying in the breeze.
Off season travel allows you to meet the locals.
Vernazza dazzled me with it’s colorful architecture. The church and bell tower that seemed to be hanging above the sea. The barista at the coffee shop who also ran the restaurant next door. Armanda, who rented us her room. Whom we then drank a glass of wine with at the local bar. The woman we met over espresso in the morning who just happened to be the pharmacist when we stopped in to purchase glasses at the pharmacy. With a population of about 1,000 this is bound to happen during the off season. It was hard to believe that this town survived massive flooding in October 2011. Wander up and down and around the picturesque alleys. Take time to climb up to the castle. Sit by the Port with the sun on your face. This village captured my heart and soul.
Next stop was Corniglia. Let me warn you this town is not adjacent to the sea; one must climb 382 steps or take a small bus that runs from the train station in order to arrive at the city center. From up above you will see the vineyards and the sea. This was the quietest of the three towns we visited. Rambling through the streets and alleys we experienced a look into local life.
Onto Manarola! After arriving by train we walked through the pedestrian tunnel to the center of town. Somewhat busier than Corniglia we decided to take a break for a white wine along with the perfect bite of focaccia. Crunchy yet soft inside drizzled with local olive oil
Eat well, live vivaciously
“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.” – John Green.
The plan was last minute. We booked train tickets and a room on the fly (literally on the plane). I had not conducted any research of Cinque Terre, just knew it was a destination I had heard about often. We swiftly saw three of the five villages in a day and a half. I would recommend taking more time. Hiking from village to village granting the best views possible. This is a destination to return to for sure.
Vernazza drew me like a kid in a candy store.