Mi Amore, Cinque Terre
Written by Peyton February 25, 2014
I have spent the past 6 weeks going to big cities and sightseeing; looking at all the historical architecture, art and churches that Europe has to offer. I have loved seeing the Eiffel Tower, canals of Venice, the statues in Florence… the list goes on and on. But my trip this past weekend was so different in such a wonderful way. Traveling the coastal towns of the Italian Riviera was so naturally stunning. I’m not discounting skiing in the Dolomites or living in the Italian countryside, because every morning I look out my window and am so grateful as I take in the gorgeous view. But Cinque Terre was different. There was something about hearing the waves crash no matter where you were in the town, whether it be standing outside waiting for your name to be called at the pizzeria or sitting on a rooftop terrace watching the sunset. There was something about seeing all of the vibrant, rich shades of color, from the crystal blue waves crashing into the dark charcoal-colored rocks, to the reds, pinks, oranges and yellows of all the buildings perched on the seaside cliffs, to the fiery sunset casting rays of crimson and magenta along the horizon line. There was something about the scent of the salty ocean breeze combined with the aroma of fresh, ripe citrus fruits hanging from the branches, all with a hint of blossoming flowers everywhere we went. Bulbs were blooming into yellow daffodils; little purple daisies were thriving along the green hillside; delicate wildflowers scattered the edges of the walking path; palm trees and olive trees divided up the clementine and lemon trees. Cinque Terre was paradise.
I traveled with a group of four, which made for a laidback vacation of wine-sipping and good conversation. We stayed in a quaint hotel that rose high above the town, giving us the perfect view from our bedroom window.
Cinque Terre (meaning “The Five Lands” in Italian) encompasses 5 small towns that dot the coast of the Italian Riviera. We stayed in the 3rd town, Corniglia. The first day we spent exploring the farthest two (Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza) and the next day we spent exploring the others (Manarola and Riomaggiore). These towns are tucked into the rocky cliffs that line the coast, so bear in mind that they are all very small. Also, we went in February, which is off-season for tourists as well.
My Cinque Terre experience through pictures:
Along the rocky coast of Monterosso del Mare, ocean water sprayed in the air as the tide came in and out. The town was covered by steep cliffs, but my favorite part was this overlook that took you straight to the water. We enjoyed our first gelato of the weekend as we walked along the rocks.
Nothing compares to walking along the beach and letting the cool tide come in and gently graze your toes while the warm sun is shining. As we walked along the shores of Vernazza we could see the other colorful towns tucked into the cliffs up ahead. We looked like goofy tourists for taking our shoes off in February, but we couldn’t help ourselves.
When we got to the hostel and saw our terrace, we immediately planned to be back on the terrace at precisely 6:00 to watch the sunset with a glass of wine. We left Vernazza with 30 minutes to go, got on the train and booked it to our hostel. Running up the steep zigzags of stairs lining the cliff to get to the hostel is a memory I will never forget. Our anticipation was building and we were so scared to miss it but luckily made it with time to spare. We sat on the rooftop mesmerized by the different colors that the rays cast through the sky, into the clouds and reflecting onto the calming sea.
Though this picture is not the best quality, I wanted to show how adventurous we were for our seaside dinner. We all ordered different meals. Me and Scott started out with grilled salmon with penne as our first course. My friend Cody ordered assorted fried fish (depicted above), but little did he know they came whole. Even the shrimp had the heads on it, but once you removed the bones it was all very tasty (we all tried it!). I also ordered a local grilled fish that the owner recommended to me, and it came whole, bones, head and all. I wish I had gotten a picture of it because my mom and I have always talked about learning how to cook it at home. It was so much better than filleted fish because the fish holds in all the moisture and flavors. We washed all this seafood down with a bottle of locally made chardonnay. Mom- the fish is something we definitely need to make together as soon as I get home!
The next day was spent hiking through Monterosso del Mare. This was my favorite town because it was so incredibly picturesque. We climbed steep crumbling stone steps to make our way to the very top of the cliff, where we could walk all around the top of the city. Though the hike was rigorous, it was so rewarding once we saw the view. We walked along the terraced vineyards, smelled the flowers and discovered a tiny cemetery by the coast covered in tropical flowers.
Once we made it down the cliffs, we got focaccia pizza and took it to the coast where we ate it sitting on the rocks. After listening to the seagulls and waves crashing, we climbed the rocky peninsulas and followed deserted narrow paths that took us to more rocky peninsulas. The day was filled with exploring the natural beauty of these coastal towns.