Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cinque Terra

A great day was spent town hoping through the picturesque towns of the Cinque Terra. These five mountain villages are found in the north of Italy bordering the Italian Riviera. It has grown to be a big tourist hot spot, and I was surprised how at times the only language I could here being spoken was English. With only one day to try to see it all I began my adventure before the sun was up, taking the two-hour train in from Genoa. The first stop was in Monterosso, a tiny village surrounded by greenery, and as you enter the town from the train station the road leads you all along the waterfront. It was a cloudy and at times rainy day, so not a good time for swimming, but on a nice day this village would make the best beach spot. Hiking up the hillside to look down into the village I found a beautiful church along the way, and at the very top, a cemetery full of rows and rows of graves dating back to the early 1900’s, all with a picture of the deceased displayed on the outside. Wandering down the hill into the town I did a bit of exploring, finding a clock tower and many adorable buildings before it was time to move on to the next village.

Vernazza, was the second stop, where I wandered into the city to find pictures along the walls displaying the catastrophic flood that practically destroyed the small village less than a year ago. After learning about the disaster I was amazed to see how quickly the town had revived itself, now having barely any trace that such a short time ago the city was almost completely drowned. My first destination was to the waterfront where you can find the small boats docked for the day, and behind me the strong waves were crashing on the rocks from the stormy wind blowing in. Climbing up the stairs from the port I reached the Castello Doria, the highest point of the city looking down on the colorful buildings below.

Corniglia was the third village to visit, and it sits up quite a bit higher from the train station than the other towns, so as I stepped off the train the uphill hoof began. The exhaustion from the upward trek was worth it, and I wandered through the smallest village yet, taking in the colors and unique layout. Wandering just outside of the center, you can capture the full scene of this miniature town balancing on the green hillside directly above the sea, with other green hills surrounding the area as well.

As a result of the poor weather, the hiking trails between the cities had all been closed and the touring boats were not running since the water was too rough, so the trains were the only way eager tourists could transport themselves from village to village, resulting in some very delayed and crowded train rides. So after waiting for a very late train, the day was growing shorter and I had to pass by the forth village and move on to Riomaggiore, the fifth and final town. After meeting a guide on one train earlier he had given me some advise about the route to take, so I turned left from the station and started the uphill climb once again. It is clear why Riomaggiore is the final village to visit, following the rule of saving the best for last. The largest of all of them, it has the most attractive colors of all the towns, and is positioned directly on the sea, the colorful buildings towering over the waves coming in to upset the anchored down boats as people climb up to the hill to capture the view.

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