This week I am exploring Charleston and Savannah, two lovely Southern cities I’ve been dying to visit for awhile now. I’ll be back next week with plenty of new posts from my trip. In the meantime, here’s a lovely guest post by Jennifer Sharratt from GoEuro.co.uk. Italy is my dream destination and I can’t wait to visit next year. Cinque Terre will most certainly be on my list. Enjoy!
Jennifer Sharratt lives in Berlin and works for GoEuro, a new multi-mode travel search engine. She camped in the Cinque Terre, lived off farinata, went swimming and kayaking everyday and was half tempted to stay forever.
Scattered along a section of the rugged North-Western coast of Italy are five charming villages that form a jumbled chain collectively known as the ‘Cinque Terre’. I visited the area in early September, and when memories of the stunning vistas spring to mind, I often hanker after a one-way ticket to this little slice of paradise.
I was lucky enough to avoid peak season when the hillsides of the Cinque Terre groan with swarms of tourists, all eager to take the perfect snap or tramp their way along the clifftop. Hopping on the train that connects the villages was an easy business for me – with no hideously long queues or scrapping for seats I could simply sit back, relax and enjoy the views as we trundled through each settlement. As shown by the map below, the villages are in such close proximity to one another that I could chop and change my itinerary at will. If I felt like stomping up the sheer steps to Corniglia or relaxing on the sand in Monterosso, then off I trotted to board a train.
Although the pentad of villages all fall under the epithet of ‘Cinque Terre’, each one has its own specific charm and style. Four of these small towns are coastal with Corniglia being the only settlement to perch high above the waves. Happily the villages are traffic-free, meaning that I could enjoy the peace and quiet whilst sidelining my fear of the daredevil Italian drivers
I am not a huge fan of frying myself on the beach, preferring instead to don my hiking boots and traipse around forests, hills and mountains. With sunhat on and water bottle in hand, an amble along Via dell’Amore, that’s ‘walkway of love‘ to you and me, was one of my favourite walks.
That particular path links Manarola and Riomaggiore and affords sensational views over the Mediterranean, I would strongly recommend it for all age ranges and fitness levels. I witnessed the long-standing custom whereby couples cement their loved-up status by clamping a padlock onto the railings that skirt the edges of the Via dell’Amore.
Refuelling in this area is a pleasure – the food is fresh, wholesome and plentiful. I was often on the go and with many restaurants offering dishes at escalated prices, a pan of farinata was always a welcome sight. This dish is particular to this area, and is essentially a thick pancake made from chickpea flour. It is oily, but oh so filling and tasty.
It is hard to overlook the geography of the land, it is beautiful but also rocky and inhospitable thus meaning that the area has escaped extensive development.
This fact, combined with the establishment of the Cinque Terre National Park, is a blessing for the community as a traditional way of life can continue to flourish. There are very few tacky tourist outlets, with most shops selling locally produced goods such as olive oil, cheese and fruit.
Last but most definitely not least, I have to say that the coast of the Cinque Terre was the highlight of my trip. The water was on the right side of cold, refreshing without taking my breath away. There are many lively swimming areas as well as some more secluded spots, there was a place to go whatever my mood. I was lucky enough to have the chance to go onto the sea itself when I hired out a boat, not only was this easy and relatively cheap but also offered a different perspective of the Cinque Terre. When I was bobbing out there on my boat, I took in the views of the terraced mountains and brightly painted villages and felt it was a little bit of heaven on earth.
Have you ever visited the Cinque Terre? What was your experience? Let me know!