Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friday Cinque Terre

Wanting to get out of Genoa today, we decided to take the train to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is comprised of 5 local villages that cling to a remote stretch of the Italian Riviera and are part of the national park system and a UNESCO world heritage site. The only way to see them is by walking. They are charming villages and we made a plan to walk from Vernazza to Corniglia. Hike would be more accurate. Varnazza sits at sea level and is a charming little old world fishing village.

Corniglia sits high on a hilltop and is known for its wines and olives. There are 2 trails available, one is far easier than the other.... we didn't do our homework. In fact we didn't even know there were 2 trails until we were well into our hike. Need I tell you which one we took? Most of the trail is comprised of steep stairs carved out of the soil and lined with stepping stones, except when there are avalanches, which then cause havoc with this steep and very windy trail. In most places it is one person wide and set with lots of switchbacks... after all we are climbing into a mountain.  Passing is fun. As you get higher into the hills the view is spectacular... so is the drop off.
Corniglia in the distance

They told us it would take 90 minutes.... I assume they really meant if you were in tip top shape. Two and half hours later we limped into Corniglia. We had to stop and rest along the way and at one point I was not sure I was going to make it. But make it we did.
We made it to Corniglia!

We found a lovely outdoor restaurant with a wonderful breeze (it was hot as hell) and had lunch. It was 400 steps down to the train. The other two women decided to take the train to the next village but I decided to go back to Genoa. I was exhausted and I told Ned I would be back at a certain time. With no way to get in touch with him, I was already going to be much later than I told him.. I didn't want to add another hour to that and really have him worry. I needed that 2 1/2 hour train trip to recover. I set an alarm so if I fell asleep I wouldn't miss my stop. They do not call out the stops. I can tell you that if I had known how difficult this hike would be, I never would have done it. While I am in decent shape, I am not that fit and while we were in the UK I did not get to do the kind of walking I wanted due to the rain.

By the time I got back to hotel, Ned was wondering where I was. Finding a restaurant for dinner was going to be an adventure. Because of the holiday, almost everything was closed. And while I usually wouldn't mind walking a bit to find something, my legs were screaming. We walked farther than I wanted but we were well rewarded. We stumbled into a wonderful restaurant. The owner is the chef and the waiter knew his stuff. It was empty. There was one other couple and by the time we left only 2 other couples turned up. Apparently this is one of the Pope's favorite restaurants when he comes to Genoa. We were presented with photo albums from the last several years. I suspect that had it been any other time we would have needed a reservation made well in advance. We let them recommend both the food and the wine. We were not disappointed. I needed the walk back to the hotel!

1 comment:

Gerrie said...

We did that hike about 10 years ago. In fact, we walked through Chianti and the Cinque Terre - so beautiful. Mr C has vertigo and did not like that part of the trip! i was in a lot better shape 10 years ago.