November 2016 was special. I had been waking up to images of Cinque Terre on my Instagram every day. I always wondered if it was for real. And then it happened. My partner took a work trip to Italy and I followed closely on heels to see this postcard fantasyland!
A step closer to the dream
Ours was a two day trip, the first day we hopped down in La Spezia Centrale by 11 am. It was our base city to discover the five villages of Cinque Terre. By the way, Cinque stands for five, so its a literal translation for five villages on the coast of Italian Riviera. You can choose to live in either of the villages, they are a short ride away (the first village is 3-5 minutes away by train from La Spezia Centrale). But you need a Cinque Terre card to travel to these villages. Cinque Terre card is handy because you can get it for 24, 48 or whatever number of hours you ask for right at the station. Or you can take the ferry across all these villages, since November wasn’t ideal for ferries, we didnt take any!
Check this out for further details:
First day in Cinque Terre
My boy, P, November isn’t an ideal time to go anywhere close to the coast, even if it is the usually pleasant Italy. The weather gets erratic, and you have to adapt your plans to it. So the moment we stepped into La Spezia city, we knew it was going to be a rough day. But who wants to sit in a hotel, while dreams await? So we picked up a quick lunch, and got onto the first train leaving for Cinque Terre. Trains leave twice an hour to Cinque Terre, so plan accordingly.
Breathing in the sand and air of Monterosso
Monterosso fell at the other end of the train ride. We decided to enjoy the 25 minute ride to this village, while seeing the beautiful towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza pass by. Plan for day one was to soak in the beauty without rushing past things. We hardly ever do that, we are two uneasy souls!
Monterosso is one the bigger villages, but there were hardly any tourists getting down here. The weather was rough. We almost had the village to ourselves. We walked around its empty lanes, ran across its sandy beach and made our way back to the train station just in time to catch the second hourly train.
Hopping down in Riomaggiore
Its the closest village to La Spezia city. So we decided to see the sun set here in this colourful yet sleepy town. I adored the time we spent walking up to a vantage point to see the sun settling down. Nothing about these walks was arduous or long, my granny could do this and enjoy the same way. At this point we wanted to share our joy with our loved ones. We Facetime-d our parents to see the sun’s crimson hues fading out of the sky over the blue Mediterranean sea. It was a sight to behold!
Trek on Day 2
We didnt want to slack off entirely during this vacation. That is just not us. We love living life in Time Lapse mode! So day two was the trek from Monterosso to Vernazza. We spotted exactly 2 people beside us on this trek, it was a rather lovely sunny day and the hubbub in central piazzas of the villages was palpable, in contrast to day one, when things were so drab!
We walked for 3.5 hours from Monterosso to Vernazza, it isn’t exactly a cakewalk, so bear that in mind. And honestly I didn’t enjoy this trek. I had heard great things about the views from the vantage points, but I was regretting the trek as the views from base villages were much more rewarding. I have trekked around path of gods in Amalfi coast, and the views it offers are worth every droplet of sweat you effuse. This one didn’t measure up to those standards.
Would I go to Cinque Terre again, yes, a thousand times over! Would I trek again? Maybe not this stretch, those this stretch is one of the popular ones.
But the light at the end of the tunnel was worth it as Vernazza was a gorgeous little village!
Sit back and behold!
If walking isn’t your thing, hop on a train, get down at the station and just lie down by the beach, seeing the day go by. Get some Pesto– a spread made out of basil, Farinata – a chickpea pancake, and Foccacia– bread topped with veggies/ herbs ( all local speciality) from around and devour it for your beachy, relaxing day out. Being a vegetarian, all these on-the-go delicacies were a major cause of smile on my face! You can wash it all down with a cuppa of Caffe con panna e cioccolato– a heady mix of espresso, hot chocolate and cream. It makes you feel like hugging everyone once you drink a cup of this potion. And for sweets, there are too many to name, so I will recommend the fancy one that I just cant forget, it is called Bombolonas– donuts/ brioche filled with icecream. I was sold by the name only!
If you want to stick to formal lunches and dinners, keep in mind the schedule. We missed out on a place because the restaurant shut right after the lunch time or the local cafeterias run out of delicacies because they are so yum!
You want to live in the moment? Why Cinque Terre isn’t the place for it
Its hard, very very hard to go to Cinque Terre and keep yourself from clicking pictures. So click loads of them and share those pictures with your loved ones or treasure ’em to look back at them and smile to yourselves in the years to come!