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Rain day and touring in Cinque Terre

(Written by Nancy)

Well, we woke up to dark grey skies and as we debated what to do it started to rain and that settled it for us – a day off to let the storms pass and take the opportunity to explore the Cinque Terre area a bit.

We stopped at a little bakery to get something for breakfast before we headed over to the train station.  Foccacia seems to be one of the typical foods here and they had big sheets of it sprinkled with sugar and we couldn’t pass that up.  Big huge pieces though, so we ate one and saved the other for a snack later on.  We timed it just right at the station and when we bought tickets and asked when the train left the lady behind the window said ‘Run!’  so we followed her instructions and caught the train out.

We decided to take the train to Riomaggiore, the village that is the last of the ‘5 Lands’ and take one of the walking trails from there back through some of the villages.  By the time we got to Riomaggiore it was raining pretty good and cold.  We found out from the parks office there that the walking trails were only open from Riomaggiore to Manarola, the next village.  There was a very bad storm here last October that caused some very big landslides and did extensive damage to a couple of the other villages and the walking trails that go between the villages.  Given how the villages are built up on the hills I guess it is not surprising that landslides would occur.

Notwithstanding the rain coming down we decided to walk the first bit and then take the train to the other villages and walk around them a bit.  The first part of the walk is called Via dell’Amore and goes along a rock path that runs along the Cliffside.  It is pretty stunning and I am sure on a sunny day would be even more stunning!  There is a funny custom of bring a lock to attach to the fence and the several gates that appear on the walk, apparently to ‘lock your love in forever.’  Many write their names on the locks as well.  There are literally thousands of locks along the way.  People seem to write on the walls of the tunnel as well, see photos for some samples.  There are some nice spots with benches for resting and gazing out at the sea.  Today we saw maybe three people on the walk – apparently on nice days it is like a highway.  So, some good things from the weather, I guess.

We tried to go a bit past Manarola, the next village, but came upon locked gates so the path is still not open.  It was raining buckets by then so we turned around and headed back to the village, taking a minute to look at all the boats that had been pulled up from the sea and stored up near the village.  Looks like hard work to get them up the hill.  We caught the next train, jumping off at Corniglia, the next village.  Another very picturesque village, which you reach by climbing 382 steps up from the train station.   Beautiful spot, lots of winding lanes.  This little village sits high up on the hill so doesn’t really have direct sea access but because it is up higher you can see the villages on either side of it.  We spotted a little house for sale there – http://www.nevemare.it/prodotti.asp?cat=3009&prod=3526  is the link to the advert in case you are interested!

We were both pretty wet and tired by that time so headed back into Sestri Levante to see if we could find some information about the road from here.  One of the park staff in the villages seemed to be saying to us that there were some road closures due to the slides.  Obviously we need to know that we can get over to the other side of the area before we start climbing the hills….  Unfortunately the tourist office is not open today and we can’t find much online about it.  We may have to get some help from the English speaker at our pensione, if we can find her!

The weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t brilliant, unfortunately.  Not quite as bad as today but still 70% chance of precipitation and colder temps than today.  The little charts on the web show sun (!) for Wednesday, so we may end up here another day if it looks bad again tomorrow – we’ll just have to see.   It has been raining buckets since we got back and we have even had lightning and thunder – hmmm, not quite what we expected for the Italian Riviera but we’ll have to just play it by ear.  We found a coffee shop with wi-fi – not sure if it is free or what but the nice Italian guy punched in the passcode on the computers for us so we have taken full advantage of it.

Off to find something warm for dinner…

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5 responses to “Rain day and touring in Cinque Terre

  1. I wonder what it is like inside the houses. I bet it is dark. What do the people who live in these villages do? Do they commute somewhere to work or is there work in the villages.

    • I am not sure what they do really, though I do think there is a lot of reliance on tourism – the slides in October have really hurt them apparently. There is pretty good train service to big towns on either side so I expect some would commute to jobs at one of these towns.

      Can’t imagine trying to do construction work up on those places – no cars so you have to hand carry most things in. The reconstruction work must be hard work, not to mention scary on the side of the cliffs like that!

  2. Amazing building skills to “hang” houses off the side of the cliffs! I think you should use the boats as a weather guide. It looks too difficult to haul them up unless the weather is going to be really bad. Locks are interesting!

  3. Wow, they really have nestled those villages right in the cliffs overlooking the ocean….. very fun to imagine living there…. Great pictures today!

    • The towns were completely isolated until about 100 years ago, except for access via the sea. Pretty amazing back then. Still the same to day, even with the trains. Going to a proper grocery today would entail 3 hours on the train, plus hoofing it up and down 400 stairs. It is a beautiful spot though…

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