I don’t remember how we stumbled across Cinque Terre…I think in doing our research on Italy we saw a picture online and simultaneously said “We have to go there.” And it did not disappoint. It was beautiful, almost surreal. The sea (I just kept reminding myself: this is the Mediterranean!) was a true azul, clear and blue. The villages were charming, and the beach we found was magical. We stayed in a village up on a hill that had eagle eye views of everything: the mountains sloping down to the sea and the colorful villages tucked in the folds.
We stayed in Corniglia, and I’m so glad we did. It is the only village up on a hill, and to get there you either have to climb about 300 steps or take the bus (we took the bus). As a result, tourists who come in to Cinque Terre for the day from cruises or nearby cities are less likely to make the trek up to this village, which means it’s a little less crowded than everywhere else. It’s such a charming village, with tiny streets and beautiful views. At night the village kids come out and play soccer on a square behind the church that overlooks the sea. There are plazas where you can see the other villages, and when the sun sets golden on them it is magical.
There are a gazillion places to swim in Cinque Terre. Each town has its own marina area (even Corniglia if you hike down another 300 steps, which I did not to do but which Gerrit did while I was sleeping in one morning), and there are people with towels spread out sunbathing and people swimming and climbing up rocks to jump off of them into the sea.
We chose to find a beach, and had heard about Guvano Beach in a couple different places. Unfortunately we had not carefully sought out directions, and so we turned what could have been an easy walk through a creepy dark tunnel turned into a treacherous hike down the side of a mountain (luckily we found the tunnel to take us back). The beach was gorgeous though–a pebble beach that was small and quiet with the beautiful sea crashing in. (You should also know, in case you want to go there, that it is clothing optional.) And even though we almost died trying to get there, that hour we spent on the beach was perhaps, next to Fiesole, one of my favorite afternoons.
A Boat Tour
We spent a lot of money to go on a special boat tour of Cinque Terre. And while it was beautiful, it felt overpriced and like I could have seen those views from the tourist ferries that go from town to town. I kind of wish I had that money back, but oh well.
Eating in Cinque Terre
Eating options were a little limited for us, considering we were staying in a small village with only a few restaurants (and honestly by this point in the trip, I was tired of eating out and having to make decisions about what to order). This area of Italy is known for pesto (Corniglia even has a Basil Festival), and I will agree that it was quite good (my gnocchi that the pesto was on was not that great, however). Seafood is also big here. And they are known for their white wines, which were quite good. My favorite thing though was the focaccia, which is abundant in Cinque Terre. We ordered four focaccias on the day we went to the beach and carried it in the backpack and picnicked on the beach, which was lovely.
Also of Note
We spent half a day in Milan before we caught our flight home. I was not a fan of Milan, so I don’t really have anything to say about it (although the Milan Duomo was beautiful), except that we went. And it was really hot.
Thanks for journeying along with me. I promise that now we will return to our regularly scheduled food programming.