Monday, March 15, 2010

Cinque Terre

Last week was a crazy adventure. It had been on my calendar for months and dreamed about for months even before that: a trip to Italy's Cinque Terre region for a holiday with my hiking buddies. No family, no computer, no obligations other than to hike, eat pasta, drink wine, and enjoy. And that's exactly what happened. Of course, there were a few unforeseen events. Like the unseasonably cold and windy weather the first day out when the temperatures were so low that the water in our bottles became chunky with ice and the Swiss army knife we brought for our picnic lunch froze shut. Or the fact that the famous low trail linking the five towns along the Ligurian coast was closed between Corniglia and Monterosso due to landslides. Not to mention the general strike in Italy on Friday afternoon that left several of us with no flight out until 30 hours after the originally scheduled one.

But it was going to take a lot more than that to knock the stuffing out of 11 strong women and one incredibly patient man. The weather improved as the week wore on, our aches and pains subsided as we became more adept at climbing what must have been thousands of steps up and down, and we had one delicious meal after another. There were scarcely anyone else on the trails and we were rewarded for all the uphill climbing with spectacular views of the coast, terraced with vineyards, with tiny villages, pink, yellow, and white with red tiled roofs, nestled in the crevices.

And if you're ever stuck in Pisa, go see the Leaning Tower for sure but then hop on a bus. Just 2.80 euros will get you to Lucca, a walled town in the foothills of Tuscany where there's plenty to keep you busy for a day, the wine is cheap, and service is given with a smile.


Coming down the mountain on a steep rocky path, we turned a corner, saw this view of the town of Vernazza, and gasped.


Hearts with locks marking the entrance to the low route between Riomaggiore and Manarola. As tradition has it, you and your sweetheart leave a lock and throw the key into the sea.


Lemons everywhere. The one I couldn't resist putting in my suitcase did a fine job of countering the aroma of my dirty hiking duds.

9 comments:

Laura and Ben said...

Oh, Lucca is fantastic. I stayed there on holiday once.

Glad you had a good time.

debbie in toronto said...

welcome back and the pictures are great..love the locks and the story behind it..sounds like you made the best of it...

Belle de Ville said...

Lovely photos. It looks like you had nice weather.
I've never thought about hiking in that part of Italy but I do dream about hiking in Borzano in the Italian alps....someday...

Starman said...

Welcome back from your fabulous vacation. Oh, how I wish I could do all that climbing and walking..

Duchesse said...

I went to Tuscany in June 2007, but missed both Lucca and Cinque Terre!

What an adventure you had! You're an inspiration:) My husband loves hiking, so we will look into going back to Tuscany to do just that:) (We're gonna be expats again in a month or so - moving to the Hague:))

Welcome back, Anne:)

Carolyn said...

Wow! Fantastic and good on ya -- must have felt strange to be sans famille so it's wonderful to see the photos and read of your enjoyment.

Cheers.

cinque terre said...

Hello everybody, just want to invite you and your readers to our site about the cinque terre
( in my signature ) and to the blog where you can also vote the nicest of the 5 Terre.
Also a video section is available: Video of the Cinque Terre, a different point of view..

Colin said...

Your photo of the keys raises a question. On the bridge by the
Musée d'Orsay the are many hundreds of locks attached to the wire mesh of the bridge. Is it the same tradition that you mentioned?

Anne said...

Colin: I've never noticed that and now you've got me wondering! I'll have to go take a look.

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