We set out from Florence on an early train to Cinque Terre. We had planned to stop in Pisa on the way but we changed our plans when we saw that it was raining (perhaps we will visit on the way to Rome). Cinque Terre is located on the Italian Rivera and literally means “Five Lands.” It is a collection of five fishing villages clinging tightly to the coastal cliffs of the Rivera Di Levante. The train system in Italy is confusing because each train and train station seem to have a different system for identifying routes. Marko and I felt better when we realized that even the Italians also seemed confused.
After two transfers we somehow arrived at Riomaggiore, one of the Villages in the Cinque Terre. Although, we were greeted by a torrential downpour, the beauty of our village was immediately apparent. We were in awe of quaint buildings stacked atop one another, clinging to the cliffs. The building were painted in soft pinks, yellows and oranges. When we reached our accommodations, we were shown to a relatively large “apartment,” complete with a kitchen and separate living room. We were not expecting such a large place! After dropping off our bags, we decided to explore despite the rain. Unfortunately, given the rain and some recent mudslides, the popular coastal hiking trail between the towns was closed due to unsafe conditions. That left us no choice but to take the train to the neighbouring village of Manarola.
After quite a long wait for the train, we arrived in Manarola in under 5 minutes. To our surprise, the rain stopped and some sun peaked out between the dark clouds shortly after we got off the train. We spent some time exploring around the town and its intertwining trails, staircases and passages. Precariously perched vineyards, religious shrines, trails and staircases surrounded the village. Gardens with, flowering bushes and citrus trees were a common sight. We also saw quite a few large cactus plants (which seemed quite unusual given that there was so much rain). While exploring, we were able to find the a connection to a good hiking trail further from the cliffs. The trail has the same glorious views and it appears to connect the villages. We are hoping for good weather tomorrow so that we can hike through the towns on the higher trail.
As the sun went down, Marko was glued to his camera so he could get photos of the sun hitting the buildings. We finished the evening by enjoying a meal at one of the village restaurants.