Roller coasters for grapes and a cliffside lemonade stand. Who knew that Cinque Terre would be so much fun and so beautiful?
I have to thank my hubby for this one. While I’ve planned the majority of this trip, he was the one who insisted on Cinque Terre, so I went without knowing too much about the area.
Cinque Terre is a region that consists of five towns: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The towns date back over 1, 000 years, and are still best accessible by boat, train or on foot. You can reach Vernazza by car, but the road is so windy and narrow that you need steel knuckles and a kilo of Gravol to make the journey.
We took the train to Monterrosso al Mare and hiked to Vernazza and then Corniglia on our first day in the area. We couldn’t go any farther (thank God!) because the trail between Corniglia and Manarola was wiped out in the floods of 2011 and still hasn’t been repaired.
The path was originally created by mules to connect the towns. Better than any stairmaster I’ve ever stepped on, the trail went up and down, over cliffs and around bays to get us to our destination.
We took much longer than the posted time to reach both Vernazza and Corniglia, because the views were so incredible.
And there was also that lemonade stand pitched at the perfect spot on the way to Vernazza that forced us to stop. Kind of like cute lemonade stands back in suburban Calgary, except this one was run by a senior citizen brandishing a juicer perched on the side of a cliff.
We were lucky to have picked the perfect day to hike the area, with a high of 25 degrees and sunny skies. This was the first time we had worn shorts since Africa!
The villages were very colourful and almost leaped out of the landscape in front of us as we came around a corner. Apparently the cliffside houses were originally painted different colours so that fishermen could pick out their homes from the sea.
Today the alleys of the five towns are filled with restaurants and hotels, along with numerous places that sell gelato. We visited Manarola and Riomagiorre the second day, partly just to get more of that frozen goodness!
The towns themselves are separated by vineyards growing on steep terraces. Grapes are lowered to the bottom on tiny roller coasters as the cliffs are so steep. The girls really wanted to have a ride, but luckily they weren’t functional at this time of the year.
After our two days in Cinque Terre, we couldn’t think of a safer or more tastier place to wait out the impending zombie apocalypse!