Cinque Terre ( part 2)

Happy Chinese New Year to all who celebrate this New Year…

and here is part 2 of  our story on Cinque Terre. This post is abit longer than most of my post but sometimes there is just more to say.

No need of an alarm clock. At 7 am, we heard the bells of the church. We went down      (100 steps) to Piazza Marconi for our  Italian breakfast  facing the harbor.

It was  market day in Vernazza and there was of lot of action. This market is very important not only to buy fresh fruits and vegetables but other necessities of life mostly  for people living in that village. There was a truck selling salami and cheese. People can shop for fresh herbs also.  We also did a little bit of shopping as we  had a little fridge in our room  and then, up  100 steps to get ready for the day.  You guessed ? Another  hike.

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We had decided we would do the walk from Vernazza to Monterosso.  Only 3.3 km one way.  This is the blue trail.  We are closer to the sea. We had to buy our Trekking card for the day at a little booth on the trail. The cost was 7,50 euros.  It helps to keep up  the trails in good condition. That particular  trail goes up and soon you get a superb  view  on the village down below.  It was around 11 AM . You can see a boat bringing tourists to the village. They come and go all day long.

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The trail has been- until the last century- the only connection between the two towns. It belongs to a trail of network that answered and still answers the needs of harvest (woods, olives, vines, vegetables and fruits). This path is wild and most rewarding. The hike leads to the perception of the Mediterranean landscape that is characterized from the juxtaposition of cultivated lands (sunny slopes-terraces of vines and olives) and maquis.

It was quite busy with people coming our way and sometimes the trail was very narrow ( maybe 40 cm) and we had to wait.  We had to be careful. There was  a railing at some places but not everywhere. The view was nice. It didn’t take long before we could have a glimpse of Monterosso.  Many  of the hikers were French.  Cinque Terre is not so far from France so it makes sense that they also want to travel there. We exchanged some “Bonjour” and kept walking. The last part  of the trail was quite steep going down.

We arrived in the Old Town of Monterosso and took time to explore the village. We passed Piazza Garibaldi. Giuseppe Garibaldi was a dashing firebrand revolutionary who, in 1870, helped unite the people of Italy into a modern nation. We saw beaches with umbrellas all lined up. Some beaches are free (where there are no umbrellas) and some are not. Those beaches are the best of Cinque Terre.

Here how we can describe  Monterosso al mare. Beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs, crystal-clear turquoise waters. It is the largest of the Cinque Terre villages. Medieval tower (Aurora) on the hills of the Cappucini separates the ancient part of the village from the more modern part. The village is encircled by hills and by forest of scrubby bushes and small trees.

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We were in no hurry.  We walked on the narrow streets, visited the churches and went up to have a good view of the city. After a snack we went back on the trail.  An old man was making fresh orange juice and for 2 euros, we were happy to buy one. I asked the man to take his picture. He gave us a nice smile.  In the morning, when we passed his stand,  he was quite busy  but when we came back we were his only customer. I know he is there most of the time as someone else had see him ( not the same month).

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Back in Vernazza, we went to our little beach. I went quickly into the sea to put my feet and not much !  For me it was enough to stay  a minute  (or less) as I always find the water too cold.

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I looked for special rocks on the beach. We met a couple from France.  After our little chat, we decided we would hike together the following day.  What a nice day ! More to come on Cinque Terre  on my next post. Thanks for reading. Grazie !!!

 

 

 

 

 

Cinque Terre ( part 1)

Time to go and explore Cinque Terre.  Will you come  with me ?

Cinque Terre means “five lands” which are the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. But just think of the region as a spider web of trails, towns, and villages. This stretch of coastline is a mix of tiny hamlets. Cinque Terre is clinging to the cliffs along gorgeous stretch of the Ligurian coast.  Each town has maintained its own distinct charm and views from the trails in between are as breathtaking as ever.
The Cinque Terre is recognized by UNESCO as a place of worldwide importance to cultural and natural heritage. As of July 2014, Italy has 50 total sites inscribed on UNESCO’s list, making it the country with most World Heritage Sites.  The terrain is so steep that for centuries foot paths were the only way to get from place to place. Backpackers discovered the CT in the 1970s. It is very easy to travel from one village to another one. You buy a ticket in a machine for 4 euros and you wait for the train. It comes by often. The tourists, who are not hiking, come by boat all day long . They eat gelato, do shopping and take pictures. They usually sleep in La Spezia ( south) or Levanto (north).

The first reason why we wanted to visit Cinque Terre was for hiking between the villages.  The very first afternoon, we explored a trail that led us to a sanctuary.  High above each of the five villages is a religious sanctuary, a small chapel that is an integrated part of the communities’ life and is connected by a stone path to the village.  Those hikes are challenging but allow us to have great views.  As soon as we were up a little, we could admire Vernazza and the harbor, the dome of the church, the castle and its tower. dsc01966

Sactuary of the Madonna di Reggio.

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We were on Via della Coasta. There was a sign with a shell and since we have walked on the Camino in Spain, we noticed the shells here and there.  There was no fear of getting lost, plenty of signs with the markers white and red. There were nice little flowers along the trail. Really it was a trail just for us.

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We only met two people later that afternoon. A real paradise. What could we ask for more? Good exercise, good weather, great views. It was a long hike but we always enjoy our walks.  Maybe it was not many km but as it was up hill. I was happy we had a good training before coming to Italy.

Before dinner we had time to explore a little bit of Vernazza. On the next photo you see the church , the beach and piazza Marconi with its colorful umbrellas.

With its narrow streets and small squares, Vernazza is arguably the most charming of the five towns. With best access to the sea, it became wealthier than its neighbors (shown by the elaborate arcades, loggias and marble work). The village’s pink slate-roof houses and colorful squares contrast with the remains of the medieval fort and castle.

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We were happy to stay in Vernazza for a few nights and have time to explore all the 5 villages while hiking between them.

More on  our time in Cinque Terre and more photos  next week. Thanks – as always- for reading and your comment.

Ciao e grazie.

 

 

The coastal Liguria

On that Sunday we met Gabriele and his wife Luigia. They made the plan for us to go and see Boccadasse.  It is a little fishing village in the outskirt of Genova. We did not stay very long  but it gave us an idea of the area and what was happening there on a Sunday morning. People at the beach and people in the church.

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Boccadasse is nestled between pastel houses and boat by the small pebble beach.

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We drove to Santa Margherita  where we  had lunch. We could see some big hotels like the one in the next photo.  dsc01691

Then, we decided to go on a boat . It was our chance to see the coast from the water. The Italian Riviera !!

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We reached Portofino where more people got on our boat  but we did not get down yet. Then , we arrived in  San Fruttuoso di Camogli. It is tucked away in a tiny, pristine bay between Camogli and Portofino surrounded by lush vegetation . To add to its exclusiveness, you can only reach it by sea or on foot, hiking the near nature trails of the National park of Portofino. The Abbey of San Fruttuoso is a Catholic abbey named after St. Fructuosus, a  Catalan  bishop and saint whose ashes are kept at the abbey. It was  built in the 10th century.  I was surprised to see so many people at the beach. It was end of September and the weather was still summery.

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And then we had a quick visit to Portofino.  We  took some pics and also enjoyed a gelato ( too expensive).

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Portofino is a fishing village on the Italian Riviera coastline. Pastel-colored houses, high-end boutiques and seafood restaurants fringe its Piazzetta, a small cobbled square overlooking the harbor, which is lined with super-yachts.  A path leads from the Piazzetta to Castello Brown, a 16th-century fortress and museum with art exhibitions and panoramic views of the town and the Ligurian Sea.

What a nice day  we had with our friends.  Great memories that will last forever. On my next post -next week- we are going to visit Cinque Terre.

Ciao e grazie per la lettura. I am still trying to learn more Italian but it is not easy.

On my next post, we will be in Cinque Terre. Have a great week . Thanks for reading and your comments.

 

 

Genova

We have now been traveling for almost 3 weeks.  Our  days of walk  in Piedmont were  really great ( if you missed my posts on it , check it out). We took the train from Turin to Genova where we were going to spend 2 full days. As soon as we arrived , we had a few hours to explore  before   dinner.  Genova is one of Europe’s largest cities  on  the Mediterranean Sea and the largest seaport in Italy. it is the capital of Liguria and the 6th largest city of the country. Part of the old town was inscribed on the World Heritage List  (UNESCO). Genova is  the birthplace  of  Christopher Colombus. I bet you  thought he was Spaniard. Genova  is twinned with Baltimore (USA).

We walked  by many religious buildings.  They seem to be so many  in each cities we visited.  In Genova  are listed : Church (17) , Basilica (4) , Oratorio (2), Sanctuario (1), Cathedral (1). We went in many of them. I really  enjoyed the facade of the San Lorenzo Cathedral. The building is a mix of Gothic and Romanesque architecture. It was built between the 12th and the 14th century with some later additions. The interior of the Cathedral was spectacular but taking good photos was difficult.

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As we walked a lot , we could appreciate the architecture of the buildings  and the caruggi ( typical Genoese alleys).dsc01404

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Palazzo Rosso. (Art gallery)dsc01432

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Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa. It  originated around the 16th century and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with Parmesan cheese and olive oil. I love pesto. Do  you ?

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We walked all day long. The weather was perfect. At  night,  we were able to have our dinner outside.

On my next post, I will talk about the  day we spent with  our Italian friends. They were wonderful guides. We enjoyed very much everything we saw that day.  It was another great day in Italy.

Ciao !!