Cinque Terre, Italy


Village of Manerola at dusk

Village of Manarola at dusk

Cinque Terre is a series of five small fishing villages on the west coast of Italy, known as the Italian Riviera.  In these towns there are basically no cars, no stop lights and few roads wide enough to drive cars if you had one.  We stayed in Corniglia, the middle of the five towns.  To get to our condo we walked up a series of narrow sidewalks bordered by 4-5 story buildings several hundred years old.  Adding to the interest of our stay were three turtles in the back yard.  The first night we saw the Mom Turtle dig a hole with her hind legs and lay eggs.  The very close proximity of the buildings does not provide much privacy but adds to the quaintness.  If not careful, our just washed clothes could drip on the people walking below when hung out to dry.  Corniglia was on a high hill requiring 400+ steps, arranged in a series of switchbacks, to arrive in the town from the train station.  The bus service between town and train station was unreliable, so walking was the preferred method for us as it also provided good exercise.  So here you have an entire town that is not wheelchair accessible.  If you wanted to go to the scenic beach, that would be another 400+ steps down on the other side of the cliff, no bus service.  I would say the Cinque Terre area is a highlight of Italy and wonderfully unique area.

Village of Corniglia with Manerola in the distance.

Village of Corniglia with Manarola in the distance.

This is a view of Corniglia from the hiking trail to Vernazza.  Looking over the edge of the backyard fence was a view of the sea, hundreds of feet straight down.

All five of the towns are connected by a series of hiking trails.  We hiked at sunrise to the next town, Vernazza, only to find out later the trail was officially closed.  While tourism is clearly the main source of income for these towns, all towns still make steady income from their fishing fleet.  None of the boats are large, and there are no high-capacity fishing trawlers.  Rather, fishing is done in one and two men boats, using traditional techniques.

Vernaza Sunrise-Vernesa BoatsFloating

All five of the towns have swimming areas, some with easier access than others.  The 400+ stairs to get to the Corniglia rocky beach below the town limited the crowd.  It was the same area where the fishermen launched their small skiffs.  (Click on images to enlarge)

Corniglia Beach CactusMediterranean SwimCorniglia Beach

Here are more views of Vernazza harbor.  This town was devastated in 2011 when 22 inches of rain fell in a few hours.  The mud and boulders rolling down the hill left several feet of mud and debris in every shop in town, effectively closing the town for many months.  It has been rebuilt and to the first-time visitor looks like the quaint old town one expects.  These hardy citizens have endured some terrible hardships but seemingly have bounced back.  Along the trail are the remains of a house, now just half of a house, with some clothes still hanging in the closet.  The other half of the house washed away…  (Click on images to enlarge)

Flooded Home

Vernasa Harbor at SunriseLaundryVernazafrom the trail head

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