Cinque Terre (pronounced CHEEN-quay) is the most beautiful coastal area I’ve been to. And probably the most beautiful place I saw during my 10 days in Italy.
This post won’t contain much writing because I think the pictures speak for themselves. If you don’t agree that this is one of the most gorgeous beach areas you have seen then you should probably stop reading my blog right now and never come back because I don’t think I can associate with someone who doesn’t agree with my previous statements about Cinque Terre.
Anyhow, here’s a quick brief on Cinque Terre. The name literally means 5 lands and- you guessed it (I hope)- Cinque Terre is comprised of 5 towns. The towns are: Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Monterosso. The towns are small and close to each other on the Italian Riviera. From Florence we took the train to La Spezia, which took about two and a half hours. From La Spezia we took a quick 10 minute train to Riomaggiore, the first of the five towns.
Now, here’s when traveling with other people becomes obnoxious: you can’t do everything you want to exactly how you want to whenever you want to. That whole compromising-to-make-everyone-happy thing comes into play and you have to take other people’s thoughts and ideas into consideration. Uggghh. Had we done a tour of Cinque Terre we would have seen all 5 towns, known what we were looking at, and not had to worry about time and transportation. Alas, two votes are stronger than one and my friends decided it would be better to go on our own because it would be “cheaper” (it wasn’t), and instead of rushing through 5 towns we could see only two but take our time (we didn’t).
So we spent almost three hours on the train, arriving around noon. As I said, from Florence, Riomaggiore is the first town of the five and where we decided to eat lunch. You didn’t think I would post about Italy without mentioning food, did you? After checking out the amazing views of the ocean and admiring the town for it’s cute, stacked colored houses and bright mosaics, our stomachs told us it was time to eat. And eat we did. I couldn’t go to a coastal town and not have seafood so my friend and I split a seafood salad appetizer. The menu had no English translation- I think that happens when you leave the big cities- so we didn’t really know the specifics of what was coming. It ended up consisting of squid, octopus, shrimp, crab meat and something we’re still not sure of. Drizzled in oil (Italian/Boston tour guide wasn’t kidding when he said Italians like oil), our mystery seafood appetizer turned out to be delicious (duh) and a refreshing start to our meal.
As a main course I had spaghetti with clams, shrimp and squid in a light oil/garlic sauce. Besides the seafood, the dish was a little bland and lacking in any noticeable flavors. I wasn’t too upset though because hey, I was eating seafood on the Italian Riviera.
By now it was about 1 or 2 and I wanted to see a town that had a beach. Riomaggiore had one patch of sand from what I saw and I wanted a beach I could walk on and the opportunity to feel the water. So Monterosso, the fifth of the five towns, was our next destination.
Once we arrived we realized we needed to check train times and make sure we would be able to get back. We also had to factor in a three hour window for travel. Not wanting to get back at midnight that meant the 6pm train was our goal. Had we just sucked it up and done a tour we wouldn’t have had to worry about what time the trains left and been able to see more of the towns. But noooo it made more sense to do it on our own. I’m not bitter.
So Monterosso was our second and final stop and almost totally made up for the grudge I had been bearing about not doing a tour. It was everything I wanted to see that day- sand, ocean, people sunbathing, people swimming, more fun colored houses.
Being the beach bum and water lover that I am I had to feel the water. I immediately regretted not having a towel with me. Had there not been a slight wind chill I would have stripped down to my underwear and gone swimming and then dealt with being wet. I had to settle for going in only up to my knees. Still so wonderful. Nothing beats warm ocean water followed by sand that doesn’t leave your feet until you shower.
As per usual gelato was consumed and we headed back to the train station. I think more time was spent on the train than in the two towns we went to. So now I’ve learned this lesson for anyone who ever gets the chance to visit Cinque Terre: DO A TOUR! The towns are small enough that you can see all of them in one day, if done properly (and by properly I mean with a tour). From my research, tours include a hike where you get an even better view of the ocean and I’m assuming you get to see more of the towns.
Either way, visiting Monterosso and Riomaggiore was a good taste of Cinque Terre and my brief time there will be ingrained into my memory forever. Oh and I lied. This post contained more writing than originally stated. Oops.