When we have each other, we have everything.
We started our day early to head for breakfast and a hike. We ate at Giammi Cafe and enjoyed a quiche, fresh squeezed orange juice, and toast. Our hike took us up trail 3a to the Sanctuario. It was about a 1000 ft ascent. It was steep, but worth the climb. We had views of the entire coast line. We were able to see all 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terra region: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. There was a cute little group of kids from a school that were on a field trip... It was cute to hear them talk and one said, "Mama Mia" with that adorable accent. We hiked back down to Riomaggiore and collected our belongings from the front desk and to get gelato at Gelateria Centrale 1. I decided on Limone and Riomaggiore (orange and lemon combined) for my scoops.
Hopped on the train and made the steep ascent to Corniglia. Corniglia is set up on the hill without a marina. It is by far the most difficult of the villages to see, but we welcomed the quiet nature of the village. Riomaggiore was tuned up until 3:30 am and then the day to day busyness started around 7:00 am. Too noisy for our taste. We checked in with the sweetest of our hosts so far. She kept saying, "ok" and "prego." The room was just down the street and it was adorable; old fashioned furniture and fixtures adorned the room. Although decorated from a time past, it had A/C and WIFI which we loved.
Lunch was first on the docket. We ate at a little bistro and I was in the mood for something light. We have had beautiful weather out here, so my appetite hasn't been huge. I ordered a pastry, Twix, and an orange to take with me on the hike. It was a little bit of a battle to find where the hike started. However, our roundabout way of getting there led us to a lemonade stand where local girls were cutting and squeezing lemons to make lemonade. They definitely earned that euro! It was a little too tart for my taste, but they earned it!
We finally found the start of the hike and started our 1800 ft ascent on trail 7a. It was crazy steep! The people we saw coming down from the hike looked tired and really hot. It made us concerned a few times thinking that maybe we wouldn't make it. Especially considering that we were hiking in the hottest part of the day. We took the "slow and steady wins the race" approach and made good time getting to the top. The trail was very open and against the face of the cliff initially. It slowly switched to wooded, lush bushes providing shade and relief from the hot sun. As we approached the top, the landscape was consumed by vineyards olive groves. The top portion of the trail leveled and took us through a tiny little mountain town. The descent became craggy rock and sandy trails which forced us to take our time. We took a break in the shade to enjoy our oranges and some water. At one point we got off the main trail to get a panoramic picture of Manarola, but saw an alternate route down. We probably should have stayed on the main path, as I slipped and my arm hitting a rock wall was the only thing that brought me to a stop. I got a pretty good gouge, but battle wounds come from doing things that are fun.
When we reached the town of Manarola, I was in love. It had a "Fisherman's Village" vibe and I loved all the boating and beach decor. It was all legitimate decor, not just for show. Fishing is big in these villages. Melanie's mom even researched that the Fisherman's houses were painted different vibrant colors so that they could look back at the village to know which house was their own to ensure that their wife was home working in the house. Cinque Terra is also where pesto originated, so I picked up some packets of pesto and pasta to take a little part of Italy home with me.
Took the train home for showers and FaceTime sessions. We ate dinner at Inoteca Con Cocina. The pesto spaghetti was delicious with yet another lemon soda. We were going to go to a little bar and have fancy drinks by the sea, but they closed. So we settled for wine back at the room and headed to bed. It was a busy, but incredibly full and fun day!
Ben, Julie, and Amelia