Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cinque Terre, the vacation you have to earn

The Cinque Terre are a group of five little towns in northwest italy, right on the coast. They are super famous for being very pretty and for not being connected by roads. You can walk along a scary footpath etched into the side of the very steep mountain that takes several hours, or you can take a nice train between each one. I went with my friend Jason (aka Mr. Outdoorsman) yesterday and which one did we take? the footpath, of course.

We arrived in the furthest north (no. 5) of the five towns because the treck between that one and the next one is supposed to be the most difficult. And yeah, it was. We're talkin, steps made of rock that are as high as your knee. You spend most of the time out of breath. At first my very slight discomfort around heights was also a problem, but after about an hour you're just worried about whether your water will last you to the next town (it did). It was rough, but really fun pushing myself.

In the 4th town, (i should really learn their names, shouldn't i?), we were both starving and exhausted and decided to stop for lunch. Even at the most reasonably priced place, i ate one of the most expensive meals i've had in Italy. The grilled sword fish was 12 euro but worth every penny. Yes, Mom, I ate a fish! There were bones, but the non-bone part was really good. The pic above is town 4, the one on all the postcards. It may be called Vernazza. Look how far down it is- we had to walk that. We had to walk up that high too.

The trip between towns 4 and 3 wasn't as physically challenging as the other, but there was no shade and we did it in the heat of the day, which was awesome. But observe I have brought a bit of shade with me, in the form of a pretty purple hat. Thanks to this hat I am totally not sunburned on my face or ears (let's not discuss the neck or arms, shall we?).

I had to lean out a bit for Jason to take the picture, because the path wasn't wide enough for me to actually stand in front of him. Scary!

In town 3 there was pretty much nothing to do. It's up on a cliff way above the water so you have to work pretty hard to get down to it, and we were pretty tired by that point. We stopped in a bar and I ate a granita, which is basically frozen, flavored ice. Mine was lemon and was soooo good. My tummy felt cool for the rest of the day.

The path between 3 and 2 was much, much easier, though still kind of long. In town 2 we went down the boat ramp and stuck our feet in the water, but didn't take many pictures because we were afraid of falling in. We stopped for another snack and I got a bit of bread and nutella and Jason got foccacia with pesto. That region is supposed to be one of the best for pesto, and it was no lie.

The trek to town 1 was the easiest and shortest of them all, which almost seemed like a let-down. It's called the Via Dell'Amour and there are all these murals that people have graffitied over and benches positioned in such a way that you know they're meant for proposals. Cheesy! Ok, I loved it. Except that I was short a Dave, and romantic stuff just ain't romantic without your Dave.

There wasn't much to do in Riomaggiore, the first town, because it was about 6:30 and in these towns they roll up the sidewalks at 6. I didn't even get to buy any postcards because everything was closed. We took the train back to town 5, from which our train home would leave at 9. At this point there was pretty much nobody on the beach, so we went down on the horribly uncomfortable pebble beach and Jason swam while I, without a bathing suit, dipped my feet in the Mediterranean sea. Check em out:

The water was so clear and beautiful and cool, which felt awesome. After all that hiking in the sun I think I stank more than I've ever stunk before. At least on the way home my feet didn't stink (as much).

I was supposed to go to Siena today but didn't because I was so exhausted from yesterday. I got a few other sites off my list in Florence, and will try to go tomorrow after school.


At 7/23/2006 4:53 PM , Anonymous Mom said...

Nice flip flop tan on your feet. Did you hike in them, or wear boots and a skirt like the girl in Crocodile Dundee? (I always thought she was extrememly cool!)


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