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It's time to walk along the Cinque Terre


For too long we've been dozing off in front of American sitcom reruns and planning to get to this someday, but since everybody we know (except for Fred) says that this is the loveliest walk in the world, we're going to do it at least once before we get pensioned off to the next planet.

Kristin has been here many times, of course, and directs us by rail from Lausanne (via Milan and Genoa, roughly six hours) into Sestri Levante, a village of about 20,000 souls a little ways up the Ligurian coast of Italy, as a jumping-off place for the Cinque Terre, because it's so beautiful, in the off-season anyway, and handy.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

That's the very nice Hotel Due Mari (centre), tempting, as we haven't found anything else yet. There's Kristin looking for alternatives, but this is the way-way-off-season, everything else is closed, so the Due Mari it is then. We're here on 2 February 2007 (World Wetlands Day).

The Due Mari hotel is a lovely place, well out onto the promontory, with very comfortable rooms, and a range of prices. Of course, it's got all kinds of other attractions, like swimming pool, spa, sauna, gym, and what not, which we care about not at all.

Some views of the hotel interior -- lots of interesting artefacts and a chandelier apparently made out of Coca Cola bottles. The in-house restaurant, which we avoided for a few days because of the bright lights and fancy delicate glassware and aged Maître who takes your order and passes it on to the perfectly competent waiter standing next to him, turned out to be the best and least expensive restaurant we found in a long weekend.

Here's a view from our hotel window back into the main part of town.

And another view, just below our window into the Bay of Silence (Baia del Silenzio). The port and marina is on the other side of this narrow promontory, and presumably that's less silent over that way.

Kristin with the Bay of Silence behind, hopefully picking up tips.

The hotel room in Due Mari had a perfectly suitable television tuned to all manner of horrible frantic Italian TV game shows, but we've brought along a cheap DVD player so that, in the evenings, we can wire it up and watch episodes of the BBC's addictive three-season television series from the late 1980s, Wish Me Luck, about female British spies with the Resistance movement in France in 1944.

Unluckily, I forgot to bring the DVD player's remote control (we blame George W Bush for that), and so we had to start it at the beginning each evening and carefully time how long we dallied over our pasta and squid in order to get back just as the next episode was starting up.

Due Mari as we're walking up the hill on our last day, towards the castle (which turned out to be owned by capitalist pigs and thus inaccessible).

The Bay of Silence at Sestri Levante

The other side of the promontory, the Baia delle Favole (Bay of Fairy Tales (Hans Christian Andersen lived here for a time.)).

Yes, it's true, Hans Christian Andersen lived here long ago, and to this day the schoolchildren paint the railway station walls with his fairy tales -- here, the Emperor's New Clothes.

Across the Bay of Silence to the promontory of Sestri Levante, with the castle hidden behind its capitalist gates.

The Bay of Silence, February 2007

The "castle", now an expensive hotel. Maybe it's a real castle, maybe it's a Disneyland 1994 knock-off -- who can tell from the outside? When you keep people out, you keep the truth in.

The narrow promontory of Sestri Levante. The obvious alley left-of-centre between the buildings is the Via H. C. Andersen. The alley on the far left is, believe it or not, the Via George Byron.

Here it was that, late on a Sunday afternoon, Kristin was able to sneak into the back of a closed restaurant and talk the cooks into selling us a bottle of wine and three big bottles of Birra Moretti, thus saving our lives once again.

This is not the first time that Birra Moretti has made our visits to Italy much more pleasant.

The Hotel Due Mari is just through that alley on the right.

The narrator at the Bay of Silence. Kristin is in this photograph, too, can you tell where?

A pleasant early February on the beach, in the era of Mr Bush's Global Warming

Sestri Levante from the far end of the peninsula

Kristin waiting for the bus. The bus doesn't run here anymore.

A last look at the Due Mari hotel as we head up the mule teams and move them out to Switzerland again

Sestri Levante, as we march reluctantly to the rail station

Lovely town, and oh! the squid! To die for!

Sestri Levante, 5 February 2007

We came here for the hiking, all along the Cinque Terre, so let's get on with it.

Sestri Levante, 2-5 February 2007

Cinque Terre 1: Riomaggiore to Corniglia

Cinque Terre 2: Corniglia to Monterossa

Portofino walk


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 12 February 2007, revised 2 February 2008, 9 September 2013.


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