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.
settled into Sestri Levante nicely on World Wetlands
Day and here, at long last, we are, on 3 February
2007, a lovely warm summer's day, though in February. We're starting in Riomaggiore
at the southeast end of the Cinque Terre walk, on the rail line between Sestri
Levante and La Spezia on the coast of Liguria. We're using the Carta dei Sentieri
1:20,000 map # 42: "Parco nazionale 5 Terre" (though a good map is not
entirely necessary here -- just follow the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Walk)).
rises precipitously from the rail station, like all of the five villages, but
to see the main part of it we trot off in the wrong direction through a pedestrian
tunnel alongside the rail line and start up from here into the main part of the
lovely town is straight up and down, so to get the best vantage on it we're going
to have to delay the day's hike and clamber up these vertical alleys for a ways.
good while later, we're still heading for the upper part of the village. And trying
to imagine what it would be like to be carrying home the weekly shopping here.
(photo right) Still a ways to go!
a little look-out part the way up, Riomaggiore has a kind of beehivey look to
quick look, gasping to catch our breath, out to sea.
view farther along the coast southwestward (we're not going that way) (luckily).
that's done (and our day's hike hasn't begun yet). We're up by this little fortress,
or whatever it is, and looking down on Riomaggiore built up in this little ravine
yonks ago, and . . .
we turn to reconnoître our line of march to view the rail station below
us and the first part of the Sentiero Azzurro, a stretch called the Via dell'Amore
("Lovers' Lane"). Uh-oh! Well, okay.
that heavy-duty "cultural landscaping" there, i.e., terraces for olives
from time immemorial.
you're following along with us, bring five Euros per person for this part of the
walk -- it's a toll road. This elaborate gallery keeps the boulders off your head
and sheds a little light into the train tunnel just below the walking trail.
Via dell'Amore, beautiful but not entirely a natural sort of wild beauty. The
two young women up ahead were discussing Noel Gallagher of the band Oasis in English
agreed to slow down a bit and let the Oasis fans gain some ground on us.
20 minutes later, "Lovers' Lane" leads us to Town II, Manarola, stuck
up there around that rock, with the rail line passing just below us down to the
Manarola, a few minutes spent sprinting up the crowded main street to get a quick
feel for the town, as Kristin . . .
. . loiters about outside the ristorante with meaningful glances.
Manarola, seen from Lower Manarola
land of big rowing-boats littering the main street. Fishing boats are not included
in Ken Livingstone's congestion tax for London either.
of Manarola and its hanging laundry (for the moment), let's go on a ways (and
then come back)
walking path out of Manarola along the top, and the harbor, such as it is, below.
We didn't have to do this, really, as the path, in fact the whole hillside farther
on, had been cut off by a landslide, and we were meant either to hike straight
up seven vertical kilometres to get around the top of it or take the bus, for
unaware of these trials to come, however, we're just wondering what life is like
for people living deep inside this living, breathing constructed landscape. Always
wondering when you're going to join all your neighbors in a pile at the
bottom of the hill.
Manarola, looking back from farther along the trail.
Kristin waiting reasonably patiently for the stragglers in the party
view of Manarola, as we pass out of sight on the broken trail northward
trail northward from Manarola, broken (as has been said) somewhere in the distance
there, on the way to
Town III, Corniglia
Barbed wire blocking off the path ahead. So now we're on our way back towards
Town II, and getting hungry already.
Manarola. We're back! Break out the panini.
storming into Manarola, not pleased about this delay before we've got more than
20 minutes into the day's hike. But ready for panini.
good panino with capres will make us feel better about everything, as we await
the hourly train to convey us onward to Town III, Corniglia.