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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.

Cinque Terre 1: Riomaggiore to Corniglia

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.

We've 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)).

Riomaggiore 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 town.

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.

Kristin leading the way, of course, we're heading for the upper part of Riomaggiore. (When you follow Kristin darting quickly through tiny Italian alleyways, you get a lively recollection of watching Donald Sutherland pursuing the Red Raincoat through the back streets of Venice in the classic Nicolas Roeg film "Don't Look Now".)

A 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!

From a little look-out part the way up, Riomaggiore has a kind of beehivey look to it.

A quick look, gasping to catch our breath, out to sea.

A view farther along the coast southwestward (we're not going that way) (luckily).

Well, 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.

Note that heavy-duty "cultural landscaping" there, i.e., terraces for olives from time immemorial.

If 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.

The 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 very animatedly.

We're agreed to slow down a bit and let the Oasis fans gain some ground on us.

Not 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 left.

In 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.

Upper Manarola, seen from Lower Manarola

Manarola, land of big rowing-boats littering the main street. Fishing boats are not included in Ken Livingstone's congestion tax for London either.

Enough of Manarola and its hanging laundry (for the moment), let's go on a ways (and then come back)

The 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 free.

Still 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.

That's Manarola, looking back from farther along the trail.

That's Kristin waiting reasonably patiently for the stragglers in the party

Another view of Manarola, as we pass out of sight on the broken trail northward

The trail northward from Manarola, broken (as has been said) somewhere in the distance there, on the way to
Town III, Corniglia

Whoops! Barbed wire blocking off the path ahead. So now we're on our way back towards Town II, and getting hungry already.

Hello, Manarola. We're back! Break out the panini.

Kristin 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.

A 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.

Meet us there.

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 18 February 2007, revised 26 September 2013.


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