Years ago, I saw some random program on the Travel Channel that featured panoramic images of a breathtaking place in Italy called the Cinque Terre (meaning ‘the five lands’) and I distinctly remember thinking, “I have to go there someday.” However, as the years passed, I all but forgot about it.
When ruminating over where to take our vacation, Alastair and I stumbled upon Italy for a number of reasons. We didn’t want to travel very far from London; we wanted to go someplace new to both of us; we found very reasonable flights; Italy was suggested as an excellent place to visit in the month of October; we wanted a place to enjoy the outdoors and also experience some culture.
Once we decided on the country and began to plan the trip, a flicker of a memory sparked in my mind about that travel program and the beautiful area on the coast connecting five fishing towns. To be honest, I couldn’t even remember if the place was in Italy or another Mediterranean country. Just a little research later, and I was determined where we would be spending, at least a portion, of our Italian holiday.
Leaving Bologna, we first took a high speed train, then a regional train to arrive at the Italian Riviera, where the coastline of the Ligurian Sea was beckoning our names.
The Cinque Terre is an exceptional place. The five fishing villages are studded into the coast and connected by train, boat, and walking/hiking paths.
We stayed in Manarola, which is the second smallest of the five villages. It had so much charm and was more lovely than I could’ve imagined. The view from the balcony of our room had terraced hillside on one end and the sea on the other.
The town is built steeply into the hillside so our legs were burning everywhere we went.
Pesto is originally from Liguria and focaccia is the traditional bread. Each morning we would wake up to a plate of fresh, local focaccia and perfectly constructed cappuccinos. There is fresh seafood in much of the local cuisine and plenty of olives, grapes and lemons.
Much of the area is protected as a National Park and includes many hiking trails. We spent our days exploring different paths that led us to the other five villages.
After a long day of walking, a long soak in the sea cured anything.
In only the handful of days we were there, the small town of Manarola became dear to us and we quickly felt almost like locals, calling it ‘Our Town.’
Leaving was bittersweet as we journeyed, by high speed train, to our last stop in Italy…Rome.