easter weekend in le cinque terre. quite possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth. italy just keeps getting better and better.
arrived in la spezia around 11pm on friday night, taxied to our hostel, located up in the mountainside. thought we were all going to die friday night, as the taxi ride took us through remote, winding, dimly lit streets up to a surprisingly delightful village overlooking the small city of la spezia. arrived safely to a clean hostel room. then had one of the best night of sleep in a long long while.
packed ourselves like sardines into a shuttle which took us to the first town of le cinque terre, riomaggiore. side note: le cinque terre means the five lands. from riomaggiore we bought a 2 day pass that allowed us to hike through all 5 towns, unlimited access to the trains and shuttle bus. we set out to hike from riomaggiore to manarola on a path called la via dell'amore. a beautiful paved coastal path that winds along the seaside cliffs. fairly easy walk, beautiful view.
we arrived in manarola, a very small town, but filled with little shops full of hand-painted pottery and hand-crafted jewelery. i begin to take note that the people of le cinque terre are very into cats, as there are cat statues everywhere, and most things have paintings of cats on them. also, if you turn around chances are you'll find a real cat right in front of you.
hiked to corniglia, the 3rd town. hike got slightly more difficult. climbed 365 steps. had lunch in corniglia at a delicious take-out places called la gata flora (the flower cat... again, you notice a trend). i got homemade focaccia bread with tomato (le cinque terre is home to the original pesto and focaccia bread). since corniglia was very small, we decided to move on to the next town...
the treck to vernazza was MUCH more difficult than the previous 2. terrain got a lot rougher, no more paved roads. a lot of up hill. vernazza was well worth the hike. a beautiful beach town with a gorgeous view of the ocean, lots of outdoor seating. i tried a pastry called occhi di bue (eye of the bull/bull's eye). i bought a gift for a friend as well as some homemade pesto to bring home to my family. by the time we finished up in vernazza, we were thinking maybe we'd save the last town for sunday. so we took the train back to riomaggiore and caught the shuttle bus back to la spezia. the original plan was to shower and then head back into le cinque terre for dinner, but some train confusion led us to missing most of the trains back into le cinque terre. desperate for dinner, we ate at a seafood join in la spezia. i had pasta with pesto, naturally.
easter sunday, buona pasqua! while most of my friends went to church in riomaggiore, my roommate jess and i (the heathens) opted to walk around the towns a bit more and relax. we train hopped and tried new foods in each town. we played card games by the ocean, shared a pizza and sampled the local wine. met up with some friends later that day to complete the final hike from vernazza to the 5th town, monterossa. this last trail was obscene. it took us about an hour and a half, and the first portion of it was entirely uphill, and all steps. i must have climbed at least 1,000 steps this weekend. although at certain points of the hike i wanted to throw myself over the side of the mountain, we endured. monterossa was the biggest and most beautiful of the 5 towns. we met up with the rest of our friends at an american bar and shared a celebratory bottle of wine.
after some relaxation, we trained back to riomaggiore for easter dinner. we booked a reservation at a really nice restaurant, and had a delicious dinner together, all 10 of us. we sampled a bit of the "night life" back in monterossa. we shared some pitchers of beer in a local pub and played some card games for the majority of the night. around 11:30, we headed back to la spezia for a good nights sleep.
today, after a cappuccino and time spent in the sun, we headed back to arezzo, bringing us back into town around 7pm. grabbed falafel for dinner, and reminded myself how good it feels to be back somewhere familiar.