Cinque Terre

I didn’t wear my watch today. I always wear my watch.

Cinque Terre is this magical land where time isn’t very important. Or perhaps I should say five magical lands. Cinque Terre (pronounced chin-kwe ter-ra) translates literally as “five earths”. The five earths are five small pastel coloured towns hugging the rugged coastline within walking distance from each other. As a UNESCO world heritage site, there’s no development allowed. This means no McDonalds, no chain hotels, nothing that didn’t belong in tiny seaside Italian villages 100 years ago. In other words: unspoiled perfection.

Main street Manarola
And it gets better. They’re in the district of Liguria, home of pesto, focaccia and limoncello.
Riomaggiore, where we’re staying, has a stone castello first recorded in the year 500, when it was already referred to as ancient.

It’s connected to Manarola by a 20 minute walk around a cliff trail called the Via Dell’Amore, or ‘lovers walk’. People write their initials all along the trail, and leave padlocks to seal their love for Cinque Terre. In Manarola we swam off the rocky swimming hole, and watched the daring locals jump from high rocks.

Hearts on the Via Dell’Amore
View of Manarola from the Via Dell’Amore
The third earth, Corniglia, is high on the cliff-top. Some big rocks fell recently, so the walk from Manarola is closed (unless you want to take the three hour detour). We walked up an unmarked street and found amazing gelato, then walked up an unmarked street, found an incredible panoramic vista and ate there.

The walk to the fourth earth, Vernazza, took us an hour and a half. But it was incredible. Paul complained a lot, naturally, but overall the walk was a highlight for me. Who wouldn’t enjoy a walk with amazing views and wild Mediterranean herbs growing between the rocks? Vernazza itself was beautiful. We enjoyed another swim, then walked up endless stairways for another panoramic view with our local pesto-based dinners.

View of Corniglia as you begin the walk to Vernazza
Corniglia from further away, and Manarola faintly in the distance
Approaching Vernazza
The place we had dinner in Vernazza
Vernazza just after sunset
We’d planned to take the boat home, partly to capture the views all over again from another angle. sadly, the last boat left hours earlier. So I guess we’ll have to come back to Cinque Terre! What a shame.

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