Have you ever rewatched a movie you loved as a kid?
It’s usually a mistake. The sets are cardboard; the acting wooden. Your bubble of joyous memories is deflated by the poorly-written, laborious reality.
So, by that logic, is it a mistake for a traveller to revisit one of their favourite places?
I was afraid to find out, as I planned a return to Cinque Terre, Italy; the place I always name whenever someone queries my favourite place from my travels.
When I visited five years ago, I called it “a magical land where time isn’t important”.
How can anywhere possibly live up to that kind of rose-tinted memory?
And yet, somehow, incredibly, this particular place did.
There were more people, more tourist-focused stores, and the adorable little Via dell’Amore connecting Riomaggiore to Manarola was closed.
But I didn’t care.
The cliffs were still spectacular. The houses still seemed improbably stacked. The colours improbably vibrant.
There’s just something about these five tiny towns on the Ligurian coast that I find mesmerising.
Both exploring the towns, and walking the coastal routes that connect them.
When you do anything a second time, you always hope you’ll discover something new. And I absolutely did in Cinque Terre. For what it’s worth, this is my new top 5.
5. Get out on the water (last time, my one regret was leaving it too late to travel back by boat – I’m glad I was able to rectify that).
4. A Pie’ de Ma’ restaurant – a beautiful place to spend my birthday, with incredible food and a ridiculous view over the Mediterranean.
3. The walk from Vernazza to Monterosso
2. Jumping into the water from the rocks at Manarola
1. Watching the colours of Manarola change at sunset from the point
I would still tread with caution, revisiting a treasured place. And I’ll always advocate trying somewhere new before retracing old steps.
But, if your favourite place is somewhere as special as Cinque Terre, returning is nothing to fear.