It’s early days here, but I’m going to jump right in and say that Cinque Terre was my favourite part of the holiday. Weather? Perfect. Food? Delicious*. Accomodation? Wonderful.
*On our first night in La Spezia, the harbour town just above Cinque Terre, we went to a restaurant that served us reheated portions of frozen pasta for dinner. At least our Aperol Spritzers were legitimate and delicious.
We stayed in La Spezia, in the Grand Hostel Manin, for anyone interested in going. I would really recommend this place – the receptionist was so lovely and it was a really comfortable and affordable place. Only 20 minutes from the main station and 5 minutes from the harbour, which is beautiful at sunset. We got to the train station at 9am on Sunday morning and it was already crawling with people. I think we waited over 25 minutes to buy our day pass! The whole day was a series of packed trains, platforms and streets alike… I would never go to Cinque Terre in summer. Good luck to anyone that does.
Busyness aside, the place was amazing. We walked (struggled, stumbled, sweated) from Riomaggorie to Manarola. It took us an hour of insane stairs up and then down the hill that separates the two towns. The views were incredible, so it helped to distract us a bit from the struggle. But man… we took the trains for the rest of the day.
The second town was probably my favourite. We sat on the rocks for some time, wandered around, and had a delicious lunch of vegetarian spaghetti and fried calamari (Jenna’s first time trying it!). The atmosphere was so lovely – I fell in love with the pink and yellow houses and all the tiny alleys between them.
We hopped on a quick train to Corniglia, which was higher up on the cliff. This meant more stairs (!!!!!!) and no little beach area like the others, but it made up for it with the most amazing views. We grabbed our first gelato of the trip here (I got mango and coconut and it was perfect), and ate them on some steps, watching the busy flow of people through the street.
Number four: Vernazza. So pretty and picturesque. We sat for a while just people watching and soaking up the late afternoon sun. As always, it was great fun watching all the children get their clothes soaking wet and proceed to run away from cranky parents.
The fifth village, Monterosso al Mare, was far calmer. It was less compact than the others and its main feature was a long promenade and a stretch of beach which was full of people. We didn’t stay at this one long, just sat on the pier for a while to soak it in.
Lastly we returned to Riomaggorie, which we hadn’t even walked around when we arrived. It was very quaint, with a main cobblestone street running through the middle up the hill. We walked to the top, past some houses to an opening which gave us an unobstructed view of the sun setting over the water. After going back to buy a cheeky Margherita pizza, we sat on the steps above the kids park and lemon trees and ate our dinner. It was the perfect way to end our day.
When we returned to La Spezia we wandered on to the harbour and was greeted with this exquisite view – the photo doesn’t give it justice. The colours were so amazing and just get a load of those mountains in the back. Fab.
We walked along the harbour promenade the next morning and got some more gelato before grabbing our stuff and heading off to lean on some towers…