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Cinque Terre Revisited

03 October, 2016

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Panorama photo Old Monterosso    Classic Vernazza

It’s so good to be back at Cinque Terre – but everyone else in the world had the same idea! Tourism is thriving in Italy. The crowds at Venice and Cinque have been amazing and with plenty of Aussies here too. We managed to head deep into Venice and down to the Giardini and Arsenale where the crowds tend to not venture and found some incredible places avoiding the crowds, but here in Cinque it’s harder to escape the madding crowd so to speak because it’s just too small. When you’re hiking on a very narrow path and you have to let people pass and there’s a steep drop down, it isn’t easy! It is certainly much busier than the first time we came here.

Yesterday we did the less travelled path between Volastra and Corniglia. We caught the train from Monterosso to Manarola and then a local bus up to Volastra (1.5 euro from the Cinque Terre Tourist office rather than 2.5 euro if you buy it from the driver). The views are spectacular up at the top of this walk…….in fact breath-taking and the changes in types of trees wonderful. Olives, figs, lemons and plenty of grapes in the initial part of the walk, transitioning into cypress trees giving wonderful shade just when you need it to cool down.

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And suddenly there was shade- cypress pines made it feel cool and shady

The climb down to Corniglia was very steep and rocky (I can’t remember that it was quite as difficult the last time we did this) and again my trusty sticks saved the day. I’ve decided my quads must be in pretty good nick giving my knee lots of stability on those great big downward steps. I have to say that Bob is faring very well with his new hip – it’s holding up brilliantly. When we arrived in Corniglia there was a threat of rain and I didn’t want to tackle any more walking as these tracks would be quite difficult in the wet, so we caught the train back to Monterosso.

We decided to try the restaurant that Rick Steves recommended on his show on Monterosso called Miky. We got the last table available and sitting in the front outside but under cover on a wet evening, we sat next to a couple from Melbourne who were having their first visit to Italy to meet the husband’s extended Italian family. It’s funny how you instinctively start chatting when in restaurants overseas, when you hear an Aussie accent. We started looking at each others meals and comparing whose dessert was better (my pineapple creme brulee definitely won I think!)

Things to remember:

  • Buy your train tickets in advance because the ticket machines take time to master;
  • There are huge crowds trying to organise Cinque Terre hiking passes which you can buy for one, two or three days which include hiking through the region and unlimited train travel also -the best part about this is not so much the special prices, but just having the tickets pre-purchased so no lining up to buy them;
  • The individual day passes for Cinque Terre and no train travel is 7.50 euros; travel to most of the towns is 4 euros per person one way; the walk from Volastra to Corniglia is free.
  • Always remember to put your train ticket through the machine to validate it, which date stamps the ticket- there apparently can be big fines for not doing that;
  • There are virtually no public toilets (the one at the ferry at Monterosso was closed because the lady who mans it couldn’t make it there with the train strike- so thousands of people trying to catch ferries and the toilets were locked……)
  • All the cafes allow you to use their toilets if you buy a drink (frizzante water often is 1 euro);
  • Sometimes these walks are too hard for some people – we saw some who were struggling and it can be quite dangerous, so do assess your fitness – there is a lot of up for some of the walks but mostly it’s the down that can be difficult with dodgy knees and balance.
  • Try the Walk to Sestri Levante leaving from the other end of Monterosso near the beach – it is 3 hours and you would need to catch a train back after. (It would appear that it’s free).
  • Most restaurants in Italy have a service charge which can vary from 1.5 euro to 5 euro each which routinely includes a basket of bread. Even if you’re starving control the impulse to fill up on bread as you may not have room for Tiramisu 🙂
  • At all the beaches the hire of 2 lounges and an umbrella is between 15 and 18 euro which also includes use of the bathroom facilities (toilet and shower). Spritzer 4-5 euros, Birre 3.5 euros, Pina Colada 6 euros.

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Beach Monterosso

It’s a tough gig but someone’s got to do it.

Milan and then home and seriously back to work.

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