A few days before I got to Genoa I happen to check out a Travel Channel article I remembered I saved called “21 Most Awe Inspiring Places”. I noticed there was one in Italy, so I started doing some research and figured out it was 50 miles or so from Genoa. At that time I started working on a plan to go see it and am I glad I did.
Cinque Terre means 5 lands, due to there being 5 towns, and is an area of the Italian coast that has very steep and rugged hills and cliffs right to the water. These towns have been around since the 11th century and over the last 1000 years the hillsides have been extensively terraced to cultivate grapes and olives. Until recently the only way in or out was hiking a trail connecting the towns or by boat.
I took the train to the northern town of Monterosso in order to start hiking south. When I got off at the train station there were 30+ people getting on and for some reason they all wanted to get on at one spot instead of using the other doors. The conductor started blowing her whistle and was getting frustrated at the people for not using the other doors. I just stepped to the side to let them all get by and laughed to myself watching the spectacle. It was at this time I met Erin and Andrea laughing also. This was a lucky break for me, because we ended up spending the day together, which enhanced my experience throughout the day.
Once we figured out what passes we needed and where to start the hike, we got going. The first hike was 90 minutes with lots of vertical. At one time we had so many stairs I was sure this was the location of the Led Zeppelin song. Just when we were questioning our sanity we topped the hill and had a breathtaking view of the second town called Vernazza. This was my favorite town of the five and we decided to have lunch here. I got the local pasta with a pesto sauce, which is originally from this area. Afterwards we did a second hike of about the same distance and roughness to visit Corniglia and get wine and gelato. From here the trails a closed due to landslides in 2011, so we took the train to Manarola. Here they have a very short, nice walk through a vineyard and a really cool harbor/swimming hole. The last town of Riomaggiore was visible just on the other side of the train tunnel, but I am told you can do a 2.5 hour hike or a minute train ride. Guess which we chose?
The appeal of Cinque Terre is the lack of corporate development and the monumental task of the terraces along with the nice, if not tiring, hiking.