This is my second and final post on Cinque Terre… for now that is (until I return again ;o) so I wanted to share a few more thoughts on this magical place. Yes my favorite of the five peninsulas indeed is Riomaggiore. No question. But I was recently asked why I love Cinque Terre in general. What is it about Italy’s rocky west edge that you love so much?… In short, I love its color, character, old-world charm- interacting with fishermen that are 60 & up is always a good time, and it’s food!… The food is a cloud nine all of it’s own. Cinque Terre is a pleasure center for all of the senses, so much so that it is most important, when you get there, to allow them to lead you. It is the best place to simply walk, eat, drink, be still and be merry. Don’t think too much, just be. It’s the Italian way and it’s ever so present in this small slice of Europe. Don’t fight it. Just be.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
1. Take the hike around each of the peninsulas- “Sentiero Azzurro.” This walk will lead you into each town, its small mom-&-pops, a wide variety of cliff-dwelling seafood-serving restaurants with wine and coffee stops everywhere. You may even be invited into someone’s home for an espresso break. For example, meet Michaelangelo (below)- a seafaring fisherman and Cinque Terre native. When we stopped at his doorstep to announce an over-exuberant “Ciao!,” he immediately invited us in, served us an espresso and gave us a tour of his recently refurbished home, complete with roof-top garden, where one can while away the hours pruning or catching-up with the locals (practically everyone has a roof-top garden, it’s awesome). The nature of the five peninsulas is one of calm, beauty and socializing. Each town is so different, explore them all. Ditch the car and be sure to say hello to everyone.
The five peninsulas are:
2. Make sure to walk to the tip-top of every town. Same principles as the above paragraph apply here. I’d also like to add that the higher you go, the more history appears to pop out from random alley-ways to bitch-slap you in the face. History is around every corner and when you least expect it. Do it. Get lost. If you get tired, take a break, have an espresso, write about it, and then walk again.
3. Sit in a church. Ridiculous? Boring? No way. Find an old church and sit in it, take it in, pretend your one of Anne Rice’s sex-crazed vampires… I don’t care what you do but sit, let your imagination go, write about it and then go get an espresso. Are you catching on yet?
4. Find a cozy spot and watch the sun set. Cinque Terre has some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. They’re mind blowing, like melted crayons and rebellious watercolors. Whether you’re with a companion, your camera, or just a glass of wine- make sure to watch it, without movement, without words, just once. You’ll forget to breathe, it’s that good. Then shoot the hell out of it the next day.
This was a self-portrait I took during one of our many sunsets. Above: my view from the train tracks, below: my reflection, with Joe to my left, in the neighboring window.
5. Take the train back. Since you’ve now experienced the walk, wine and dined to your hearts content and watched the sun slip into night, it’s always reassuring to know that you can hop on the local train to get back. You can meet many locals there as well and the price per ticket is very reasonable.
That’s it. It’s that simple- walk , eat, drink, be still, be merry…. and then repeat. Giuseppe Verdi said it best,
“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”