We began our journey to discover these five wonderful waterfront villages at the base of the northern most town - Monterosso. We were warned that the hiking trail from Monterosso to Vernazza is the most challenging of the four trails that link these villages. Turns out all that walking in Rome was a cakewalk compared to this hike!
We started off quite chatty, until we realized we needed every bit of air to muster enough energy to make it! We knew our young and fit Aussie friends (who we met on the train ride here) would quickly pass us, but we didn't expect the older Germans with their rucksacks and hiking sticks to fly right by us. I know that old German said "mi scuzi" in a quite guttural Italian accent when he passed me, but his eyes clearly said "get out of my way, slow American!"
The hike and hundreds of cobbled steps up the side of this mountain was worth it, even if we thought we were dying at several points along the way! The views were simply amazing. Here's one of many breathtaking photos - this is looking back at Monterosso.
We were saddened to learn that two of the four trails are still closed due to the terrible flooding disaster from last October. Vernazza was hit the worst and, sadly, is still rebuilding and recovering.
We hopped on a train in Vernazza and took it to the most southern town, Riomaggiore. We enjoyed a great Focaccia pizza in the warm sun before starting the second and only remaining trail open – Via Dell’ Amore (lovers walk) – to Manarola. In stark contrast to the first trail, this hike takes you on a leisurely path along the edge of the mountain with the beautiful sea below (yes that’s us kissing at the start of the trail).
Once we reached Manarola, we stopped for gelato and walked the steep and narrow streets of this lovely town. We then rode the train to Corniglia, which is perched atop a cliff overlooking the sea - the highest of all five towns. This photo is of Manarola from the walls in Corniglia.
We ended our journey with a train ride back to Monterosso, so pleased that we spent time in each of these lovely towns.
I must mention dinner before ending this post. We dined at Via Venti Trattoria and I had the most amazing pasta dish ever! Everything was incredible, but the pasta stuffed with pear and cheese with wine and butter sauce was to die for! Layers of flavor so pure and fresh!
We have several options in mind for tomorrow, but we haven't decided yet what we're doing. It's a mystery! Ciao!