Cinque Terre - Wow! Wow! & Wow!
Sep 10, 2007
We just spent the week in the most awesome part of Italy.
The "Cinque Terre" (five hamlets) is located on the West coast of Italy north of Roma. The five hamlets are Monterosso (a true tourist town), Vernazza, Corniglia (pronounced Corenia as the person who wrote the town name down for the official record misspelled the name but the people refused to change how it was pronounced) Manarola (where we had a lovely apartment)and Riomarriore.
All the towns are small (biggest about 2,600 locals) Manarola about 1,500. No cars are allowed in the towns. There is parking for locals and tourist with clean air buses taking people to and from the parking lots. There are small delivery vehicles allowed to bring supplies into town. Only small fishing boats are allow to be in town, there were about 30 boats along the walk way to the bay next to the shops and restaurants.
The towns are built on the side of mountains that rise directly from the sea and are built one behind the other about four to five stories tall. right up the mountain with about five to eight buildings up the mountain and built from the sea to the curve in the mountain on the north slope. Our apartment was almost in the center of town halfway up and halfway to the sea. Yes we had a balcony with a VIEW you hope for. We looked north and could see Corniglia and Monterosso in the distance plus great views of the sea. We ate most of our meals on the balcony (and sorry folks for you who aren't have cool weather) the windows and balcony door were left open all night. We went to bed and got up with a mild surf splashing against the rocks. The mornings were bright about 7:00 AM but the sun didn't reach us until about 9.30. A tough life.
"The Cinque Terre was built over a thousand years by peasant farmers who transformed the steep cliffs into fertile terraces to grow excellent agricultural produce. The delicate balance between natural elements and human toil generated a unique landscape now a UNESCO World HERITAGE SITE."
With the apartment we were able to cook our won meals if we choose. We went shopping a the local market, a store with about 1,200 sq feet of space, having all the necessary items for a good meal. we spent about 60 euros for the week about $80 dollars and had 20 beans soup with ham and sausage, local wine (2), juice, fruits, etc, etc, plus we ate out a few times and had gelatos daily. Gelato is the tops in any ice cream. for those who have tasted Blue Bell ice cream, Gelato is about three steps above. It's quite addictive. Oh yes! did I mention the water in Italy shrinks your clothes really fast, especially around the waist line.
We enjoy a fun week traveling in the Cinque Terre area hiking, then by train and by ferry. There are specified trails which cost to hike on them to support the maintenance of the trails and the area. Then the local trains run to all the towns and are very efficient and fast. The longest wait was about 40 minutes at midday but early morning and late afternoon the trains are as close a 5 minutes apart. Plus you have freight and transit trains on the same tracks. The train will be scheduled to arrive at 10:30 and depart at 10:31 in these small towns (and throughout Italy) this sounds crazy, however people get off and the new people get on and off we go - on time.
The south slopes of the mountains are terraced to plant gardens, olive trees & vineyards. It took many centuries to build what is there today. The people still produce enough grapes to have a co-op to make wine, lemon liquor, and olive oil, all sold locally. When the grapes are harvested the workers may be 1\2 mile from a road and half way down the mountain, so they have mono-rail clog train at certain intervals that go from the bottom vineyard to the top. The workers load about 8 baskets onto the train and a driver takes them to the closest drop off point.
The workmen in the towns are covering the concrete walks and steps with the flat stones quarried in the area. to get the material up the steep walks and steps they use a small cart powered with a small gas engine and have rubber caterpillar treads to keep from damaging the walks.
A rap up. We met several friends this past week, Julie and her sister Nina Marie from Denmark, a lovely pair. We bought them - yes a gelato- as we were finishing our walk to Corniglia. They invited us to Denmark to stay with the family or at their home on an island. Then on Tuesday we set next to Tori, Katie and Anna (three young ladies from Oregon)at the restaurant and invited them to have breakfast with us on Thursday. They were stating in a hostel and truly welcomed and enjoyed the breakfast of eggs, ham juice, bread and jam. (Anna is working, teaching and studying the culture and language in Slovenia for the past three years) Tori and Katie came for a visit and vacation.
Well, enough for now- Sorry no pictures; as bad as I want you to see the wonderful, exciting and grand pictures encased in our camera.
Love to all,
George & Kay