Thursday, 14 March 2013

European Road Trip Day 8 - Cinque Terre (Wednesday 6th June)

Next morning, we had breakfast in the gorgeous dining room, and were fussed over by Marta, who owns the house. She was very keen for us to have her freshly fried salty doughnut things! Interesting!
Later, we received the following review on the website we booked through, from Marta:
'Scott Cryer e la sua numerosa famiglia sono stati ospiti speciali molto educati, i ragazzi non hanno fatto rumore e hanno lasciato camere molto ordinate. Tutta la famiglia ha apprezzato con entusiasmo la mia ricca colazione!!!! spero di riaverli come ospiti di Marta Guest House !!!!! ciao arrivederci'.
(Scott Cryer and his large family were special guests very polite, the boys do not have noise and left very tidy rooms. The whole family enjoyed with enthusiasm my hearty breakfast!! I hope to have them as guests of Marta Guest House!!)

After that we drove to our next apartment in a little village near the Cinque Terre, on the Italian Riviera, called Fortuna.
It is really up in the hills, along hilarious roads - so narrow and winding, and this was the (typical) view from where we first parked the car when we were trying to find our apartment.
We parked near this blue truck (of which there are loads around - they are fab!! Three wheels - on these crazy steep, twisting roads, and handle bars instead of a steering wheel!), while Scott went for a look around. He came back when he had found our apartment. No-one was there yet, but we all went and had a look at it.
Lots of funny little alleyways to get there...
The terrace garden of our apartment! It was wonderful!!
We drove down into the town of Levanto, and parked next to the train station (more excellent dinky Italian cars!!) and got tickets for the train, to stop off at all the Cinque Terre towns.
We caught the train to the furthest away town first - Riomaggiore. We walked through a tunnel with the walls all covered in mosaics to get to the town, and then wandered down to the little harbour area.
The Cinque Terre is famous for its jumbled colourful houses, built on the rugged, steep landscape, next to the sea.
We walked from Riomaggiore to the next town along (and the most well recognised), Manarola. The path is called the Via Dell'Amore ('Love Walk').
I was just so happy to be in Manarola, and seeing the views I have seen in so many pictures! I went for a little walk on my own and took some photos, while Scott and the kids stayed by the water, and played with toy cars.
We then waited at Manarola station for a little bit, and got the train to the middle town - Corniglia. Each town has a different atmosphere, and Corniglia is more old fashioned and traditional. We had to climb a tonne of steps up from the station into the town, and rewarded ourselves with gelato.
We found a great terrace which overlooked the sea. (I totally loved seeing the lemon trees growing everywhere too!)
Back down the steps...
We then had a while to wait for the train to Vernazza. We walked through the town a bit, and found the footpath to the last town, Monterosso. We knew it was a long walk (1.5 to 2 hours) and debated whether or not to do it, but decided we might as well do Cinque Terre properly! (We couldn't walk between the middle 3 towns because the foot paths were still out of action, following torrential rains and mudslides in October 2011, which caused loads of damage.)
Looking back down on Vernazza.
Some of the damage from the 2011 mudslides. It was weird to see everything just left in what remains of this home.
The path was so steep for quite a while, and it was really hot, sweaty work! The weather was sometimes sunny, sometimes a bit cloudy, but always very warm. We loved the walk though - up round the mountainside, through vineyards and trees, over streams, and overlooking the sea. The paths were rocky and dusty, with cacti here and there. I felt so happy to feel so Mediterranean!
We were happy to find this little pool at one point, and stop to dip our feet!
 Monterosso finally in sight, through the vineyards!
We all felt tired, but very cheerful when we arrived at Monterosso (Harry had run most of the way, I think!) We walked along the sea front, then chose a restaurant for tea, which was kind of on a large balcony over the beach. Everyone in high spirits!
Afterwards we had time for a quick play on the beach.
Within about 2 minutes of me saying 'don't get wet' (because we still had to travel back to Levanto by train), a big wave had come in, taking Jack by surprise, and soaking him up to the waist...
From Levanto station, we drove back up the winding hill roads to our apartment. An Italian guy called Fabio let us in and showed us round it. We chatted quite a bit - he was really nice, and lived there too - the entrance area to the apartment was kind of his living room/kitchen, and he had the room next to the bedroom upstairs which Harry and I shared.
Our places to stay just keep getting better and better!! Outside the apartment was a covered-over patio area (which Fabio later lit up with candles), and terraced gardens, just opening out into the valley. Through an open air atrium bit was our apartment, with kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, and up a spiral staircase was our other room and bathroom. The views out of every window were wonderful! We were close by some fabulous old buildings, and nothing was on the same level, with stairways and landings and walkways all over the place, and oranges growing in pots.
I got Harry to bed, and went and sat out on the balcony in this chair, and wrote my journal. Here is a bit of what I wrote, which brings back how wonderful the place was.
''I think I am sitting in one of the most heavenly places ever... grapevines are curling round the railings next to me, and bright red geraniums, and I am overlooking a beautiful wooded valley (which on the other side of, is the Cinque Terre and the sea.) There are still blue skies, and I can hear nothing but birds singing, and the air smells sweet. Nearby I can see fig trees, olive trees, more grapevines, and I can smell the climbing roses and jamine... This truly is a place I could come back to, I love this balcony so much... I wish I could somehow capture this view, and this contentedness... this scented air and beauty, always.''
Later, Fabio also left a review for us, on the website we booked through:
'Only few moments for understand the good and educate family they are. 4 kids very polite. Well Done! Ciao.'

1 comment:

Ryann said...

Love your discription of Cinque Terra. It is one of the most beautiful places in Italy to be sure!