Cinque Terra

Lyn & I wanted to get to the area of Cinque Terra before the hot weather (and masses of tourists) arrive, so we had originally planned to do this over the Easter break.
Due to the "La Pasque"celebrations in Florence on Easter Sunday, we decided to defer our trip by one week. This worked out very well as the weather over Easter was quite cool, whereas the day we went to the Cinque Terra was absolutely perfect (sunny, a light breeze and mirror-like sea conditions).

We left Florence at 7:15am on a tour bus (Florence for Fun; cost 45 euros each) and it took 3hrs to get to the 2nd most-southerly town in the Cinque Terra (Manarola) travelling via La Spezia which is the entry point to the Cinque Terra National Park.
The tours do not go to the 1st town (Riomaggiore) as the access is too difficult for large groups of people.

We were dropped at the car park just above Manarola and we had to walk down into the town along the side of a small river - the paths are very steep and there is no access for vehicles.

The town sits in a natural ravine and the houses hug both sides of the hills - every bit of space is used.
What isn't used for housing is used for agriculture - the slopes are all terraced so that grapes, vegetables and olives can be grown.

The main street is very small and it runs all the way down to the sea in the centre of the town. All the fishing boats are stored along this street as there is nowhere else for them to be stored.

At the foot of the town, there is a large constructed piazza that is raised up from the ocean for protection.
There is a small sheltered "harbour" and all the boats have to be lifted into and out of the sea using a winch.
This is an extremely pretty little town.

We spent about 3/4hr here and then we caught the regional train to the next town (Corneglia), where we immediately had to climb 365 steps just to get to the town which is on top of a ridgeline!

This town was the stepping point for our 4km hike to the next town via part of the the famous walking track that goes from one end of the Cinque Terra to the other.

The actual walk was quite nice, but the track is very steep in places and mostly unformed, so we had to be very careful how we walked on the rocks. The views of the coastline were stunning and reminded us a lot of the coastline around the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

Brielle (fellow tourist) & Adriana (tour guide)
These distances are as the crow flies!

At the other end of our trek, we had lunch in the town of Vernazza.

We were absolutely stuffed by the time we got here as it was the middle of the day and it was starting to get quite warm.
We found a nice small restaurant away from the main square (and tourists) in the shade where it was cool and we both enjoyed some local seafood.
Lyn had a grilled fish that looked like a black snapper and I had deep-fried sardines. We shared a nice simple salad, good bread (they have salt in their bread, unlike Florence) and washed it down with lots of "aqua frizzante" (sparkling water).
I think that if we had  drunk any wine, we would have fallen asleep!

We then had a bout 1/2hr to wander around and check out the town before moving on to the last town by boat.
Vernazza has a pretty small harbour and an even smaller beach, but the piazza is very popular as it is at sea-level and all the boats can tie up at the harbour-wall.

From here, it is about a 10 minute ride to the next town via ferry.

Monterosso is the northernmost town and has the best swimming beaches. The town is actually split in two by a headland, separating the "historic town" with the more modern part.

We spent a couple of hours here, but Lyn and I were so tired by this stage that we sat on the beach promenades and just enjoyed the scenery. Some of the other (much younger) people from the group had elected to walk the 3kms to the next town - that part was called "Challenging".
We had wisely decided to catch the boat to Monterosso!

From here, we caught the regional train back to La Spezia, so that we could meet our bus for the return trip to Florence.
It was the end of the day and the train was absolutely packed to the rafters with people going home (both locals and groups of tourists).

We both really enjoyed the trip and are thinking of going back again to maybe stay a night or two in the area, but we both shudder to think how many people will be there in the height of summer.
Even in April, there are are too many people for these tiny little towns and the thought of thousands of people walking the narrow tracks between towns is not a nice image to think about.
We are considering doing it as late in the year as possible so that we go when everything is out of season as we both agree that it is a very scenic part of Italy.

Guy had been unwell for a few days before we left. He had a head cold (more like the flu really) and his neck was out. By the time we finished our trek to Vernazza he was feeling seriously crap - and my knees were killing me! 
The steps on the track were for people with much longer legs than me!
So even though it was a good day, by the time we got home we felt like a pair of very elderly people...
It was funny, but on the track we saw so many people with inappropriate shoes- one girl was wearing clogs and Guy saw a Japanese man wearing a thick coat and scarf and carrying a suitcase!

Lyn's printmaking

I think I have finally finished the Venice print - I decided that sepia was a better colour for it, all the burnishing I did is finished. Apart from going berserk and trying a bit of bulino on the gondola, it looks OK and I am really over it now!

This is a new print I started - it's called "Il Palombaro" (the deep sea diver). I saw an old photograph on Google Images of a deep sea diver in London when they were fixing Winchester Cathedral in the early 1900's (I think) and I loved it - so this is my version of him. His face is a bit white, I may do something with that later.

We are both starting to get a bit sick of tourists who wander aimlessly across our path, stand in the middle of the road or footpath in big groups and generally get in the way!! What is it about humans that when we become part of a large group we lose all our common sense?
A few weeks ago I saw a man crouched down in the middle of the footpath (blocking it) around the corner from here, taking a photo of a drain hole cover! Maybe he was researching drain hole covers of the world??? 
At school, we were talking about it and Giulia said that they are like sheep - so this is what I came up with! 


  1. Must be some interesting relationships with neighbours in Manarola. It looks like the behind houses are built on top of the ones in front. I wonder how they determine what is what in the real estate game. I love the tourist sheep print. Have you noticed how people congregate at the bottom of escalators and in doorways of busy buildings.

  2. Gorgeous photos! We're definitely still on for October and plan on doing a day trip to Sienna/Pisa as part of a tour to maximize our time. I'll send you our travel info. after I've booked the tickets - don't wear yourselves out before we get there - LOL!