Thursday, September 2, 2021

Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre translates to 5 Lands in English. The five towns (lands) of Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. The entire Cinque Terre region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Manarola, Italy

We absolutely loved our time in Cinque Terre. Gorgeous weather & gorgeous views! We visited the area before the Disney/Pixar movie Luca came out and absolutely LOVED watching the movie and reminiscing about all the areas in the movie that are inspired by the Cinque Terre!    

Manarola, Italy

We took a couple days off sightseeing to just rest and relax after going strong for 8 weeks in Europe so far. Our apartment in La Spezia was the perfect location to do that. It had a grocery store in the same building and was just the perfect place for our home base. At that grocery store, we found zebra burgers for sale! Our host was amazing and communicated fast. We thought La Spezia was such a great base, we dream about living here one day! It is the big city right before Cinque Terre and is on the water and gorgeous! I also like the proximity to France so we can see family easily..just maybe it will be home one day!

One evening we went to the local wine festival. Everyone was in the streets and visiting the local food and wine vendors. It was such an amazing environment, singing and dancing! Do you know what the best part was? Not having to worry AT ALL that a fight may break out where my kids could be innocent bystanders of a stray bullet. I love Europe! At home, we would probably avoid a night event where the whole city was drinking for this reason. After attending the festival, we were walking home and stumbled upon a children's bookstore that was having an outdoor event. They had dollhouses and games to play, and Peppa Pig was there! Briella really enjoyed having a moment of kid fun. She hasn't been able to play with her dollhouses in months!
We purchased the Cinque Terre Family Train ticket that allowed us to have unlimited stops to all the villages. It also gives you wifi in the villages as well, with a unique username and password on each ticket. This pass also gives you access to the parks if you are not staying in one of the villages and use of the bus. 

Manarola was just beautiful. It is probably the village you would recognize from the famous landscape. We got off the train and walked straight to the path that would have the best view of the best view looking back at the town. The sea was just so gorgeous, colors that are hard to describe, and so clear! This is really one of the most scenic places we had been to! It was super hot with no shade at the end of June, and there was a line to get into the famous restaurant, Nessun Dorma so we kept on moving and went back to the train to find a spot to eat at our next stop, Monterosso al Mare.
Monterosso al Mare is the only village of the five that has a true beach. We got a spot on the beach and enjoyed playing in the sand and water for the afternoon. Before heading back to La Spezia, we found a restaurant overlooking the sea to eat dinner at, Nuovo Eden Bar & Gelateria. We had so much food and a few drinks and it was very affordable! Aubrey even got a 2nd meal it was so good! Sunset sea views are always gorgeous!
Briella blowing the sunset kisses
Nuovo Eden Bar & Gelateria
Views from our table at the restaurant!                                

Up next on the trip we drove along the coast all the way up to Cannes, France. What a gorgeous drive! Just a couple weeks after driving up the coast, a large bridge that we had drove across had collapsed killing 43 people! So sad! We are so thankful we went over it without incident. It was a major link of the European route 80 in Genoa, linking Italy to France. 

All five medieval towns along the Ligurian Coast provide scenic views of rugged terrain with terraced stone walls, 4300 acres where the mountains come straight to the sea. The coast along the Cinque Terre is characterized by high cliffs, caves, bays, & tiny beaches.

The area is famous for its many lemon trees that can be seen throughout Cinque Terre. It is also renowned for its white wines, grapes, and olives/olive oil. Interesting tidbit* This area of the coast was often attacked by pirates centuries ago. 

The land was already in a state of degradation in 2011, terrace abandonment is thought to be a contributing factor to the flash flood disaster of October 25, 2011. After 4 hours of uncharacteristic 22 inches of rain and subsequent flash floods, the towns of Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza were virtually destroyed. The flood left the town buried in over 13 feet of mud and debris (submerging even the train station in mud), causing over 100 million euro worth of damage. I have seen youtube clips of this day and it was horrible. I am so happy they were able to come back from that! Knowing how overrun these villages are with tourists, it feels good to spend money here at the restaurants and small shops, knowing it will go back to the residents. Buy all the gelato! Haha. 

Originally, the villages were only accessible by sea or by mule paths that connected the villages of the Cinque Terre and to Via Roma, the main road that connected all of Italy to Rome. These mule paths have been maintained and used over the centuries and now provide hikers with a more intimate view of the sea-swept Cinque Terre. 

Monterosso Giant:
The Giant is 46 feet tall and weighs 170 tons. It is permanently placed in front of the Fegine Beach, at the foot of Villa Pàstine, an Art Nouveau home.
The impressive 45 feet high sculpture stood on the promontory as part of the decoration of the luxurious Villa Pastine (built in the early 1900s). In addition to the trident, Neptune bore a gigantic shell on his head, which acted as the terrace of the villa.
During World War II, Monterosso was bombed by allied forces, and the Neptune statue (along with the villa) suffered serious damage. It was damaged even further by heavy seas in 1966. 

The beach at Monterosso runs along most of the coastline and is well used by tourists and locals. The beach is the only extensive sand beach in the Cinque Terre. Monterosso is a small town overrun by tourists in the summer months.

Here is a list of trails that are open and their info.
Manarola, Italy

Vernazza, Italy

Monterosso al Mare beach

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