Cinque Terre ~ Romancing Italy

Sep 13, 2006

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre magnify

I left the apartment at SEVEN THIRTY to get to the port in Lerici by 9:30 and it’s less than an hour away. Judging from my previous experience here and Dad’s advice, everything takes longer than expected. By 8:30, I’m sitting in traffic, sirens blaring…an accident up the road. On THESE roads, where two-way traffic passes each other on one lane roads, that means almost a complete standstill for both directions. I took a photo of a house as I sat there, just for kicks.

It clears and I’m on my way. It’s 9am and I might just make the ferry if all goes well.

It doesn’t. Parking again….blasted parking issue. I ask around and after walking in circles and moving the car a couple of times (and seeing 9:30 sail by) I finally find an open tourist information kiosk and ask their direction.

The young thing wearing a white bra and black see-through chiffon top tells me in broken English that I can’t take the route I planned….better to go back and take the train (PS no stations in Lerici…ding, ding, ding, ding)

I decide to follow the original advice and totally ignore this chick. I just asked about parking and once that was settled, I was on my way to the port. And guess what! I can do the route I wanted!!!!

The 10:30 ferry takes me to Portovenere. Lovely name – it just rolls off the tongue. I don’t stop here though as I want to walk the walk, and I’m getting a later start than expected. The plan is to walk from R to V, take the train to M, spend some time there waiting for the ferry back to Lerici at 5pm. 5 ½ hours seems adequate.

Riomaggiore – entering from the port side was breathtaking. The water was crystal and extremely inviting. Today was a one helluva hot day and a dip would have been great. Guess what…I left my swimsuit in the car. I can be so clever sometimes. Bathers dotted the rocky shores, claiming their spot in the sun with their towels – another thing I didn’t bring. I’d have had to drip dry and all that salt would have had me burn to a nice 5 foot 3 inch crisp. I chose to rest (I know I only just got there) at the hilltop bar to get something to eat and drink. I didn’t realize at the time that this would be the only rest I’d get for the day. Thank goodness I took SOME time to enjoy the view and the village. I took a couple photos of me trying desperately to look beautiful.

You have to love the ticket takers at the Lover’s Path entrance. I want a dog again!

Lover’s Path, the via dell’amore, is covered with graffiti. “Stephano amore Maria” etc etc is still graffiti and particularly so when it’s covered partially by the insensitive Marco loving Julia….and the layers continue. Oh well, what did I expect anyway, bouquets adorning the walls? I still am not sure why they call it the Lover’s path, unless it’s the chosen place where couples or stilted lovers throw themselves off to their death. I’m having fun with this, really….I’m sure it has this name for some legit reason but I don’t have the frame of mind today to really appreciate it.

Manarola – Just as lovely as R. and I looked at this place with more interest as I’d been trying to find a place to stay here when I was looking earlier in the year. Reason? Cheaper than most of the other 5, and more rooms available for rent.

I got bogged here for 45m as I needed to get online to take care of some business. I paid mostly for the computer to think its way to the next frame. I know they do this on purpose!

I made my way to Corniglia, confidently walking past the entrance to the train station. I approached the stairs and as I got closer, I started looking for the other entrance to the station. I was NOT up for this and walked the entire length of path, back to the entrance. It was 3pm and a half hour later, the train left for Vernazza. (I could have walked up the blasted steps after all!) I foolishly looked at the schedule AFTER I got off at Vernazza and not BEFORE I got on the train at C. There was that sinking feeling one gets when they realize something wrong; like, the last train to Monterosso that would arrive before 5pm was the same train I just got off.

I choose to think though, that chickening out was a blessing in disguise. I feel that if I’d dawdled on the stairs, pausing to take the 100th photo of the same scene because I couldn’t breathe and didn’t want it to be obvious, I’d not have checked the times at the V station soon enough. As it was, I now knew that I had to book it to M or I’d miss the boat.

Thus began the quickest tour of V, and no photos to show for it, and the walk up the path to M. Thank you for such a blazing hot day too. I rounded a corner and my heart sank when I saw how far M was still. The pace increases to a brisk walk, up more stairs, down more stairs, round another rocky corner and up more stairs. I’m grateful I wore the hiking shoes instead of vainly wearing the dainty sketchers. I’m bounding down stairs, praying I can count on my shoes, as my legs are untrustworthy. The path check station tells me it is a quarter to five and I see the ferry far below me coming in to port.

15 minutes.

I can do it, I can do it. I remember that from somewhere, not too long ago.

And I do, thank God, but when I arrive, I’m not just slightly blushing from exerting myself, nor am I sweetly perspiring with beaded brow. I am profusely sweating, my arms look like I’d dipped them in the ocean and then walked to the boat; rivers rolling down my face. I thought it appropriate, as I’d been trying to look so beautiful at the beginning of the day, to take a photo to document how lovely I looked now. BUT!!! I was on the ferry back to my car. Mission accomplished!

Without a doubt, if I had to do this trip over again? I’d do it all over again….differently.


1 comment:

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