Cinque Terre – the hike

Firstly, a big shout out to our delightful B&B, Il Giardino Cantato, in Monterosso.

Il Giardino Cantato garden

The room is gorgeous, awesome bathroom that is all new and perfectly clean, the little garden a beautiful hidden sanctuary, and this morning’s breakfast gave us the sustenance we needed for a massive day of hiking.  We both slept like logs – or as the Italians say, ‘come un sasso’ – like a stone.

We caught the first ferry this morning at 10.30am to Riomaggiore, the furthest town away, with the intention of walking the whole Cinque Terre. The sea wasn’t still and calm it had a bit of movement which made the ferry rock a little bit, and Zorba the soft Greek felt a queazy and had to rest as soon as we got off the boat.  So light!

On the ferry to Riomaggiore

The first leg, from Riomaggiore to Manarola was glorious – flat and just 1km.  Easy peasy.

The second leg from Manarola to Corniglia was closed. That meant we had to walk around – approximately 2.5 hours up and down mountains, or catch the train.  The closed pathway would have normally been a 20 minute walk.  Zorba, over his seasickness, decided it would be a good idea to walk around – as he says, ‘an adventure’. So off we trekked. And trekked, and trekked. Far out, it was a long hard walk in the 35 degree heat.

View from the ferry

The uphill stairs and rocky climbs were really hard. I won’t sugar coat it.  My fitness is I suppose average – not ultra fit, but not a total sloth.  Zorba turned into a Greek mountain goat and just trotted up the steps at a pretty impressive pace.  I had to take one at a time and rest every so often.

The track then changed and we were almost edging ourselves along a narrow dirt track that had terraced vines growing up the mountain on one side, and a sheer drop of 10+ metres on the other side.

This is the track where my hiking thrived.  Slight inclines or declines with gorgeous scenery.  Zorba the Greek mountain goat didn’t like the sheer drops and was quite nervous.

The walking track through the national park – just gorgeous

The track changed again and we were walking through the National Park – it was like a forest with a canopy of trees protecting us from the bleating sun which was very welcomed.

We both pulled through and I have to say, I am amazed at what I achieved today.  Yep, feeling pretty proud of myself right now.

We finally reached Corniglia some three hours after leaving Manarola and sat down for a well deserved lunch. We both enjoyed a really delicious panini of proscuito, mozzarella and tomato with a lemon granita and I also had a coffee granita. Joy o joy! After lunch we had our first Italian gelato since arriving last night and loved every licking second of it!

Off we continued on our walk up and down the mountains of the Cinque Terre coast, finally reaching our home town destination of Monterosso about 5.30pm.

We walked up about 47,000 stairs, climbed at least 2000 metres, and walked a total distance of 37.9km.  Well, maybe I’m spicing that up a bit.  Put it this way, my legs are singing right now – totally utterly spent. If I can walk properly tomorrow, it’ll be a miracle.  My calves, quads, glutes, hips, knees, ankles and feet all hurt. Was it worth it? You better believe it. It was magnificent.  I took over 200 photos today, the views were just soooo pretty. And we did it! We made it! [pat on back]

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As I type this now, in my sweaty smelly dusty clothes (no shoes – they had to come off!), wolfing down a large birra moretti, in the glorious garden at B&B Il Giardino Cantato, I am feeling relieved it’s over, and so happy that Zorba encouraged me do it.  I reckon I’ve burned enough calories to enjoy a super Italian feast tonight.

Next stop, bella Roma.

FACT FILE

Bed and Breakfast Il Giardino Incantato
via Mazzini, 18, Monterosso al Mare (SP)
Tel +39 0187 818 315 or cell +39 3332649252
giardino_incantato@libero.it
Our room cost Euro 170 per night including breakfast.  A little on the expensive side, but so  worth it.

Monterosso
Monterosso is the eastern most town of the Cinque Terre.

Forza Azurre!

There’s nothing better than watching great sporting tournaments with locals. Last night, we watched the Euro 2012 final Spain v Italy, in Italy – Monterosso on the Cinque Terre in Liguria.

Italia colours decorating the streets of Monterosso, Italia

All the bars had big TVs set up outside, Italian flags everywhere, all the town out wearing their colours, chanting and singing – it was a fantastic atmosphere.

Italian fans cheering the final of Euro 2012, Monterosso, Italia

The result wasn’t fantastic though with Spain dominating the whole game and cleaning up to thump Italia 4-0. After the first half and three corona beers at Euro3.50 each (about A$4.50), I was feeling a big boozy woozy and needed to eat…so we left the locals to it and found a little restaurant, Pozzo, and at 10pm ate spaghetti alle vongole. It was exactly what I needed, although, it wasn’t the world’s best vongole.

We collapsed into bed about 11pm and slept for Australia. We where shattered after 6+ hours flying, an hour to get into Milano central, a 3+ hour train ride and then a 20 hike up the hill with our backpacks – all 16kg + hand luggage.

Italian fans standing for the national anthem at the start of the Euro 2012 final, Monterosso, Italia

 

Cinque Terre dreaming…

In ten days we will be leaving for Italia and I can not WAIT! After an overnight stop over in Dubai, our first Italian stop is Monterosso on the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre is a series of five small villages built into ridiculously steep cliffs along 18km of the Ligurian coast from Levante to La Spezia.  You can actually walk between each village along a 15th Century coastal path, the shortest walk taking approximately 3-4 hours and the longest 9 hours or more.

How glorious does this look?

Courtesy of Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre

The five villages are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

I’ll be sure to tell you more about after we arrive.  I’m getting so excited now!